Ireland defy sodden San Diego turf to beat Austria

World League Round Two
Ireland 3 (M Watt, A Sothern, S O’Donoghue) Austria 1 (D Uher)

Ireland made it two wins from two at the World League Round Two at a rain-soaked Chula Vista in San Diego, seeing off a tricky Austrian opponent to add to Saturday’s 8-0 win over Chile.

It was hard work as the incessant rain made the pitch slow and tough to negotiate but Craig Fulton’s side battled well to head up the group.

They initially found the Austrian half-court press tough to unlock as they sat deep, playing on the counter-attack. It took until the 23rd minute to breakthrough, the goal coming from a breathtaking sucker-punch after Austria’s first penalty corner was well saved by David Harte.

From there, the ball was quickly worked up the pitch to Mikey Watt who converted his third goal in two games to date. They controlled the play from then on and held that slender lead into the big break during which time the rain teemed down with ball boys sweeping excess water off the pitch.

Michael Mantler did well to deny Shane O’Donoghue and Peter Caruth early in the second half while Michael Korper forced a great stop from Ronan Gormley, Ireland’s record caps holder saving the ball on the line onto the crossbar.

The lead was extended – in spite of Eugene Magee being shown a yellow card – from a penalty corner that Alan Sothern converted for 2-0 in the 44th minute.

And they were initially awarded a penalty stroke a minute later but a consultation saw the decision over-turned in favour of a free out. Austria duly started the final quarter in great fashion, winning a corner that Dominic Uher scored on the switch.

It set up a lively closing phase with David Harte called on to make a great save to keep Ireland just in front. They were back in the comfort zone, though, when Sothern’s smart run opened the door for Shane O’Donoghue who applied an excellent backhand strike for a 3-1 lead with six minutes left.

The Austrians plight got even tougher when Florian Steyrer was sin-binned for the last five minutes and Ireland closed out their second success in two days.

The win means Craig Fulton’s side top Pool A and need just a draw from their remaining group game against winless Italy on Tuesday (9pm, Irish time) to stay that way.

Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, R Gormley, M Watt, C Cargo, S Dowds, K Shimmins, M Darling, P Gleghorne, C Harte, S O’Donoghue
Subs: J Bell, A Sothern, E Magee, P Caruth, B McCandless, D Carlisle

Austria: M Mantler, M Podpera, S Eitenberger, A Bele, M Korper, D Frohlich, B Stanzl, F Steyrer, M Minar, P Schmidt, D Uher
Subs: F Zeidler, B Szmidt, R Bele, L Thornblom, P Stanzl, J Heimans

World League Round Two (Chula Vista, USA)
Pool A
Ireland 8 (M Darling 2, M Watt 2, A Sothern, C Harte, B McCandless, S Dowds) Chile 0; Austria 3 Italy 1
Sunday: Chile 1 Italy 2; Austria 1 (D Uher) Ireland 3 (M Watt, A Sothern, S O’Donoghue)

Standings: 1. Ireland 6pts (+10) 2. Austria 3pts (0) 3. Italy 3pts (-1) 4. Chile 0pts (-9)
Tuesday (both Irish time): Ireland v Italy, 9pm; Chile v Austria, 11.15pm

Partners of The Hook