World League round two (San Diego, USA)
Ireland 2 (E Magee, S O’Donoghue) Italy 0
Ireland topped their World League round two group with a third straight win in San Diego, seeing off Italy 2-0 despite being slightly wasteful with their many chances.
They did get off to a dream start when Magee, in the fifth minute, deflecting in a cross from captain for the day Mitch Darling.
From there, Ireland overwhelmed Italy for the most part but could not add more goals to go with their superiority with the final ball sometimes too forced to create clear cut chances.
Italian goalkeeper Francesco Padovani, meanwhile, kept out what openings did come while O’Donoghue trimmed the top of the bar from one of four first half penalty corners.
Magee had another goal ruled out early in the second half and, without the comfort of a larger lead, Italy’s fleeting attacks threatened to wipe out the advantage.
O’Donoghue, though, eased any latent nerves with ten minutes to go when he put together a strong run and a smart low reverse-stick finish for 2-0.
Peter Caruth and Alan Sothern both flashed shots just across the face of goal while Padovani made one last save from Mikey Watt.
The victory sets up a quarter-final date with Trinidad and Tobago, the second lowest ranked side in the tournament at number 30, early on Thursday at 8.30am locally (5.30pm Irish time).
That is Ireland’s first must-win game of the competition. Defeat will end their bid for an Olympic ticket while a victory against the Caribbean side means Ireland will get two shots at finishing in the top three in this competition and advancing to World League round three where the tickets to Rio 2016 will be doled out.
Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, R Gormley, M Watt, C Cargo, S Dowds, E Magee, M Darling, P Gleghorne, C Harte, S O’Donoghue
Subs: J Bell, A Sothern, P Caruth, B McCandless, D Carlisle, K Shimmins
Italy: F Padovani, L Dussi, D Malta, A Nunez, A Vargiu, M Zalatel, T Kennan, G de Vivo, Julian Montone, Juan Montone, N Chiesa
Subs: G Ferrini, L Ferrini, M Rossi, D Cioli, L da Gai, A Corsi