Men’s senior international test match
Ireland 1 (M Darling) France 0
Mitch Darling’s 14th minute goal gave Ireland a 1-0 win over France in their latest Olympic preparation game at a baltic Merrion Fleet Arena.
He turned sharply on his reverse to fire home the only goal on a freezing night in front of a decent crowd at the new venue in Glenageary.
Ireland did have a number of chances to extend the lead with Shane O’Donoghue and Kirk Shimmins drawing good stops from Edgar Reynaud at regular intervals while Peter Caruth skewed the earliest chance wide of the left post.
Lee Cole almost closed out the tie with a few minutes to go when Mikey Watt stood and waited before delivering a brilliant cross between three defenders. Cole met it first time at full stretch but the chance slid just wide of the right post.
The French, who missed out on Rio, were a strong prospect and had their moments with Blaise Rogeau going close twice while the returning David Harte shut down Hugo Genestet’s impudent baseline run superbly.
Indeed, they almost nicked a point with the last touch of the game, a late disguised drag-flick deflecting onto the post.
Speaking afterwards, coach Craig Fulton said: “It was a good work-out; France is a good team and we like playing them a lot. They play off the counter and created some good chances as did we.
“We weren’t that great in the D and scored one or two more. At the same time, so could they. It was a good exercise and a good team to play against; we need these games. We have a number of things we want to improve on; it’s a process and it does take a bit of time. Now, we have a marker and video so we can go and assess and try and improve.
“That’s what we have to concentrate on doing now, every day, every week – getting better.”
Ireland: D Harte, R Gormley, M Watt, L Cole, G Watkins, S Cole, C Cargo, S Loughrey, P Caruth, N Glassey, J Bell, M Bell, P Gleghorne, A Sothern, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, D Carlisle, M Darling