Energie Fitness Ballsbridge Korea Series
Sloppy Ireland succumb to determined Koreans in Rathdown
Ireland 3 (Harte, Sothern, O’Donoghue) Korea 4 (J J Lee, N Lee, Jung, Yang)
** Report from Jack McCann
An upbeat Ballsbridge énergie Fitness Match Series ended on a disappointing note as Korea nicked their first win from the four games at the Merrion Fleet Arena this week.
Goals from Conor Harte, Alan Sothern and Shane O’Donoghue were not enough to prevent a rather sloppy Irish side from losing to a very determined Korean side.
Korea started the game at a hundred miles an hour and did not afford the Irish back line as much time as Saturdays game as they pressed higher and harder.
Ireland spent the majority of the first quarter under the cosh but, like Saturday, the Koreans lacked that cutting edge in the final third meaning Janie Carr was not called upon. Though Craig Fulton’s side spent the opening stanzas on the back foot, they were clinical when given goal scoring opportunities.
They went ahead via Conor Harte from the first penalty corner, awarded after Ireland’s first attack of note. Harte sent home a drag flick for a first quarter lead.
There was a rather fiery undercurrent throughout with Manjae Jung receiving the first green card. Korea dominated possession in the second quarter and they got their just rewards for their dominance through a goal from Jung Jun Lee.
They attacked at pace and entered the Irish D; Carr did well to save the first effort but the ball deflected upwards and Lee was on hand to superbly volley the equaliser.
Despite not holding much ball, they still took a half-time lead. From a sideline ball on the left deep in Korean territory, Shane O’Donoghue self-passed and set a move in motion that saw the ball interchange between three or four players before finding its way to the back stick where Sothern was on hand to score Ireland’s second goal.
Before the break, from a couple of corners, Carr did superbly to dive low to his right hand side to palm the ball away after a hard shot came through a couple of bodies. Ireland held on for a 2-1 lead at the half-time hooter.
The second half started with Ireland a little more solid at the back. However, Korea very quickly got back in the swing of things as they were awarded a penalty corner in the 35th minute.
The corner was superbly blocked down by Kyle Good; however, another one was awarded in the ensuing scramble but nothing came of it. Korea were on level terms moments later as a mistake by Lee Cole outside his D as Ireland were trying to clear their lines put the defence on the back foot.
They were unable to prevent Namyong Lee from deflecting the ball into the goal after Korea had transferred the ball well to create the opportunity, 2-2.
Still reeling, Ireland were caught out again a few minutes later as Korea took a 3-2 lead courtesy of Manjae Jung. The last part of the third quarter was very loose, but entertaining, as both sides countered at pace for a few minutes with both keepers called upon to make a couple of excellent saves.
Korea got their fourth goal at the end of the third quarter as the ball hit a body on the line after a penalty corner. The ensuing stroke was put away to Carr’s bottom right by Jihun Yang to leave the score 4-2 to Korea.
The fourth quarter was fast and furious but not always the greatest hockey as Ireland looked for a way back into the game and Korea looked to see the game out.
Ireland were awarded the perfect opportunity in the 50th minute via a penalty corner. O’Donoghue converted via a drag to leave the game finely balanced into the final 10 minutes.
Ireland pushed up looking for the equaliser and were awarded a couple more short corners but were unable to convert due to good Korean defence. Carr was pulled for the last few minutes with Lee Cole acting as kicking back as Ireland desperately looked to salvage a draw.
However, the final nail in Ireland’s coffin was O’Donoghue receiving a green card for a badly timed tackle that up-ended a Korean. This left Ireland down to ten men and Korea successfully saw out the last 90 seconds with a man advantage.
Ireland’s next games is a series against Rio-bound Canada, in a four game series, starting in Stormont on June 9, tip off 7pm.
Ireland: J Carr (GK); J Jackson; P Gleghorne; C Harte; R Gormley(C); M Watt; A Sothern; K Shimmins; S O’Donoghue; T Cockram; S Cole Subs: D Harte (GK); S Loughrey; L Cole; N Glassey; G Watkins; K Good; M Robson
Korea: J Kim (GK); J Seo; S You; N Lee; Y D Lee, J Yang; M Jung; M Kang; J J Lee; J.S. Bae; H You (C); Subs: T Il Hwang; H Kim; J Kim; Y Lee; HW Seo; JH Kim DP Hong (GK)