Ballsbridge énergie Fitness Match Series
Ireland 2 (Sothern, O’Donoghue) Korea 1 (J J Lee)
** Report from Jack McCann
Ireland beat Korea 2-1 at a gloriously sunny Merrion Fleet Arena in the penultimate game of the Ballsbridge énergie Fitness Match Series. Goals from Alan Sothern and Shane O’Donoghue gave Ireland the win and enable them to take the series 2-0 heading into the final game tomorrow at 2pm in Monkstown.
Korea tipped off and held onto possession for the majority of the opening quarter, probing for gaps in a very solid Irish defence. When they did find gaps, they attacked at pace down either flank, predominantly their right one, and hit the baseline.
However, the defence superbly marshalled by the Harte brothers, David and Conor, and the likes of Jonny Bell and Paul Gleghorne kept the Korea attacks at bay throughout.
The opening quarter saw Ireland have very little of the ball. However, when they did have it they moved it well and attack with intent even though the clinical edge to take advantage of the changes generated from the endeavour was somewhat lacking the whole of the first half.
From their first attack, and the first attack of the game, Korea entered the Irish circle yet came away with nothing which was a common thread throughout the game for them, much to the annoyance of the Korean management.
Ireland responded in kind with an attack of their own in the fourth minute, also down their right, the ball was lifted to Michael Watt who hit the base line and sent the ball across the D.
It was saved by the keeper but went up high so Ireland earned the first penalty corner of the game. However, they were unable to put it away. Korea countered and won their own penalty corner down the other end. They too were unable to capitalise. The first quarter continued in a ding-dong fashion of sorts in the middle of the pitch as neither side was able to assert themselves long enough to gain control.
Ireland did make the first breakthrough just before the end of the first quarter as the ball was lifted to Peter Caruth who brought it under control, hit the baseline and sent a great ball into the D which Sothern did very well to deflect beyond a helpless Pyo Doo Hong between the sticks.
The second quarter saw no change to the score but did see a change in the intensity as a couple of green cards were dished out to Eugene Magee and Manjae Jung within a few minutes of one another as both sides got annoyed at the lack of precision.
Ireland had their second and third penalty corners in this quarter too but, as with the first, they were unable to put either away due to good Korean defending or sloppiness in the execution.
The half-time score was 1-0 to Ireland even though they had considerably less time on the ball than the Koreans who had little cutting edge throughout the first half or the game.
Ireland’s second half performance saw them gain control more of the ball as they stepped up their passing from side to side.
Like the first half, Korea had the first chance of note however it went wide after being sent invitingly across the D by Tae Il Hwang.
Ireland conceded a penalty corner after that attack after the ball hit a body in the D. However, Ireland defended it well and turned the ball over at pace with John Jackson sending the ball to Michael Robson who ripped it down the line but just beyond Caruth.
After a sustained period of pressure, Ireland went 2-0 up through O’Donoghue. It came from a corner which was well saved by Hong only for the Irish to win a second from which O’Donoghue made no mistake, beating Hong low to his bottom left hand side.
The final quarter was similar to the first as Korea again held onto the ball but lacked a cutting edge as Harte was hardly troubled, bar a couple saves, as Ireland kept their shape very well.
The times the Koreans did get behind the Irish defence, excellent scramble defence by the likes of Kirk Shimmins who put in an excellent block near the end kept them at bay.
However, Harte’s goal was breached a couple of minutes from the end. Korea pushed hard in an attempt to get one back and the pressure began to show as Sothern a green card for a bad tackle on the edge of his own 25.
Harte was called on to clear the ball a couple of times as Ireland began to park the bus somewhat. However, Jung Jun Lee scored a consolation goal for the Koreans with a lovely deflection that left Harte stranded.
Ireland: D Harte; D Fitzgerald; J Jackson; J Bell; R Gormley; M Watt; A Sothern; E Magee; P Caruth; K Shimmins; S O’Donoghue; T Cockram; M Robson; K Good; P Gleghorne; C Harte; L Cole; S Cole
Korea: P.D. Hong (GK); K Lim (GK); J Seo; S You; N Lee; Y.D. Lee: J Yang; M Jung; M Kang; T. Il Hwang; H.J. Kim; J.J. Lee; J Kim; Y Lee; S.J. Bae; H You (C); H.W. Seo; J.H. Kim
Umpires: Bruce Bale, Jakub Mejzlik