Ireland close Valencia Four Nations with shoot-out win over England

Four Nations third place playoff (Valencia)
Ireland 2 (E Magee, S Murray) England 2 (Z Wallace, L Taylor), Ireland win shoot-out 4-3
Ireland finished off a gruelling five games in seven days in Valencia on a high with a shoot-out win over England to finish third in their Four Nations World Cup warm-up tournament.

Normal time had ended 2-2 with the English surviving a late onslaught to see it to shoot-out but Ireland kept their nerve to score a strong result.

Ireland’s men in Valencia. Pic: Paco Galarza

The first half saw little goalmouth action and ended scoreless with Chris Griffiths’ diving effort hitting the outside of the goal the pick of the chances.

The second was far livelier. Jeremy Duncan hit the post from one attack with the clearance seeing England go in front via a Zach Wallace finish following an excellent break down the right wing, the forward diving to finish off.

Eugene Magee levelled following an excellent spell of possession play eventually opened the door for Michael Robson to get free down the left of the circle. He fired a reverse across goal where Magee was on hand to guide in.

Luke Taylor restored the English lead from a corner, one which Ireland debated, suggesting the stop for his drag had been inside the circle.

But Ireland hit back when Sean Murray chipped over George Pinner following an excellent Shane O’Donoghue burst from midfield, racing into acres of space before picking out the Rotterdam-based player.

In a scrappy last few minutes, marked by plenty of players suffering injuries, Ireland had three corners and another effort scraped off the line.

In the shoot-out, Robson missed in the first round but an otherwise perfect set, completed by two Dave Fitzgerald saves and Daragh Walsh’s flick in the fifth round won it 4-3.

Ireland’s next meeting with England, though, is the important one on December 7th when they play in their third group game in India.

The tournament itself was something of a mixed bag with Alexander Cox knowing there is plenty to work on following his first competitive games in charge.

The opening win over England and close-run 1-0 loss to Spain were contrasted with a heavy 7-1 defeat to the Netherlands. In a rematch with the Dutch on Saturday, Mitch Darling and Alan Sothern put Ireland 2-0 up only to lose out 5-2 with two goals in the last two minutes.

Ireland: D Fitzgerald, J Bell (Captain), E Magee, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, M Darling, C Harte, J Duncan, L Cole, S Loughrey
Subs: D Harte, M Bell, M Nelson, A Sothern, M Robson, D Walsh, P Gleghorne

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