Men’s FIH Series Finals
Pool A: Ireland 11 (S O’Donoghue 3, C Harte 2, S Cole 2, L Cole, M Nelson, L Madeley, B Walker) Singapore 0
Shane O’Donoghue’s historic hat trick helped Ireland on their way to the all-important top spot in Le Touquet, putting them within one win of a confirmed Olympic qualifier place.
The former Glenanne man’s triple saw him pass 100 goals his country in an 11-0 mauling of Singapore saw Ireland leap above both Scotland and Egypt, availing of a big helping hand from the Scots.
Crucially, first in the group allows the Green Machine to advance straight to the semi-finals, avoiding Thursday’s quarter-finals. Both semi-final winners will earn a place in next October’s qualifiers for Tokyo.
As Ireland arrived in the ground, they received their big boost when they saw Scotland nab a last minute winner against Egypt which opened up the chance of taking first place on goal difference.
The target was a four-goal win and it took little time to eat into that target as O’Donoghue whizzed home the opening goal after just 45 seconds from a penalty corner.
They certainly were not hanging about as a full press terrified the world number 35 side and Conor Harte was on the board in the fourth minute and Matthew Nelson slid in a third soon after.
Stephen Cole finished off the important fourth from a selfless Ben Walker pass; Walker subsequently stole the fifth goal on the line from what would have been O’Donoghue’s 100th for Ireland.
He did not have long to wait for that to arrive, though, as he dragged in another corner two minutes after half-time for 6-0 and scored another before the end of the third quarter for good measure, bringing his total to 101.
After that, it was only really a time for statistics as Ireland were completely dominant. Stephen Cole scored a second, scoring more in this game than he had in his 64 previous caps, this time taking in a corner at the stopper position and firing home with a crisp hit.
His brother Lee would finish off the scoring in the final minute – that made it the first pair of brothers to score for Ireland in the same game since the Black brothers did it twice in four days back in 2002 in a 13-0 win over Malta and an 11-0 against Finland.
.@shaneod16 with his parents after becoming the first Irish player 2 score 100 international goals.
➡️ @MBell45 with his parents after receiving his 100th cap 4 Ireland, presented 2 him by @Eugenemagee1
Congrats to both! #GreenMachine #RoadToTokyo #FIHSeriesFinals #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/uEzooSkBR2
— Irish Hockey (@irishhockey) June 18, 2019
Harte got a second while Luke Madeley also dragged in a corner but they did finish two goals short of 13, the all-time record win for Ireland’s men achieved against Malta and also versus Fiji in 2013 in Delhi. The tie was also a memorable one for Matthew Bell who was presented with his 100th cap on the day.
They now get to relax on the Pas-de-Calais coast for a couple of days before finding out who they meet in the final four.
** Interview with Shane O’Donoghue to follow in the next day or two
Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, J Bell, E Magee, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, B Walker, D Walsh, C Harte, L Cole, S Cole
Subs: M Bell, L Madeley, M Nelson, N Glassey, M Robson, P Gleghorne, J Carr
Singapore: G Sandran, B Asali, E Marican, J Grewal, D Vijayan, S Noor, A Zul’kepli, F Johari, M Cheong, B Kahar, N Ng
Subs: A Ibrahim, N Kumar, Z Zulkarnan, H Vijayan, N Teo, S Muhammad, W X Wee