Men’s Senior International test match
Ireland 1 (S O’Donoghue) France 1 (H Genestet)
Ireland’s men succumbed to a final hooter Hugo Genestet corner goal to draw the opening game of their series with France at Lisnagarvey 1-1.
Earlier, Shane O’Donoghue had scored his third goal in three games to continue his move ever closer to being the first Irish player to reach 100 international goals.
His 97th strike in green came in the 42nd minute after a stodgy opening half in which the rain played its part in slowing the pace markedly.
However, Genestet equalised with the last play of the game following seven consecutive penalty corners dragging high to David Harte’s right post.
The teams took to the pitch in very wet conditions both trying to play at a high tempo from the very start. The first opportunity of the match went France’s way but their effort flew wide while Ben Walker had the first opportunity for the Green Machine but a mishit allowed France to clear the danger.
The second quarter was dominated by Irish possession and solid defence kept a French threat at bay, while Sean Murray was unfortunate to hit the post after with the keeper beaten, leaving it scoreless at half-time.
The deadlock was broken via excellent work from Darragh Walsh as he intercepted and drove into the French circle, showing great skill to win a corner which O’Donoghue dragged, wrong-footing the French keeper Arthur Thieffry, to give Ireland the lead.
But the French – who reached the World Cup quarter-finals in December – rallied in the last few minutes with a flurry of chances and they took the last of them from a seventh corner in succession.
Speaking afterwards, Head Coach Alexander Cox said: “I saw some very positive things in the game. Our defensive structure looked strong. We are adding a zonal system which gave as good control.
“On the ball we didn’t play our best game. Too many unforced errors which we need to improve for the next game.
“In the end a draw isn’t a bad result, but conceding in the last seconds is never a nice feeling after all the hard work the guys did. As always they gave it their all!”
The teams will meet again on Thursday at 12pm in Lisnagarvey for the second match of the series against France in Lisnagarvey on June 6 before travelling to Le Touquet where their FIH Series Finals begin on June 15.
Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, J Bell, E Magee, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, M Robson, B Walker, D Walsh, P Gleghorne, L Cole, S Cole
Subs: J Carr, M Bell, L Madeley, M Nelson, C Robson, N Glassey, C Harte.
France: A Thieffry, T Genestet, H Genestet, S Martin Brisac, B Rogeau, V Lockwood, C Masson, N Dumont, G Baumgarten, F Goyet, JB Forgues
Subs: P van Straaten, A Bellenger, C Peters-Deutz, E Tynevez, T Ponthieu, M Branicki, C Saunier.