Ireland move to top place with win over France at INSEP Hockey

Challenge

Ireland have all but sealed overall victory in their second major tournament for the Summer, after a solid 2 – 0 win over France in their final match of the INSEP Hockey Challenge in Paris.

Barring an Argentinian goal-fest in their match against South Korea tomorrow, with 3 wins from 4 matches and a healthy goal difference, Ireland will secure top position on the table and, on present form – which includes first place in the recent Champions Challenge 2 in Lille – they will now be looking towards the prospect of Olympic qualification at the European Nations Championships in August.

The match was relatively even for most of the first half, with both sides creating scoring opportunities and a penalty corners. The Irish forwards had notched up a combined total of 11 goals from their first 3 games of the tournament against highly ranked opposition, and the French defenders had done well to keep them scoreless for such a long period, but in the last minute of the half, Ireland earned a penalty corner, which John Jermyn converted, to put them 1 – 0 up at the break.

The second half was a lacklustre affair, with neither side gaining a clear ascendency. However, 15 minutes into the half Ireland’s John Jackson found some space at the top of the circle, and when the ball spilled free from a circle penetration he was ready to pounce, sending it high into the net and putting the Irish further ahead. France continued to press for a goal, and had their chances later in the game, but they were unable to convert, and the match finished at 2 – 0 to Ireland. France head coach Scott Goodheart said after the game that his team had not performed at the required level today. “We had too many players today who did not play well. We made poor decisions with the ball, and we were too passive in both defence and attack,” said Goodheart. “Even then, we had opportunities to score, but we simply did not put the ball in the goal when it was required,” he added.

France will play Australia in their final match for the tournament at 15h30 on Sunday.

Australia and South Korea play out high scoring draw at INSEP Hockey

Challenge

Perhaps it was the perfect hockey conditions, or the importance of the match for both teams in terms of overall standings for the tournament. However, a small but appreciative crowd was treated to a display of the sort of attacking, high tempo hockey befitting of the reputations and world rankings of both teams, as Australia and South Korea played out a 4 – 4 draw in the Parisian sunshine, on Day 5 of the INSEP Hockey Challenge.

Russell Ford opened the scoring for Australia in the 4th minute with a neat deflection from a Matthew Butturini pass. But, as would be the pattern for the match, South Korea answered soon after, with a penalty corner goal to Jong Hyan Jeon in the 8th minute.

The teams traded blows again a few minutes later. Jacob Whetton put Australia back in front in the 11th minute when he tapped in another deflection, capitalising on a sensational diving cross from a team mate, only for South Korea to level the scores 4 minutes later after another penalty corner rocket from PC specialist Jang. The fast, attacking hockey continued for the remainder of the half, and the Kookaburras would have probably considered themselves unlucky not to have moved further head after the chances they had created, but the scores remained level at the break.

The Australians continued to attack in the second period, but it was South Korea who struck first, again from a penalty corner – this time a rebound from Kyu Yeob Jang in the 43rd minute. As if on cue, the World Champion’s answer came 9 minutes later when Matt Ghodes was fouled heavily in the circle and Simon Orchard converted the resulting

penalty stroke. However, within 3 minutes, the South Koreans had regained a 1 goal advantage, from a perfectly executed “hook” variation flicked into the net by Hyun Woo Nam.

South Korean continued to defend gallantly in the last 15 minutes of the match, and it looked like they might hold on to their 4 – 3 lead, until Australia’s Tim Bates bustled his way across the circle and fired a reverse shot into the Korean goal in the 63rd minute, to level the match yet again. Despite a flurry of counter attacks in both directions and each team winning a penalty corner in the final stages, there was no change to the scoreboard, and the match ended in an entertaining 4 – 4 draw.

In their final matches on Sunday, the Australians take on hosts France, at 15h30, and South Korea will be in action against Argentina at 13h00.

Table after day 5
Ireland 9pts (+7)
Argentina 6pts (-2)
Australia 4pts (+1)
Korea 4pts (-1)
France 0pt (-6)

Source: French Hockey Federation