Ireland’s Matthew Nelson celebrates scoring a goal with teammates. Frank Uijlenbroek/INPHO

Ireland beat Korea in thriller to seal spot at Olympic Games

Goals from Matthew Nelson, Ben Johnson, John McKee and Shane O’Donoghue inspired a day to remember for Mark Tumilty’s side.

IRELAND SECURED a thrilling 4-3 win over Korea to seal their place at the 2024 Olympic Games this afternoon.

Goals from Matthew Nelson, Ben Johnson, John McKee and Shane O’Donoghue resulted in a day to remember for Mark Tumilty’s side during the Men’s Hockey Olympic Qualifier Third/Fourth Place Play-Off in Valencia, Spain. 

Nelson scored from a penalty corner to give the Green Machine the lead just before the end of the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Johnson doubled Ireland’s advantage, converting a rebound after McKee’s initial effort was blocked.

Kim Junghoo gave Korea hope, scoring on the rebound following David Harte’s initial save.

McKee then helped Ireland gain some breathing space as he restored their two-goal lead, finishing well after good work from Sean Murray in the build-up.

However, Jeong Junwoo’s goal from a penalty corner on the brink of half-time intensified the pressure on the Irish team once more.

But 10 minutes after the break, O’Donoghue scored from another well-executed penalty corner to edge his side closer to victory.

Jang Jonghyun’s goal from a penalty stroke ensured a nervy finish, and Ireland were subsequently relieved as their opponents had a goal ruled out because it was adjudged to come off the body of Nam Young Lee.

There was more frustration for Korea as Lee was sin-binned in the final quarter, though it did not prevent a nerve-racking late rally, as Ireland held on for a famous victory.

It is the first time the Irish men’s team have qualified for the Olympics since Rio 2016 and only the third time in their history.

It was also a measure of revenge for the Irish team after Korea had ended their hopes of reaching the Olympics back in 2012.

“We’ve done it,” Tumily said afterwards. “I had a lot of belief in this group. I did think though it might come down to this final game before the tournament. The guys have delivered and we are on our way to the Games.

“I’m very pleased for the players, we had to rebuild the squad after Vancouver and this is a reward for all the work they put in and all the sacrifices they have made to get there.

“We have a very busy period, between now and the summer, in the run-up to the games.

“We have the FIH Pro League, a trip to India and the Games themselves in Paris. The Pro League will be 16 games against the top eight nations in the world and that in itself will be excellent preparation for the Olympic tournament in July-August. ”

IRELAND: David Harte, Luke Madeley, Shane O’Donoghue, Tim Cross, Lee Cole; Daragh Walsh, Nicholas Page, Sean Murray (C), John McKee, Jeremy Duncan, Michael Robson SUBS USED: Matthew Nelson, Kyle Marshall, Peter Mckibbin, Jonathan Lynch, Sam Hyland, Ben Johnson

KOREA: Kim Jaehyeon, Kim Hyeonhong; Jung Manjae, Hwang Taeil, Lee Jungjun, Ji Woocheon, Kim Sunghyun, Lee Seunghoon, Kim Hyeongjin, Jang Jonghyun, Yang Jihun, SUBS USED: Jeong Junwoo, Park Chedeon, Seo Inwoo, Kim Junghoo, Son Dain, Lee Nam Yong, Kim Jaehan.

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