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'I feel empty because you never get used to losing. It's painful'

Alexander Cox said he is proud of his Ireland team after they bowed out of the World Cup at the hands of England.

Ireland suffered a crushing defeat in India earlier.
Ireland suffered a crushing defeat in India earlier.
Image: Getty Images for FIH

A LOT OF ifs, buts and maybes, the long journey home from India will be a painful one for Ireland as they’re left to reflect on a missed opportunity at this Hockey World Cup.

Needing a draw to advance through to the crossover stage, Alexander Cox’s men came up agonisingly short at the Kalinga Stadium, as it was England who progressed from Pool B alongside Australia and China. 

A sluggish start, during which England seized the lead, followed by a madcap four-goal salvo in the second half ultimately decided a high-stakes encounter, with strikes from Chris Cargo and Shane O’Donoghue not enough to rescue Ireland in a crushing 4-2 defeat.

It was a cruel way to go out, as Ireland’s wait for a first World Cup win since 1978 goes on.

“I feel empty because you never get used to losing. It’s painful,” head coach Cox said, the players sprawled on the pitch in utter dejection at the full-time whistle. 

“You feel sorry for the boys that we’re out of the tournament and it’s not a nice feeling.

“I think in every game this tournament we had an opportunity to get a result but in the end, we weren’t clinical enough.

“We tried. I’m proud of the players and how they conducted themselves, we gave it our all throughout the tournament. We just have to make sure the next time we are on the other end of the result.”

Ireland conceded early and were chasing the game from there. Cargo and O’Donoghue twice levelled matters in the third quarter, but England found a response at the other end on both occasions.

Captain David Harte admitted the slow start, in which Ireland dropped deep and allowed England settle into their passing and attacking rhythm, proved costly.

“Overall I think it took us too long to get into the game,” the goalkeeper said.

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gettyimages-1069399582-594x594 Lee Cole dejected at full-time. Source: Getty Images for FIH

“I think we played a pretty average first half and really only got going in the second half and you can’t do that against a decent side like the English.

“It’s just a heart-breaking feeling right now. I’m so incredibly proud of what we tried to do here these last three games but unfortunately we just came up short.”

The round two draw with 17th-ranked China was the result which hurt Ireland most. They dominated that contest but failed to convert their chances. That was when this campaign got away from them. It will rankle for some time. 

Finishing bottom of Pool B and an early elimination was not in the script, but Cox is optimistic heading into the Olympic qualifying process. 

There are certain areas in the way we play that need to improve for the future, to be more clinical and to get results because in this tournament we didn’t.

“We tried and I’m proud of the players and how they conducted themselves throughout the tournament.

“In every game we were really close so we have to make the next time we are on the other end of the result. If you look at the bigger picture we can also be proud of the way we played here and we gave it our all.”

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Andy Dunne preview a big weekend of Heineken Cup action and dissect the week’s main talking points.


Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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Ryan Bailey

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