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Ireland denied by Japanese defence

Ireland remain bottom of Pool B at the Champions Challenge I following a 3-0 defeat to Japan.

Ireland goalkeeper David Harte (file photo).
Ireland goalkeeper David Harte (file photo).
Image: ©INPHO/Presseye/Rowland White

IRELAND’S HOCKEY TEAM refused to give up hope after they went down 3-0 against Japan at the Champions Challenge I in Argentina yesterday.

After a narrow defeat to the hosts in their opening match, Ireland needed a win to haul themselves off the bottom of Pool B.

Andrew Meredith’s men dominated for large parts and had 16 shots on goal, but were shut out by an outstanding performance from Japanese goalkeeper Katsuya Takase who kept them at bay.

“Anybody who saw the match knows that there is not such difference between Japan and Ireland,” Geoffrey McCabe said afterwards. “We created a lot of opportunities today in the circle but couldn’t score, and they scored in the counter-attack.

“We want to win every game and we played for it, but the tournament’s format suggests that you don’t have to win your first three games. The fourth game is the most important, so we have time to improve our skills for the next games.”

Ireland meet South Africa in their final pool match tomorrow (4.30pm GMT) and can move up to third place with a win. All eight teams qualify for the quarter-finals, but if Ireland finish bottom of Pool B, they will face a tough challenge against the winners of Group A in the last eight.

A potential reunion with former coach Paul Revington would then be on the cards after his Malaysia side took the points against South Korea yesterday to make it two wins from two.

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Niall Kelly

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