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Dublin: 4 °C Thursday 20 February, 2020
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Irish Defence Forces left 'devastated' after bowing out of World Military Games at the quarter-finals

There was better news for boxer Danny O’Brien, who is guaranteed at least a bronze medal.

The Ireland team that faced Algeria.
The Ireland team that faced Algeria.
Image: Irish Defence Forces

THE IRISH FOOTBALL team’s adventure at the World Military Games in China was brought to an end yesterday. 

Four points from their group had earned Óglaigh na hÉireann a place in the quarter-finals, where they took on two-time champions Algeria for a spot in the last four. 

Richie Barber’s side had already been beaten 4-0 by the same opposition in the opening game of the tournament, but they were determined to learn from that first meeting. 

Ireland were set up well and held off the north Africans for the opening half-hour, but an unfortunate own goal from Craig Doran handed them a lead.

The Boys in Green regrouped but lost a key player to injury at the start of the second half as midfielder Chris Kenny was withdrawn with an ankle problem. 

Algeria then doubled their advantage seconds after the restart. Ken Deegan pulled off a fine save initially after a bit of individual brilliance, but he could do nothing about the follow-up. 

As Ireland pushed numbers forward in a bid to get back into the game, Algeria’s Abderrahmane Meziane, who plays for Al Ain in the UEA Pro-League, sealed the victory with a wonderful solo goal on the counter attack.

“We are devastated,” Barber told The42. “We wanted to get to the semis — for our families and everyone that we represent back at home.

The players and staff gave their all. They ran themselves into the ground and you can see what it meant to them at the end. There are more than a few tears in that dressing room.

“I want to thank my staff — Colm Kavanagh, Anthony Jinks, Lloyd Murphy and Frank Carolan — who have given everything to this on top of there own jobs in the military. They have really brought the professional standards of the team to a new level.

“Adrian Watson has put in serious work behind the scenes too, along with Brian Donagh — for all the sports and the boxers, in particular.”  

There was more positive news for Irish boxer Danny O’Brien, meanwhile. The Dubliner (91kg) beat Juan Nogueira of Brazil — his third win of the competition –  at the quarter-final stage to guarantee at least a bronze medal. 

He faces Abzal Kullybekov of Kazakhstan for a place in the final tomorrow. 

Danny O'Brien Source: Twitter/Defence Forces

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Ben Blake

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