Slow start cost Ireland, admits captain Harte

Ireland were left to rue a poor first-half as they lost 4-2 to England in the Hockey World Cup and bowed out of the tournament.

Alexander Cox’s side needed to avoid defeat against the English to book a place in the crossover phase of the competition, and potentially win through to the quarter-finals.

However Ireland were slow out of the blocks and David Condon gave England the lead 15 minutes ahead of the first break, smashing in a cutback from the baseline by Will Calnan.

After half-time, Ireland hit back when Chris Cargo deflected the ball in from close range on 35 minutes.

Liam Ansell soon restored England’s lead with his second goal in three games, only for Shane O’Donoghue to swiftly make it 2-2 from a penalty corner.

Following a hectic spell in the last quarter, James Gall put England back in front again after 38 minutes, with a fine finish on the counter attack, and Mark Gleghorne’s late drag-flick made sure of victory.

Goalkeeper and captain David Harte pointed to Ireland’s sluggish start as the reason for the defeat and their exit from the tournament.

The Corkman said: “Overall I think it took us too long to get into the game. 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.

Harte did take some hope from Ireland’s performances in India however and believes that the way they ran both England and Australia close in their Group B games offers hope for the future.

“This just gives you an idea how close we are with the top teams in the world. A result like this against the English, a high ranked side; Australia, a high ranked side.

“It’s just the small details here and there. Hopefully this will be a springboard for us to get going towards 2019 and towards the Olympic qualifier.”

Ireland defender Jonny Bell echoed Harte’s comments about Ireland’s slow start and he believes they left themselves with too much to do.

“We always knew it was going to be a very tough match,” he said.

“The first half we just didn’t perform to the level we know we can but the second half we came out and we gave a really good showing of ourselves.

“We created  a couple of good opportunities but they just managed to nick one and we just couldn’t force that equaliser and they get a goal on the hooter.

“Unfortunately that’s the way sport goes, it didn’t fall our way this time but we will come back.”