Ireland 1 – 2 Canada
Canada opened its three game series with the Irish by controlling possession of the ball for well over a minute to establish its confidence and plan for the match.
Just past the 4th minute, Canada had earned its first short corner of the game. Mark Pearson, Hudson Stewart and Scott Tupper teamed up to unleash a low drag flick to the post. The only thing preventing a sure goal was a great stick save by the Irish keeper.
This save seemed to settle the Irish and play became more end to end with both teams getting entries into each teams respective “D’s”.
By the 15th minute, the Irish earned their first short corner of the game. Mark Pearson, as first runner, was up to the task; however, and got to the drag flick in time to deflect the ball off the end of the pitch.
The game continued on with both teams continuing to find ways to get an opportunity on goal but none prevailed. Entering the 21st minute of the game, Ian Smythe received an excellent ball at the baseline in the Irish “D”. With a few deft moves Ian was close enough to unleash a shot that got past the keeper and hit off the far post and rolled into the goal.
This did not deter the Irish who returned to try and penetrate the Canadian defense. By the 33rd minute their efforts were rewarded with another short corner. This time they were able to release a hard flick. To the Irish frustration, Toni Kindler made an excellent pad save and directed the ball off the back line.
The first half ended with Canada ahead, 1 – 0.
The Irish clearly realized that it could not sit back and wait for Canada to make a mistake. They attacked aggressively and were rewarded by earning another short corner just prior to the 38th minute of the game.
The Irish were able to get another good drag flick off but again, Kindler was up to the task and deflected the ball off the back of the pitch.
In the 51st minute, the Irish won yet another short corner. This time the drag flick hit the arm of Jesse Watson and as a result, a Penalty Stroke was awarded. The Irish captain John Jermyn was successful in his stroke by coolly stroking the ball into the lower corner of the net.
In the 67th minute Canada was able to secure its last short corner of the game. This time the play was to have Scott Tupper release a hard ball along the ground to a diving Matt Guest. Unfortunately, the ball came off the body of Matt Guest resulting in a turnover in possession.
From there until the end of the game it appeared that both teams picked up their urgency and the game would end in a tie. With 9 seconds left in the game, Canada was awarded the ball on their own 15 meter line. Scott Tupper calmly took possession of the ball and held onto it for 5 seconds. Then with complete ease, he launched a scoop that cleared the majority of players on both teams and landed at the top of the Irish circle. A lone Irish defender jumped in desperation to stop the ball on the first bounce but was unable to make contact. Having sprinted in behind the last defender Matt Guest now found himself at the stroke spot, the ball coming directly toward him and the Irish goalie closing quickly behind him. Matt, with the greatest of touches deflected the ball over past the keeper as the final horn sounded. After some debate and consultation with the official time keeper, the goal was awarded to Canada. An exciting end to a tightly contested game.
The second of three matched now moves to Belfast on April 19th at 7:30 pm at the Northern Ireland Civil Service Sports Association Complex.
DNP: Dave Carte, Ken Pereira