After a disappointing defeat by Egypt on Sunday the Ireland men’s squad, with nine Ulster players aboard, picked themselves up to defeat Singapore 11-0 at the FIH Hockey Seies event in Le Touquet on Tuesday guaranteeing automatic entry to the last four.
A win in Saturday’s semi-final will see the men join the Irish women in the final stage of Olympic qualifying. Shane O’Donoghue, Ireland’s all-time leading goal scorer, not only scored a hat-trick but also surpassed the 100 international goal mark, making him the first Irish player to do so.
O’Donoghue put Ireland on the scoreboard within the opening minute of the game from a penalty corner. Ireland dominated possession in the opening quarter with goals from Conor Harte and Matthew Nelson making it 3-0 before the end of the first quarter.
The goals kept coming in the second phase with Eugene Magee and Ben Walker passing around the Singapore circle to provide Stephen Cole the opportunity to finish.
A backhand from O’Donoghue gave Walker a chance to touch the ball into the goal to bring Ireland to a 5-0 lead. Ireland continued to dominate possession throughout the match against a noticeably weaker Singapore, with another five goals in the third quarter.
O’Donoghue completed his hat-trick by the third quarter and reached 101 international goals. Both Stephen Cole and Conor Harte managed to put away their second goals of the match, while Luke Madeley also got a drag flick from a penalty corner bringing the third quarter to a close with a 10-0 lead to Ireland.
After a sweeping move up the field and several shots at the goal, the closing minute of the game saw Lee Cole make the final result Ireland 11-0 Singapore.
Head coach Alexander Cox said: “We knew we needed to score at least four goals today to top the table. We scored 11 which is a good result.”
“After the big disappointment of losing to Egypt we needed to show ourselves that we are capable of reaching the qualifier play-offs for Tokyo. We did that today. We did so because we were focused from the start and stayed focused until the end.”
“Now we need to prepare ourselves for a big game coming up.”
Today’s result means the Irish men have topped their pool and will move straight to the semi-final stage on Saturday, with their opponent to be decided on Thursday.
Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, J Bell, E Magee, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, B Walker, D Walsh, C Harte, L Cole, S Cole
Subs: M Bell, L Madeley, N Glassey, M Robson, P Gleghorne