Magee Hat-Trick Seals French Series

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It took him 280 caps to do it but Eugene Magee scored a stunning first international hat-trick as Ireland gave themselves the perfect send off ahead of the first stage of Olympic qualifying with a 3-2 win over France at Lisnagarvey.

However, the experienced Banbridge midfielder revealed afterwards that he will miss the European Championship campaign in Antwerp in August due to work commitments.

Before that, however, Ireland will be aiming for a top-two finish at the FIH Hockey series in Le Touquet, which begins next week, to progress. Fortunately, Magee (32) will be available in October should Ireland reach the final stage of qualifying for Tokyo 2020.

He said: “It’s unfortunate that I can’t play in the European Championship but, hopefully, we can make it through the FIH series and then try to get to what would be our second Olympics in succession.”

Ireland head coach Alexander Cox added: “I was happy about certain aspects of our game but also the same as the game before, some mistakes on our side, some unforced errors which made the game more difficult.”

“if we make less unforced errors then the game can be easier. It’s a tough opposition, the same quality as us so therefore you need to be on top of your game for four times 15 minutes.”

“I think we did reasonably well, happy with the win and it’s also important before going to France. As always I’m proud of the lads, they gave it their all again, they worked so hard and I think we deserved the win in the end.”

Eugene, who now overhauls Shirley McCay as Ireland’s most capped player was presented with the match ball afterwards as he celebrated his achievement, watched by his one-year-old daughter, whose birthday it was the previous day.

Magee took just 90 seconds to get off the mark, finishing off a swift passing move at the far post following a quick free.

France levelled 12 minutes later when Gaspard Baumgarten shot home after a pull back from the base line. Etienne Tynevez made it 2-1 on 25 minutes to put the visitors ahead after another clinical finish.

Magee got his second two minutes from half time when he scored from close range after playing a neat one-two with fellow Ulsterman Sean Murray to tie things up.

The Bann star missed a glorious chance to complete his treble in the third quarter when he fired wide after being set up by Matthew Nelson.

But his hat-trick goal arrived as he made amends by driving in the winner from the edge of the circle in the 53rd minute after a fine run down the right flank by John Jackson.

Meanwhile, Ireland will be taking part in the third tier of the European Indoor Championship in Santander next January after being promoted from the reserve-list as the national team returns to the six-a-side version of the sport for the first time in more than 30 years.

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