Caruth secures fitting reward for Ireland


HOCKEY: Ireland 4 Malaysia 3: Peter Caruth’s sublime golden goal against Malaysia provided the Irish senior men’s team with a suitably emotional and dramatic finish to not just their maiden Champions Challenge I campaign but a tumultuous 2012.

The Belfast man struck early in the second period of extra-time to close out a 4-3 win and claim bronze from a competition that the IHA board had initially opted to withdraw from.

At times Ireland looked dead and buried, falling behind three minutes from the end of normal time after Ismail Abu’s rebound.

But Conor Harte, on his 100th cap, replied moments later to force extra time with his fifth goal of the tournament.

They spent the majority of extra time short-handed as both Paul Gleghorne and Eugene Magee served lengthy sin-binnings. Seconds after returning to full strength, however, Caruth was cut loose on his backhand and fired home, ending an epic encounter.

There was something cathartic about this medal-winning moment for a panel that have endured much this year.

Denied Olympic qualification by a matter of eight seconds in March by Korea, their year looked to get even worse when the IHA said a budget shortfall meant they could not take up a place in Buenos Aires.

The hockey public responded angrily, but quickly, to raise €60,000 in four days to reinstate their ticket to Argentina.

New coach Andrew Meredith saw his side get off to a slow start, losing their first two competition games.

But three wins from four to close out the Challenge, two against higher-ranked opposition, landed Ireland a famous bronze from their first attempt at this tier of competition, second only to the Champions Trophy in terms of standard.

Questions still remain over the decision to withdraw, many of which arose yesterday afternoon at a special general meeting of the IHA in Stillorgan. The meeting had been called by the clubs but many were dissatisfied by IHA responses. Much of the responsibility for the budget issues were placed at the door of ex-coach Paul Revington “who overspent in the early months of this year”.

Club delegates replied that the IHA should have noticed the impending funding issues long before October. IHA chairman Dennis Millar conceded there were “inadequate financial controls” in place, leading to over €37,500 extra being spent.

IRELAND: D Harte, C Harte, J Jackson, R Gormley, S Loughrey, G McCabe, A McConnell, J Jermyn, S O’Donoghue, P Caruth, M Watt. Subs: T Cockram, P Gleghorne, C Cargo, M Darling, E Magee.

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