Ireland 4 Korea 2
Ireland’s men followed the women into next October’s Olympic qualifiers as they dug out a brilliant 4-2 win over Korea in the FIH Series semi-final in Le Touquet.
In roasting conditions on the French coast, a glorious spell of three goals in three minutes of game time around half-time made the difference, exorcising Korean demons from the 2012 Olympic qualifying campaign.
Korea had hit the front in the 25th minute from a tamely awarded penalty corner as Conor Harte was adjudged to have obstructed in the process of clearing.
Ireland hit back 20 seconds before half-time, though, when Matthew Bell's mishit crash ball caused consternation. It bounced through a series of sticks, aided by Seán Murray's touch, to Matthew Nelson, who got another feather on it, spinning the ball high and then slightly apologetically over the line for 1-1.
It started that run of three goals in as many minutes of game time as Ireland showed real quality in the moments after half-time.
First, Daragh Walsh and Ben Walker played quick passes to open the game up for Eugene Magee to gleefully sweep high into the net.
Then Magee weaved in from the right to set up Shane O’Donoghue to shoot early enough to catch Jaehyeon Kim unawares for his 102nd international goal.
Seungil Lee got one back from another penalty corner move to set up a tense closing phase, made even more difficult by Paul Gleghorne's 10-minute yellow card.
But David Harte and his defensive team guts it out before Neal Glassey killed off the win in the last minute with the fourth goal.
"It was always going to be a dogfight because of the stakes," John Jackson said afterwards. "We were prepared to fight and that will is an enormous driver that we know we can rely on to get us through tough situations and we have been in plenty of them in the past.
“We don’t like to do things easily but it is an Olympic ticket we are playing for so it will never be easy.”
Ireland will now play in the final on Sunday (5pm Irish time) with a victory boosting their chances of a more favourable opponent in the Olympic qualifiers.
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, M Nelson, N Glassey, M Robson, P Gleghorne, J Carr.
KOREA: J Kim, N Lee, S Cho, S G Lee, T Hwang, J Lee, M Jung, E Hong, S H Lee, J Jang, K Kim.
Subs: J W Cheon, S K Kim, H Kim, J H Kim, J Yang, B Jeon, G Kim.