The damage to Ireland’s World Cup hopes was done on Saturday by Wales, ranked 15th in the world to Ireland’s 14th. Wales won 2-1 in a shoot-out to keep Ireland out of the 2023 World Cup in India.
Ireland also lost Sunday’s final match at the World Cup Qualifying event in Cardiff against Austria for third and fourth place. It took another shoot-out to separate the teams, Ireland going down 4-3 to come fourth overall in the ranking tournament.
The intervening time should certainly give the sport time to rethink why the team is so off the pace at the top level and how that might affect funding over the next few years.
The team qualified for the last World Cup three years ago, which was also staged at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar and were eliminated at the group stage.
That Ireland also struggled against Austria, ranked 19th in the world, is an added concern. It was a feisty match and at one stage in the fourth quarter nine Austrians were playing against 10 Irish players as the cards were freely being shown.
Ireland had to come back from 2-0 down when Nicolas Wellan and Fabian Unterkircher scored on 11 and 29 minutes to put Austria 2-0 ahead. But goals from John McKee in the 33rd and 44th minute levelled the sides.
Jeremy Duncan scored Ireland's third goal six minutes from the end of the match after Ireland had earned a series of penalty corners. The initial shot from the corner was saved off the line with Duncan following in and finding the net on the second chance. That looked like the winner.
But Austria nicked an equaliser just two minutes from the end when Oliver Binder got a stick to a long ball to the far post, which took Ireland to the ill-fated shoot-out.