Ireland 1 Austria 1 (Ireland win bonus point shoot-out 4-2)
Ireland's new-look team top their Hockey World League Round 2 going into Tuesday's final round of group games following a productive weekend in Stormont.
On Saturday, featuring nine players making their ranking tournament debut, they easily beat Ukraine 9-2 with Jonny McKee scoring his first two goals for Ireland.
Ben Walker (17) was also on the mark, netting just over 24 hours after his call-up in place of the injured John Jermyn; he received the phone call during a French class at St Andrew's College.
On Sunday, Austria proved a much sterner test despite Matthew Nelson’s third-minute goal, a powerful shot from the top of the circle. The “green machine” held the vast majority of the ball but struggled to break down a compact, man-to-man defence.
It meant the single-goal gap was always vulnerable to a rogue counter-attack and Austria duly plundered a penalty corner with less than two minutes to go which Bernhard Schmidt dragged for a Dominic Uher deflection.
It meant a draw which, in this competition, leads to a shoot-out for an extra bonus point. Ireland scored four from four while world goalkeeper of the year David Harte saved twice for a 4-2 success.
Reflecting on the tie, Craig Fulton said he was reasonably happy despite a largely low-key tie which was short on chances.
“They didn’t try to play too much, sitting deep and trying to play off our mistakes,” Fulton said. “Tactically, we had a lot of possession; maybe we didn’t play it smart enough but it’s only this group’s second game together but I am happy enough.”
Ireland face Italy on Tuesday in their third group game before an all-important quarter-final on Thursday.
IRELAND: D Harte, J Bell, M Bell, R Gormley, C Cargo, M Nelson, E Magee, N Glassey, S O'Donoghue, J McKee, C Harte. Substitutes: B Walker, S Murray, P Gleghorne, J Duncan, L Cole, J Wright, J Carr
AUSTRIA: M Szymczyk, S Eitenberger, D Uher, A Bele, B Schmidt, M Korper, D Frohlich, B Stanzl, M Minar, L Thornblom, X Hasun. Substitutes: F Zeidler, P Schmidt, F Steyrer, P Stanzl, R Bele, J Heimanns, B Melinc