Ireland 2 Egypt 1
Shane O'Donoghue's 69th international goal two minutes from time. saw Ireland snatch an important victory over Egypt, one that guarantees their progression from the group stage of the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Johannesburg.
Craig Fulton’s side found the going tough against the unfancied Egyptians who had lost their opening two games, conceding a combined 15 goals.
Indeed, they trailed to Ahmed El-Naggar’s opening goal at the break. Chris Cargo’s excellent individual goal levelled within a minute of the restart, though, and Ireland stayed patient to eventually break Egypt down.
O’Donoghue thought he had levelled with three minutes remaining when his reverse-stick shot looped in but was adjudged, on video review, to have used his back-stick.
The winner, though, arrived just a minute later when the Glenanne man stepped up to whip in a drag-flick from Ireland’s fifth penalty corner.
Speaking afterwards, O’Donoghue acknowledged it was a far from polished performances.
“It was tricky and things didn’t go as we would have liked,” he said. “The big thing was we kept our composure when it counted. The basics weren’t there and there were lots of simple errors but it is great to fight back and be able to get the win.
“The second half, we came out nice and calm, trying to build more phases and create genuine chances to score.”
Ireland lined out without goalkeeper David Harte - the two-time world goalkeeper of the year - due to a concussion sustained in Tuesday's game against Belgium. It meant Jamie Carr came in for his first appearance on the field in a world ranking tournament.
He was primarily a spectator in the opening quarter in which Ireland won two corners but could not take advantage. Conor Harte saw another set-piece blocked by goalkeeper Ahmed Adel in the 22nd minute in a frustrating first half in which Egypt sat very deep, leaving little space to work with.
And they scored from their one shot of the first half when Paul Gleghorne was pick-pocketed on the left flank by Ahmed Mohsen who fed El-Naggar who deftly flicked over Carr.
It made for a tense second half but Ireland attempted to stick to their principles and got on terms instantly when Cargo took on a free himself, driving into the circle and slamming home.
And while their rhythm never hit full flow, they looked the more likely to grab the initiative. A fourth corner was blocked, an Alan Sothern snap-shot was miscued and O'Donoghue's disallowed goal could have heightened the tension.
But they stuck to the task and eventually got the winner, handing them their second win of the group stages. It assures them of a place in next Wednesday’s quarter-finals which is a direct qualification tie for the 2018 World Cup. Their next tie is next Monday against Germany.
Ireland: J Carr, J Jackson, J Bell, C Cargo, M Nelson, A Sothern, E Magee, S O'Donoghue, C Harte, S Loughrey, S Cole
Subs: M Bell, N Glassey, S Murray, J McKee, P Gleghorne, J Duncan
Egypt: A Adel, A Ezz, M Mansour, K Atef, A Gamal, A Sayed, A Said, A El-Naggar, A El-Ganaini, M Zaki, H Ghobran
Subs: A Ibrahim, M Ragab, M Mamdouh, A Mohsen, M Nasr, M Gadelkarim, W Noureldin.