Green Machine march into last four in Argentina
Ireland’s Green Machine marched into the Champions Challenge 1 semi-finals in Quilmes, Argentina, with a convincing 4-0 quarter-final win over Poland.
After a tight first period, neither side managed to break the deadlock, as the team's went into the break 0-0.
However, it was all Ireland in the second period, with goals from Michael Watt, Conor Harte (2) and Shane O'Donohue securing victory.
The Green Machine will now face tournament hosts Argentina in Saturday’s semi-final at 8pm (Irish time).
Ireland, fresh from a 3-1 victory over South Africa on Tuesday, started brightly and dominated possession in the early part of the contest, but faced a Polish Keeper, Arkadiusz Matuszak, in inspired form.
In a short space of time he made consecutive top-drawer saves following strikes at goal from Watt and O’Donohue.
David Harte in the Irish goal was making his 100th appearance, and despite being a spectator for large parts, was called on to make important saves as Poland found their feet midway through the half.
Surprisingly, the half came to a close at 0-0 with Ireland on top, but not being able to find a way past the magnificent Polish keeper.
Andrew Meredith’s Ireland began the second half where they left off the first, maintaining the majority of possession and creating the most clear-cut chances.
Finally in the 45th minute, the resolute Polish defence was beaten as the ball fell to Ireland’s Watt to slot home and give the Green Machine a deserved 1-0 lead.
Ireland, in the ascendancy and playing some great hockey, didn’t take long to double the advantage as Conor Harte - twin brother of goalkeeper David - finished delightfully on a penalty-corner variation in the 50th minute.
Poland were rattled at this point and within four minutes the game was made seemingly safe as Harte grabbed his second and Ireland’s third from yet another penalty corner.
Ireland maintained an exceptionally high level of performance throughout the game and as the encounter drew to a close in the 63rd minute, Watt found UCD man O’Donohue, who fired a low shot into the corner to make the scoreline 4-0 and put some icing on a fantastic Irish performance.
There was still time in the final moments of the game for Poland to miss a gilt-edged chance to get on the scoresheet themselves, but they failed to score from one metre out.
It would have been no more than a consolation for the Poles, however, it meant a great deal to goalkeeper Harte, who fittingly got to enjoy a clean sheet on his momentous day.
Speaking after the game Ireland coach Meredith said: "It's a great result after a frustrating first half, where we failed to convert our dominance.
"It was good to see after a much more clinical performance in the last third that we were able to convert our authority in the scoreboard."
Ireland starting XI: D Harte, C Harte, Jackson, Gormley, Gleghorne, McCabe, Jermyn, Magee, Cockram, O'Donoghue, Watt.