O’Donoghue disappointed at failing to finish the job

By Stephen Leonard

IRELAND Senior Men’s Hockey star Shane O’Donoghue insists the demands of achieving the team’s primary objective of an Olympic qualification berth played its part in them falling short of the overall FIH Series title in France last weekend.

After having recorded their very first victory over Asian opposition in a ranking event after they beat Korea 4-2 in the semi finals, Ireland suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of tournament hosts France.

Shane ODonoghue photo

There were mixed emotions for Shane O’Donoghue in the FIH Series in France.

“The Korea game was like our final because we knew we had to win it if we were to have any prospect of getting to Tokyo 2020” stressed O’Donoghue.

“Of the two semi finals, that was the toughest and it took a lot out of us, both physically and mentally. Our display against France was not the typical one you’d come to expect from us.

“Our record against France over the years has been really good. We’d either beat them or draw, so to lose to them was a real kick in the teeth. It was a hard one to take. But the fatigue and exhaustion from the semi final took its toll and France were deserved winners.

“There were mixed emotions. We had achieved one objective of securing an Olympic qualifier. That was our Number One goal.

“But we wanted to finish off the tournament on a good note and to lose that final was very disappoint-ing. Especially in terms of our FIH ranking points, the gap is that bit wider between ourselves [in 11th] and Canada [in 10th]” he pointed out.

For O’Donoghue the tournament marked a major milestone in his playing career, as he became the first Irish player to exceed 100 goals for his country.

It was a hat-trick in their 11-0 demolition of Singapore that saw him on to treble digits and he followed that up with another goal against Korea to take his tally to 102.

“It was a special moment in my career and one that I will always cherish” insisted O’Donoghue.

“But it is down to the team mates I’ve played with over the last eight or nine years. There’s a list of players who have been so supportive of me both on and off the pitch” he added.

The former Glenanne player and his international team mates will now be turning their attention to next month’s European Championships in Antwerp.

There they will face off against a Netherlands outfit targeting their third continental title in succession together with Germany and Scotland, in the hope of securing a top-two finish in the pool and, with it, further passage to the semi finals.

“We’ll now look ahead to the Europeans” continued O’Donoghue. “That will be even tougher. The level of competition is so high, but we showed in 2015 when we won bronze that, with a bit of luck, underdogs can win.

“We’ll dissect the game against France and see what went wrong. That will stand to us and we’ll go into the Europeans with a lot of belief.”

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