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Ireland men's hockey team miss out on 2020 Olympics

Ben Finnegan
Ben Finnegan

11:15 28 Oct 2019

The Irish men's hockey team have missed out on qualifying for next summer's Olympic Games in Toyko.

It had all come down to a two-legged playoff with Canada. The first took place on Saturday with the Green Machine winning 5-3. The team went into the second game knowing a draw would be enough to book their place in Japan.

However, with one second to go and the score 6-5 on aggregate, a controversial video review decision resulted in a penalty stroke being awarded to the Canadian side - which was converted.

The game then went to penalty strokes, which Canada won.

Speaking after the game, head coach Mark Tumilty said, “we probably didn’t play as well as we did yesterday. Canada reacted well to our performance yesterday, however, I thought we still created enough chances. The guys dug in very deep there right until the last seconds of the game.

“I’m so very proud of what the guys have delivered over these last six weeks. It was a difficult period for them. There were a lot of unknowns in relation to the coaching setup and that. But they’ve been a fantastic group of players to deal with.

“For some lads, that’s their last international game. What a way to go out of international hockey. But they’ve been excellent servants to Irish hockey. They’ve had a lot of highs. This would be one of the major lows. It’s never a nice way to go out of your international career. But they’re a strong group of lads and there’s a lot of talent still in the group. I’m convinced that this group can bounce back.

Asked what went through his mind in the final moments of the match, he replied “We celebrated as if we’d won it. It’s a very tough call. I wouldn’t see too many of those in any level of hockey, to be honest with you - for that to be given. But we had our chances in the shootout as well. Fitzy did very well in goals. That’s the way shootouts go. Listen, they’re potluck.

“Fair play to Canada for their performance today. They hung in there the whole time. Very hard [not] to let their heads drop when we scored early on. But that’s the way it goes. It’s not an easy one to take. It’s probably a really low one. Not easy.”

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