The match was level at 2-2, with two seconds left to play and a goal is conceded. One team is not going to compete at the greatest show of all, the Olympics Games in London.
On most other weekends the exploits of the Ireland Men’s hockey team would have caused emotional turmoil and devastation because of the injustice of the way they lost in the final of the Olympic qualifier, shattering dreams of playing at the highest level of sport on offer.
What happened to Fabrice Muamba puts things into perspective. The 23-year-old footballer collapsed on the field during a game after suffering a cardiac arrest. He remains in a critical condition in the London Heart Hospital.
Although this is true it would be unfair to dismiss the exploits of the men in green who put every ounce of energy, passion and drive they had into achieving success for themselves and the people who helped get them there. This includes the thousands of wayward, jotter wearing enthusiastic wannabes who line out for their club sixth elevens on a cold, drippy Saturday afternoon from Raphoe to Rochestown.
These boys didn’t just turn up in Dublin on Sunday and give it a go. They have put in hours of training, travelling and analyzing to contribute in the most effective way they possibly could. They missed family events, nights outs and watching their own club mates create and break records for the number of swings and misses in front of goal (or equivalent legendary horlicks around the country). They deserve recognition for the effort they put in.
Bill Shankly wasn’t often wrong but we were reminded this weekend that sport isn’t a matter of life and death. The heartache the boys in green will be feeling today is testament to the dedication and talent they possess. On paper they weren’t supposed to beat Korea who are ranked ten places above them in the FIH world rankings but the calculations gone into creating this hierarchy don’t account for the blood, sweat and tears given by every member of the Ireland squad. With two seconds left on the clock, it was a cruel way to lose but any result other than winning would have felt just as tragic. Sportsmen and women want to finish on top and although the result wasn’t what Ireland wanted they did themselves proud, their peers are looking up at them and they live to fight another day.
- Match highlights, Korea 3-2 Ireland