World Cup Qualifiers
Ireland 2 (John Jermyn 2) Czech Republic 2 (Martin Babicky 2)
Ireland’s World Cup qualifiction hopes were left teetering on the brink as they blew a two-goal lead to draw with the Czech Republic 2-2 in Quilmes and, following Argentina's 2-2 draw with Belgium, will have to win by three goals on Saturday over the hosts to reach the final play-off.
In truth, it was a desperately disappointing result as Ireland led to 2-0 in a first half, John Jermyn scoring a penalty stroke and a penalty corner in 12th and 22nd minutes respectively, but a second penalty stroke was saved by the excellent Fillip Neusser (pictured, right) who denied a 3-0 lead.
Ireland responded positively, earning a corner while a couple of further efforts slipped wide. A single-goal lead is always a nervous one, though, and the Czechs crucially took the one chance that came their way with four minutes to go.
Vadmuska again made the circle penetration with Babicky again the man on target with a scramble at the back post to make it 2-2.
Ondrej Vudmaska was sin-binned for the final three minutes but Ireland were able to capitalise, leaving the Czechs to celebrate their first result of any kind against the Irish in five attempts - a remarkable turnaround from the 10-0 win the last time the side's met in 2007's Europeans.
Belgium's late comeback, though, means there is still a sliver of hope of making the final. Had the Argentines won, Ireland would have been left to rely on tournament bottom-feeders USA beating Belgium for any chance of progression to exist. But they scored twice in the last 13 minutes to reel in a 2-0 deficit and now Ireland can qualify on goal difference with a three-goal win.
Ireland: David Harte, John Jackson, Ronan Gormley (capt), Mikey Watt, Stephen Butler, John Jermyn, Eugene Magee, Peter Caruth, Geoff McCabe, Conor Harte, Tim Lewis
Subs: Graham Shaw, Mitch Darling, Alan Sothern, David Ames, Paul Gleghorne
Results: Ireland 2 (John Jermyn 2) Czech Republic 2 (Martin Babicky 2); Chile 2 USA 1; Belgium 2 Argentina 2
Standings: 1. Belgium 10pts (+15) 2. Argentina 10pts (+10) 3. Ireland 7pts (+5) 4. Czech Republic 4pts (-8) 5. Chile 3pts (-9) 6. USA 0pts (-13)
* Video courtesy of TazVideoSport. Photo courtesy of World Hockey.