Ireland’s men fell to another frustrating shoot-out defeat to end their World Cup qualifying tournament in fourth place, falling to Austria 4-3 in a shoot-out after normal time ended 3-3.
Ireland’s hopes of a World Cup ticket had been dashed a day earlier via the same method at the hands of Wales, leaving this tie solely to settle ranking points.
And despite the Green Machine starting well, Austria scored from their first attack of note with Nikolas Wellan deflecting home from a crash ball.
Fabian Unterkircher snagged a second before half-time, again against the run of play as Ireland looked set to bow out on a low-key note.
But a concerted second half effort saw Ireland roar back into contention. Jonny McKee flicked in from mid-circle after Tim Cross’s ball in from the right flank and he levelled the game up when Ben Walker’s shot at goal looped up off Mateusz Szymczyk and spun invitingly for the Banbridge man to tip in.
It looked like the comeback was complete when Jeremy Duncan cashed in from a penalty corner rebound – Ireland’s eighth of the game – but, in a fractious closing phase, Austria summoned up one last attack with Oliver Binder ghosting in at the back post to make it 3-3.
In the shoot-out, Ireland switched up their line-up from Saturday with Shane O’Donoghue – playing in his 200th cap – scoring his own effort as well as two penalty strokes, won by Daragh Walsh and Sean Murray.
The outcome, though, hinged on a bizarre moment when Fülöp Lusonci stood on the ball in his shoot-out but it was missed by the three umpires and he did not delay in popping home the ball.
That edged them 3-2 in front and they held on to win 4-3 with Michael Körper scoring in the final round of the shoot-out.