Ireland have missed out on a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after the video umpire made an “unacceptable” late penalty call in favour of Canada.
The Irish team were already celebrating a 6-5 aggregate win when Canada asked for a referral on an incident that happened with one second remaining.
The video umpire awarded a penalty stroke, which Canada scored and they then won the shoot-out that followed.
“The video umpire should hang his head in shame,” said captain Jonathan Bell.
“It was a terrible, terrible decision. A decision like that at this level of the game is unacceptable.”
The International Hockey Federation told BBC Sport: “Umpires’ decisions are final and as a general principle FIH does not comment publicly on individual umpiring decisions”.
Ireland had won the first leg 5-3 in Vancouver and looked set to qualify for their sport’s most important competition despite trailing 2-1 in Sunday’s second leg in Vancouver.
A late Canada attack saw James Wallace surge into the Ireland circle and he went down under a challenge from Lee Cole, a fraction of a second before the umpire, who had signalled for a dead ball, blew the final whistle.
But as the men in green celebrated, Canada used their video referral to ask the the video umpire to take a look at the clash. Diego Barbas, who could have awarded a penalty corner, chose the harsher penalty stroke.
Scott Tupper converted to give the hosts a 3-1 win and level the scores at 6-6 on aggregate.
Ireland led 3-1 in the shoot-out but failed to close it out and lost 5-4 in sudden death.
After a 5-3 win in Vancouver on Saturday, Johnny McKee opened the scoring on six minutes for Ireland to give them a three-goal cushion on aggregate but Gordon Johnston responded in the second quarter.
Oliver Scholfield’s goal in the third quarter set up a nervy finish before Cole was adjudged to have clipped Wallace a fraction of a second before the final whistle blew.
Video official Diego Barbas awarded Canada a penalty stroke, instead of a penalty corner, after deeming Cole’s foul intentional and Tupper’s goal gave the hosts a 3-1 win on the day.
Ireland then went 3-1 up in the shootout but misses from Mark Robson and Shane O’Donoghue meant it went to sudden death.
McKee missed the decisive effort in sudden death for a distraught Ireland side.
Canada outplay Ireland in second leg
Antoni Kindler made a fantastic save to keep out Sean Murray’s sweeping effort as Ireland pressed inside the opening five minutes.
However the Canadian stopper was helpless to keep out Johnny McKee’s brilliant run and shot across goal which rocketed into the far corner one minute later.
David Fitzgerald saved well from Johnston’s short corner, an area the hosts exploited in the first leg, to maintain Ireland’s lead after 15 minutes.
Ireland survived O’Donogue’s green card but Johnston converted the Canadian’s fifth penalty corner with eighth minutes to go in the second quarter to reduce the aggregate deficit to two goals.
Canada’s threat from penalty corners remained and John Jackson managed to get a stick on Keegan Pereira’s goalbound effort to push the ball out for a long corner.
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Kindler saved well from Eugene Magee two minutes before half-time as the Ireland remained in control with 30 minutes to go.
Floris von Son spurned a huge opportunity for the hosts shortly after the restart as he missed an open goal at the back post but Ireland’s lead was soon reduced to one as Scholfield flicked home Johnston’s cross.
McKee’s scuffed effort was saved by Kindler as Ireland looked to respond but tempers started to fray at the end of the third quarter, which resulted in Matthew Nelson picking up a yellow card in the dying seconds.
Canada referral cuts Irish celebrations short
The frantic nature continued in the final 15 minutes with James Wallace and O’Donoghue sent for five minutes in the sin-bin for separate late tackles.
With Canada, who are ranked three places higher than Ireland in 10th, pushing for an equaliser, Magee almost found the clincher for the visitors but he was denied by another brilliant Kindler stop after being played clean through.
Kindler was hooked in the final three minutes as Canada desperately searched for the crucial goal, and the last-gasp review from the hosts allowed Tupper to send the game to penalties.
Ireland had celebrated as the final whistle blew but their joy was cut short as Tupper converted the penalty with Tumilty’s side left fuming at the video official’s call.
Magee, McKee and Peter Caruth all scored for Ireland and they looked in a prime position to reach the 2020 Games.
However Robson and O’Donoghue’s misses, plus a nervy conversion from Adam Froese, meant the shootout went to sudden death.
Magee and Johnston both scored before McKee’s effort struck his own foot, which allowed Froese to hit the winning penalty and send Canada to the Olympics.
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