Alan Sothern was the hero as Ireland have secured an 1-0 win over Japan in their final Champions Challenge I pool match in Kuantan, Malaysia.
After a quiet first half where the teams denied each other many goal-scoring opportunities it was all drama in the second half.
Ireland's net keeper David Harte was called into action to save a penalty stroke in the 55th minute, Harte deflecting Kei Kawakami’s shot to keep the sides at nil-all.
Despite securing three penalty corners it was Sothern's open play skill that netted Ireland the only goal of the day in the 66th minute.
Ireland Coach Craig Fulton was pleased his team secured the three points.
“We stuck to the game plan in what was a tough match, we created important chances and in the end we were able to execute to secure what was an important goal,” Fulton said.
“We didn’t play as well as we would have liked but we are a young team up front and this achieves our goal of finishing in the top three in the pool stages.”
Japan fought to the end, but Ireland closed out the match to secure the win.
Ireland's final pool standing, which will determine who they meet in the quarter-finals, will be known after New Zealand play Poland in the final Pool A game.
Ireland Starting XI: David Harte GK; John Jackson; Johnathan Bell; Maurice Elliott; Alan Sothern; Stephen Dowds; Eugene Magee; Kirk Shimmins; Drew Carlisle; Philip Brown, Paul Gleghorne
Reserves: Chris Cargo; Matthew Bell; Bruce McCandless; Michael Robson; Richard Shaw; Peter Brown; David Fitzgerald.