By Michael Pavitt

Ireland's victory in San Diego saw them claim a Hockey World League semi-final place ©Bongarts/Getty ImagesIreland overcame Austria in the final of the men's International Hockey Federation (FIH) World League (HWL) Round 2 in San Diego to increase their prospects of qualifying for Rio 2016.

The final proved a tight affair with Mitch Darling putting Ireland into an early lead, before Austria's Michael Körper levelled the tie.

Shane O'Donoghue, fresh from scoring both goals in Ireland's 2-0 semi-final win over Canada, was on hand to score the decisive goal in final, striking home from a penalty corner to give the Irish a 2-1 victory.

Ireland were the second highest ranked team heading into the tournament and their victory will give them a major confidence boost, as the race to Rio 2016 heats up, after missing out on competing at the London 2012 following a 3-2 defeat to South Korea in final qualification match.

The San Diego event was the second of three Round 2 legs, with the first being held in Singapore in January and the final event schedule to be held in Cape Town, which is due to conclude on March 15. 

Ireland missed out on London 2012 after a 3-2 defeat to South Korea ©Irish Hockey AssociationIreland missed out on London 2012 after a 3-2 defeat to South Korea
©Irish Hockey Association

Each of the three events sees three HWL semi-final places up for grabs, which will act as a Rio 2016 qualification tournament.

By reaching the finals in San Diego, Ireland and Austria sealed their spot in the semi-final stage and they will be joined by Canada after they overcame Russia 4-1 in the third place playoff in the Californian city.

Malaysia, Japan and Poland had already progressed to the HWL semi-finals after achieving a top three finishes in Singapore.

Following the completion of Round 2 in Cape Town, attention will turn to the semi-final phase, scheduled to be held in Argentina from June 3 to 14 and Belgium from June 20 to July 5 where the top three teams at each event will advance to Rio 2016. 

The winners of the men's Hockey World League will be decided in the final stage set to be held in India, which will also see FIH Champions Trophy tournament spots available for the best teams.

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