Women’s Hockey: Three late German goals finish off Ireland
Defeat leaves Ireland in relegation pool of the Rabo EuroHockey Nations Championships
Nike Lorenz of Germany celebrates with teammates after scoring against Ireland. Photograph: Getty Images
Ireland 1 Germany 5
Three goals in the last 10 minutes gave an initially upbeat performance a deflated finish as Ireland’s women lost 5-1 to Germany at the European Championships in Amsterdam.
For coach Graham Shaw, the challenge will be to draw the positive nuggets from the middle third of the tie, rather than the messy phases either side as they now go into the relegation pool.
The German tie had been rendered meaningless, from an Irish perspective, by England’s earlier 2-0 win over Scotland, pouring cold water on any fanciful semi-final hopes.
For Germany, the tie was more important, needing a result to top the group and their more pressing need showed early on when Nike Lorenz fired home a set piece two minutes into the tie.
Franzisca Hauke doubled their advantage in the 23rd minute, following a sublime German move, and there was a danger that Ireland would roll over given the stakes.
On the flip side, it freed the shackles somewhat with Anna O’Flanagan and Katie Mullan swarming around Noelle Rother to win a corner. Made in Munster, Limerick’s Roisin Upton dragged goalward and Yvonne O’Byrne used the stick’s handle to loop the ball over Rother.
Moments later, Chloe Watkins danced through three tackles before stinging Rother’s padding. It provided visible sustenance to the team’s will, than much of what has gone before in the tournament to date.
When Katie Mullan stole a loose clearance, Ireland had a glorious chance to level but Rother was off her line quickly to avert the danger.
“They are the phases we want to play all the time,” coach Shaw said afterwards. “But if you concede after 35 seconds, you go on the back foot and negativity comes into people’s minds. We need to find a way to get out of it. We have not allowed ourselves to get into games.”
The upbeat mood evaporated in the final quarter as Germany added three in quick succession.
Charlotte Stapenhorst pulled back to Pia-Sophie Oldhafer to flick in despite Zoe Wilson’s best efforts, before Cecile Pieper wound up to smash into the top corner. Stapenhorst’s drag made it 5-1.
It means Graham Shaw will have a job on to lift the team’s spirits ahead of the relegation pool which starts on Thursday against tournament low-ranks the Czech Republic at 11.30am (Irish time).
Ireland need to finish in the top two of the four team group to avoid the drop and carry through one point from their tie against Scotland.
By contrast, the Irish men meet England on Wednesday afternoon at 1.45pm with a draw or better ensuring they reach the semi-finals for a second successive Euros.
Ireland: G O’Flanagan, Y O’Byrne, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, R Upton, C Watkins, N Daly, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke
Subs: N Evans, E Beatty, G Pinder, S Loughran, H Matthews, A Meeke, C Cassin
Germany: N Rother, N Lorenz, A Schroder, C Stapenhorst, J Muller-Wieland, J Teschke, F Hauke, M Mavers, N Notman, P-S Oldhafer, H Granitzki
Subs: S Oruz, T Martin Pelegrina, P Grambusch, C Pieper, C Nobis, J Ciupka
Umpires: V Bagdanskiene (LTU), I Presenqui (ARG).