Ireland 1 (L Madeley) France 4 (E Tynenez, G Baumgarten, C Sellier)
Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for next summer’s European Championships top tier are all but done and dusted after a comprehensive French 4-1 win in Calais.
Two goals conceded in the first seven minutes - from Gaspard Baumgarten and Corentin Sellier - left the Irish with a mountain to climb and they never mustered the forward momentum required to mount a challenge.
As such, bar a Lithuanian miracle win - they have conceded 22 times in two games this week - over the French on Saturday allied to an Irish success against Turkey, it means Mark Tumilty’s side will contest the B division in 2023 once again.
Ireland came into the contest with just one defeat to the French in their last 15 encounters but this tie exposed the chasm that has developed since their last meeting in 2019. Since then, the Calais hosts have excelled on the world stage, testing many sides in the top eight while Ireland remain a side searching for a spark to reignite their evolution.
France were sprightly from the start and went in front on five minutes when they pinched possession on the 23-metre line. A quick Sellier pass to Baumgarten allowed the striker to wind up from a tight angle and he had enough power to make it through Jaime Carr’s defences.
The second followed in quick succession as another slip allowed Francois Goyet to break loose on the left wing and pump in a cross which Sellier tipped home in the middle.
Ireland steadied in the second quarter but any comeback hopes were out of the window in the early stages of the second half. Their pin-point diagonal overhead balls consistently left the green shirts overloaded and it gave Xavier Gaspard an overload to lay up Etienne Tynevez to nudge in the third goal.
Tynevez made it 4-0 with 22 minutes to go from the penalty spot, a slightly contentious decision for a seemingly innocuous tangle of sticks at the top of the circle.
Luke Madeley got Ireland on the board when he whipped a drag-flick to the top right from their first series of penalty corners. But too often Ireland’s attacks ended with heavy-handed pumps direct into the circle which the French defence was able to cope with comfortably.
Saturday morning’s tie against Turkey looks set to be an academic fixture with Ireland now looking to pick over the pieces of this one ahead to get things in place for December’s FIH Nations Cup in South Africa.
Ireland: J Carr, L Madeley, J McKee, D Walsh, K O’Dea, K Marshall, S Murray, M Robson, B Walker, S Hyland.
Subs: C Robson, N Glassey, M McNellis, J Duncan, J Lynch, N Page, M Ingram.
France: E Reynaud, G Xavier, S Martin-Brisac, B Rogeau, V Lockwood, A Bellenger, F Goyet, E Curty, E Tynevez, V Charlet.
Subs: S Branicki, J-B Forgues, C Sellier, B Marqué, T Clément, B Delemazure, A Thieffry.
Umpires: S Michielsen (BEL), N Bennett (ENG)
Men’s EuroHockey Championship qualifiers, Calais
Turkey 3 Lithuania 1; Ireland 1 (L Madeley) France 4 (E Tynenez, G Baumgarten, C Sellier)
Standings: 1. France 6pts (+15) 2. Ireland 3pts (+16) 3. Turkey 3pts (-10) 4. Lithuania 0pts (-31)
Saturday, August 27th:
Turkey v Ireland, 9am
France v Lithuania, 11.15am