Hockey: Ireland women come up just short in semi-final bid

World Cup runners-up needed a win against Germany but could only manage a 1-1 draw

Ireland players celebrate a goal during the EuroHockey 2019 draw with Germany. Photo: Olivier Hoslet/EPA

Ireland players celebrate a goal during the EuroHockey 2019 draw with Germany. Photo: Olivier Hoslet/EPA

 

Ireland 1 Germany 1

Ireland’s women fell tantalisingly short of a first European Championships semi-final berth with their 1-1 draw against Germany not quite enough to see them through in Antwerp.

Like the men a day before, only a win against the Germans would see them through. Six previous meetings between the countries on this stage had seen the Germans run up six hammerings, most recently a 5-1 outcome in 2017.

Steeled by World Cup silver, however, the Green Army is a different animal these days, harrassing and out-playing for long periods a side who had never missed out on a medal in this competition.

Indeed, each of their scorelines were the best in Ireland’s Euro history against their three opponents, showing the shift in momentum.

But – like against England on Sunday – it was not quite enough to secure the all-important result.

Coach Sean Dancer was left to lament the finer details in the endgame in front of goal. German goalkeeper Julia Sonntag got the player of the match award but Dancer felt some extra cut-throat measures could have changed the day.

“We created enough opportunities to win the game,” he said afterwards. “But it highlighted, under pressure, in the big games we need to have better skill execution in the final third including goalscoring ability.

“They just need to back themselves – I want them to start thinking ‘I’m gonna score’. Some of them think about passing before shooting.”

Germany took the lead in the eighth minute when Pia Maertens thundered a rising shot by Ayeisha McFerran. Ireland replied immediately with Sarah Hawkshaw digging out the equaliser from a penalty corner for 1-1 in the 15th minute.

It proved the end of the scoring but far from the end of the drama. Nicci Daly had a running battle with Sonntag, the goalkeeper pulling off three world-class saves from the Loreto winger. At the death, Anna O’Flanagan’s chip hit Sonntag’s helmet from a glorious pitch-length break.

There was plenty of luck thrown in. Germany were denied a legitimate goal by a pre-emptive umpire’s whistle before the ball crossed the line while Ayeisha McFerran produced an outstanding glove save to a Nike Lorenz penalty stroke.

It means both Irish teams will contest the relegation pool with the men facing the first of their battles on Thursday against England.

“It highlights how tough this tournament is. We have to get back up from this disappointment and be ready for those next two games.”

The women will carry through three points courtesy of their 11-0 win over Belarus.

On Thursday Ireland’s men meet England in their Pool C match at 2.45pm.

IRELAND: A McFerran, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, B Barr, C Watkins, L Colvin, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke.

Substitutes: R Upton, G Pinder, N Daly, H Matthews, A Meeke, N Evans, L Murphy.

GERMANY: J Sonntag, A Wortmann, N Lorenz, S Oruz, H Gablac, A Schroder, E Grave, J Muller-Wieland, P Maertens, V Huse, H Granitzki.

Substitutes: K Horn, L Micheel, S Zimmerman, F Hauke, C Pieper, R Grote, N Kubalski.

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