Ireland face home nations shootout in bid to avoid relegation
Germany prove too strong as they book semi-final spot in Antwerp
Mathias Muller of Germany and Ben Walker of Ireland vie for the ball during the EuroHockey match in Antwerp, Belgium. Photograph: Stephanie Lecocq/EPA
Germany 5 Ireland 0
Ireland’s men will contest a home nations series of old as Germany shut out their fanciful chances of reaching the EuroHockey Championships semi-final in Antwerp.
A win against the world number seven side would have seen the Green Machine through but such hopes were all but extinguished inside eight minutes as Niklas Wellen and Tom Grambusch both netted.
It condemns Ireland to the relegation pool alongside England, Scotland and Wales with each team carrying one point through. The bottom two out of the four will be relegated for the 2021 Euros.
“We really have to learn our lessons and learn them pretty fast,” said Conor Harte afterwards. “It means we are in almost in a Celtic Cup from years ago and every team is scrapping for their lives. It’s a dogfight there but no better group to want a dogfight to go at.”
In the tie itself, Ireland almost drew first blood when Daragh Walsh won a corner from which Shane O’Donoghue drew the best of Victor Aly.
But, within moments, Wellen brilliantly peeled away to smack in a reverse-stick shot in the third minute and Grambusch whipped in a drag-flick soon after.
It was a hammer blow and Germany piled forward for a time. Mark Ingram – playing the first half this time – was required to continue his fine tournament in goal, denying Florian Fuchs and Lukas Windfeder.
Jamie Carr took over the role in the second half and was equally good. Ireland did have a couple of penalty corners and they gave it a real go in the last 10 minutes.
But it left them exposed when Carr was swapped for an extra outfielder. The move backfired and Germany scored three times into the open goal via Malte Hellwig, Fuchs and Windfeder.
The Irish women, meanwhile, have the same equation on Wednesday against the Germans – win and reach a first ever semi-final.
To date, the camp has been in upbeat mood after a strong performance against England was backed up by a thumping 11-0 win over Belarus.
IRELAND: M Ingram, J Jackson, J Bell, E Magee, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, M Robson, B Walker, D Walsh, P Gleghorme, C Harte
Subs: T Cross, S Murray, J Duncan, L Cole, S Loughrey, S Cole, J Carr
GERMANY: V Aly, M Muller, M Grambusch, L Windfeder, M Haner, T Herzbruch, C Ruhr, M Zwicker, F Fuchs, T Oruz, J Grosse
Subs: N Wellen, D Nguyen, T Grambusch, D Linnekogel, F Weinke, M Hellwig, T Walter