Ireland go down to England in women’s hockey championship in Antwerp
Men’s team score two goals in the last five minutes to draw 3-3 with Scotland
England celebrate after Suzy Petty scores against Ireland during the European Championships in Antwerp, Belgium. Photograph: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo
The frustration was tangible for Katie Mullan and her troops as the Green Army left empty-handed from their opening hockey European Championship battle in Antwerp despite a rousing fightback against England.
They fell 2-1, unable to reel in a two-goal half-time deficit despite a glut of late chances in a rousing late volley.
Suzy Petty and Giselle Ansley’s set-piece goals had England in seeming control at half-time, but Ireland battled back with Beth Barr on the mark. They had a clutch of chances in the closing stretch, with Shirley McCay going inches wide, while Maddie Hinch made two awesome stops to edge Ireland out of contention.
“It wasn’t about hanging on,” Irish captain Mullan reflected through gritted teeth after the defeat. “For us we controlled phases, had a lot of opportunities. In the past against England it would be a different story. It says a lot about where we are at and where we are moving to.”
Next on the agenda is a must-win game against Belarus on Monday (2.45pm Irish time).
The Irish men just about salvaged their tournament, even at this early stage, with two goals in the last five minutes to draw 3-3 with Scotland.
After a 5-1 Saturday loss to the Netherlands, the side needed to bounce back, and started well against the Scots in their second game of the weekend.
But after Shane O’Donoghue gave them the lead, things went downhill with Kenny Bain netting twice and Craig Falconer making it 3-1. However, Tim Cross summoned an inspirational strike – his first goal for Ireland – with five minutes to go, and O’Donoghue scored from a hotly contested penalty stroke soon after.
Indeed, it might have been even better had Sean Murray’s deflection not drawn a wonder save from Tommy Alexander at the death.
The draw just about keeps Irish hopes alive of reaching the semi-final if they can beat Germany on Tuesday. More likely, though, they will be in the relegation pool with Scotland.