Rio 2016: Ruthless Dutch put Ireland to the sword

Craig Fulton’s side taught a harsh lesson by the world’s number two hockey side

Netherlands 5 Ireland 0

Ireland were taught a rough lesson in efficiency for a second game in two Olympic days as world number two side the Netherlands consigned Craig Fulton’s side to a second successive defeat.

It was always going to be tough for Ireland against a side they have only beaten once in 39 previous meetings. That the stats showed Ireland had more circle penetrations, shots on goal and possession proved scant consolation as they were overwhelmed on the big statistic.

Indeed, after a healthy Irish opening, the Dutch incredibly found themselves 2-0 up inside eight minutes.


That was despite two brilliant stops from Jaap Stockmann in the opening five minutes. Mitch Darling could not get enough on a cross from Kyle Good, allowing Stockmann to scramble the deflection away.

Jonathan Bell then showed a rare attacking defence, dancing through from centre back to flick toward the corner. Again, the Dutch goalkeeper got down to palm away.

But within a minute, the Dutch had two on the board as Mink van der Weerden punished Alan Sothern’s loose sliding tackle, whipping home a drag-flick from the first penalty corner.

Almost instantly, Rogier Hofman was set free down the right sideline and his gorgeous control was matched by a perfect centre for 17-year-old Jorrit Croon to guide into the roof of the net.

The green machine's plight worsened when Conor Harte wore Mirco Pruijser's stick on his ribs. First glance suggested a potential broken bone and, after a lengthy wait, the medical cart took the Kinsale man off for the requisite scans but he would later appear on the sideline for the closing quarter.

Coach Craig Fulton spoke of the importance of "accuracy" at set pieces after Saturday's 3-2 loss to India. Unfortunately, Ireland's only corner – despite a clever swivel at the top of the circle – never drew a shot of note.

The third quarter was similarly frustrating. At the height of Ireland's attacks – with Peter Caruth, Chris Cargo and Ronan Gormley firing pot shots – the more insular Dutch countered with their one attack, won a corner and Van der Weerden shot a rocket to the roof.

Pruijser added the fourth a minute later with a goal made in Amsterdam, Valentin Verga picking out his club mate to swivel home from mid-circle.

Ireland pushed again, winning four more penalty corners in the last quarter but a blank conversion rate will be a cause for further concern after a second game in succession in which general play was more than equal.

As if to rubber-stamp a painful night, Eugene Magee turned in Jeroen Hertzberger's cross for the fifth goal in the last minute.

It does not get much easier for Fulton’s side. They meet the reigning champions Germany on Tuesday in their third tie. The Germans were imperious in their opening 6-2 win over Canada and are fancied by many as gold medal favourites, closely followed by the Dutch and the Australians.

After that come two must win games for Ireland if they are to reach the quarter-finals – Canada on Thursday and Argentina on Friday – where six points is a likely prerequisite.

IRELAND: D Harte, J Jackson, R Gormley, M Watt, J Jermyn, E Magee, K Shimmins, M Darling, K Good, P Gleghorne, C Harte. Subs: J Bell, C Cargo, A Sothern, P Caruth, S O'Donoghue

NETHERLANDS: J Stockmann, G Schuurman, B Bakker, S van Ass, J Hertzberger, S de Wijn, S Baart, M Pruijser, R Hofman, R van der Horst, M van der Weerden. Subs: V Verga, R Kemperman, B de Voogd, J Croon, H Turkstra

Umpires: N Stagno, T Pullman

Stephen Findlater

Stephen Findlater

Stephen Findlater is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about hockey