An U-18 Home Nations double is still on the cards as the Irish boys and girls both overcame England at Garryduff this afternoon and require a single point from tomorrow’s third series of games to annex their respective titles.
Tom Samuel struck twice to overhaul an English first half lead in the boy’s game to notch a 2-1 win as they prevailed in spite of three yellow card sin-binnings.
The Three Rock player was ideally placed to profit from the corner injector’s spot as two rebounded his way to cancel out Josh Guy’s earlier effort.
The English forward snapped up the lead from a corner move. Mark Ingram smothered an initial switch left and deflection but Guy grabbed the second phase effort. Things went from bad to worse 30 seconds later when Andy Williamson was binned for a high take but Ireland rode out until the break.
And, with England’s Alex Czerniweski sitting out a spell in the bin, Ireland were back on terms from their third corner. Shane Madeley’s pacy drag was saved brilliantly by Harry Gibson’s stick but popped waist-high for Samuel to volley first time with serious power for the leveller.
The winner came six minutes later when Ben Dobson powered down the right wing, winning another corner which Shane O’Donoghue dinged off the right post and while William Edgar almost scored the rebound, Samuel completed the job from close range.
It came moments after Richard Sykes vitally cleared Nick Bandurak’s ball while Ian Sloan – again forging a fine midfield partnership with Luke Chadwick – set up O’Donoghue for what might have been an insurance goal but his slip to Edgar was just an inch too far from reach.
England had two late corners denied but the Irish, though, were good value for the win, looking the more incisive at either end and now need a draw against Scotland to take the title.
The same proposition awaits the girls against Scotland with another deserved victory. Katie Codyre netted the only goal in the 58th minute after inspirational Dora Gorman broke a couple of tackles in midfield and played in Emily Beatty.
The Alex winger’s cross-cum-shot invited the deflection from Colaiste Iognaid’s Codyre to put the Irish in pole-position.
Home starlet Amy-Kate Trevor held the defence in shape in fine style after switching early from left back to the centre in place of the injured Nicole Laarhoven and Joanne Orr almost sealed the tie, drawing an excellent save from Dukie Davies with Gorman’s follow-up brilliantly taken off the line.
The Irish now play the Scots, who kept them mathematically themselves in the hunt for glory thanks to a 2-1 win over Wales.
Heather Elder did the damage, scoring both her side’s goals, to add to her strike in the 2-1 reverse to England. The Scottish vice-captain’s pace has been difficult for all defences to deal with, and she will have to be well shackled by Richie Malone’s side tomorrow.
U-18 Boy’s Home Nations Day two results:
Ireland 2 (Tom Samuel 2) England 1 (Josh Guy); Scotland 0 Wales 5 (F Campbell 2, M Pacey 2, S Forman)
Standings: 1. Ireland 6pts (+3) 2. England 3pts (+4) 3. Wales 3pts (0) 4. Scotland 0pts (-7)
Monday: England vs Scotland, 8.30am; Ireland vs Wales, 12.30pm.
U-18 Girl’s Home Nations day three results:
Ireland 1 (Katie Codyre) England 0; Wales 1 (N James) Scotland 2 (H Elder 2)
Standings (played-points; goal difference): 1. Ireland 2-6pts (+2) 2. England 3-6pts (+1) 3. Scotland 2-3pts (0) 4. Wales 3-0pts (-3)
Monday: Ireland vs Scotland, 10.30am
* Photos courtesy of Adrian Boehm, more to follow on www.irishhockeyphotographers.zenfolio.com on Tuesday.