EuroHockey Nations Championships
Ireland 12 (Luke Madeley 4, Andrew Smyth 4, David Nolan 2, Johnny McKee, Jack Wilson) Belarus 2 (Ihar Tsuprun, Dzmitry Shyla)
Four goal salvos from Luke Madeley and Andrew Smyth have put Ireland’s boys back into contention for a medal placing ahead of a huge game with Spain on Saturday in Vienna. After witnessing Spain score 14 unanswered goals against Belarus a day earlier, the target was set.
Johnny McKee was a handful all day and instigated the first goal by quickly taking a free hit near the baseline just five metres from the circle beating two defenders and passing around the oncoming goalkeeper to a grateful Andy Smyth who tapped home from a yard out.
Ireland were given a wake-up call by the Belrussians just moments later when a loose pass in midfield was snapped up and passed to Ihar Tsuprun who broke into the circle, spun onto the reverse and unleashed a thunderbolt into the roof of the net.
Ireland responded well, and earned a penalty corner which Luke Madeley clinically dispatched into the bottom left corner with such pace that it rebounded off the backboards and out the top of the circle.
They were building up a head of steam and one of the best moves of the game involved a sweeping, passing sequence from left defence through midfield and founding Rowan Poots at the right side of the circle.
Despite rounding the goalkeeper, his shot hit the defender standing on the goalline. From the subsequent penalty stroke captain Madeley coolly added his second of the game.
Number four again involved some nice passing play, Neil Byrne found McKee unmarked in the middle of the pitch and, following a quick one-two with Poots, slotted home from seven yards for 4-1 at half-time.
Smyth got number five on a breakaway, running from close to halfway, breaking into the circle along the base line, around the goalkeeper and, despite pressure from the oncoming defence got his second and Ireland’s fifth.
Madeley got his hat-trick from a penalty corner, Jack Ryan switching at the top of the circle back the flick spot where Madeley netted to the keeper’s right.
Jack Wilson’s reverse stick shot after he was the first to react to a save at another penalty corner added another. David Nolan got his first after some silky skills from McKee got Ireland into the circle to find Nolan who turned to find space left of the goal and score with a reverse stick shot past the advancing Belarus number one.
Again Wilson was first to react at a saved penalty corner, this time Simon Wolfe’s effort was parried only for Wilson to collect and squeeze a pass to Nolan who nonchalantly touched the ball into an empty net for his second.
Number 10 for Ireland started with a great interception in defence by Peter McKibbin who released Ryan on the counter who in turn found Smyth. He outran the chasing defence, passed around the sliding goalkeeper and slid to slap the ball into the empty net.
A misplaced pass did hand Dzmitry Shyla a consolation goal but, transferring play from right midfield through the middle all the way to the left touchline, Jazze Henry found Poots on the baseline who weaved his way into the circle and a delicate lifted pass through a crowd was greeted by Smyth who tapped in for his easiest of four goals.
Not to be outdone by Smyth, skipper Madeley had the last word and when a penalty corner was awarded right on the hooter, he found the top right corner with a well-executed flick.
In the following game Belgium held a good Spanish side to run out 1-0 winners which puts them top of the group with Belarus to play. This result means that Ireland will need to beat Spain for a place in the Bronze Medal match on Sunday.
Spain’s result against Belarus, though, means Ireland are slightly behind on goal difference and so only a win will do to secure a third place playoff. They play at 12pm Irish time.
Ireland: H Lavery, L Madeley, P McKibbin, B McCrea, A Burns, J McKee, S Wolfe, R Poots, J Ryan, A Smyth, D Nolan
Subs: G O’Brien, N Byrne, J Wilson, J Henderson, J Henry.
** U-16 boys courtesy of Andrew McKibbin
Pool A result: Russia 4 Ukraine 1; Austria – Netherlands, postponed due to torrential rain
Ireland 0 Netherlands 8 (Maxine Kerstholt 3, Pien Sanders, Kyra Fortuin, Ginella Zerbo, Elke Boers, Wietske Velthuijs)
The Netherlands once again showed their superiority at underage level as they had too much strength to outdo Ireland, raising their goal difference now to 20 scored and none conceded from two games.
Maxine Kerstholt set the scoring in motion with a pair of goals, the first a smash which deflected in, the second a smart touch at the right post following a pitch-length move.
Pien Sanders first time rocket extended the margin and five classy second half goals ran up an impressive victory to all but guarantee the Dutch a final place.
Should Ireland get the better of the Czech Republic on Saturday, they will more than likely be into the bronze medal match.
Pool A results: Ireland 0 Netherlands 8; Czech Republic 0 Italy 1
Standings: 1. Netherlands 6pts (+20) 2. Italy 3pts (-3) 3. Ireland 3pts (-4) 4. Czech Republic 0pts (-13)
Pool B: Russia 2 Poland 3; Belgium 2 Spain 1
Standings: 1. Belgium 6pts (+3) 2. Spain 3pts (+6) 3. Poland 3pts (-1) 4. Russia 0pts (-8)
U-18 Celtic Cup:
Girls: Ireland 8 (Kate Lloyd 3, Amanda Haslam 2, Chloe Brown 2, Claire Foley) Wales 0
Boys: Ireland 3 Wales 1
U-21 Women’s International (Berlin): Ireland 2 (Emily Beatty, O Roycroft) Germany 4