World League Round Three
Ireland 0 Netherlands 5 (R Hofman 2, J Hertzberger 2, C Jonker)
Ireland’s 5-0 defeat at the hands of Olympic silver medallists the Netherlands in Rotterdam last night has left a daunting path ahead of them if they are to reach a first World Cup since 1990.
Over-run and out-gunned, they were a distant second best as a Dutch side – using a fair degree of experimentation with just seven of their Olympic side on show – ran them ragged into the first half with the Irish blushes only spared by David Harte’s excellent performance between the posts.
The signs were ominous from the first minute as Valentin Verga waltzed into the circle unchecked and while he did not pull the trigger, he did win a first corner. Andy McConnell charged that effort down but the space allowed became a regular theme while one first half stat pitching the Dutch possession at 82pc.
A 70m ball from the back found Billy Bakker free in the circle in the seventh minute but he shunned a reverse-stick opening to try and walk the ball in only for Harte to somehow get a touch to force it wide.
He also denied Hertzberger twice and brilliantly blocked Seve van Ass before the ten minute mark was reached but Rogier Hofman got the credit for the lead goal soon after.
He tore down the right wing and burst into the circle where he tried to pick out an attacker only for his pull back to be turned in Stuart Loughrey, wrong-footing Harte at the near post.
Two brave full-length diving tackles from Paul Gleghorne denied Bakker before Ireland got their one shot of the half, Timmy Cockram’s crash ball drawing a great touch from Mikey Watt. Jaap Stockmann, though, reacted well to block.
But the Dutch doubled up in the 27th minute courtesy of some delightful skills from Oliver Polkamp whose pace got him away from Chris Cargo in a tight space on the left. He rolled the ball a little behind Constantijn Jonker but his skills were sharp, controlling and potting in one flowing turn.
Jonker was thrice denied by Harte while Sander Baart also drew a save from the Kampong goalkeeper with the half-time stats listing 13 shots to one Irish effort.
Ireland did improve in the second half with Peter Caruth and Jonny Bruton arrowing reverses at goal while the former bullied his way along the right baseline, laying upon a pass which Watt tested Stockmann’s reflexes.
While Bakker was in the bin for a trip on Conor Harte, Timmy Cockram had a drag blocked well while Caruth screwed a first time shot wide.
But the Netherlands carried more purpose. Kemperman turning on the style and Jeroen Hertzberger supplying the finishes, his first coming in the 57th minute with a cool finish after jettisoning a couple of defenders.
In similar fashion, Bakker eased past two tackles to draw another Harte save. Hofman picked up the rebound at the top of the circle and roofed with minimum fuss.
Another Jonker bash was deflected by Harte onto the bar before Hertzberger closed the tie with a drag-flick on the final hooter from the Dutch team’s 38th circle penetration of the game, over three times Ireland’s tally.
Ronan Gormley – who passed Eugene Magee as Ireland’s record caps holder in his 169th international game – said afterwards that Ireland made “too many errors in critical areas”, a lament similar to Meredith’s refrain against New Zealand.
Eliminating those errors is now of paramount importance and getting the processes right in the closing three games of the competition for Ireland.
This result leaves the green machine with just a solitary point from the group phase. All is not lost, though, as no one is eliminated yet with the group solely deciding quarter-final opposition.
Win that and they will qualify for the World Cup; lose and they face a tough battle with either Spain or New Zealand – ranked eight and nine places above them in the world respectively – to keep an outside chance alive.
The worry, though, is the quality of the performances against the Dutch and New Zealand have been so sub-par that a return to form currently looks a long way off.
** Photos with thanks to Frank Uijlenbroek and Grant Treeby
Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, R Gormley, C Cargo, A Sothern, P Caruth, A McConnell, T Cockram, P Maguire, P Gleghornre, C Harte
Subs: S O’Donoghue, J Bell, J Bruton, M Watt, K Good, S Loughrey, D Fitzgerald
Netherlands: J Stockmann, K Vermeulen, B Bakker, V Verga, J Hertzberger, R Kemperman, S Baart, J Buissant, R Hofman, O Polkamp, H Turksma
Subs: P Blaak, G Schuurman, Q Caspers, J Galena, S de Wijn, S van Ass, C Jonker
World League Round Three
Group A results: Spain 1 Belgium 1; Australia 7 France 1
Standings: 1. Belgium 7pts (+5) 2. Australia 6pts (+7) 3. Spain 4pts (-1) 4. France 0pts (-11)
Group B: Ireland 0 Netherlands 5 (R Hofman 2, J Hertzberger 2, C Jonker); India 3 New Zealand 3
Standings: 1. Netherlands 7pts (+7) 2. New Zealand 5pts (+2) 3. India 2pts (-2) 4. Ireland 1pt (-7)
Quarter-final fixtures (Wednesday, all Irish time): Belgium vs Ireland, 11.30am Australia vs India; Spain vs New Zealand; Netherlands vs France