Irish land unpolished 4-2 win over Poland to set up big English date

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TriFinance EuroHockey Championships
Men’s Group B
Ireland 4 (C Harte, S O’Donoghue, E Magee, M Watt) Poland 2 (A Chwalisz 2)

It was laboured at times but Ireland picked up their first win of the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships as they saw off Poland 4-2 in Belgium to set up a delicious tie with England with a semi-final berth on the line.

Corner goals from Conor Harte and Eugene Magee along with goals from Shane O’Donoghue and Mikey Watt saw them over the line in spite of two sloppy Adam Chwalisz efforts.

They can be given a bit of leeway, though, for the lack of finesse. Having spent a huge amount of energy in falling just short against the Dutch on Sunday evening, the 16-hour turnaround time was a tough ask to manage for Andrew Meredith’s side.

Poland had eight extra hours rest than Ireland after their 5-2 loss to England and their coach, Karel Sniesek said he factored this into an aggressive game plan. In spite of this, Ireland started superbly, moving 1-0 up after four minutes via Harte’s switch drag-flick.

EuroHockey 2013Chwalisz poked home a spinning, one-handed effort that fooled David Harte in flight with a heavy dose of off-spin. O’Donoghue’s second goal in two days, though, gave Ireland the half-time lead.

They held on to that courtesy of a good defensive performance but found their attacks error-strewn until Eugene Magee calmed the nerves in the 44th minute.
Mikey Watt made the game safe with a rocket from the right of the circle late on but there was a blot late on when Chwalisz scored with just a few seconds to go.

With England to play on Wednesday afternoon with a semi-final place on the line, goal difference may become all-important.

Speaking about the win, coach Andrew Meredith said it showed the side’s mental toughness to cope with the short turnaround time.

“We were inconsistent but effective enough,” he said. “But we created enough chances – 14 shots at goal and eight corners. To get that win against a well-structured side; it was a must-win game and the pressure was on and we delivered.”

Other quotes:
Polish coach Karol Sniezek:
“The first half was Ireland’s and they had much more opportunity to score but we had, in our good moments, two corners which meant we could have been equal at half-time.

“In the second half, we played a good press, knowing we had more of a rest than Ireland and physically that would work for us. We used the full press for almost the whole half and it gave us opportunities to score but corners were our problem today.

EuroHockey 2013“Ireland had their corner and scored. If you don’t score at the right moments, then you will lose. In Argentina, we lost 4-0 so I think we’ve stepped up and we played better today than then. Still, it’s not even to win against this good team.”

Irish coach Andrew Meredith: “The game yesterday cost a lot of energy against the Dutch. A 16-hour turnaround when you factor in the travel, sleep and meals; the guys are very fatigued and it showed.

“We were inconsistent but effective enough. We created enough chances – 14 shots at goal and eight corners. These are a key element at this tournament; if you can have 20pc corner conversion, you are doing well because everyone is struggling with the surface. To get that win against a well-structured side, the pressure was on and we delivered.

Dariusz Rachwalski on how his side have changed since they met Ireland in Argentina: “Some of our experienced players couldn’t play in this tournament so we tried to play a differently from Buenos Aires. Then, we played a deep hard court press. Today, we created more attacking situations but couldn’t score any. If you can’t score corners at this level, you cannot win.

Meredith, how do you manage the lack of time between games?: “Through a lack of sleep! To process the data from the previous game, have your team meetings to debrief the players. We had a video session late last night; the players get massages, they have to rehydrate. It takes a long time. Guys go to bed 12.30 or 1am at night.

“They have to be up again early to start their preparation again with individual clips and the team analysis of Poland. Somewhere in there you try and get some sleep.”

How many hours sleep? “About four!”

On the Braxgata turf: “The pitch is soft and taxing on the legs and you see players cramping as a result.

EuroHockey 2013John Jackson on the tournament organisation at the club he played with last season: “I have to pay tribute to what Braxgata have done. Its been planned since before I arrived here. They are putting on a great show.”

Peter Caruth on playing England: “We always knew England would probably be the biggest match in the group. They are a good team and are higher ranked but nothing changes in our processes. We’ll stick together and get the right result.”

Meredith on his team’s progression: “We put ourselves in a really good position with the performance against Holland. I’m really happy with the development of the youngesters, Shimmins, Brown, Cole and O’Donoghue – he’s still very young even though he has 30 or 40 caps. The experienced guys at the back and in midfield have been very good in organizing things. We are in a good place and are far and away in a better place than in Hmaburg in our preparation.

** Photos courtesy of Frank Uijlenbroek/IHA; for more click here

** To relive the game via the Live Blog, click here

Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, R Gormley, C Cargo, E Magee, M Darling, K Good, C Harte, P Brown, S Loughrey, S O’Donoghue
Subs: J Bell, M Watt, S Cole, P Caruth, K Shimmins, B McCandless, D Fitzgerald

Poland: A Matuszak, P Bratkowski, M Raciniewski, T Gorny, T Wachowiak, B Zywiczka, K Makowski, T Marcinkowski, M Nowakowski, K Majchrzak, M Poltaszewski
Subs: D Rachwalski, A Rutkowski, A Chwalisz, P Mazany, P Kozlowski, A Krokosz, M Pacanowski

Men’s TriFinance EuroHockey Championships
Group A results:
Ireland 4 (C Harte, S O’Donoghue, E Magee, M Watt) Poland 2 (A Chwalisz 2); England 1 (B Middleton) Netherlands 2 (B Bakker, J Galema)
Standings: 1. Netherlands 6pts (+2) 2. England 3pts (+2) 3. Ireland 3pts (+1) 4. Poland 0pts (-5)

Men’s Group A
Spain 3 (P Quemada, M Terraza, G Dabanch) Germany 6 (T Stralkowski 2, M Zwicker, C Wesley, M Furste, O Korn)
Four goals in eight second half minutes saw Germany turn a potentially disastrous position into a stunning win to see them right back in the mix for the men’s TriFinance EuroHockey Championships.

Having lost to Belgium in game one, they trailed Spain 2-1 after 46 minutes, a result that would have seen Germany almost certainly eliminated.

But Moritz Furste popped in a close range goal and further efforts from Thilo Stralkowski, Martin Zwicker and Christopher Wesley saw them quickly exchange that deficit for a 5-2 lead.

Early on Pau Quemada scored a corner which was cancelled out by a low drag-flick from Stralkowski. Spain retook the lead Xavi Lleonart’s ball into the circle took a slight touch from Manel Terraza and slip through Nicolas Jacobi’s legs.

EuroHockey 2013The game turned, though, when Edi Tubau was yellow carded. Germany got two of their goals during his suspension and took the momentum through to build their lead. Gabriel Dabanch got one back but a nice Oliver Korn touch made it 6-3.

Belgium – Czech Republic 4-0 (half-time: 2-0)
Belgium moved a step closer to the semi-finals of the second half as they scored two goals in each half to see off the Czech Republic, adding to their earlier win over Germany.

John John Dohmen put them on course for the win after five minutes when he followed up with a great strike after Filip Neusser made a fine initial save. The goalkeeper produced another couple of great saves while Tomas Prochazka guided another effort around the post.

But Tom Boon’s third penalty corner goal of the competition made it 2-0 at half-time. A Richard Kotrc own goal in the 49th minute extended the lead to three before Cedric Charlier’s rocket completed the scoring.

It puts Belgium top of the group on six points with Germany and Spain on three points and the Czechs on zero going into the last round of matches on Wednesday with all sides still techinally able to advance to the semi-finals.

Standings: 1. Belgium 6pts (+5) 2= Spain 3pts (+2) 2= Germany 3pts (+2) 4. Czech Republic 0pts (-9)

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