Lardeur’s late rocket denies Irish semi-final slot

EuroHockey U-18 Girls Championships
Ireland 2 (R Chambers, A Cronin) France 3 (I Lardeur 2, C Baccar)

Ines Lardeur burst Ireland’s medal hopes with a penalty corner rocket three minutes from time to see France through to the semi-finals of the girls U-18 European championships in Belfield.

Needing only a draw to advance to the final four, Ireland looked well set when Aisling Cronin touched in Millie O’Donnell’s pass in the 51st minute to make it 2-2.

But France pushed forward with menace for most of the final quarter before eventually getting their reward from their 13th penalty corner.

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Earlier Robyn Chambers put Ireland in front in the third minute from a great counter-attack. Elaine Carey did most of the creation, finding her way to the baseline and picking out the waiting Chambers to nudge in.

France, though, responded brilliantly and dominated the rest of the half, winning eight penalty corners. That they struggled to stop most of their efforts aided Ireland’s situation.

From their third in the ninth minute, Gabrielle Verrier hit goalward before the ball bounced off Ayeisha McFerran and Chloe Baccar somehow squeezed the ball in.

Malaury Poirot had another in the net from another corner but, as a first shot, it was not deemed to have taken a deflection. Lardeur then had her corner hit saved by McFerran and bounced up onto the bar.

With two defenders and two attackers around, the ball spun in with Lardeur awarded the goal on the match sheet for 2-1. Ireland did rally late in the second half, Emma Duncan and Carey drawing sharp saves from Mathilde Petriaux while the goalkeeper also saved a Hannah Grieve penalty stroke.

They carried that momentum into the second half, winning a couple of corners and controlling much of the third quarter. And they got their just reward in the 50th minute when O’Donnell produced yet another powerful ball into the heart of the circle where Cronin touched in.

It reawoke France, however, and they skirted around the Irish circle for long periods with Jessica McGirr standing tall in the centre of defence to keep them at bay.

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They had a second goal disallowed for a clear obstruction at a corner and they eventually scored through Lardeur. Victorine Vankemmel drew a strong McFerran save but the rebound was never cleared, allowing France yet another corner shot.

This time, the pull-out and stop wer clean and Lardeur unleashed a mighty hit that took a defensive stick into the roof of the net.

It left Ireland little time to respond despite Elysee Lecas’ yellow card and France gleefully celebrated a semi-final berth. Ireland are now destined for the fifth to eighth place playoffs.

Ireland: A McFerran, M O’Donnell, A Gleeson, R Chambers, H Grieve, Z Thom, S Hawkshaw, R Maguire, S Twomey, E Carey, J McGirr
Subs: N Costley, E Kernohan, R Gray, A Cronin, C Foley, A Oakes, E Duncan

France: M Petriaux, E Lecas, L Canon, H Charles Tijmens, G Verrier, C Clot, I Lardeur, I Brabant, E Ponthieu, M Poiret, M Delannoy
Subs: N Roque, C Druart, S Lauret, C Baccar, J Blondel, V Vankemmel, L Ehrmann

EuroHockey U-18 Girls Championships
Group A results:
Ireland (R Chambers, A Cronin) France 3 (I Lardeur 2, C Baccar); Netherlands 10 Wales 0
Standings: 1. Netherlands 9pts (+21) 2. France 6pts (-2) 3. Ireland 6pts (-2) 4. Wales 0pts (-17)

Group B: Germany 8 Russia 0; Belgium 1 England 3
Standings: 1. Germany 9pts (+16) 2. England 6pts (+9) 3. Belgium 3pts (-5) 4. Russia 0pts (-20)

Saturday fixtures (all at Belfield)
Semi-finals:
France vs Germany, 2pm; Netherlands vs England, 4pm
Pool C (relegation pool): Wales vs Russia, 10am; Ireland vs Belgium, 12pm

Sunday
Pool C:
Wales vs Belgium, 9am; Ireland vs Russia, 11am

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