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TriFinance EuroHockey Championships
Men’s Group B: Ireland 1 (S O’Donoghue) Netherlands 2 (M van der Weerden, R Kemperman)
Andrew Meredith admitted his frustration as his Irish side came within a few minutes from one of the biggest results in the country’s history in the European A division but the manner of the performance suggests Ireland can make some waves later in the campaign.
Rob Kemperman’s beautiful reverse-stick goal saw the Olympic silver medallists the Netherlands scrape to victory in Boom, Belgium last night in a thrill-a-minute tie.
It saw them come back from an early deficit to grind out a 2-1 win against an Irish side ranked 12 places below them in the world.
From there, the game was very even in the second half initially with the Dutch struggling to get by the tackling of Conor Harte and Ronan Gormley. One particular monster block by Harte on Sander Baart typified the performance
Bruce McCandless tore through to flash across Jaap Stockmann’s goal while in midfield, the diminutive Peter Brown produced a sterling performance.
The Dutch, though, started to win corners on the half-hour mark and, from the second of them, Mink van der Weerden planted a low flick past the stick side of David Harte.
Ireland kept showing endeavour into the second half and, with Kemperman in the sin-bin on a yellow, Conor Harte’s crash ball found a foot. The corner was worked well by Harte to injector Chris Cargo but he got the angle of his sweep wrong and it slipped wide.
Kyle Good had to charge down two other corners at the far end while van der Weerden got no further change out of David Harte, much to the flicker’s frustration.
Good, meanwhile, used his pace and strength to burn down the left wing and draw a top drawer save from Stockmann. That came just moments before the killer blow as Kemperman found room in the circle and he lived up to his Mr Backhand nickname with a superb reverse stick shot.
With time running out, Ireland’s hopes of bouncing back were curtailed by Stephen Cole’s yellow card and they could not force a late chance to level.
No points for performances though and O’Donoghue said it was key that the standard of display remains against Poland on Monday.
Meredith, meanwhile, added: “It was the toughest test we could have to start off and I’m really proud of the effort. It is frustrating because we created enough danger to get a result.”
It gives them the three points to start the competition before they meet England while Ireland play Poland on Monday afternoon.
Shane O’Donoghue on the result: “We’re obviously disappointed with the result. With the green machine, we always look to start each tournament on a high but the Dutch are well-renowned and they brought their A game. It is a good foundation, though, to take into the next game against Poland.”
Coach Andrew Meredith’s view: “It’s a three-step process for us and playing the Dutch first is the best test we can have to see where we’re at. I’m really proud of the guys application. We created enough danger to get something out of the game; that’s the frustrating thing. Of course we conceded quite a few corners but I’m really happy with the structure we played and the ball possession we had. We really asked serious questions of the Dutch offence and defence. It’s a great start for us and a platform to carry into our next two games.
On how the young players performed: “We’ve got guys who have just finished their high school exams mixing it with the world’s best. I’m really happy with how they have integrated. There’s no pressure on them; its about a development curve and I think they are on a very good track to becoming high quality international players.
John Jackson on his rib injury late in the game: “Losing hurts more.”
Rob Kemperman on the goal he scored against Kampong team mate David Harte: “Its my specialty. At each Kampong training I practice fifty of those shots. “Dammit,” David said to me afterwards because he know how I shoot them although he thought it was a nice goal.”
Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, R Gormley, M Watt, C Cargo, E Magee, B McCandless, K Good, C Harte, P Brown, S O’Donoghue
Subs: J Bell, S Cole, P Caruth, K Shimmins, M Darling, S Loughrey, D Fitzgerald
Netherlands: J Stockmann, K Vermueulen, W Jolie, B Bakker, V Verga, J Hertzberger, R Kemperman, S Baart, R Hofman, R van der Horst, M van der Weerden
Subs: M Balkestein, T Jenniskens, J Galema, S van Ass, G van der Kamp, C Jonker, P Blaak
England 5 (David Condon 2, Adam Dixon, Tom Carson, Alastair Brogdon) Poland 2 (Tomasz Gorny, Michal Nowakowski)
England eventually shook off the intentions of Poland in the first game of men’s Group B of the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships in Boom, scoring twice in the last seven minutes to eventually make the game safe.
Adam Dixon put the English in front with a very smart opening goal. It came from Henry Weir’s intricate work down the right wing, flipping the ball away from his marker before picking out his team mate perfectly to turn home first time.
Poland bounced back in the second half with Tomasz Gorny firing home a reverse-stick shot in the 40th minute. Two goals in two minutes for England reasserted their advantage with Ali Brogdon’s diving pass picking out David Condon for a nice team goal.
Condon deflected in the next for 3-1 in the 45th minute but Poland replied with a low Michal Nowakowski drag-flick that snuck over the line from one of seven penalty corners for his side in the second half.
But England wrapped up the result when Brogdon struck powerfully in with seven minutes to go and Tom Carson banged in a corner rebound soon after for the win.
Standings: 1. England 3pts (+3) 2. Netherlands 3pts (+1) 3. Ireland 0pts (-1) 4. Poland 0pts (-3)
Monday, August 19: Ireland vs Poland, 3pm; England vs Netherlands, 7pm
Wednesday, August 21: Ireland vs England, 10.30am; Netherlands vs Poland 7pm