Railway produce first draw with German opposition but fall short on penalties

EuroHockey Club Champions Cup, 5th-8th place playoff
Railway Union 1 (J McDonnell) Berliner 1, Berliner win 1-0 on penalties

A famous result if not a famous outcome for Railway Union as they produced one of Ireland’s best performances in a women’s European club competition but, with the tournament taking a knock-out form, but have little to show for their efforts.

Emma Smyth in action for Railway against Berliner Pic: Frank Reelick/EHF

Emma Smyth in action for Railway against Berliner Pic: Frank Reelick/EHF

They had their chances to beat German side Berliner – the pre-tournament third ranked side – not least in a horrible penalty shoot-out in which only one effort was successful. Zara Delany and Kate Dillon also had their openings to nick the spoils, a 5th/6th playoff against Reading, in the second half but must now content themselves with a battle for seventh with Azerbaijan side Atasport.

In truth, the Sandymount side did spend much of the game on the back foot but Orla Fox and Emer Lucey found the ball magnetically attracted to their sticks and another low penalty corner count meant Berliner were often frustrated.

Chief among their discontented lot was star midfielder Lena Jacobi – a European champion last August – whose passes grew more desperate and her look more exasperated as time wore on.

They did go ahead in the 31st minute and was a scrappy one, Caroline Schnitzer bundling the ball over the line amid a busy circle as Grace O’Flanagan’s first up save was never cleared. Railway replied quickly, though, from a nicely worked corner, the stopper flipping the ball behind her to the right as Berliner fell for the dummy hit.

It opened the space for Jean McDonnell whose crisp shot was potentially going wide of the right post before taking a vicious deflection off Lisa Hapke and into the roof of the net, making it 1-1 in the 34th minute.

The second half was similarly tight. O’Flanagan made some sharp saves before Railway had their big chances. First, Delany was set through from a quick counter, slipping her shot just wide of the right post from mid-circle.

Dillon then broke through from the left but chose to push rather than using the time to add the extra power of a hit and Barbara Vogel saved comfortably.

No winning goal meant the tie went straight to penalties; it took until the ninth one-on-one for the first successfully completed effort as Viktoria Wieske shot home at the second attempt after O’Flanagan had blocked her first-up shot.

And when Railway were unable to convert any of theirs, that was that, seeing the chance for a first victory over a German side in this elevated level of competition fall just short.

Earlier in the day, Reading were 3-1 winners over Atasport.

Railway Union: G O’Flanagan, I Joyce, K Dillon, H Jenkinson, J McDonnell, E Smyth, E Lucey, A Speers, S Hawkshaw, S Dooley, O Fox
Subs: K Lloyd, Z Delany, K McKenna, C Joyce, R Clifford, E Dolan, R Barnett

Berliner: B Vogel, J Gonnermann, L Andersch, L Hapke, C Schnitzer, V Wieske, S Schuermann, F Stern, S Muller, M Hayn, L Jacobi
Subs: N Laudahn, H Schniewind, L-M Keim, A Herzsprung, S Wendt, V Scharf

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