EuroHockey Nations Championships
Ireland 0 Germany 2 (L Windfeder, F Fuchs)
Late goals from Lukas Windfeder and Florian Fuchs saw Ireland fall 2-0 to reigning Olympic and European champions Germany in their second EuroHockey Nations Championships tie.
It means Ireland need a draw or better in the final group game on Tuesday against the world number four side Belgium to advance to the semi-finals of the competition for the first time, following Saturday’s 4-3 win over France.
Craig Fulton’s side, though, were frustratingly close to a famous result against one of the world’s best teams as a contentious penalty corner decision opened the door.
It was scoreless until six minutes from time when Paul Gleghorne was adjudged to have kicked the ball in the circle. He immediately pointed to Marko Miltkau’s stick, suggesting it was the reason for the ball to deflect off the pitch with no infringement. A video referral produced “no advice possible” with not enough camera angles available to prove that theory and the decision.
Windfeder duly ripped home the drag-flick for 1-0. Florian Fuchs added a wonder goal two minutes later with a solo run from a pitch-length break-out for 2-0 to kill off the tie.
Nonetheless, it was an impressive showing from Ireland whose defensive work rate and intensity limited the Germans to a clutch of half chances but not much more despite the vast majority of possession.
“Taking the bigger picture that was an okay result for us,” said John Jackson. “We had a very specific game plan and we stuck to it for most of the game, and that was to keep the goal difference down. We now have a great chance of making the semi-finals and that will be a first.”
For Mo Fuerste it was a game that was tough, but “on reflection, one we probably deserved to win based on possession.”
“Ireland defended well as we knew they would, but for us it was a game of patience and now we have achieved our aim of reaching the semi-finals.”
Gleghorne and Conor Harte were superb at the base of defence while, in return, Ireland had their chances. Shane O’Donoghue drew a big glove save from Nicolas Jacobi early on from a corner; Davey Harte saved Germany’s first set piece before Jackson tipped Moritz Fuerste’s follow-up over the bar.
As the second quarter progressed, the Germany were bossing possession – up to 70% – playing handball around the 23m line for periods but, apart from a few baseline pull-backs, chances were sparse.
Another corner each went incomplete before Michael Robson’s classy take from a lovely overhead was backed up by a reverse into the danger zone that was inches from clipping Mitch Darling’s stick.
The third quarter followed a similar pattern, Miltkau clipping over while Kyle Good’s innovative first time shot attempted to catch Jacobi unawares but no dice. Niklas Wellen’s shot was tipped wide by Christopher Ruhr.
It stretched the 0-0 stalemate through to the final six minutes when Germany finally got their breakthrough and their second win. Ireland next play Belgium on Tuesday at 1.30pm.
Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, R Gormley, E Magee, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, M Darling, K Good, J Bruton, P Gleghorne, C Harte
Subs: M Watt, A Sothern, P Caruth, M Bell, M Robson, C Cargo
Germany: N Jacobi, L Butt, L Windfeder, M Haner, C Wesley, T Hauke, C Ruhr, M Fuerste, F Fuchs, B Furk, N Wellen
Subs: M Muller, M Grambusch, O Deecke, C Staib, M Zwicker, M Miltkau