Ireland’s twin hopes of a first ever place in the KO8 of the Euro Hockey League came to an end over the weekend in Eindhoven with Banbridge and Lisnagarvey bowing out at the KO16 stage.
For Banbridge, their defeat to Racing Club de France was particularly painful as they bowed out on a shoot-out from a tie they probably should have won.
The Co Down outfit saw a quartet of first half penalty corners repelled while Eugene Magee and Jonny McKee both had close chances before Christophe Peters-Deutz fired the French side into the lead.
Again, in the second half, Bann bossed the play before eventually drawing level with 11 minutes to go when McKee worked the ball into the path of Matthew Allister who slotted into a welcoming goal.
They pushed on for a winner but the final touch evaded them, meaning a shoot-out. Regular goalkeeper Gareth Lennox was not available for the tournament as his son was due in hospital for dialysis treatment, leaving teenage stand-in Luke Roleston in nets.
He produced a couple of superb saves in normal time but could not continue the run in the shoot-out while Bann’s strikers also stumbled, falling 3-0.
Lisnagarvey bowed out to Spanish side Atletic Terrassa, a semi-finalist last year, 4-1 with Roc Oliva scoring a hat-trick. Sean Murray’s impudent flick from the baseline over Marc Calzada’s shoulder had Garvey level after 10 minutes but they were always a touch off the pace set by the Catalonians who belatedly pulled clear.
The tournament also came with physical blows to both teams ahead of the EYHL playoffs with Irish internationals Jonny Bell (Lisnagarvey) and Jamie Wright (Banbridge) both painfully popping hamstrings and will be massive doubts for the coming weeks.
Bann face Railway Union next week where a win should hand them the title barring a Three Rock goal-rush against relegated Instonians.
Euro Hockey League
KO16: Lisnagarvey 1 (S Murray) Atletic Terrassa 4 (R Oliva 3, M Bolto); Banbridge 1 (M Allister) Racing Club de France 1 (C Peters-Deutz), RCF win 3-0 in a shoot-out