Ireland Over-40s top pool in Tilburg

EuroHockey Masters – day four round-up
Day four of the European Masters Championships saw the Irish Over-40s and 55 women land strong wins that put them in the frame for medals following a great Tuesday of action.

The Irish Over-40s women topped their group on Tuesday afternoon as they landed a 1-1 draw against England, advancing to the quarter-finals in first place by virtue of their greater goal difference.

Straight away England won a penalty corner that they converted from a strike straight into the corner. For the rest of the match, it was similar to a boxing match with each team taking their turn to attack.

Ireland piled on the pressure, eventually winning a corner deep into the final quarter. Emma Glanville was quickly closed down but the ball found its way to Niamh Spratt who calmly turned and fired the ball past the keeper. The game finished shortly after with a 1-1 score line seemed to be a fair result.

The Irish Over-45s played an extremely competitive game four against the Netherlands on Tuesday morning.

Getting off to the worst possible start, Ireland conceded within the first five minutes of the start. The Dutch looked to consolidate their lead but some excellent defending and some crucial saves by ‘keeper Mary Harkin kept Ireland in the game.

A fast turnover in midfield fed Ash Schutte who found a Dutch foot for a penalty corner. Aisling Field struck a low hard ball past the Dutch keeper into the bottom right corner of the goal for a well deserved equaliser.

The score line remained deadlocked for the following two quarters, during which time Field cleared two balls off the Irish line as the Dutch attacked at will.

Ireland relied on some fast counter attacking breaks, in what was becoming quite an open game in the final quarter. Ireland defended resolutely, every defender making crucial tackles in the circle to thwart Dutch attacks.

Noreen Dockery cleared off the line from a penalty corner, and Ireland looked set to hold out for the draw until Netherlands scored from a penalty corner with 3 minutes to go.

Ireland can take heart from a good performance and enjoyed a rest day on Wednesday before their final pool game against Spain on Thursday

For the Over-55s, the final group was against Wales, a well organised experienced Masters side who have already beaten the Irish team this year in the Home Nations.

The Irish team on this occasion went one better, getting a 1-1 draw to give them second place in the group stages and a semi final place on Thursday.

The Irish Over-55s women

The game started with early pressure from the Welsh forwards but once the midfield of Hill, Keenan and Hunter settled the Irish team took the game to the Welsh.

A run down the right by Caroline Burns finding Margaret McKenna unmarked and able to place the shot beyond the reach of the Welsh keeper. Half time 1-0.

In the second half, the Welsh rallied and after a turn over ball in the middle of the park. three passes later found an unmarked player at left post much to the annoyance of goalkeeper Helen Roche.

Ireland pressed for a winner but to no avail and the score remained at 1-1 at full time. The result meant they would face Scotland in the semi-final.

Women’s results
Over 40s: Ireland 1 (E Glanville) England 1
Standings: 1. Ireland 7pts (+12) 2. England 7pts (+10) 3. Azzure Italy 1pt (-11) 4. Wales 1pt (-11)
Friday, semi-final: Ireland v Netherlands, 9.45am

Over 45: Ireland 1 (A Field) Netherlands 2

Over-55s: Ireland 1 (M McKenna) Wales 1
Standings: 1. England 12pts (+9) 2. Ireland 7pts (+2) 3. Scotland 4pts (-1) 4. Netherlands 2pts (-5) 5. Wales 2pts (-5)

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