Ireland regroup for relegation pool after German defeat in Pool B dead rubber

Rabo EuroHockey Nations Championships
Ireland 1 (Y O’Byrne) Germany 5 (N Lorenz, F Hauke, P-S Oldhafer, C Pieper, C Stapenhorst)
Three goals in the last 10 minutes saw Ireland’s women lose 5-1 to Germany at the European Championships in Amsterdam, leaving them in fourth place after the group stages.

For coach Graham Shaw, the challenge will be to draw the positive nuggets from the middle third of the tie rather than the phases either side of it as they now go into the relegation pool.

Lena Tice and Charlotte Stapenhorst battle for a high ball. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

The German tie had been rendered meaningless from an Irish perspective by England’s earlier 2-0 win over Scotland, pouring cold water on any fanciful semi-final hopes.

For Germany, the tie was more important, needing a result to top the group and their more pressing need showed early on when Nike Lorenz fired home a set piece two minutes into the tie.

Franzisca Hauke doubled the advantage 23 minutes in following a sublime German move and there was a danger that Ireland would roll over, given the stakes.

On the flip side, it freed the shackles somewhat with Anna O’Flanagan and Katie Mullan swarmed around Noelle Rother to win a corner. Made in Munster, Limerick’s Roisin Upton dragged goalward and Cork’s Yvonne O’Byrne used the stick’s handle to loop the ball over Rother.

Moments later, Chloe Watkins danced through three tackles before stinging Rother’s padding. It provided visible sustenance to the team’s will than much of what has gone before in the tournament to date.
When Katie Mullan stole a loose clearance, Ireland had a glorious chance to level but Rother was off her line quickly to avert the danger.

“They are the phases we want to play all the time,” coach Shaw said afterwards. “But if you concede after 35 seconds, you go on the back foot and negativity comes into people’s minds. We need to find a way to get out of it. We have not allowed ourselves to get into games.”

Upton concurred, adding: “The result didn’t have any bearing; it was all about performance and patches today were some of our best stuff. Germany are a great side and capitalised on the mistakes but now we need to get that full 60 minutes.”

The upbeat mood evaporated in the final quarter as Germany added three in quick succession. Charlotte Stapenhorst pulled back to Pia-Sophie Oldhafer to flick in despite Zoe Wilson’s best efforts before Cecile Pieper wound up to smash into the top corner. Stapenhorst’s drag made it 5-1.

It means Shaw will have a job on to lift the team’s spirits ahead of the relegation pool which starts on Thursday against tournament low-ranks the Czech Republic at 11.30am (Irish time) and then Spain on Saturday.

“We had to come in positive, expecting to perform in every game. You don’t come in negative. Sometimes in high performance sport, it doesn’t go your way.

“We need to regroup, get that togetherness again and fight for every second and get those two positive results. These games are huge for Irish hockey but we’ve been here before, both men and women many times. It won’t be through a lack of effort and we will try and get two positive results.”

Upton added: “We didn’t want to be in this position; we wanted to be challenging Germany for that semi-final spot.

“Against England, we let ourselves down and didn’t play to our potential. When the result doesn’t matter, it can be tough but you are playing for your country. Everytime you play for your country, it doesn’t take much to get yourself rallied up, especially against the Olympic bronze medalist.”

Ireland need to finish in the top two of the four team group to avoid the drop and carry through one point from their tie against Scotland.

The Irish men meet England on Wednesday afternoon at 1.45pm with a draw or better ensuring they reach the semi-finals for a second successive Euros.

Ireland: G O’Flanagan, Y O’Byrne, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, R Upton, C Watkins, N Daly, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke
Subs: N Evans, E Beatty, G Pinder, S Loughran, H Matthews, A Meeke, C Cassin

Germany: N Rother, N Lorenz, A Schroder, C Stapenhorst, J Muller-Wieland, J Teschke, F Hauke, M Mavers, N Notman, P-S Oldhafer, H Granitzki
Subs: S Oruz, T Martin Pelegrina, P Grambusch, C Pieper, C Nobis, J Ciupka

Umpires: V Bagdanskiene (LTU), I Presenqui (ARG)

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