Women’s EuroHockey Junior Championships
Pool B: Ireland 1 (A Russell) Germany 3 (C Gerstenhofer, L Micheel, N Aring)
The Irish Under-21 women’s EuroHockey Junior Championship hopes will go down to the final day when they meet either Spain or Belgium.
By that time, they will know exactly what is required from the tie in avoid last place in a three-team group that will also feature France.
The Junior Green army do so off the back of a stop-start performance 3-1 loss to Germany, producing some great spells but being punished in the minutes in between.
Coach Dave Passmore said of the “Whenever we got a flow, we managed to get a card. When they come in the back two lines, it is harder to adjust. At the start of the second half, we had 10 or 11 minutes when they didn’t get into our circle.
“It was the same in the second period. But it’s the bits in between which were all important.”
Charlotte Gerstenhofer broke the deadlock eight minutes into the tie, ripping in a reverse from the top of the circle for 1-0. On the counter, Ireland made several good breaks with Ellen Curran’s rush out of defence leading to a Sorcha Clarke that Femke Jovy, back-pedaling, got a crucial block to.
Edel Nyland also made a strong run that Jovy kept out before the equaliser came in the 19th minute. Ruth Maguire made a quick dodge to the right baseline and fired in to the near post where Abbie Russell got a touch over the goalkeeper.
Germany fought back immediately to win two corners, one which Jess McMaster charged down, the other saw Sara Twomey save off the line. They went back ahead in the 22nd minute when Lena Micheel spotted a gap through the middle from a quick free and shot home from the top of the circle.
“There were lots of positives, our corner defence was really good. For phases, we coped with their press and created good opportunities, particularly on the counter.
“However, their first two goals were lapses in defence from a free hit where we didn’t get in front of the ball; we’ve never done that before so to happen twice in one game is frustrating. That’s what gave them the game.”
It stayed that way for a long time with Ireland shading the third quarter. And they had their big chance to get level once again early in the final phase. Sarah Torrans was set free one-on-one with Jovy with the goalkeeper getting a stick in to stall her progress. The follow-up shot was deflected over the bar.
A French equaliser on the other pitch against England – at 2-2 – set up an intriguing end-game. For Germany, they needed at least another goal to force the issue and get in the frame for a semi-final spot but also required an English winner. Ireland, meanwhile, needed a goal to have the chance of bringing a point into the relegation pool.
It led to a tumultuous final two minutes with Germany grabbing their goal from a corner move from Nele Aring’s deflection for a 3-1 lead. The news filtered through that England had a corner which they scored from, sending the French into the relegation pool with Ireland.
For Passmore, he was left to reflect on the challenge ahead: “Under-21s is about learning in pressure situations and what needs to happen is that it doesn’t happen again. Every game we learn and improve. Now it’s in our hands to see whether we stay up.”
Ireland: E Buckley, S Torrans, S Clarke, E Getty, H McLoughlin, R Maguire, E Nyland, A Ogilby, S Patton, S Twomey, E Curran.
Subs: T Hastings, J McMaster, T Doherty, M Carey, A Russell, S Kelly, L Murphy
Germany: F Jovy, M Schaunig, N Aring, B Wenzel, J Meffert, K Kirschbaum, E Grave, L Micheel, A Vivot, L Birkner, M Marquardt
Subs: K Kiefer, E Davidsmeyer, T-M Schubert, C Gerstenhofer, N Pluta, S Zimmermann