Nerveless Dale rescues Irish draw against Austria

Men’s EuroHockey Junior Championships
Pool B: Ireland 4 (J Dale 2, L Madeley, K O’Hare) Austria 4 (F Steyrer 2, N Wellan, O Binder)
Julian Dale’s 56th minute penalty stroke sealed what could be an important draw with Austria at the men’s EuroHockey Junior Championship in Valencia.

It closed out a mad-cap tie, one in which Ireland led 3-1 at one stage before going 4-3 behind as they fell victim to a couple of tough umpiring calls that reduced their ranks to nine players.

Julian Dale celebrates one of his goals. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

But Dale was an influential member throughout the game for Ireland and he won the stroke with some aerial juggling that he subsequently put away to share the spoils.

“Are you joking me?” he said afterwards of whether he felt any nerves. “No pressure, no nerves, just put the ball in the goal.”

The Cork man had also opened the scoring in the ninth minute from a beautiful move, touching home after powerful passes down the middle from Luke Madeley and Simon Wolfe.

Keith O’Hare doubled the advantage four minutes later but Austria got one back after a series of corners via Nikolaus Wellan. Ireland were back in a comfortable position by the 17th minute when Madeley, from a spin move at the top of the circle, whipped in Ireland’s third goal.

Florian Steyrer – one of three Austrians who played in the senior Euros that finished on Sunday – reduced the deficit once more before half-time from another corner move.

Indeed, Austria won a dozen corners all told in the tie as they ramped up the pressure in the second half. That pressure came while Ireland suffered three cards in the third quarter with Kyle Marshall getting a green and yellows for Dale and Peter McKibbin.

McKibbin’s led to a stroke, adjudged to have impeded an Austrian attempt on goal though it looked like he held his ground and the attacking stick impeded him.

Steyrer scuffed his stroke but it wrong-footed Jamie Carr to put Austria level at 3-3. They went ahead of the first time with six minutes to go when Oliver Binder was the next to score from a corner with a powerful low push.

Ireland disappointed on the final whistle not to get more from the tie. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

Ireland, though, showed their fighting character to force a late chance with Dale weaving in between a couple of defenders to win the levelling stroke.

Coach Jonny Caren was frustrated about the cards that left his side short-handed for long periods in the third quarter.

“It’s tough one. If it was just down to the hockey side of things and we drew off the back of that, I would be ok walking away. There was too many other factors today.

“It was a frustrating game to be involved in as a coach. The key thing for me was we kept playing, showing real grit and character to get them into the game when a lot went against them.”

It means Ireland will face Belgium on Thursday (10.15am, Irish time) hoping they still have a semi-final chance on the line as they follow Germany and Austria onto the pitch. At the very least, they will have a point to carry with them into the relegation pool.

“We’re all about wins and draws. We had a tough first one against Germany which we weren’t expected to get anything from but almost got a result. The guys felt they had a little unfinished business. They got the draw here and now we move on to Belgium,” Caren concluded.

Simon Wolfe on the attack. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

Dale, meanwhile, added: “It was a great game. It’s those kind of ones you are proud to play in a green jersey. The grit, the fight; limbs were hanging off from one or two lads but they gritted through it going into the Belgium match and I absolutely can’t wait for it.

“We have one loss, one draw, so you can guess what the next one is going to be from our point of view.”

Ireland: J Carr, L Madeley, K O’Hare, M Samuel, S Wolfe, R Getty, D Nelson, J Mullins, G Cole, P McKibbin, M Crookshanks
Subs: K Marshall, S Grace, F Morris, C Empey, J Dale, D Mawhinney, J Milliken

Austria: L Glaser, L Klimon, A Kapounek, O Kern, F Unterkircher, O Binder, F Steyrer, P Schippan, J Puchhammer, T Mayer, P Kaltenbock
Subs: M Trinka, C Soldat, H Podpera, N Wellan, M Hilbert, J Abel, C Sandbichler

Umpires: P van den Assum (NED), P Santos (POR)

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