Spain defeat sends Irish Euro hopes to final tie

Men’s Rabo EuroHockey Championships
Spain 1 (E Gonzalez) Ireland 0
The Irish men’s hopes of European survival will go down to the last day as, for the second time in two months, they found it impossible to unpick a mass Spanish defence.

As such, Enrique Gonzalez’s third minute goal was enough for Spain as goalkeeper Quico Cortes was once again the nemesis.

The result means Ireland will face Austria on Sunday, needing at least a draw or win, to stay up. The omens are good for that outcome, the previous 13 meetings yielding 11 wins and two draws, including a 7-2 win in June in Hamburg.

But it is still a position Ireland feel they should not be in having come within one goal of a semi-final spot.

“We’ve come too far and are too good a team to go down,” Shane O’Donoghue said afterwards.

After Gonzalez’s goal, turning sharply and sweeping home from Alvaro Iglesias’s cross, Ireland laid siege to a deep-lying Spanish defence, content to .

Ben Walker saw Cortes claw a chance off the line while O’Donoghue had a trio of chances before the break, Ricardo Santana .

A non-event of a third quarter preceded a rousing final 15 minutes in which John Jackson, Lee Cole and Sean Murray all threatened. Cortes then scrambled Alan Sothern’s roller off the line in the final minute and kept out a penalty corner with 20 seconds to go.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us [against Austria] and we’ve got to make sure we sort ourselves out first, get ourselves in the right frame of mind,” coach Craig Fulton said afterwards.

“We played well in the last 20 minutes, created enough to win the game [against Spain]. In my opinion, in the last 15 minutes they were hanging on but we have got to better in front of goal. We need more composure but we don’t turn into a bad team overnight.”

They meet Austria on Sunday at 10am (Irish time). The Irish women, meanwhile, face Spain at 11.15am on Saturday in the same situation with a draw or win keeping them in the top tier.

Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, A Sothern, N Glassey, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, M Robson, P Gleghorne, C Harte, L Cole, S Loughrey
Subs: J Bell, M Bell, M Nelson, S Murray, B Walker, D Walsh, M Ingram

Spain: Q Cortes, S Enrique, R Sanchez, P Quemada, A Iglesias, R Santana, X Lleonart, M Salles, J Romeu, M Serrahima, E Gonzalez
Subs: J Tarres, M Garcia, D Arana, A de Frutos, M Perellon, I Torras, M Calzada

Umpires: M Eilmer (AUT), A Kearns (AUS)

Rabo EuroHockey Championships
Pool C: Spain 1 (E Gonzalez) Ireland 0; Poland 1 Austria 1
Standings: 1. Spain 4pts (+1) 2. Ireland 3pts (+5) 3. Austria 2pts (0) 4. Poland 1pt (-6)
Sunday: Ireland v Austria, 10am

Saturday: Ireland v Spain, 11.15am

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