Euro Hockey League
Pool D: Junior FC 1 (S Enrique) Three Rock Rovers 1 (L Madeley)
Luke Madeley’s equaliser with 70 seconds to go earned Three Rock Rovers a 1-1 draw with Junior FC at the Euro Hockey League in Barcelona, giving them a chance at qualifying for the KO16.
Ineed, the pressure is on Junior to run up a total of at least six goals on Sunday against already eliminated Racing Club de France if they are to have a chance of reaching the KO16 for the first time.
“It was a mad game,” Madeley said afterwards. “We were in it the whole way through and unfortunate to go 1-0 down but we kept fighting and it shows the character of the team to come back.
“It’s tough in the heat – we are not used to that back home – but we pushed hard and I guess we have to be happy with the draw. There’s nothing more we can do about it now.”
There was very little between the two teams throughout their battle at the Pau Negre Stadium. Junior had the first shot in anger as Alex Gil saw his shot booted away by Jamie Carr while Harry MacMahon put in a blockbuster tackle to deny another Junior attack.
Rovers were always their equal, though, and they won a couple of corners in the second quarter which the Sant Cugat club dealt with to keep the scoreboard blank.
Into the second half, it remained very close with few chances in the third quarter. Gil fired his second drag-flick wide and John Mullins went close when he reacted quickest to a mistake, his shot fizzing by the right post.
But, as Rovers tired in the last quarter following two games in 25 hours, Junior looked to have taken full advantage when Sergi Enrique powered home a corner.
The Irish club swapped out their goalkeeper for an extra outfielder and, after some patient passing, a ball into the circle came off a body. Madeley duly stepped up to score with a low drag into the backboard and the draw.
Moments before the Junior goal, the powerful sweeper was looking to take a short water break but was able to get back into the action to score the key goal.
“I was pretty tired alright; I am not going to lie! Just got myself back on and the lads were able to win that corner and I just did my job.”
And he is particularly delighted to be part of the EHL, a competition in which Three Rock are looking to become more regular visitors.
“You dream of playing in the EHL; it’s why you push so hard in the Irish league. When you get here, you have got to make the most of it. Yesterday, was a really good team performance in the second half and today we just ground it out. We’ll see what happens.”
Junior FC: A Perez, S Enrique, M Serrahima, A Gil, F di Mercurio, N Mari, O Salvador, M Malgosa, G Dabanch, L Garcia, O Malgosa
Subs: F Mata, M Coria, J Garcia, I Prat, F Saborit, G Munoz, L Plochy
Three Rock Rovers: J Carr, R Nair, J Mullins, R Canning, M Darling, L Madeley, D Walsh, H Morris, J Hosking, J McAlister, H MacMahon
Subs: C Empey, B Walker, K Mullins, M English, A Flynn, B McCrea, S O’Brien
Umpires: L Delforge, M Otten