Irish U-21 agony in Litice as Scotlan strike

EuroHockey Junior Championships II

Semi-final: Ireland 0 Scotland 1 (H Roberts)

Ireland’s Under-21 men missed out on promotion from the EuroHockey Junior Championships II as the fluidity displayed all week deserted them against Scotland the semi-final.

A win over their Celtic rivals would have seen them return to the top tier but Hamish Roberts’ eighth minute goal proved the difference in a 1-0 result.

The Irish Under-21 side missed out on promotion

For Ireland, it was a frustrating performance as they struggled to create too many tangible chances outside of four penalty corners and Scottish keeper Martin Rose did not have to make a save from the general play.

From the outset, Ireland did hold the majority of the ball as Scotland were content to sit deep and work balls down the channels when breaking out. For the goal, Andrew Webb’s long hit picked out James Nairn on the left baseline and he spun the ball into the path of Roberts to finish.

It threw Ireland and they lost their discipline in the second quarter with Conor Empey, Alexander Tinney and Luke Witherow all spending time in the sin-bin, the latter two on yellows for physical fouls.

Indeed, Scotland were making more with less as Luke Roleston got down to brilliantly save a drag-flick and, early in the second half, Guy Sarratt produced a remarkable clearance off the line.

It kept Ireland in the mix as Scotland had their time on the naughty step, going to down to nine for a spell. The most fluid Irish attack saw Witherow set Ben Johnson free and his pull-back got to Ali Empey – his shot was blocked by a defensive foot and the corner was repelled.

In the last five minutes, Conor Empey flashed a shot wide while the fourth corner was whipped off target, leaving Scotland jubilant and Ireland dejected.

Ireland will play Turkey in the third place playoff on Saturday in a reprisal of Wednesday’s 7-1 success.

In Valencia, the Under-21 women will play either France – whom they beat 1-0 on Thursday – or Belarus in the seventh place playoff on Sunday morning.

In Eindhoven, it was a day of near misses for the junior age groups against Belgium. On the boys side, the Belgian Under-18s took a 3-1 victory with Johnny Lynch pulling one back and Oliver Kidd hitting the post.

The Under-16s fell 2-1 in a close run contest as Ben Whelan impressed in the first half with some key saves. The Belgians did move 1-0 up only for Craig Mackay to get his second goal of the week to tie things up but the winner came a minute into the final quarter.

In the girls competitions, the results were identical. Sophia Cole scored a stroke early in the Under-18 game for a 1-0 lead and they were still right in contention at 2-1 with five minutes to go.

Belgium, though, made it 3-1 when Ireland had swapped out their goalkeeper.

For the Under-16s, Belgium won it 2-1 via a contested penalty stroke with four minutes to go. Zoe Watterson had levelled the game at 1-1.

Ireland’s four sides are up against Spain on the final day of action in the Volvo 6 Nations.

Men

EuroHockey Junior Championships II (Plzen Litice)

Semi-final: Ireland 0 Scotland 1 (H Roberts)

Saturday, third place playoff: Ireland v Turkey, 12.45pm

Volvo 6 Nations

Under-18: Ireland 1 (J Lynch) Belgium 3

Under-16: Ireland 1 (C Mackay) Belgium 2

Women

EuroHockey Junior Championship, seventh place playoff (Valencia)

Sunday, seventh place playoff: Ireland v France or Belarus, 8am

Volvo 6 Nations

Under-18: Ireland 1 (S Cole) Belgium 3

Under-16: Ireland 1 (Z Watterson) Belgium 2

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