Belfius EuroHockey Championships
Men’s Pool B: Ireland 0 Germany 5 (N Wellen, T Grambusch, M Hellwig, F Fuchs, L Windfeder)
Ireland’s men have two huge tussles ahead of them to stay in the top tier of European hockey after their 5-0 loss to Germany in Antwerp.
Two early concessions cost them dear against Germany and while their defensive integrity improved, the Green Machine have plenty to ponder ahead of a mini home nations in the relegation pool.
Needing a win to nab a place in the semi-finals, coach Alexander Cox withdrew goalkeeper Jamie Carr for the last six minutes for an extra outfielder in a last ditch bid to comeback.
But it backfired and Germany struck three more times via Malte Hellwig, Florian Fuchs and Lukas Windfeder.
The early goals, though, repeated the rough opening against the Netherlands in game one, again giving the side a mountain to climb.
“We really have to learn our lessons and learn them pretty fast,” Conor Harte said. “We can’t concede so early. We have to throw the first punch to be on the front foot or you’re chasing. With the ball, we played ok. It wasn’t really a 5-0 game – they had corners, we had corners.”
The result means Ireland are in the four-team relegation pool alongside Wales, England and Scotland all carrying one point through. The bottom two will be relegated.
“We’ve been here before,” Harte added. “We have to use the experience in our group; it’s all about the next game and learning what we can from what was good today – because it was good. There are positives to take.
“It’s almost a Celtic Cup from years ago and every team is scrapping for their lives. It’s a dogfight there but no better group to want a dogfight to go at.”
Ireland did win the first corner inside two minutes but a strong save from Victor Aly repelled the chance and Germany were soon in the ascendancy.
Timur Oruz’s driving runs were a feature and he slipped a ball into Niklas Wellen, peeling away from goal before unleashing an accurate reverse-stick shot past Mark Ingram.
The Irish goalkeeper was impressive in the first half with a series of good blocks but he was powerless to deny Tom Grambusch from a corner spin move; 2-0 with eight minutes gone.
Germany were rampant at this stage with Ingram sliding out to deny Oruz and then somehow diving at the feet of Florian Fuchs to keep out a third.
Paul Gleghorne got in a top touch just before Christopher Ruhr was about to score and the half ended with Ingram kicking away a Lukas Windfeder drag-flick.
The second half was an even affair with both sides earning corners that could have changed the course of the game.
After a number of video reviews, the Irish kept out a series of penalty corners while Jamie Carr – who entered the game at half-time – made some super stops as well.
Ireland came to life in the last ten minutes with some forceful attacks via Shane O’Donoghue. Germany stood firm, however, and Malte Hellwig walked in their third goal with six minutes to go once Carr had been replaced by an extra outfielder.
Florian Fuchs rolled in the next goal before Lukas Windfeder netted from a final minute penalty corner.
“We knew we were up against it from
the get go,” Eugene Magee added. “Germany are a world-class side, outstanding
defence, forwards and midfield.
“We tried hard – we played some good hockey in the first-half, they got two goals up early doors and it’s hard to claw your way back after that. You have to take more risks than normal and it didn’t work out. Germany took full advantage.”
As for the challenge ahead, he
added: “It’s completely different teams now. Wales are a force to be reckoned
with, a good strong side, and England pull out the performances when they need
to. But we will put our name in the hat and hope for the best.
“Carrying the points through is a litle bit strange and Scotland was where we had to battle being two goals down. Hopefully we can find our spirit for the next two.”
Ireland: M Ingram, J Jackson, J Bell, E Magee, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, M Robson, B Walker, D Walsh, P Gleghorme, C Harte
Subs: T Cross, S Murray, J Duncan, L Cole, S Loughrey, S Cole, J Carr
Germany: V Aly, M Muller, M Grambusch, L Windfeder, M Haner, T Herzbruch, C Ruhr, M Zwicker, F Fuchs, T Oruz, J Grosse
Subs: N Wellen, D Nguyen, T Grambusch, D Linnekogel, F Weinke, M Hellwig, T Walter