The Ireland men’s Over-35s landed bronze at the first European Cup in their age group following a fine set of performances in Rotterdam.
The side swept to second place in their initial four-team group, only denied by a late equaliser in their second tie against Germany.
Rob Abbott’s hat trick saw Ireland easily see off Denmark in game one 6-1, the Railway Union man scoring three of the first four goals.
Against the Germans, Ireland led three times with goal machine Chris Barnes whipping home two penalty corners with Bandon man David Smith getting the other for a 3-2 lead. But Markus Pingel got an equaliser with three minutes to go for what proved a vital strike.
Barnes and Smith both added another couple to their personal tallies in a 5-0 win over Wales to complete the group stages with James Browne netting the other. It meant they finished second in the group on goal difference.
It meant a semi-final date with England and Ireland got off to a great start, leading twice in the first half. Smith opened the scoring from a corner and Browne made it 2-1 in the 16th minute.
England got level before half-time, however, and moved into a 4-2 lead with 10 minutes to go. Abbott did give them a lifeline, reducing the deficit to 4-3 but two late goals killed off the tie 6-3.
It left Ireland playing for bronze against Scotland and they led from the front with Cork Harlequins man Dave Egner creating an early lead which was augmented by Johnny Aiken on the stroke of half-time.
Craig Hilton got one back for Scotland but Ireland withstood the pressure to take third place with a 2-1 win.
It was the highlight of the first tranche of Masters European Championships this summer. The men’s Over-40s finished eighth out of nine. They fell to initial defeats to the Netherlands (3-1) and France (6-1) before drawing 3-3 with Germany and 2-2 with Italy.
In the men’s Over-45s, Ireland finished in sixth place out of nine with a 1-0 win over Italy the highlight of their campaign with Paul O’Brien netting the goal.
The women’s Over-40s side got a fourth place in their competition. After an initial 2-0 loss to England, they bounced back with a 2-0 success against Ghana and then beat Wales 1-0 with a last-ditch Niamh Spratt-O’Shea goal.
And a closing 1-1 draw with Spain took them to fourth place in the final standings.
The women’s Over-45s ended in fifth place. Ther fell to a close run 1-0 defeat at the hands of Germany in game one before drawing 0-0 with England and then beat France 1-0.
It saw them miss out on the semi-finals on goal difference and into the fifth place playoffs. There, they beat Scotland 2-1 courtesy of two Noreen Dockery goals. They then hammered France 4-0 with goals from Noreen Dockery, Caroline Sharkey-Brady, Fiona Byrne and Avril Jones for a fifth place finish.
The second series of masters tournaments gets underway this week in Crefeld with the Irish men’s and women’s Over-50s and 55s tournaments running from August 8th to 17th.