EuroHockey Championships by http://www.hookhockey.com
Men’s Group B: Ireland 1 (S O’Donoghue) Netherlands 2 (M van der Weerden, R Kemperman)
Andrew Meredith admitted his frustration as his Irish side came within a
few minutes from one of the biggest results in the country’s history in
the European A division but the manner of the performance suggests
Ireland can make some waves later in the campaign.
Rob Kemperman’s beautiful reverse-stick goal saw the Olympic silver
medallists the Netherlands scrape to victory in Boom, Belgium last night
in a thrill-a-minute tie.
It saw them come back from an early deficit to grind out a 2-1 win
against an Irish side ranked 12 places below them in the world.
Shane O’Donoghue’s superb low drag flick put Ireland in the front in the 18th minute and it visibly lifted the side.
From there, the game was very even in the second half initially with
the Dutch struggling to get by the tackling of Conor Harte and Ronan
Gormley. One particular monster block by Harte on Sander Baart typified
Bruce McCandless tore through to flash across Jaap Stockmann’s goal
while in midfield, the diminutive Peter Brown produced a sterling
The Dutch, though, started to win corners on the half-hour mark and,
from the second of them, Mink van der Weerden planted a low flick past
the stick side of David Harte.
Ireland kept showing endeavour into the second half and, with
Kemperman in the sin-bin on a yellow, Conor Harte’s crash ball found a
foot. The corner was worked well by Harte to injector Chris Cargo but he
got the angle of his sweep wrong and it slipped wide.
Kyle Good had to charge down two other corners at the far end while
van der Weerden got no further change out of David Harte, much to the
Good, meanwhile, used his pace and strength to burn down the left
wing and draw a top drawer save from Stockmann. That came just moments
before the killer blow as Kemperman found room in the circle and he
lived up to his Mr Backhand nickname with a superb reverse stick shot.
With time running out, Ireland’s hopes of bouncing back were
curtailed by Stephen Cole’s yellow card and they could not force a late
chance to level.
No points for performances though and O’Donoghue said it was key that the standard of display remains against Poland on Monday.
Dutch had to push themselves to the limit and it’s a good foundation
for us,” he said. “We have done our background research on them but we
have to match that intensity against Poland.”
Meredith, meanwhile, added: “It was the toughest test we could have
to start off and I’m really proud of the effort. It is frustrating
because we created enough danger to get a result.”
It gives them the three points to start the competition before they meet England while Ireland play Poland on Monday afternoon.
Shane O’Donoghue on the result: “We’re obviously
disappointed with the result. With the green machine, we always look to
start each tournament on a high but the Dutch are well-renowned and they
brought their A game. It is a good foundation, though, to take into the
next game against Poland.”
Coach Andrew Meredith’s view: “It’s a three-step
process for us and playing the Dutch first is the best test we can have
to see where we’re at. I’m really proud of the guys application. We
created enough danger to get something out of the game; that’s the
frustrating thing. Of course we conceded quite a few corners but I’m
really happy with the structure we played and the ball possession we
had. We really asked serious questions of the Dutch offence and defence.
It’s a great start for us and a platform to carry into our next two
On how the young players performed: “We’ve got guys
who have just finished their high school exams mixing it with the
world’s best. I’m really happy with how they have integrated. There’s no
pressure on them; its about a development curve and I think they are on
a very good track to becoming high quality international players.
John Jackson on his rib injury late in the game: “Losing hurts more.”
Rob Kemperman on the goal he scored against Kampong team mate David Harte:
“Its my specialty. At each Kampong training I practice fifty of those
shots. “Dammit,” David said to me afterwards because he know how I shoot
them although he thought it was a nice goal.”