Alexander Cox Resigns from Head Coach position with Irish Men’s

Hockey Ireland has today accepted the resignation of senior men’s head coach Alexander Cox. Cox has been a member of the Hockey Ireland coaching set up since August 2018.

He has previously held the roles of assistant coach with both the Dutch men’s and women’s national teams, winning gold at the 2012 London Olympics with the latter. He has been the head coach of Kampong men’s team since 2012 and continues in that role. While there, he has led the side to the top of the Hoofdklasse for 2 years in a row, as well as winning the Euro Hockey League title in 2016.

Speaking about the decision, Cox said “After taking some time to reflect on the past year, and the goals we have both achieved and failed to achieve, I have come to the decision that it is best for me to step back from this role with the Irish men’s squad.

“It was a hard decision to make, and I’m grateful to Hockey Ireland for the opportunity it has afforded me. I have proudly sang the Irish hockey anthem before every game we played. I would like to thank the players for their commitment over the past year and I hope they go on to do well in the future.

“It has been a tough few weeks, but credit to the players and staff as they have given it their all at every stage. We just didn’t manage to pull together the result we felt we are capable of. At this time, I feel it is best for me to step back as coach so the team can have a fresh start towards the important Olympic qualifier”.

Performance Director Adam Grainger said “Although disappointed with this news, we are happy we were able to benefit from an experienced coach of Alex’s calibre.

“We’d like to thank Alex for his time and for helping Ireland to secure an Olympic qualifier this autumn through the FIH Series Finals last June. Hockey Ireland are currently exploring a number of options as the squad continues to focus on their Olympic qualifier later this year.”

Ire v Russia, Women’s Euro Hockey Champs Match Report

Women’s Pool C: Ireland 3 (Evans, Hawkshaw, Mullan) Russia 2 (Sadovaia, Leonova)

An early morning start for the Irish Women’s final match of the Euro Hockey Tournament in Antwerp saw them achieve a 3 – 2 victory over Russia to finish 5th place overall in the tournament.

It was a quiet first quarter from both sides. The first chance of the game came from Russia’s Eroshina, although McFerran,saved comfortably, sending it back out in to play. There was little goal action from either side, Ireland managed to get into the Russian circle a number of times but failed to convert to get on the scoreboard.

Sadovaia had the opening goal of the game, converting a penalty corner for Russia to give them a lead ahead of half time. Ireland had a number of opportunities in the second quarter but Russian keeper Aleksandrina frustrated attempts by Duke and Mullan, while Daly and Mullan both sent shots wide of the mark on separate occasions.

Things heated up in the second half when a slap from Wilson sent the ball up the pitch with Nikki Evans on hand to receive it and take a shot to give Ireland and equaliser. A penalty corner to Ireland saw McCay’s shot deflected over the goal, while Hawkshaw was stopped by Russian defence shortly afterwards when Pinder found her well in the circle. McFerran was on form ahead of the third quarter whistle as Russia advanced in the Irish circle. She came out to meet the threat, sliding along the pitch to hit the ball out of harms way.

Evans supplied Hawkshaw with an opportunity in the final quarter and she managed to get around Aleksandrina to give Ireland a 2-1 lead. Evans was there again moments later narrowly missing out on extending Ireland’s lead.

A penalty corner for Russia saw McFerran save, but Leonova secured the rebound and brought the sides level again. Ireland continued to apply pressure with Anna O’Flanagan denied by Aleksandrina before hitting the post with a second chance shortly afterwards. A yellow card to Russia’s Sorokina in the final five minutes saw them down to 10 players to finish the game. Hawkshaw and Evans got the ball in to O’Flanagan again with 2 minutes left on the clock, Aleksandrina came out to save and Mullan managed to get it around her as she defended the goal giving Ireland a 3-2 lead to the end.

Speaking after the match, Head Coach Sean Dancer said, “We always knew it was going to be a tough game and Russia are a good team; they certainly have some good players.

“Last game of the tournament is always nice and tough. In the end, there I things we can do better, especially in the attacking circle and today we only forced one penalty corner so we probably weren’t as smart as we’ve been in the last few games, but real credit to the girls they kept fighting and were able to get the win 3 – 2.”

Ireland: A McFerran, K Mullan, S McCay, E Tice, C Watkins, L Colvin, N Daly, H Matthews, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson,

Subs: R Upton, N Evans, G Pinder, B Barr, E Murphy, D Duke, A Meeke

Russia: S Salamatina, K Shulilina, K Koroleva, S Eroshina, A Kolpakova, M Bordolimova, M Drepenkinda, V Aleksandrina, B Sadovaia, A Leonova, E Sorokina

Subs: A Iashina, V Chepurnova, A Khalimova, I Cheplygina, D Yushkova, K Sanina, V Makeeva

Ire v Wales, Men’s Euro Hockey Champs Match Report

Ireland 0, Wales (G Furlong 2, D Hutchinson, B Francis)

A tough day in Antwerp at the Euro Hockey Championships saw the Irish Men relegated in eighth place after a 4-0 defeat to Wales.

Wales took an early lead with a goal by Gareth Furlong in the 4th minute from a penalty corner. O’Donoghue was wide of the goal when Ireland were given a penalty corner shortly afterwards, while Welsh keeper Tranter was on form to deny him an equaliser when a cross from Magee provided him the opportunity to take another shot.

Furlong made it two from two early in the second quarter from another penalty corner. A yellow card for Dolan Grey provided Ireland with some hope ahead of half time, but both opportunities from Walker and Murray were defended and sent out wide before the half time whistle blew.

Ireland were awarded a penalty corner to kick start their second half, but again Tranter denied the shot from Shane O’Donoghue. Ireland began threatening the Welsh circle to no avail. A shot from Walsh was deflected above the goal, while a cross from O’Donoghue found Shimmins in front of the goal, he just missed the deflection and the opportunity was gone. Walsh found Cole with an aerial from across the goal, but Tranter was well placed and prevented a goal.

Wales moved back down the pitch, with Hutchinson getting a short solo run, slipping past Irish defence and sliding the ball past Ingram to bring the score to Ireland 0 – 3 Wales.

Ireland came agonisingly close to adding to getting on the score board on more than one occasion in the final quarter. An aerial to Ben Francis provided him a final opportunity for Wales when Ingram had been brought off to increase outfield players. Bell and Gleghorne chased well to defend but Francis managed to bring the score to Ireland 0 – 4 Wales.

Speaking after the match, Head Coach Alexander Cox said, “We didn’t perform how we could have performed at this tournament. We need to assess what happened, we need to assess with the group because the Olympic Qualifier is coming up so it’s important for the group that we know exactly why we didn’t perform, especially today, there was still a chance and we under performed.

“In the end, we failed as a group, including coaching staff, otherwise we would have played better. There were some good moments in this tournament but most of the time we didn’t perform the way we could perform and that’s a hard learning.

“I’m obviously very disappoint, and I’m disappointed for the players because they always give it their all and I feel for the group.”

The result sees the Irish men relegated from the competition and will now compete in Euro Hockey II Championships in 2021.

Ireland: J Jackson, J Bell, E Magee, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, M Robson, B Walker, D Walsh, P Gleghorne, C Harte, M Ingram

Subs: J Carr, T Cross, S Murray, J Duncan, L Cole, S Loughrey, S Cole

Wales: D Kyriakides, J Draper, R Shipperley, R Furlong, S Kelly, R Bradshaw, G Furlong, O Dolan-Gray, J Gooch, L Hawker, I Tranter

Subs: J Fortnam, J Naughalty, L Prosser, J Carson, D Hutchinson, H Jones, B Francis

Ire v Belgium, Women’s Euro Hockey Champs Match Report

Women’s Pool C: Ireland 2 (B Barr, A O’Flanagan) Belgium 1 (Ballenghien)

Hot and humid conditions today in Antwerp saw the Irish Women’s squad beat the hosts 2 – 1 with goals from Bethany Barr and Anna O’Flanagan.

Belgium started strongly, getting the first chance of the game from Boon. McFerran saved well, but Belgium secured a penalty corner shortly after this to keep the pressure on. The shot went wide, although it wasn’t long before Gerniers was back in the Irish circle forcing McFerran out to defend. Shirley McCay was on hand to help protect the Irish goal and prevent Belgium taking the lead. Ireland seemed to come more into their own after this as Nikki Daly chased the ball towards the a poorly defended Belgian goal. D’Hooge ran out to meet her and defended well to prevent Ireland getting on the score board.

The opening goal came 11 minutes in from a penalty corner to Ireland. McCay inserted and Upton deflected back to her. She shot in towards the goal and gave Bethany Barr the opportunity to knock it in nicely behind D’Hooge to give Ireland the lead. The score remained 1 – 0 to Ireland in the opening quarter despite attempts from both sides.

The second quarter saw a string of penalty corners awarded to Ireland but none converted. Belgium continued to fight to get on the scoreboard, with Gerniers slipping the ball to Boon in the circle who had a shot on McFerran who saved well. They continued applying pressure right up to half time, with Ireland lucky in their defence once or twice to reach half time 1 – 0.

Ireland were back with renewed energy in the second half with a number of attempts at the Belgian goal. Picard made her presence felt, frustrating attempts by Mullan and Duke to add to Ireland’s lead. Belgium secured an equaliser before the end of the third quarter, with Gerniers crossing to Ballenghein who slipped it in behind McFerran.

Both sides seemed to bring everything to the last quarter. Weyn’s threatened to give Belgium a lead at one point but she shot wide and the sides stayed level. Bethany Barr and Katie Mullan defended well from a Belgium penalty corner as both sides continued to fight hard in the heat. With 90 seconds left on the clock, Shirley McCay shot into the circle and found Daly who deflect to O’Flanagan to finish. The video umpire was called upon to confirm there was no back stick involved and the goal was granted. Full time, Ireland 2 – 1 Belgium.

Speaking after the match, Head Coach Sean Dancer said, “It was a game we played quite well in. We probably deserved to be another goal up at half time.

“Belgium played really well in the second half; we probably went to sleep in a few areas, so they certainly got back into the game.

“It was really cut-throat to the end, and I suppose for me what was pleasing is that the girls kept fighting and we were good enough to score a goal in the last minute.”

The Women will face Russia in their final match of the tournament at 8AM Irish time, while the Irish Men’s squad plays their final match tomorrow at 14:45 Irish time against Wales.

Ireland: A McFerran, N Evans, K Mullan, S McCay, E Tice, B Barr, C Watkins, L Colvin, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke

Subs: R Upton, G Pinder, N Daly, H Matthews, E Murphy, S Hawkshaw, A Meeke

Belgium: S Limauge, J Vandermeiren, E Puvrez, L Versavel, B Nelen, A D’Hooge, S Vanden Borre, P Leclef, L Hillewaart J Boon, A Ballenghien,

Subs: A Raye, A Fobe, A Gerniers, E Sinia, AS Weyns, M Struijk, E Picard

Ire v England, Men’s Euro Hockey Champs Match Report

Ireland 1 (M Robson) England 2 (Z Wallace, P Roper)

England set the pace in the opening quarter getting two passed Mark Ingram in the 11th and 12th minute. The opening goal of the game came from Zachary Wallace while the second goal came from a penalty corner moments later. The initial shot came from Ward but was saved by Ingram, the rebound saw Roper get the deflection from a pass back into the circle.

Michael Robson had Ireland’s first opportunity of the second quarter when he received a well-aimed aerial from Daragh Walsh. The ball went wide from his shot as England goalkeeper Pinner ran out to meet him along with three English defenders. The score remained Ireland 0 – 2 England as Stuart Loughrey took a shot on the goal which also went wide. Although, it wasn’t long before Eugene Magee managed to get the ball in to the English circle and provide Robson with another opportunity. It went around Pinner nicely and hit the back of the goal to bring Ireland back into the game.

Despite the change in score, England continued to hold the majority of possession with a solid defence ending the first half Ireland 1 – 2 England.

Jamie Carr came on in Ingram’s place in the third quarter, making to excellent saves from shots from Roper and Griffiths. Despite putting more pressure on England in the third quarter Ireland had few opportunities, sending the ball wide of the goal on more than one occasion.

Ingram was back on for the final quarter, saving well from an attack by Roper. With four minutes left on the clock, Conor Harte received a Yellow Card bringing Ireland down to 10 men. Ingram was brought off to increase outfield players, but strong English defence prevented Ireland adding to the score in the final quarter.

Speaking after the match, Eugene Magee said “We’re very disappointed after that result today.

“England are a strong side. We had some good phases of play, unfortunately our end product wasn’t good enough today.

“We’ll pick ourselves up, go again, recover well and look forward to Wales.”

The Irish men will now face Wales in their final match of the tournament on Saturday at 14:45 Irish time. Both teams will be hoping to avoid relegation. England face Scotland in their final match at 12:30 Irish time, the result of which will is significant for both Ireland and Wales. An England Scotland draw guarantees relegation, while a win for either gives both Ireland and Wales a chance to avoid joining the lower tier.

The Irish women’s squad will take on Belgium tomorrow in their Pool C match at 14:45 Irish time.

Ireland: J Jackson, J Bell, E Magee, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, M Robson, B Walker, D Walsh, P Gleghorne, C Harte, M Ingram

Subs: J Carr, T Cross, S Murray, J Duncan, L Cole, S Loughrey, S Cole

England: G Pinner, D Ames, H Wier, A Jackson, I Sloan, S Ward, P Roper, A Dixon, B Creed, J Gall, W Calnan

Subs: H Gibson, O Willars, H Martin, C Griffiths, J Waller, T Sorsby, Z Wallace

Ire v Germany, Women’s Euro Hockey Champs Match Report

Women’s Pool B: Ireland 1 (S Hawkshaw), Germany 1 (P Maertens).

An exciting match for many reasons as the Irish Women finished with a level score against World Ranked Number 5 Germany this afternoon in Antwerp. Unfortunately, a win was required to progress to the semi-finals of the competition.

Speaking after the match, Head Coach Sean Dancer said “Obviously it’s very disappointing for us to lose a must win game, but for me that was a good scenario – a quarter final situation.

All credit to the girls, we got a draw, but unfortunately we needed a draw and weren’t quite good enough”.

Germany took the lead eight minutes into the opening quarter with a shot from Maertens finding the back of the net. Despite Germany dominating possession, Ireland were relentless and continued to press them. The equaliser came in the final minute of the opening quarter, when a penalty corner for Ireland rebounded off German Keeper Sonntag and Katie Mullan managed to secure a pass to a well-placed Sarah Hawkshaw to bring it home.

Germany’s Hannah Gablac made her presence felt in the second quarter but Ireland’s defence remained strong. A penalty corner to Germany save Grote flick for the goal but McFerran got her pad to it nicely to keep the score level. Ireland were lucky later in the quarter when McFerran rightly stepped to defend one side of the goal. Although Elisa Grave managed to position herself dangerously the other side, her attempt from inches out hit the post.

Ireland had a few opportunities leading up to half-time. Gillian Pinder had a shot saved by Sonntag, with Deirdre Duke securing the rebound, unfortunately sending it wide. While Lena Tice continued to frustrate German attempts in the Irish circle.

Irish defence was very strong in the third quarter, fending off a number of attacks by Germany. While McFerran was strong again as Rebecca Grote managed to take a shot from a German penalty corner. Meanwhile her counter-part Sonntag continued to prevent Ireland taking a lead, with shots from Daly and two penalty corners for Ireland both well saved.

The final quarter was marked by much excitement. Sonntag was on form again as Chloe Watkins hit a beautiful shot into the circle to find Daly who’s shot was saved. Germany proceeded to get a run shortly afterwards, entering the Irish circle and forcing McFerran out to defend. The ball crossed the line however the video umpire was called upon to confirm the goal before it was granted, making the tension in the stadium palpable.

No goal was given, with the video umpire stating the whistle had blown before the ball crossed the line, with the sides remaining level. Germany went on to secure a string of penalty corners shortly after, ending in them being granted a penalty shot. Nike Lorenz stepped up to take it but Ayeisha McFerran was never in doubt saving it comfortably.

Ireland chose to take McFerran off with 3 minutes left on the clock to increase outfield numbers. Despite Katie Mullan getting a nice run up the pitch, passing to Evans who found O’Flanagan, German Keeper Sonntag prevented another goal forcing the ball wide. German player Lorenz received a yellow card with less than 3 minutes remaining, bringing Germany down to 10 players, however they managed to hang on without conceding a goal, with the final hooter signalling a 1-1 full time score.

The Irish Women played well and will take lots of positives from the match against Germany in the long-term, however they now move to Pool C to play the third place finisher of Pool A who have yet to be decided. The match will take place at 14:45 Irish time on Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Irish Men’s squad will face off against England tomorrow afternoon at 14:45 Irish time.

Ireland: A McFerran, K Mullan, S McCay, E Tice, B Barr, C Watkins, L Colvin, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke

Subs: R Upton, N Evans, G Pinder, N Daly, H Matthews, E Murphy, A Meeke

Germany: A Wortmann, N Lorenz, S Oruz, H Gablac, A Schroder, E Grave, J Muller-Wieland, J Sonntag, P Maertens, V Huse, H Granitzki,

Subs: K Horn, L Micheel, N Kubalski, S Zimmermann, F Hauke, C Pieper, R Grote

Ire v Germany, Men’s Euro Hockey Champs Match Report

Ireland 0, Germany 5 (N Wellen, T Grambusch, M Hellwig, F Fuchs, L Windfeder)

A tough day for the Irish Men’s squad sees them defeated 5 – 0 by Germany in their final pool match of the Euro Hockey Championships in Antwerp.

Ireland had a promising start with Daragh Walsh securing a penalty corner for Ireland in the second minute of the game, but German keeper Aly was able to keep Shane O’Donoghue’s drag flick from crossing the line and putting Ireland on the score board.

Germany went on to score two goals from two penalty corners from Wellen and Grambusch in the opening quarter. Opportunities from Ireland came from Eugene Magee and Kirk Shimmins, but with both going wide and hitting the side of the goal the score remained Ireland 0 – 2 Germany.

The second quarter saw Germany dominate in the opening minutes, forcing Ireland to play defensively. Paul Gleghorne played well to prevent an opportunity for Germany when Ingram stepped left to defend one threat and the ball passed to his right towards Germany’s Ruhr not far from the goal line. A penalty corner to Germany in the final second of the quarter was well saved by Ingram to keep the score Ireland 0 – 2 Germany as the sides broke for half time.

Despite starting the defensively in the second quarter, Ireland gained momentum throughout and this was clear as the sides met again after half time.

Jamie Carr was on form with a number of excellent saves in the third quarter. A more assertive Ireland applying pressure saw a few missed opportunities; Sean Murray was able to find Eugene Magee with a chance which was sent wide again, while shortly after Magee found Robson nicely, who brought the ball to the circle and pushed to Tim Cross who slipped past it letting the ball go wide.

German defence was strong in the final quarter as Ireland secured two penalty corners, neither converting to a goal. Jamie Carr was taken off as Ireland attempted to put a goal on the score board by increasing their outfielder numbers. Germany continued to apply pressure and secured a further three goals in the final five minutes, with the last goal coming from a penalty corner which saw Lee Cole narrowly miss getting his stick to the ball to prevent the final goal.

“It’s a disappointing score line obviously”, said Men’s Captain Jonathan Bell. “We were in the game for large parts of the match, and we were still on the hunt at half time. Obviously two nil is a long way back when you’re playing someone like Germany, but if we’d got it to two one it could have been a different game.

“We pulled the keeper at the end to bring on an extra outfielder and they hit us with three goals which was tough on the score line.

“However, there were a lot of positives in the performance compared to the performance against Holland and we’ll have to carry that into the relegation pool. We’ll bring that energy and intent to those next two games. In tournament hockey your next match is always your most important match, so for us now it’s all eyes on the next game.”

The Irish Men now enter the relegation pool with Scotland and England. Wales will need to beat Belgium by 4 or more goals to avoid the relegation pool.

Next up, the Irish Women will take on Germany in their final pool game tomorrow at 11:15 Irish time, the Irish Men will take the pitch again on Thursday at 14:45 Irish time against the 3rd place finisher of Pool A.

Ireland: J Jackson, J Bell, E Magee, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, M Robson, B Walker, D Walsh, P Gleghorne, C Harte, M Ingram

Subs: J Carr, T Cross, S Murray, J Duncan, L Cole, S Loughrey, S Cole

Germany: M Muller, M Grambusch, L Windfeder M Haner, T Herzbruch, C Ruhr, M Zwicker, F Fuchs, T Oruz, J Grosse, V Aly

Subs: N Wellen, D Nguyen, T Grambusch, D Linnekogel, F Wienke, T Walter, M Hellwig

Ire v Scotland, Men’s Euro Hockey Champs Match Report

In a lively first quarter, Scotland were first to show what they can offer in front of goal, Andy Bull’s corner push hitting the post after Jamie Carr got a crucial boot to the shot.

Ireland replied in kind, making most of the play with a speedy set of counter-attacks and they went in front in the 12th minute when John Jackson stole possession in the left corner. He crossed through a forest of legs to find Shane O’Donoghue unmarked and he picked his spot for his second goal of the tournament.

They looked the more likely to add to their total until the last few minutes of the second half but a late Scottish salvo put the pressure on. Lee Morton delivered the perfect ball and Kenny Bain stepped in front of his marker to deftly touch in for 1-1 in the 28th minute.

Scotland then carried that momentum into the third quarter, moving in front for the first time from their third penalty corner. The first drag was saved by Mark Ingram but Bain was on hand to poach the rebound.

It gave them a noticeable lift in confidence as they made most of the attacking moves. Murray Collins did get a yellow card but it didn’t slow their momentum and in his absence, Alan Forsyth was only denied by an amazing Ingram save.

It became 3-1 when Craig Falconer got in behind his man on the left side, spun around his marker and flicked into the top of the goal.

Ireland were in a desperate position but they got a lifeline via Tim Cross’s first goal in green, a wonderful shot from right to left in the circle. That came with five minutes to go and they went on to win two penalty corners in the endgame, one of which was given as a stroke after a video review.

O’Donoghue kept his nerve and flicked into the left of the goal for 3-3. And it might have been even better but Sean Murray saw Tommy Alexander somehow save his deflection in the last minute.

“We back ourselves in the way we play to get a result,” Cross said after inspiring the comeback. “We had patches where we were loose across the whole field and, in international hockey, teams will punish you.

“We managed to fight back at the end which was class by us but we just need to bring that energy to all four quarters rather than patches of it.

“It keeps us alive and anything can still happen. We got into Germany positive and looking to win – there’s always a chance if we turn up and play our best stuff.”

As for his first goal in green, he added: “The ball just sat up nicely from Robbo, got a good piece of it on the half volley and it went sort of where I was aiming! 3-1 down, you need something from anyone – a big tackle, big corners or big goals will bring that energy. It could have been anyone who got the goal – I would have been as excited!”

Ireland are back in action on Tuesday at 2.45pm (Irish time) against Germany.

Ireland: J Carr, J Jackson, J Bell, E Magee, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, M Robson, B Walker, D Walsh, P Gleghorne, C Harte

Subs: T Cross, S Murray, J Duncan, L Cole, S Loughrey, S Cole, M Ingram

Scotland: T Alexander, C Duke, M Bremner, A Bull, A Forsyth, L Morton, K Bain, M Collins, D Riddell, E Greaves, C MacKenzie

Subs: T Atkins, C Falconer, C Golden, A McQuade, N Parkes, G Byers, D Forrester

Ire v Belarus, Women’s Euro Hockey Champs Match Report

Women’s Pool B: Ireland 11 (R Upton 4, A O’Flanagan 2, N Evans 2, B Barr, D Duke, Z Wilson) Belarus 0.

The Green Army put in a strong performance this afternoon in Antwerp to give them a very comfortable win over Belarus in their second pool match of the Euro Hockey Championships. Asserting themselves from the whistle, the Irish Women secured a Penalty Corner in the opening minute. Despite it ultimately being kept out of the goal by Belarus’s Navitskaya, it set the tone for the match with the Irish securing a total of 18 penalty corners throughout the match, compared to Belarus’s 3.

“It was a good tough game”, according to Head Coach Sean Dancer, “We started quite well in the first quarter, obviously really pleasing to take an early lead.

“I felt we became a little complacent in the second quarter and we let Belarus back in to the game – not from a score point of view, but from a playing point of view. But a really pleasing second half, we stepped it up and played some good hockey.”

Ireland dominated the game with close to 54% of the total possession according to the TMS stats, building it to over 60% in the final quarter of the game.

Roisin Upton put Ireland on the scoreboard in the 4th minute when a penalty corner insertion from Hannah Matthews was deflected from Lizzie Colvin. While Anna O’Flanagan followed with the second goal shortly after. Similarly, an insertion from a penalty corner from Matthews to Colvin provided Chlow Watkins with an opportunity but the ball was saved and O’Flanagan’s goal resulted from a scuffle for the ball on the rebound.

The second quarter saw a few chances for Ireland failing to convert to a goal with Belarus challenging more. Chloe Watkins and Katie Mullan worked well to keep Belarus out of the Irish circle at one point, while Roisin Upton was on hand to counter a shot into the Irish circle by Halinouskaya and send it back up the pitch. The half time score remaining Ireland 2 – 0 Belarus.

A flurry of goals marked the third quarter, with Ireland extending their lead to 8 – 0. Roisin Upton secured herself a hat trick by the end of the quarter, while Nikki Evans added two to the overall tally with her second coming from a saved penalty corner rebound.

Lizzie Colvin provided a lovely pass to Anna O’Flanagan in the final quarter. O’Flanagan was positioned perfectly to push the ball into the back of the goal while Belarus’s Liavonava stood to the side with her focus on Colvin. Deirdre Duke and Roisin Upton brought the game to a close with a goal each from penalty corners.

The final score Ireland 11 – 0 Belarus. A positive day for the Irish Women in Antwerp. They face Germany on Wednesday at 11:15 Irish time in their final pool match. Meanwhile, the Irish Men will take on Germany tomorrow at 14:45 in their final pool match.

Ireland: A McFerran, K Mullan, S McCay, E Tice, C Watkins, L Colvin, N Daly, H Matthews, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson.

Subs: R Upton, N Evans, G Pinder, B Barr, E Murphy, D Duke, A Meeke

Belarus: H Zhylevich, K Mitskevich, U Kasabutskaya, M Halinouskaya, S Bahushevich, N Silitskaya, N Syrayezhka, M Nikitsina, K Syddykava, M Navitskaya

Subs: T Liavonava, N Shtsin, D Belavusava, X Efimencova, Y Kurhanskaya, V Skryba, V Sidarava

Ire v England, Women’s Euro Hockey Champs Match Report

Tim Cross and Shane O’Donoghue both scored in quick succession in the last five minutes to complete the comeback and earn a point. It means, at the very least, they are just about still alive in the semi-final chase going into their final group game against Germany.

Women’s Pool B: England 2 (S Petty, G Ansley) Ireland 1 (B Barr)

Ireland’s women produced a rousing last quarter but could not find an equaliser from their opening Belfius EuroHockey Championships tie in Antwerp.

Trailing 2-0 at half-time to a pair of penalty corner goals, Ireland bossed large parts of the second half with Beth Barr getting one back with 17 minutes to go. And they had chance after chance in the closing 10 minutes but could not find a way past the defences of two-time world goalkeeper of the year Maddie Hinch.

“We’re pretty frustrated with the result, not the performance we put in, especially in the second half,” captain Katie Mullan said afterwards. “We were a bit slow to start but they felt our pressure in the second half and we could have done with a couple more minutes at the end. We would have got the goal with another quarter!

“But it does say a lot about where we are at and where we are moving to. It wasn’t about hanging on. For us, we controlled phases of the game, had a lot of opportunities. In the past against England, it would be a different story so that is a positive.

“It was a physical game, some hard tackles from both sides. I personally enjoy that bit of physicality, a good battle.”

In the first half, England took what looked like full control in the first half with penalty corner goals in either quarter for a 2-0 advantage.

Hannah Martin was the key player, her bounding runs causing plenty of problems, and she won the corner which led to their opening goal.

Ayeisha McFerran saved Ansley’s first shot but Anna Toman kept the ball live and, after a couple of swipes, Petty nudged in at the left post for 1-0.

Ansley doubled the lead from another set piece, a breath-taking drag-flick that was too quick for the out-stretched reach of McFerran.

For Ireland, the pick of their first half manoeuvres came in the last minute via a corner. Roisin Upton’s push took a deflection from Anna O’Flanagan, hopping and skipping over Maddie Hinch but Toman was in place to clear up.

But, after a scrappy phase of the game, Ireland got a goal back from their second corner while England were down to 10 players with Martin on a yellow. Chloe Watkins – who was outstanding in midfield – won the corner and then slapped the ball into Beth Barr whose touch made it through Hinch, setting up a fascinating final quarter.

Martin thrashed inches wide with a great chance before Ireland started to step on once again, creating chance after chance. Cards became more prevailent, too, with Zoe Wilson and Sarah Evans taking yellows.

Maddie Hinch made two hugely important saves while Shirley McCay’s penalty corner shot went inches wide as England held on to their slender lead and all three points.

Ireland play Belarus on Monday (2.45pm, Irish time in a quick turnaround, hoping to get their first win of the campaign.

Belarus lost 13-0 to Germany and so a victory is imperative.

“You’ve got to move on very quickly in tournament hockey. We won’t reflect too much on today but we will look to control and play like the second half to tee up a big game for ourselves against Germany.”

Ireland: A McFerran, N Evans, L Tice, K Mullan, B Barr, L Colvin, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke, A Meeke
Subs: R Upton, G Pinder, S McCay, C Watkins, S Hawkshaw, L Murphy, N Daly

England: M Hinch, L Unsworth, A Toman, H Martin, S Townsend, S Petty, E Rayer, G Ansley, H Pearne-Webb, L Owsley, I Petter
Subs: S Evans, T Howard, E Deforand, S McCallin, J Hunter, G Balsdon, A Tennant