Historic win for IRL Men as they beat World Ranked #2 Belgium in FIH Pro League


May 22, Belgium: Ireland collected their first points of the 2024 FIH PRO LEAGUE by beating Belgium for the first time in their history by 2 goals to 1. It was a superb performance from the team who defended when necessary and attacked with purpose when those opportunities presented themselves. 

Belgium were fast out of the blocks and Ireland were on the back foot in the opening stages of the match. Ireland’s first counter-attack was launched by captain Sean Murray who turned in a man of the match performance. Murray passed to Louis Rowe whose attempted shot was blocked by Alexander Hendrickx’s foot and Ireland were awarded a short corner. Luke Madeley’s drag flick was deflected behind for a long corner. Ireland managed to retain possession from the long corner but closer to the halfway line than the 23 metre line. A long aerial pass found Daragh Walsh who passed to Louis Rowe. But he was penalised and it resulted in a free hit to Belgium. In the 10th minute Ireland were awarded a penalty corner. The Belgians referred it to the video umpire but they lost their referral in the process. Despite not scoring from the penalty corner Ireland retained possession and when the ball found its way back into the circle Matthew Nelson scored from close range to give Ireland a 1-0 lead.

They led 1-0 at the end of the first quarter. Vincent Vanasch saved for the Belgians early in the second quarter. In the 20th minute Lee Cole’s through ball sent Sean Murray through and he was stick-tackled inside the semi-circle and Ireland were awarded a penalty stroke. Lee Cole made no mistake and Ireland were 2-0 ahead.

Mark Ingram made a great save from Alexander Hendrickx at the edge of the semi-circle. Tom Boon also had a shot over the bar in the 28th minute. 

Ireland’s replacement goalkeeper Jamie Carr was called into action early in the third quarter saving from Tom Boon. Nelson Onana cut into the Irish semi-circle and accidentally hit Tom Boon in the head, a free hit was awarded to Ireland. Victor Wegenez got a green card awarded against him in the 39th minute and Belgium were down to 10 players. Ireland appealed the award of a PC to the video umpire. Jamie Carr denied Cedric Charlier who shot from a penalty corner in the 41st minute.  

Ireland’s Ben Walker was green carded in the 43rd minute leaving Ireland down to 10 going into the 3rd quarter break. Ireland were still 2-0 ahead but it was almost inevitable that Belgium would claw a goal back, and they did. It came from a cross by Guillermo Hainaut and took a wicked deflection off Luke Madeley making the score Ireland 2 Belgium 1. Despite replacing their goalkeeper with an extra attacker and bombarding the Irish goal there was no further scoring and Ireland held on for an historic win.


Speaking after the match, Ireland Head Coach Mark Tumilty said:

“We were a bit unfortunate to go in only 2-0 up at half-time. Although they dominated possession in the first half we created more clear-cut chances.”

“We are reaping the rewards of the squad depth that has been built up in recent years. Some very talented players missed out on this for various reasons and were back home. With Paris coming up in a few weeks we could be in a similar situation. We need to build on this, it can’t be just a one off.”

“Argentina will present a different challenge which we need to meet. We are moving in the right direction with the team at the moment.”


BELGIUM :- Vincent Vanasch (GK) ; John-John Dohnen; Cédric Charlier; Gautier Boccard; Nicholas De Kerpel; Alexander Hendrickx; Felix De Nayer (C); Victor Wegenez; Maximum Van Oost; Tanguy Cosyns : SUBS USED:- Guillermo Hainaut [ 4 mins] ; Tom Boon [4 mins]; William Ghislain[ 4 mins] ; Nelson Onana [5 mins] ; Tobias Biekens [ 6 mins] Tommy Willems [ 6 mins]


IRELAND :- Mark Ingram (GK) ; Luke Madeley ; Tim Cross , Kyle Marshall ; Lee Cole ; Jonathan Lynch; Sean Murray (C) ; Daragh Walsh; Louis Rowe; Ben Johnson; Jeremy Duncan: SUBS USED:- Jamie Carr (GK) [ 31 mins] ; Mark Mc Nellis [ 4 mins] ; Matthew Nelson [7 mins] ; Peter McKibbin [ 7 mins] ; Michael Robson [ 8 mins] ; Ben Walker [ 7 mins] ; Nicholas Page [ 4 mins]