Ireland men’s indoor hockey team went into their final match against Italy with the chance to win the European Indoor Championship III in Athienou, Cyprus over the weekend, but it wasn’t to be as Brinsley Powell’s men couldn’t unlock the Italian defence.
Former outdoor international, John Jackson, led the team who began brightly on day one with two wins. It was Cyprus first up for the boys in green on Friday and with four goals from Ross Canning, three for John Jackson, two each for Jody Hosking and Ollie Kidd and one each for Dave Howard and Jack Haycock, Ireland cantered to a 15-1 win. The second game of the day saw Ireland defeat Serbia by 12 goals to two with Canning (3), Jackson (3), Walker (3), Howard (2) and Kidd (1) all on the mark.
Saturday brought two more games, the first against Denmark which was to be Ireland’s first real test. Canning scored twice in a losing battle as Ireland’s defence couldn’t keep out the Danish attack who scored six times to hand Ireland their first loss.
Chasing a positive goal difference, Ireland turned on the after-burners against Greece in their second game of Saturday, scoring no less than 34 times in a punishing outing for the Greeks. Kidd top-scored with eight, while Walker (7), Jackson (5), Howard (5), Hosking (4) and Canning (3) all scored multiples. Richard Couse and Ben O’Grady scored their first goals of the tournament to make it 34 goals to nil.
It was all to play for on the final day and Italy were Ireland’s opponent. After their drubbing of Greece on Saturday, an Ireland victory would see them leapfrog both Italy and Denmark to win the tournament on goal difference with all three sitting on 12 points and one loss each. Italy were too good, though, and Ireland only managed to score once through captain Jackson, while Italy were clinical in front of goal, putting six past Stephen O’Keeffe in goal.
O’Keeffe had reason to celebrate, though, as he came away with the Goalkeeper of the Tournament accolade along with his team’s bronze medal.
It was a disappointing finish for Ireland, but not a costly one as the format of Indoor European competitions will change next year with an A Division of 10 teams, and two equal B Divisions that will be based on seedings and geographic location.
Attention now turns to Ireland’s women’s indoor team who take on South Africa in a six-game series in Cape Town later this month.
European Indoor Championship III Results
Ireland 15 v 1 Cyprus John Jackson (3) Ross Canning (4) James Walker (2) Jody Hosking (2) Ollie Kidd (2) Dave Howard (1) Jack Haycock (1)
Ireland 12 v 2 Serbia Ross Canning (3) John Jackson (3) James Walker (3) Dave Howard (2) Ollie Kidd (1)
Ireland 2 v 6 Denmark Ross Canning (2)
Ireland 34 v 0 Greece Ollie Kidd (8) James Walker (7) John Jackson (5) Dave Howard (5) Jody Hosking (4) Ross Canning (3) Richard Couse (1) Ben O’Grady (1)
Ireland 1 v 6 Italy John Jackson (1)