No joy for Irish ladies

NO goals and no points is the chilling statistic worrying Ireland’s senior ladies after they fell to two 3-0 defeats to Germany and Belgium on the opening weekend of the EuroHockey Nations Championships in Germany.

Having centralised his squad since last October in a bid to make the top two here — and secure an Olympic berth in the process — Ireland coach Gene Muller must now turn his attention to retaining A division status.

Ireland head into the relegation pool later this week, carrying over no points from the group stages, making today’s clash with England meaningless.

While Muller admitted his side weren’t expecting to win against world number threes Germany, he’ll be disappointed with the nature of the loss to Belgium, who are ranked five places below Ireland in 19th. The girls in green edged possession and territory and won the short corner count too, but were hit with two Charlotte de Vos sucker punches in the first half before Lieselotte Van Lindt finished the job.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s men were left frustrated as a poor middle third of their opening tie, littered with individual errors and a glut of penalty corner concessions, saw them unstuck by the holders England, on a 4-2 scoreline.

Chris Cargo’s crackerjack finish highlighted an excellent opening quarter but Paul Gleghorne’s yellow card seemed to kickstart the world number four side’s response, as Matt Daly, skipper Barry Middleton and Ashley Jackson put England 3-1 to the good.

Ireland rallied again with John Jermyn ripping home his 67th international strike before James Fair’s stunning save denied the Cork C of I man an equaliser, only for Middleton to slide in to deflect home a late insurance goal.

Next up for Ireland are the French today (12noon Irish time).

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