Ireland suffer Euro relegation

It will be at least four years before Ireland grace the top tier of European U18 girls hockey after a penalty shoot-out defeat to Russia saw them relegated yesterday.

On the final day of the EuroHockey Youth Championships, the ‘Little Green Army’ needed victory against the Russians to claim sixth place of the eight teams competing in Dublin and avoid the trapdoor.

Yulia Kazakova had Russia in front but two quickfire Irish strikes — an own goal forced by Elaine Carey, before Zara Thom teed up an easy finish for Robyn Chambers — turned the game on its head.

Elena Nazarova levelled for Russia ahead of a frantic final period where both sides had big chances to win it but couldn’t convert.

With the sides evenly matched across all parameters in Pool C, it was left to penalty shuttles to decide it. Ireland failed to convert four of their five efforts and Russia claimed a 2-1 victory.

On Saturday, Ireland had missed their first chance to avoid the drop when losing 4-1 to Belgium, Carey’s booming reverse-stick strike the sole bright spot for Richie Malone’s side.

Ireland will now play in the EuroHockey Youth Championships II in 2015, where they’ll bid to earn promotion back to the top tier in 2017.

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