Ireland’s men produced a stunning late two-goal salvo to draw 3-3 with Scotland to just about keep their European Championships campaign alive in Antwerp.
Tim Cross and Shane O’Donoghue both struck in the last five minutes to come back from 3-1 down against their unfancied opponents. It stretched Ireland’s unbeaten run to 24 games against the Scots, but it papered over the cracks of what was a lacklustre performance in the eyes of coach Alexander Cox.
Cox admitted his side “got out of jail”, but was concerned that — following a 5-1 defeat to the Netherlands on Saturday — they are creating too many problems for themselves.
“The way we defend as a group and individuals, I am not too happy. On the ball, I am quite happy with what we are doing,” he said.
“If you see the Holland game and this one, the semi-final spot is not one we will deserve at the moment.”
Things looked to be going well in the first quarter when O’Donoghue finished off John Jackson’s cross. But two Kenny Bain goals and an opportunistic Craig Falconer finish had Ireland two goals down with five minutes to go.
Only a win over Germany on Tuesday gives them a chance of reaching the semi-finals, but the draw does mean Ireland will carry at least one point into the relegation pool.
The Irish women’s wait for a first competitive win against England in a ranking competition goes on, after a frustrating 2-1 defeat to a side that had seven Olympic gold medalists.
Penalty-corner goals from Suzy Petty and Giselle Ansley had England on the front foot at half time, but Ireland pinned them back in a feisty and physical second half packed with sin-binnings.
Beth Barr guided in Ireland’s goal with 17 minutes left and they aggressively set about chasing an equaliser. It would never come though, as two-time World Goalkeeper of the Year Maddie Hinch made two big saves, while Shirley McCay’s corner shot skimmed the outside of the post.
Ireland have to bounce back quickly as they play Belarus — who lost 13-0 to Germany — today (2.45pm, Irish time) in a must-win tie to keep their hopes of a first-ever semi-final berth alive.
Subs: T Cross, S Murray, J Duncan, L Cole, S Loughrey, S Cole, M Ingram
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