John Jackson hailed the Irish men’s bronze medal at the EuroHockey Indoor Championships III in Santander as “the start of something bigger and better” for the discipline.
Ireland netted twice in the final two minutes to beat Wales 2-1 with Jackson equalising 30 seconds before Ross Canning fired the winner. They had trailed for a long spell after Jonathan Fleck’s early goal and it looked set to be an exercise in frustration as Jackson and Mark English had shots cleared off the line.
But, despite the loss of Jason Lynch (broken hand), they kept plugging away, winning two late corners which they executed perfectly. Stephen West then provided the heroics between the posts, charging down three last-ditch Welsh efforts to ensure the win in normal time.
The third place overall capped a fine return to international indoor action after a 33 years absence. Ireland were overwhelmed 11-3 by Scotland on Friday evening but bounced back to land a 4-0 win over Slovenia on Saturday evening to secure their third-place play-off.
Jackson was delighted to land the medal, saying: “It’s amazing to come away with a medal at the first attempt. Medaling at a Euros is something that doesn’t happen too often for Ireland and our performances over the weekend got better and better.
“We are delighted it came together today. Had we not won a medal, it would still be a hugely positive experience and hopefully something that will be replicated and bettered in the coming years!”
In Stellenbosch, meanwhile, Lena Tice’s 33rd minute penalty corner drag-flick earned Ireland’s women a 1-0 win over the South African hosts in the first of a six game series.
Coach Sean Dancer gave most of his young guns a run in the tie with Ellen Curran, Sarah Torrans, Hannah McLoughlin and Emily Beatty coming into the side, joining 12 of the crew who earned Olympic qualification last November. They play against the Netherlands’ U21s on Tuesda y evening before coming up against South Africa twice more along with two games against Germany.
On home turf, frost put paid to the vast majority of Munster fixtures with only the men’s tie between Bandon’s men and Ashton getting the go-ahead.
The west Cork side ran out 5-2 winners with Ali Smith, Dave Smith, Ross Smyth, Calum Crowley and Ethan Hamilton Foott all on the mark.
The result moves them within three points of leaders Cork C of I. Elsewhere, UCC’s IHT quarter-final tie with Waterford was called off as were all three of the women’s Munster Division One ties.