Ireland 2 Germany 3
Fine margins. Ireland’s men’s hockey team continued to find out the hard way about the minute details required as their latest Olympic tussle ended in a 3-2 defeat to reigning champions Germany.
It was marked by two screamers — one each for Eugene Magee and Mitch Darling — backed up by a brilliant performance from David Harte.
Tactically, it was also a more astute performance from the gung-ho style against the Dutch that drew plenty of good opportunities to attack but also too much space with a 5-0 scoreline the result.
This time, they narrowed the space and limited counter-attacks for a German side packing the heat of Florian Fuchs and Christopher Ruhr.
Ireland did offset this by conceding ground and possession but the majority of chances their opponent could muster were less than clear-cut with Harte clearing the lines.
Coach Craig Fulton said of the game plan: “Our defence definitely improved; they are a good team and the stats will probably prove they had more circle entries than us but our composure was good.
“We did ourselves justice. You come off the back of a 5-0 loss and the character is determined by how the team responds and they definitely did today. I am proud of the guys.”
But the game was shown in microcosm in the 14th minute. Ireland won the game’s first penalty corner which Nicolas Jacobi saved well; 45 seconds later, Germany won a set piece and 2012 world player of the year Moritz Fuerste whizzed his effort into the bottom corner.
Ireland have conceded seven times in three games from this crucial area of the game, a rate of 47%, compared to a conversion rate of just 15%. Between those numbers lies dropped points.
Magee responded before the big break with a sublime equaliser, swivelling to his left after Chris Cargo shovelled the ball his direction.
And Mikey Watt went oh so close to giving Ireland a lead soon after half-time when he bust through three tackles before unloading his shot.
The game, though, was killed off between the 38th and 42nd minute when a needlessly conceded corner was again fired home by Fuerste for 2-1.
Martin Zwicker slapped in the third soon after and that was the ball game. Darling did finish off a brilliant goal with 83 seconds left but Germany, as befits their world number three status, are cool heads at seeing out games and offered no late, late drama.
It means the time for taking moral positives is over, however, and only two wins from two – against Canada tomorrow and Argentina on Friday – will be enough for Ireland to snatch a quarter-final behind the Netherlands, Germany and India.
“Canada area gritty team but I am more focused on us,” Fulton said. “We are on the up and Canada will give us a full go. We love the challenge.”
IRELAND: D Harte, J Jackson, R Gormley, M Watt, J Jermyn, E Magee, K Shimmins, M Darling, K Good, P Gleghorne, C Harte
Subs: J Bell, C Cargo, A Sothern, P Caruth, S O’Donoghue.
GERMANY: N Jacobi, M Muller, L Butt, M Haner, M Grambusch, C Wesley, T Hauke, C Ruhr, M Fuerste, F Fuchs, T Oruz.
Subs: M Trompertz, T Herzbruch, T Grambusch, M Zwicker, N Wellen.
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