THEY may have ended the tournament being relegated once more to the second tier of European hockey, but Ireland ‘s men ended the EuroHockey Nations campaign in Belle Vue yesterday with an emphatic 10-0 win over the Czech Republic.
That briefly gave them a glimmer of hope of maintaining ‘A’ status, but they then needed France to beat England in the following game, but the French were thrashed 7-0 by the hosts and thus Ireland were relegated.
The Irish will nevertheless draw some comfort from the nature of their win over the Czechs as they refocus for the challenge early next year of trying to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.
It now seems likely that the Irish will have to make the long journey to Auckland to try and qualify from a competition which will also feature the English, New Zealand and Egypt.
Having shone against the two eventual finalists, Spain and Germany, in the pool section of the competition, it was their 1-0 reverse to France which was their ultimate undoing.
Mark Gleghorne kicked off yesterday morning’s rout with a drag flick straight into the top left hand corner on the fourth minute. John Jermyn followed that up on 19 minutes with the first of three goals, while Phelie Maguire and Eugene Magee made it 4-0 by half time.
Six minutes into the second half, Stephen Butler’s pass found Jermyn who ambled into the circle and buried his shot into the top left hand corner.
He then secured his hat trick in the 56th minute.
Andy Barbour (2), Graham Shaw and Gleghorne completed the rout and coach Dave Passmore was reasonably happy with the outcome.
“We needed a bunch of goals to put England under pressure and we got them. It was a fantastic aggressive performance and, while it is important to beat teams with a lesser ranking, it was nice to do it so emphatically,” he said.
It seems certain that this side will now stick together at least until that competition and will almost certainly have Jason Black and Tim Lewis back for it. If they fail to make Beijing, however, then several senior players may well decide to retire.
In the meantime, on Saturday, the Irish ladies team fell to a 2-1 loss to Azerbaijan in the game to decide the fifth and sixth place finishers. Team captain Linda Caulfield had put the Irish 1-0 up after a 21st minute short corner, but the Azerbaijani’s came back with goals from Mirzaliyera and Jafarova to seal fifth place.
The women’s team had already secured their ‘A’ ranking, so the result was a little irrelevant and they too will now focus on an Olympic qualifying tournament, although the venue and opposition has yet to be decided.
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