Hotshot Alan Forsyth fired Scotland into the men’s EuroHockey Championship II final with a superb hat-trick as the Blue Sticks rallied from two goals down to beat rivals Ireland in Gniezno, Poland.
Forsyth, denied an outright berth at the Tokyo Olympics, notched his seventh of the tournament with back-to-back hat-tricks against the top-ranked Irish, while Tommy Alexander also produced a player-of-the match display in goal during the 3-2 win.
Scotland will face Austria in the final after beating hosts Poland 3-2 in a shoot-out after the semi-final was locked 0-0 at the end of normal time.
In a typically physical encounter, Kevin O’Dea and Ben Walker had given the Green Machine the lead with close-range shots before the Scots began their fine turnaround.
Forsyth first stepped up for a penalty stroke before launching a reverse across goal as Scotland levelled.
In the final quarter, Forsyth again fired in from the penalty spot before Alexander, who had to deal with plenty of shot-stopping, denied Ireland with a late save.
Scotland and Ireland, who had beaten the Blue Sticks in two uncapped series earlier in the summer, were already assured of a berth at October’s World Cup qualifiers with a top five finish.
Winning Saturday’s final will also boost Scotland’s world ranking points, potentially seal Commonwealth berth and offer a better draw for the World Cup qualifiers in Cardiff as well as next summer’s European Championship qualifiers.
Saturday’s finalists also have the first right of refusal to host the new EuroHockey Championship Qualifiers in 2022 (for Monchengladbach 2023).
There is no automatic promotion nor relegation to the A Division at the Poland event.
Ireland will now play in the third place playoff.
Irish coach Mark Tumilty said: “It is important to finish any tournament or camp on a win. We need to win tomorrow and kickstart our [October] World Cup qualifier preparations.
“It is disappointing to lose today but we have to regroup and see tomorrow as another opportunity for this young group to get international hockey under their belt.
“We need to do better and fix some of the things from the second half today, be more clinical and execute our penalty corners.”