Wednesday, February 21, 2024

EuroHockey 2023: Ireland sense the occasion in bid to scupper Germany hopes

Ireland women were in the changing rooms ahead of their 5-0 ousting of Scotland when Wales men produced their against-the-odds comeback draw against Germany, the world champions, at the weekend.

Sean Dancer’s side will be hoping to spoil the EuroHockey fiesta once again on Wednesday when Ireland take on hosts Germany with a place in the semi-finals at stake.

Should Ireland win it will mark an historic first final four berth, while a draw may not be good enough given that England are favourites to beat Scotland.

“We heard what was happening [with the Wales game] when we peaked out,” said Niamh Carey, who scored Ireland’s sublime breakaway third goal against the Scots.

“It shows that anything can happen in sport and we now have fire in our bellies and we will be ready to go for it against Germany.”

Ireland ran five past Scotland PIC: Worldsportpics

Hannah McLoughlin, who scored Ireland’s first against Scotland, concurred with her team-mate and knows the small margins in tournament hockey.

“One game, one good quarter can be the difference between the top four and then relegation,” she said. “Games can turn on its head in a few minutes.”

Ireland have form against Germany, having held them to a 1-1 draw at the 2019 Championships. In the process, it stopped a run of nine successive defeats to the current world No.4 side.

Here, their attacking intent against Scotland has given them a much-needed boost in confidence following their opening defeat to England.

“We were so disappointed after the England game and knew we didn’t show up on the day,” added Carey.

Translating their consistent skill on the training field  – as typified by Ireland’s outletting and finish by Carey on Sunday – to a tough continental championship is now their target.McLoughlin said: “We knew we would have to beat someone in the top 10 to progress. We need to beat Germany for a place in the top four and it’s an exciting place to be in.”

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