Ireland face uphill battle after defeat to England in EuroHockey Championship opener

Sean Dancer’s team made a bright start in Mönchengladbach but were well beaten in the end

England 3 Ireland 0

Ireland’s EuroHockey Championship campaign opened with a 3-0 defeat by England in Mönchengladbach on Friday afternoon, a bright start to the game by Sean Dancer’s team petering out as the English took control – and three of their chances.

Ireland’s high press had their opponents pinned back in the early exchanges, Naomi Carroll coming close to scoring when she controlled an aerial ball in the circle and fired a half-volley towards goal, Sabbie Heesh making a smart save.

Soon after, Hannah McLoughlin put Niamh Carey through on goal after a driving run from the back, but Heesh came to the rescue again.

But that lively spell was short-lived, England taking the lead on eight minutes through a Grace Balsdon penalty stroke after Róisín Upton’s stick tackle on Alex Malzer. And it was 2-0 on 21 minutes, Tessa Howard deftly turning Holly Hunt’s strike past Ayeisha McFerran.


Lizzie Murphy replaced McFerran in goal for the second half, Dancer now regarding the pair as equals after Murphy’s fine form in last December’s Nations Cup when McFerran was unavailable.

Murphy was, though, at fault for the third goal when she allowed Hunt’s shot, which she initially blocked, through her legs, Hannah Martin on hand to tap the loose ball home.

Ireland play Scotland on Saturday and Germany on Tuesday, the top two in the pool advancing to the semi-finals. That’s a tall order now for Ireland, but they must finish in the tournament’s top six (out of eight nations) if they are to retain their top tier status in European hockey, and earn a spot in one of next January’s Olympic qualifiers.

IRELAND: A McFerran; C Sherin, E Neill, R Upton, S McAuley; S Torrans, S Hawkshaw, C Beggs; N Carey, K Mullan (capt), N Carroll.

Subs: L Murphy, M Carey, H McLoughlin, E Curran, C Perdue, K McKee, D Duke.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times