England v Ireland: Belfius EuroHockey Nations Championships 2019 1

England v Ireland: Belfius EuroHockey Nations Championships 2019

England looked to spearhead the campaign for Great Britain to defend their Olypmic title. The Pro League campaign was a mixed bag for GB and now the home nations are competing England take on the mantle.

Before the game the atmosphere in the tunnel was positive and celebratory, Shona McCallin back after an eternity with a concussion. Emotions were just about held in check before the start of the game.
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Ireland of course have won an FIH Series recently, having come second in the World Cup last summer so are entitled to have plans for the title here. Throughout the game you could see the benefit of the increased investment and time for the players. Likewise the Irish are reaping the benefits of playing domestic hockey in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany while the English are restricted to the local domestic game, when they are allowed to play for their clubs.
The game was very even with both teams creating good chances. However it was England that took the lead through a broken down corner. The corner was awarded with only seconds remaining. It broke down but Anna Toman kept the ball in the circle and slipped the ball to Suzy Petty just after the hooter for quarter time was fired. From close range Petty was able to put the ball into the goal and give England the lead.
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Nicola Evans then picked up a green card for Ireland with a poor stick tackle, and England extended their lead through Giselle Ansley. You may have seen the goal that never was against the Dutch in the Pro League. Ansley repeated it but this time it stood. An absolute canon flick into the roof of the net sparked wild celebrations.

The game deteriorated in the second half with a lot of sloppy miss traps and poor pass execution. This was the first game for both teams so it was a surprise to see apparent fatigue so early.

This brought on a flurry of cards. First of all Anna Toman picked up a green for a stick tackle, and was soon joined by Alison Meeke who kept her company under similar circumstance. Next up on the naughty step was Hannah Martin for a deliberate breakdown of play and was off for five minutes.

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Within a minute Ireland had pulled a goal back through a sloppy second phase of a penalty corner, Beth Barr the beneficiary. At quarter time Hinch could be seen whincing at the replays on the big screen, knowing they should have done better.
The final quarter was a higher standard of play from both teams but with two minutes remaining the Irish pulled Ayeisha McFerran from goal and went 11 outfield. It nearly worked but with seconds remaining the ball was thrown over head to Hannah Martin who was showing a cooler head now and rather than pursuing glory made the win safe and kept the ball in the corner.
While a win for England will be welcome they will feel they got too sloppy at times with some very cheap cards and a lot of arguing with the umpires. The Irish on the other hand need to create more certain chances from the possession they had. Finally it was of course great to see McCallin back on the pitch. Of course some raised eye brows at her inclusion having not played much competitive hockey since the injury however she looked in good form and you’d not have known she’d been out for more than a few weeks.
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