Irish players celebrate against Belgium. Bart Scheulderman

Ireland earn stunning win over world number two side Belgium

Mark Tumilty’s men secured a historic victory in Antwerp

IRELAND SECURED a stunning over world number two side Belgium today in Antwerp to earn their first-ever points in the FIH Hockey Pro League.

Matthew Nelson gave Mark Tumilty’s men an 11th-minute lead with a close-range finish after a long pass into the circle caused havoc.

Ireland doubled their advantage in the 20th minute.

Lee Cole’s through ball picked out Sean Murray and he was stick-tackled inside the semi-circle leading to a penalty stroke. Cole then converted to make it 2-0 going in at the break.

Alexander Hendrickx and Tom Boon went close for Olympic champions Belgium while each side was reduced to 10 men as first Victor Wegenez and then Ben Walker received a green card.

Belgium eventually got a goal back in the 55th minute as a cross by Guillermo Hainaut took an unfortunate deflection off Luke Madeley to reduce the deficit.

It set up a tense finish but Ireland managed to hold firm and pick up a historic first-ever victory over the Belgians.

“We were a bit unfortunate to go in only 2-0 up at half-time,” coach Tumilty said afterwards. “Although they dominated possession in the first half we created more clear-cut chances.

“We are reaping the rewards of the squad depth built up in recent years. Some very talented players missed out on this for various reasons and were back home. With Paris coming up in a few weeks, we could be in a similar situation. We need to build on this, it can’t be just a one-off.

“Argentina will present a different challenge which we need to meet. We are moving in the right direction with the team at the moment.”

Irish captain and player of the match Murray added: “It took a few games to get there, but we knew coming here it was going to be tough… We believe that we can win, we can get results, and we showed that today with a hard-fought win. We defended with our hands on the ground, hearts on the line, and it worked.”

BELGIUM :- Vincent Vanasch (GK) ; John-John Dohnen; Cédric Charlier; Gautier Boccard; Nicholas De Kerpel; Alexander Hendrickx; Felix De Nayer (C); Victor Wegenez; Maximum Van Oost; Tanguy Cosyns : SUBS USED:- Guillermo Hainaut [ 4 mins] ; Tom Boon [4 mins]; William Ghislain[ 4 mins] ; Nelson Onana [5 mins] ; Tobias Biekens [ 6 mins] Tommy Willems [ 6 mins]

IRELAND :- Mark Ingram (GK) ; Luke Madeley ; Tim Cross , Kyle Marshall ; Lee Cole ; Jonathan Lynch; Sean Murray (C) ; Daragh Walsh; Louis Rowe; Ben Johnson; Jeremy Duncan: SUBS USED:- Jamie Carr (GK) [ 31 mins] ; Mark Mc Nellis [ 4 mins] ; Matthew Nelson [7 mins] ; Peter McKibbin [ 7 mins] ; Michael Robson [ 8 mins] ; Ben Walker [ 7 mins] ; Nicholas Page [ 4 mins]

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