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Ireland suffer heavy defeat to Netherlands in European opener

The reigning champions were far too strong for Alexander Cox’s men in Antwerp.

Jonathan Bell in action today against Netherlands.
Jonathan Bell in action today against Netherlands.
Image: Koen Suyk

Netherlands 5

Ireland 1

IRELAND SUFFERED A heavy defeat to reigning champions Netherlands in their EuroHockey Championships in opener in Antwerp this afternoon.

The Green Machine conceded three early goals against the Dutch and while they fought back well in the second and third quarters, the world number two side were far too strong across all facets. 

In the first three minutes, Seve van Ass burst into the circle to pick out the top corner with an unstoppable reverse-stick shot. Ireland did call for a video review, feeling he used the back of his stick illegally, but the goal stood.

Soon after, Mirco Pruijser was fed with his back to goal and he wriggled out of a tackle and pumped in a vicious shot. Bjorn Kellerman did likewise from further out and Ireland were left with a mountain to climb inside the opening quarter.

After the initial shellshock, Ireland began to put some good phases together, most notably when Ben Walker clipped a foot for a penalty corner.

Shane O’Donoghue did the rest with his 107th international goal with a low ripper past Sam van der Ven to give Alexander Cox’s side hope of an unlikely fightback.

Eugene Magee then stung the palm of van der Ven as the Dutch looked rattled, particularly when Jelle Galema was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes for an off-the-ball incident.

Kellerman, though, got a killer fourth goal in brilliant style, a perfect strike while running away from goal with an upright volley.

Mark Ingram made some outstanding saves, too, but could not keep out Mirco Pruijser’s perfect near-post touch in the closing quarter.

“We started very poorly and they caught us on the hop a bit, scoring those three goals,” Ireland captain Jonathan Bell said.

It’s a long way back from there but we did regroup and got one back. At times, we played up to the level required and there were good signs. But for long periods, we just weren’t on the money.

Ahead of tomorrow’s clash against Scotland [2.45pm Irish time], Bell added: “Our tournament will start tomorrow. We will have to dress ourselves and respond.”

The Scots lost 9-0 to Germany in the other group game in Antwerp but did push Ireland close in a two-game series in Glasgow last month.

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“It’s always a huge battle. Any recent game has been a gritty affair and both teams will be up for it. We need to dust ourselves down, look at the errors we made and correct them.”
 
The Irish women, meanwhile, will start their campaign on Sunday against England [10.15am Irish time].

Ireland: J Carr, J Jackson, J Bell, E Magee, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, B Walker, D Walsh, P Gleghorne, C Harte.

Subs: T Cross, M Robson, J Duncan, L Cole, S Loughrey, S Cole, M Ingram.

Netherlands: P Blaak, J de Geus, B Bakker, S van Ass, S de Wijn, S Baart, M Pruijser, B Kellerman, T Brinkman, J Janssen, M van der Weerden.

Subs: J Hertzberger, L Balk, G Schuurman, D van Puffelen, J de Mol, J Galema, S van der Ven.

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