Spirited Ireland suffer heavy defeat to Germany in EuroHockey quarter-finals

Sean Dancer’s side will face Spain in fifth-place playoff after being denied their first last-four place in tournament

Germany 5

Ireland 0

Ireland women were by no means disgraced last night as a 5-0 defeat failed to dampen a spirited performance which saw the Green Army fall short of a first ever EuroHockey semi-finals.

Sean Dancer’s side needed to win by two clear goals to deny England a final-four berth and set up a showdown with world number one Holland.

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But a penetrating German side, aiming to win the title for the first time in a decade, played controlled and front-foot hockey at pace. Two first-half goals ultimately consigned Ireland to a playoff for fifth – their best finish at a EuroHockey.

That Ireland conceded three times in as many minutes in the final quarter was down to Dancer rolling the dice when he took off Lizzie Murphy with 20 minutes still left to play.

“I was hoping that we weren’t at 2-0 down that early in the game before we considered taking off the ‘keeper,” said Dancer. “Germany are a very good team and we certainly thought we were in the game before the score got away from us in the end.”

Germany employed a high press and were largely camped deep in Irish territory for the opening nine minutes. They were rewarded for their patience with a first penalty corner and Sonja Zimmerman slung a wide hit past Ayeisha McFerran into the right corner.

Two minutes later, Ireland had their first sight of goal. Injected to Hannah McLoughlin, the UCD midfielder’s strike into the turf deflected off a German defender and on to the post. There was a brief yelp of delight from McLoughlin, who thought she had scored, before the ball came back into play and danger was averted.

Germany kept up the pressure in the second quarter with another brace of corners, but their slick routines were rebuffed by McFerran.

Midway through the quarter, Pauline Heinz was fed a waist-high ball and she converted brilliantly with a forehand strike low to McFerran’s right.

At the other end, Dancer replaced Murphy, who had only replaced McFerran at half-time, and the extra player initially handed Ireland their best possession of the match.

However, Nike Lorenz profited with two penalty corner drag flicks high into the net. Jette Fleschutz then tapped into an open net before Murphy came back into goal.

Finishing fifth will still be a notable achievement given that five of the world’s top seven sides are competing in Monchengladbach. They play Spain tomorrow.

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