IRELAND 4 FRANCE 3
Ireland’s opening Eurohockey Championship match was always going to be a tight contest and the fixture didn’t disappoint.
The Green Machine beat France 4-3 in an even game that seesawed between the two sides. France, ranked 17 in the world, are a young squad but on the rise as a large amount of the extended squad were part of the French Under-21 team that reached the Junior World Cup in 2013 so the Irish did well to grind out a victory.
Kyle Good got the men in green off to the perfect start with a terrific solo run before chipping the ball over the goalkeeper in the opening minute. Ireland looked the better team throughout the first quarter and controlled possession but France showed their talent in the second quarter and into the second half. 2 goals for France gave them the lead and they were possibly helped by a lack of concentration by the men in green.
Peter Caruth levelled the game in the 36th minute, Magee wound up for the shot but Caruth pipped him to it, his initial shot saved before he slotted the rebound past the keeper. Bruton’s goal, awarded after a video referral, came as the result of dogged determination and excellent positioning as he forced the ball under the goalie and over the line.
O’Donoghue made it 4-2 with his trademark penalty corner power shot, he fired the ball down the centre and through the legs of the goalkeeper. That score-line didn’t quite do the French justice and they riffled the ball into the bottom right corner in the 52nd minute to make it a nervy finish. 5 yellow cards, 2 for Ireland, (Robson and O’Donoghue), throughout the match reflects the intensity of the game and maybe a lack of discipline that cost both sides at stages during the contest.
Nonetheless the win is the start Craig Fulton and his side were looking for as they face stiffer opponents in their remaining 2 group games, world number 3 Germany and 4 Belgium await. After the match Fulton said ““ it was a good win today and we played well in phases. France are a very attacking team and scored some good goals. The result today was important for us. But we need to improve in every game and we’re keen to do that”.
Ireland play Germany on Sunday at 8:30pm.
Team: Harte (Captain), Jackson, Gormley, Magee, Shimmins, O’Donoghue, Darling, Good, Burton, Gleghorne, Harte.
Bench: Cargo, Sothern, Caruth, Robson, Fitzgerald, Watt.