Ireland's men held to 1-1 draw by combative Italians

Men’s EuroHockey Championships II 

Ireland 1 (S O’Donoghue) Italy 1 (F Sior) 

Ireland were held at bay to a 1-1 draw by a well-organised Italy, leaving the Green Machine on 4 points from 6 after day 2 of the EuroHockey Championships II in Gniezno, Poland. 

Shane O’Donoghue’s 112th worldwide objective had Ireland buzzing in the seventh minute however a fast reply from Francois Sior in the 13th minute indicated all the scoring occurred in the very first quarter. Thereafter, it was a labyrinth of perseverance as the Italians – ranked 8 locations listed below Ireland in 22nd – protected deep and resolutely to provide minimal opportunities. 

The result leaves both sides on 4 points after 2 video games with Ireland understanding a win of any description versus world number 40 side Croatia will see them through to the semi-finals and a verified location in the World Cup qualifiers. 

“Credit to the Italians, they defended well, stuck to their guns and then went for the long high ball while we didn’t hit fourth or fifth gear,” was O’Donoghue’s evaluation. 

“We didn’t play with the same level of aggression to the game against Poland. There were some sticky patches which we had to weather and we played good stuff at times but the bounce of the ball didn’t go our way.”  

After a somewhat sluggish Irish start, yielding a 2nd minute charge corner, Ireland quickly discovered a rewarding opportunity of attack, O’Donoghue’s precise crossfield overheads triggering a lot of risk. 

From the left wing, he typically selected Tim Cross overlapping down the right and it produced Ireland’s very first corner from which O’Donoghue broken house his 112th worldwide objective with a low drag-flick in the seventh minute. 

But the lead was temporary as a flurry of Italian attacks ended with a loose clearance falling straight to Fancois Sior who let loose a rocket into the roofing system of the objective. 

The 2nd quarter was extremely tight with couple of sights on objective as Italy sat deep, wanting to counter while the Green Machine taken pleasure in more ownership however discovered the defence tough to unpick. Again, the O’Donoghue-Cross link-up yielded a corner however the possibility was warded off while a  

The 2nd half was more open with Ian Stewart’s smooth abilities practically opening the door while a quick counter in between Ben Nelson and Cross ended with a shot charged down. 

Jeremy Duncan broke one into the backboard however an earlier free-out was called, contributing to the disappointment. A 3rd Irish corner deflected high from O’Donoghue’s effective flick into Michael Robson however was considered unsafe and it showed the last significant opening. 

While the video game extended, both defences were well managed, choosing off cool takes on in their particular circle. The post-match body movement recommended Italy were much the better with the result – their very first arise from their last 6 conferences with Ireland, going back to 2005 – with O’Donoghue stated there was plenty to draw from the tie for the young line-up. 

“We had a couple of corners which we required to capitalise on however this is competition hockey and we need to gain from it. It is never ever smooth cruising and you never ever understand what to anticipate.  

“They play their style which is frustrating to play against. I don’t think they caused us too much damage but, from our end, we didn’t have create enough chances.” 

Ireland have a fast turn-around with Croatia – dipping into this level for the very first time – are next on Wednesday afternoon at 4.45pm (Irish time). 

“Tomorrow, it is important we don’t go hell for leather from the start. It is important we stick to the gameplan; we know it works from the Poland game,” O’Donoghue continued. 

“All the teams are here for the same thing and want to win it, get that gold medal and move up the world rankings. We will get back to basics, not make those mistakes, get our forwards more into the game, take some chances and we will be fine. We will research the Croatians and go into it with good belief we can get the job done.” 

Ireland: J Milliken, T Cross, J McKee, K Marshall, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, M McNellis, P McKibbin, M Robson, B Walker, B Nelson 

Subs: D Walsh, K O’Dea, N Glassey, J Duncan, F Gibson, I Stewart 

Italy: F Padovani, M Garbaccio, N Mondo, A Nunez, Julian Montone, T Keenan, J Munafo, F Sior, M Mondo, F Harte, M Amorosini 

Subs: J Ortega, Juan Montone, D Arosio, C Brocco, F Blom, L Stramazzo 

Umpires: T Meissner (GER), F Weiland (AUT) 



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