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Ireland's U21 sides struggle in searing heat at Euros

 

By Graham Hamilton

Ireland's Under-21 men and women both lost their opening games in the EuroHockey Junior Championships being staged in Valencia.

The men went down 4-2 to Germany while the girls lost 3-0 to England in tough openers for both which were played in the searing Spanish heat.

Jonny Caren is hoping his men can hit back against Austria tomorrow (9am) to give them a good chance of retaining their top-flight status.

They got off to the worst possible start against Germany by conceding a penalty stroke and, although Simon Wolfe levelled matters soon after, they went 2-1 down before Luke Madeley squared it up again from a penalty corner.

However, they only managed to hold the lead for a minute and they were further punished by a yellow card and Germany's fourth goal.

Their best chance of a pool win comes against Austria, who also lost their opener, 5-1 against Belgium.

Caren, though, lost four of his players to the senior squad who were in Amsterdam last week.

The women conceded three goals in quick succession to trail 3-0 at the break, but went on to dominate the remainder of the game.

They won four penalty corners and forced the English keeper into several good saves.

During one set-piece, Ireland's Ellen Curran sustained a blow to the face, requiring her to go to hospital for stitches, while an English player later fainted on the pitch due to heatstroke, such were the difficult conditions.

Ireland coach Dave Passmore said after the match: "We started the game nervously, made a couple of errors and England were just clinical with two goals from two corners.

"We had more corners than them and way more of the possession but you have to play at 0-0 and not 3-0.

"But I think we showed enough in the second half that we are here to compete and we are capable of winning the last two games to avoid the relegation play-offs later in the week."

Ireland's girls play France, who opened with a 0-0 draw with Germany, today at 2.30pm, and it promises to be another tough game as the bulk of their opponents are also members of their senior squad.

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