Lisnagarvey lads team up to lay Ireland's Germany jinx to rest
Ireland 1 Germany 1
Ireland finally got a positive result against Germany in a major competition after a touch of Lisnagarvey magic helped them to a 1-1 draw in their opening EuroHockey Nations Championship game in Amsterdam yesterday.
The Green Machine have a bad record against the World No.3 side but Craig Fulton's lads came up trumps and indeed were unlucky not to have won considering their number of shots on target.
It looked like they were heading for yet another defeat when Lucas Windfeder crashed in Germany's only penalty corner of the game after 17 minutes.
But after Alan Sothern was unlucky three times, Sean Murray came up with a worthy equaliser 13 minutes from time.
Murray was obviously delighted with his goal but gave credit to his Garvey colleague Matthew Nelson, who set it up.
"It was such a good ball from Matthew and it made it easy for me to convert," he said. "It's a fantastic start to the series and we were unlucky not to win."
Fulton agreed: "We could have won that game but yet we could have lost it on the hooter when they had a penalty corner, so maybe it was a fair result.
"We've got some improvement to make but the belief is really growing, the morale is high and we need to keep that momentum going when we face Poland."
Nelson certainly did all the hard work out on the right wing for the goal, holding off two German challenges before firing in a divine backhand cross which the diving Murray gratefully deflected past Tobias Walter.
It was the German keeper who had denied Sothern in the first half as the Irish rattled their opponents by forcing the game.
His first effort was deflected wide, and then he spun inside the circle only to see Walter block it again.
And after Windfeder's penalty corner conversion, he managed to block Sothern's deflection from teenager Daragh Walsh's cross, this time from the left.
Chris Ruhr brought out the best in Irish keeper David Harte, who was winning his 199th cap, but they didn't help themselves over the hour with three players green-carded and another shown the yellow.
After Murray's superb goal, the Irish went for the jugular and Kirk Shimmins won their only penalty corner but Shane O'Donoghue's drag-flick was palmed away by the keeper.
And then Matthew Bell had a great run down the left but his byline cross was cut out just as Sothern threatened again.
There were anxious moments when Germany won a penalty corner with only six seconds left but Harte made the initial save and Paul Gleghorne threw his body on the line to ensure a share of the points against one of the world's top ranked teams.
Now it's Poland in their sights today (1.45pm) and a win would set them up nicely for the showdown against old rivals England on Wednesday.
The English, who have three Ulstermen in their ranks, romped to a 6-0 success against Poland in their opener, with Mark Gleghorne paving the way with two penalty corner conversions.
The other pool saw Netherlands open with a 7-1 success over Spain, while Belgium beat Austria 4-1.