Irish feeling gutted after Dutch defeat
It's not often an Irish team would be disappointed after holding the mighty Dutch to 1-0, but that's how Dave Passmore and his players were feeling after yesterday's Pool B game at Manchester.
Few expected the Irish to follow up their opening 1-1 draw against current European champions Spain on Sunday with another rousing performance, and in the end they were unfortunate not to have forced a draw.
How strange it was to see the world's third ranked team running down the clock at the interval to preserve their slender lead. And how strange it was to see one of the minnows actually get more shots on goal than the Dutch and also win as many penalty corners, a sure sign that this was not one-way traffic.
But the players felt let down for the second game running when they were denied a last minute penalty corner which could have earned them a draw.
Like the incident against Spain on Sunday, the playback on the giant plasma screen revealed that the umpires got it wrong. And what annoys the Irish coach is that, despite the technology being there, the umpires are not in a position to change their minds.
Scottish umpire Ged Curran certainly must be feeling red-faced, for he was also one of the men in the middle when two Spanish defenders played the ball with their feet in the previous game involving Ireland.
Nevertheless, it was a polished and composed display by the Irish, who are playing far beyond their seventh ranking from the eight competing teams.
"We got our game plan correct again, but unfortunately we didn't get the goal we deserved," sighed Passmore afterwards. "We're gutted that we didn't get something from the game, but must raise ourselves for the critical match against France."
Put into perspective, the Irish have conceded just one goal each against two of the world's top four teams, and are a point better off than they really should be at this stage.
But, as Passmore and his skipper Patrick Brown say, there's no point in running the top teams close and then throwing it all away against France in the final pool game.
Technically the Irish could still surprise everyone by reaching the semi-finals, but they would need to beat France comfortably and then hope the Dutch inflict a heavy defeat on the Spanish in the final pool games.
As expected, Taeke Taekeam was the man to do the damage in yesterday's game, breaking the deadlock in the 16th minute with another typical penalty corner strike, his sixth goal in two games. But that's all he managed and the Irish were unlucky when John Jermyn fired wide and then Dutch goalkeeper Guss Vogels dived low to turn an Andy Barbour shot round the post with his stick.
Vogels also stick-saved three penalty corners - from Butler, Jermyn and the impressive Eugene Magee - and also had to be focused to deal with an effort from Mark Gleghorne to earn his man of the match rating.
IRELAND: D Harte, J Jermyn, P Brown, I Lewers, R Gormley, G Shaw, S Butler, D Hobbs, A Barbour, M Gleghorne, E Magee. Subs: M Irwin, K Burns, P Maguire, M Black, M Ruddle.
Eurohockey Nations Cup (Men): Pool B: Spain 6 France 0; Ireland 0 Holland 1.