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All eyes on Three Rock as fears grow over Irish Euro slot



To the fore: Julian Dale scored four against England U21s

To the fore: Julian Dale scored four against England U21s

To the fore: Julian Dale scored four against England U21s

Lisnagarvey and Banbridge, as well as Dublin sides Glenanne, Monkstown and Pembroke will be keeping a close eye on how Three Rock Rovers fare in today's EuroHockey League ranking game against Belgian giants KHC Dragons at Rotterdam.

That's because these teams are still in with a chance of qualifying for Europe next season, and Three Rock's result today could have a big bearing on whether both Irish representatives will make it into the EHL next season or whether one will drop to the second tier.

Ireland has had two representatives in the top flight in recent years, but Banbridge's elimination in this season's first round back in October and Three Rock's 3-2 defeat against French side St Germain in the KO16 round, means that France and Russia could overtake them in the rankings, leaving one berth in jeopardy.

No Irish club, north or south, has made it to the last eight.

Martin Genestet put the Paris side ahead and Harry Morris equalised but it was Francois Goyet's penalty corner deflection that separated the sides.

Three Rock now face Belgian giants KHC Dragons in the 9th-16th play-offs this morning and a win would guarantee Ireland two places in the EHL next season.

Defeat, though, means there will be a sweat on until the latest rankings are released in June.

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Meanwhile, the Irish U21s came within a whisker of drawing the three-game series against their English counterparts in Dublin but failed to convert a penalty stroke in the last minute.

England had taken a two goal lead but Julian Dale converted a penalty corner and a penalty stroke to level matters before the visitors made it 3-2. But Dale squandered the chance of a hat-trick when his penalty was saved.

On Friday the Irish had beaten England 5-4 with Dale scoring twice and Ben Wallace, Luke Witherow and Adam McAllister also on the mark.

Finally, two Ulster Premier League games took place over the Easter weekend, and Mossley's 2-2 draw at Portadown means they are guaranteed fourth and a possible place in the all-Ireland provincial play-offs if Kilkeel opt out due to their reluctance to play on Sundays.

Ulster Premier League: Civil Service 3 Raphoe 1 (J Devenney); Mossley 2 (J Robinson 2) Portadown 2 (S Johnston, A Stevenson)

U-21 International Series (Serpentine Ave, Dublin): Saturday: Ireland 2 (J Dale 2) England 3 (R Harvey-Kelly, N Park, Z Wallace)

Friday: Ireland 5 (J Dale 2, B Wallace, L Witherow, A McAllister) England 4

EuroHockey League KO16 (Rotterdam): Three Rock Rovers 2 (H Morris) St Germain 3 (M Genestet, F Goyet)

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