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Fulton praises Irish progress

 

By Graham Hamilton

Coach Craig Fulton reckons it augurs well for the future that Ireland managed to win the two-game International Tests against Olympic bronze medallists Germany over the weekend.

Considering it took the Irish until 2007 to finally chalk up a win against the methodical Germans, they have now managed two wins and a draw in their last four games under Fulton's guidance.

"It has been a really long season for the players and to come in and train hard for these two games and come out with a draw and a win is encouraging," he said.

"We are trying out new tactics away from the major competitions and we had certain objectives - some of which we nailed and some which we can still work on.

"In Saturday's 2-1 win, we struggled in the first half when they put on a good press in the man-to-man phase, but we switched to zonal at the start of the second half and two early goals did the business."

The Germans had led through Timm Herzbruch's first-half reverse strike but two goals inside 90 seconds early in the second half changed the face of the entire game.

Shane O'Donoghue turned in Jeremy Duncan's cross at the front post and Lisnagarvey's Matthew Nelson struck with the second after good work from Conor Harte.

Friday's game ended 1-1, with O'Donoghue scoring on his 150th cap and Deiter Linnekogel replying.

In a weekend of milestones, Paul Gleghorne won his 200th cap on Friday and Lee Cole his 50th on Saturday.

Regular Irish goalkeeper David Harte was unavailable for the series - he was helping his Dutch club Kampong to win the Dutch title yesterday afternoon.

Meanwhile, as the Belfast Telegraph suggested a few weeks ago, Ireland are in danger of losing one of their treasured places in the Euro Hockey League next season due to club ranking points.

Scottish side Grange are in to today's European Trophy final and if they beat Vinnitsa (Ukraine), they will earn two places next season at our expense, with Three Rock going into the top flight and Glenanne dropping to the Trophy series.

Belfast Telegraph

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