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It's Ireland and England to play for hockey European bronze

By Graham Hamilton

Ireland are gearing themselves up for another showdown with old rivals England in the European championships in London tomorrow - but this time there's a medal at stake.

Craig Fulton's lads lost their semi-final clash against World No.2 the Netherlands by the only goal of the game yesterday to end their chances of reaching the final, but it was a tremendous performance against a team who have been scoring goals for fun and who still haven't conceded a goal in the tournament.

Ranked sixth, the worst the Irish can do is fourth with a chance for bronze if they topple England who lost their semi on a penalty shoot-out to Germany.

The last time these near neighbours met was in the World League tournament in June, when England were playing under the Great Britain banner, and much ado was made of the Gleghorne brothers Mark and Paul facing each other.

That Pool B game ended 2-2 with goals from Kyle Good and John Jackson levelling matters after a poor start.

The question is can the Green Machine continue their remarkable run against the world's top nations?

This week they lost narrowly to Olympic champions Germany, drew 2-2 with Belgium (ranked 4) and yesterday lost 1-0 to the Netherlands (ranked 2), underlining that they are now able to live with the very best.

England, of course, also fit that bill, as they are World No. 5.

Against the Dutch, the Irish again showed great discipline in defence and the ability to counter-attack from midfield. But despite the efforts of Kirk Shimmins in particular, they just couldn't find a way through, the nearest being Mitch Darling's effort which was turned onto the post.

Ulsterman Mark Gleghorne and Ashley Jackson's last gasp penalty stroke earned a 2-2 draw against Germany but they lost the shoot-out 3-2.

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