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Murray hoping England can do Ireland a favour

 

Pitching in: Ireland ace Sean Murray in action against Scotland
Pitching in: Ireland ace Sean Murray in action against Scotland

By John Flack

While it would normally go against the grain, Ireland's European Championship squad and their fans will be cheering on England when they take on Scotland in the first of two crucial relegation group games at the European Championship in Antwerp today.

Next up, Ireland face Wales and both of those teams will be hoping that their relegation fate isn't already sealed by the time the second game gets under way.

If the Scotland versus England game were to end in a draw, then both of those teams would stay up and Wales and Ireland would go down into the second-tier Euro event in two years' time.

Ideally, Ireland would like a big England win to leave them needing a victory of any description against the Welsh to preserve their current status.

Otherwise, they would have to not only win the game but by a comfortable margin to stay up.

To date, they have hit five in four matches, with all but two of them coming in the 3-3 draw with Scotland in the first phase.

Former Lisnagarvey striker Sean Murray, now playing his hockey with Dutch top-flight side Rotterdam, has been frustrated with Ireland's form to date as they still seek their first win, having lost 2-1 to England in their first encounter in the relegation group.

The 22-year-old said: "We wanted to be in the top four, not the bottom.

"It's disappointing and we now have, hopefully, a must-win game to stay in the division.

"Hopefully we have got a big performance in us and England will do a job for us against Scotland.

"Fingers crossed that we can hold our heads high at the end of it."

Wales went into the tournament as the lowest-ranked team in the tournament at 25th - 14 places below Ireland - but they showed what they are capable of by drawing 2-2 with England in their opening pool match.

Murray added: "They are a good side and they have a quality penalty corner routine."

"We can't underestimate them but we need to focus on ourselves to get a good performance and not concede early doors."

Today: Pool C: England v Scotland (12.30pm); Ireland v Wales (2.45pm). Third-Fourth place play-off: Germany v Netherlands (5pm). Final: Belgium v Spain (7.30pm).

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