Ireland 5 (S O’Donoghue, M Nelson, C Harte, B Walker, E Magee) USA 0.
The summer of International hockey got off to a great start at Serpentine Avenue on Friday evening as an impressive Ireland team overcame the USA 5 -0 in the 1st of a 2-match series.
In ideal conditions the opening exchanges were evenly matched with neither side asserting early dominance. Ireland got on the scoresheet in the 13th minute however through a Shane O'Donoghue backhand shot from an acute angle. In quarter 2, not long after missing a good chance, Matthew Nelson was able to convert Ireland's second goal via a neat low backhand deflection in 19th minute. Good interplay between John Jackson and Eugene Magee down the right flank saw Magee deliver the pinpoint cross for Nelson to finish.
The USA had several chances and good passages of play through the first half with the impressive Pat Harris pulling a lot of their strings in the centre of midfield.
In the 3rd quarter after the US had missed a gilt-edged goal chance Ireland unleashed one of their increasingly fast counter attacks. After a powerful 40 metre dribble by Matthew Nelson the ball fell to Sean Murray and his backhand shot was looping goalwards, Conor Harte was on hand on the back post to deflect it over the line for 3-0. Ben Walker then made it 4 - 0 in the 3rd quarter after a passage of fast passes resulted in him finding enough room in the US circle to get his low backhand shot away.
Eugene Magee scored Ireland's fifth goal shooting high into the net after receiving a baseline pass. At this stage the game was a very open affair with the USA threatening to get on their scoresheet. Jamie Carr and the Irish defenders were up to the challenge to make key interventions when called upon. Aki Kaeppelar after intricate stick skills was able to produce a deflected chance for the US which Carr dealt with. Luke Madeley had a goal line save at this point from a straight drag flick from a USA penalty corner.
The Irish defence were able to keep a clean sheet with Paul Gleghorne putting his body on the line of a goal bound shot in the last 30 seconds. Pat Harris was the standout player for the USA and Ireland had many strong performances with Eugene Magee again displaying the attacking ability that has helped earn him 278 caps so far for the Green Machine. But it was an impressive team performance from Ireland with solid defensive structure and strong counter attacking skill and intensity further up the pitch.
The evening was capped off in a very enjoyable manner with a large number of young players being treated to a skills clinic on the pitch with the entire Ireland team and coaches after the match. This experience will live for a long time with the many youngsters who participated, and many thanks must go to the Ireland team and management for facilitating this.
The Irish Senior Men’s next match will take place on Sunday May 26th at 12 noon v USA at Pembroke Wanderers HC.
These matches are excellent preparation for the Men’s FIH Series Finals in Le Touquet coming up in June. In the meantime the Men’s team will also take on France on June 4th and 6th in Lisnagarvey. There will also be an open training session for media and fans to attend on Friday the 31st of May in Lisnagarvey Hockey Club, from 16:00 to 17:30.
To find further information on the FIH Series Final tournament in Le Touquet this June, or purchase tickets, please see: //ticketingfihseriesfinal.fr/en/
Ireland; Carr J (GK), Jackson J, Bell J, Bell M, Madeley L, Nelson M, Magee E, Glassey N, O'Donoghue S, Murray S, Robson M, Walker B, Walsh D, Gleghorne P, Harte C, Cole L, Ingram M (GK), Cole S.
Team Manager: Kidd G
Stand-In Manager: Kelly R
Assistant Coach: Weusthof R
Assistant Coach: de Jager K
Physiotherapist: McCallion C
USA; Klages J (GK), Barminski M, Sundeen T, Harris P, Miller A, Montilla A, Holt W, Dhadwal A (C), Barratt T, Kaeppler K, De Angelis C, Harris S, Singh P, Cicchi S, Orozco J, Kaeppeler A, Huisman D, Gandhi M, Wisselink D(GK).
Team Manager: Mazzalupi H
Head Coach: Wiese R
Assistant Coach: Wijzenbeek P
Physiotherapist: van Ark H
Men’s Senior International Test Match. Sunday May26th
Ireland 2 (S O’Donoghue, L Madeley) USA 0
Penalty corner goals from Shane O’Donoghue and Luke Madeley saw Ireland’s men complete a 2-0 win over USA at Serpentine Avenue, adding to Friday’s 5-0 success over the same opposition.
The wins give Ireland a boost as they begin their preparations in earnest for the FIH Series Finals in Le Touquet, France in June, a vital step on the road to potentially qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics.
The Green Machine started well and hit the front inside the first three minutes following a series of penalty corners, O’Donoghue hitting the net for 1-0.
They continued to carry the greater threat through the first quarter with Matthew Nelson causing problems and Matthew Bell drew a big stop from goalkeeper Jonathan Klages.
The US, for their part, went close but Mark Ingram got out well to make good stops from Deegan, Huisman and Mike Barminski to keep Ireland’s lead in tact.
A couple more Irish corners went incomplete early in the second quarter while Michael Robson’s rising shot was batted away by Klages.
Madeley made it 2-0 in the 23rd minute with a high drag-flick to give a bit more comfort on the scoreboard and they carried this advantage to the big break after Patrick Harris’s dangerous shot was cleared by Ingram.
The second half was scrappier with both sides trying out new pressing techniques. Ireland were making nice circle entries and getting to the baseline but they could not back that up with the killer touch in front of goal.
USA, meanwhile, had the clearer openings when Huisman pounced on a mistake but Jamie Carr – on as a half-time sub – raced off his line to charge down the shot before Kei Kaeppler whipped the rebound over the bar.
Kai de Jager was standing in as lead coach for the weekend due to head coach Alexander Cox’s involvement with SV Kampong in the Dutch national final.
Speaking afterwards, de Jager said he was content with what his side worked on over the course of the series against the US.
“We are really happy about some things, young guys stepping up like Benny Walker; we got a lot of circle entries in the positions we wanted them to be,” he said.
“Pressing wise, we still need to make some steps because if you play a high zonal format, it can be difficult to get it right the first time you use it.
“I’m happy with the goalkeeping work and our deep defence which is something we pride ourselves on. USA is a good opponent who are going to the FIH Series as well and we scored seven with two clean sheets There’s not much more you can ask for, maybe score a few more goals.”
Next on the Irish men’s agenda is a two-game series against France in Lisnagarvey on June 4 and 6 before travelling to Le Touquet where their FIH Series Finals begin on June 15.
Ireland: M Ingram, J Jackson, J Bell, M Nelson, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, B Walker, D Walsh, C Harte, L Cole, S Cole
Subs: M Robson, P Gleghorne, N Glassey, M Bell, L Madeley, J Carr
USA: J Klages, A Montilla, P Harris, S Harris, A Dhadwal, T Barratt, K Kaeppler, P Singh, J Orozco, D Huisman, M Gandhi
Subs: M Barminski, A Miller, C de Angelis, W Holt, S Cicchi, J Croonenberghs