A disappointing performance by the Irish Senior Men against quality opposition in Rotterdam last night saw them fall to a heavy 5-0 defeat at the hands of hosts Holland.
It was always going to be a tough game against the current World Champions, but once again Irish defensive errors and incisive Dutch finishing proved the difference between the two sides. The attacking trio of Hofman, Hertzberger and Jonker provided the magic for the Dutch, who were far superior throughout. The result leaves Andrew Meredith with plenty to ponder ahead of their quarter-final game on Wednesday.
It was a bittersweet occasion for Irish Captain Ronan Gormley, who made his 169th appearance for Ireland and in doing so, broke Eugene Magee’s record as the record Irish Caps holder. Holland made a bright start and could have gone ahead in the opening minutes as Verga won their first corner of the game, Hertzberger’s flick charged down by McConnell.
A second corner in the 7th minute was again charged down well, with Harte clearing off the line from the resulting cross. The Dutch pressure was relentless and three minutes later their inevitable first goal came after great work along the baseline from Hofman. His cross was unfortunately tipped in off Stuart Loughrey right in front of goal.
Ireland struggled to get into their opponent’s half, with Verga roofing a reverse effort over the bar and Gleghorne in the Irish back-line having to make some last-ditch interceptions to avoid going further behind. In one of Ireland’s few first-half circle entries Michael Watt deflected a Cockram cross goal wards, but found the towering Jaap Stockman in the way.
Polkamp and Hofman ran the show going forward for the Dutch, both showing some World-class touches with a frightening turn of pace to match. In the 26th minute the former’s blistering base-line run and pull-back found Jonker who coolly turned and slotted into an empty goal. Harte made four world class saves before the break, as Holland again showed some classy one touch interchanges. At half time it was Netherlands 2 Ireland 0.
Ireland started the second half with more purpose and endeavour, Bruton and Caruth both going close with reverse efforts.
Stockman made further saves from a Watt first time punt and a Cockram penalty corner effort. In the 16th minute Caruth was found unmarked at the top of the circle after a sweetly threaded through ball, but his first time sweep was skewed wide.
The Dutch piled on the misery of missed chances as they doubled their tally with two field goals in quick succession. Hertzberger intercepted an Irish pass into the middle, and his determination and stick work allowed him time to get his feet around the ball and slot past the oncoming Harte.
Two minutes later a Harte rebound feel kindly to Hofman who unleashed an unstoppable reverse stick ripper from the top of the circle. Harte made a wonder save from Jonker in the 67th minute, somehow managing to tip a Jonker strike onto the cross bar.
A Dutch penalty corner on the final hooter left them with the chance to make it 5 without reply, and Hertzberger stepped up to slot a drag flick low to Harte’s right. To make the final score Netherlands 5 Ireland 0
The result means Ireland finish fourth in their pool, setting up a quarter final clash with Pool A winners Belgium, who have been impressive throughout the tournament thus far. Meredith’s Green Machine will need to be on top form to overcome an emerging Belgian side that beat Australia in the opening stages.