Ireland survive late scare to hold Austria at bay

Austria threatened to snatch a dramatic late win to keep their European top level status but ultimately their 2-2 draw with Ireland which meant they are relegated with Poland.

Men’s Rabo EuroHockey Championships
Pool C: Ireland 2 Austria 2 (1-1)

Ireland survived a late scare to retain their place in the top tier, drawing 2-2 with Austria, a result that sees the Austrians drop down to the second tier after three draws in Pool C.

They had hit the front when Dominic Uher burst down the right touchline and cut in, finding Michael Korper on the back post to tap in, 1-0 after five minutes.

Ireland did, however, got back on terms from their only attack of note of the first half. Matthew Bell’s driving run ended with Alan Sothern who was razor-sharp to control and tap in with minimal fuss.

The third quarter was much more controlled and Ireland went ahead when Shane O’Donoghue nailed his third corner flick of the competition into the top right corner.

And they looked comfortable enough for long periods before a penalty corner of their own was charged down by Xaver Hasun, starting a counter-attack which ended with Korper’s shot going in off two defenders at the near post.

With 20 seconds to go, Uher had a chance to win the tie but it slipped through his grasp from Hasun’s ball, leaving the tie at 2-2, Ireland taking sixth and Austria seventh.

“You are always going to scrap it out at the bottom,” Irish coach Craig Fulton said of the result. “It’s not a nice place to be but it builds character. Hopefully, in 2019, we can put in the right building blocks and kick on from there and make that semi again.”

He felt an Austria tactical switch played into Ireland’s hands.

“They were man-to-man for most of the tournament and went to a zone defence which helped us and it really helped us. It made it easier to play it through and we could have scored one or two more. It was always close before they got their counter goal.”

Ireland will now contest the top tier in 2019 with Austria dropping back down to the Trophy level.

Ireland – Austria
5’ Michael Korper 0-1
27’ Alan Sothern 1-1
35’ Shane O’Donoghue 2-1 (pc)
57’ Michael Korper 2-2

Umpires: B Bale (ENG), J van ‘t Hek (NED)