Belgium won the two match series against the Irish men team at home, when the Belgian team defeated its opponent 5-3 and 4-2.
The first phase of the second opened with both teams contesting for possession between the 23 meter lines with very few circle penetrations for either side. Ireland gained prominence in the second phase of the half but it was Belgium who were first to register on the scoreboard when a scuffed shot was deflected over keeper Walker’s head in the 31st minute.
Ireland started positively in the second half and deservedly equalised in the 41st minute when John Jackson crossed in from the right and Eugene Magee reacted quickly to volley home the initial rebounded shot from Cargo.
Belgium took the lead once more in the 43rd minute from a bye line run which resulted in the ball being slipped passed the advancing Walker from the far post. Belgium then took a two goal advantage in the 49th minute when they were controversially awarded a penalty corner which they duly dragged home for a 3-1 lead.
Ten minutes later Ireland reduced the deficit once again when Butler who today earned his 150th cap made no mistake with his trade mark drag flick to the top left hand corner. But it was Belgium who sealed the deal when they re-established their two goal advantage with just three minutes left through a reverse stick shot at the top of the circle.
Commenting after the two test series Ireland Coach Revington said 'The weekend proved to be a great benefit for the development of our team as we tested our quality against a top ten ranked team prior to the European trophy. Belgium outplayed us in the second half today and we had fewer penetrative opportunities as a result.'
Ireland got of to the worst possible start in the first match when they conceded a penalty corner in the first minute which Belgium converted with a low drag flick into the bottom right hand corner. Ireland were unlucky not to equalise from a third minute short corner when Stephen Butler's drag effort hit the underside of the cross bar. Ireland's equaliser came finally in the tenth minute from Eugene Magee after Alan Sothern broke into the circle along the back line to cross into Magee for the tap in.
Belgium went ahead again in 18th minute when another penalty corner drag flick went firing into the bottom left of Ireland's goal. Ireland equalised immediately from the restart when David Hobbs threw a direct aerial to Mitch Darling who found himself alone in the circle to round the keeper and reverse into the net to bring the sides level at two all.
Belgium took the lead again in 24th minute following a goal mouth scramble which gave them the edge once again at 3-2. Ireland were unlucky not to equalise in the 27th minute when Timmy Cockram's drag flick was denied by the left hand post. Ireland continued to make chances and had a golden opportunity to level at three all when they secured a penalty corner on the half time whistle but Butler's conversion effort was deflected wide.
Ireland took the game to Belgium in the second half dominating possession but they squandered numerous chances. The boys in green deservedly equalised in 66th minute with a David Hobbs deflection coming from a great cross by Graham Shaw. Ireland played the remainder of the game pressing for another goal but they were caught in the counter attack twice in quick succession with just two minutes on the board, allowing Belgium to add two goals to their tally just before the final whistle.
Commenting after the game Ireland Coach Revington said “The team will benefit immensely from an increased tempo of game today. I was very disappointed that the team did not take enough of their numerous chances in the second half.”
Source: Irish Hockey Association
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