Irish Sports Council: The Irish Men’s Hockey team lost their opening pool match 5-1 to England at the BDO Hockey World Cup Qualifier in Changzhou, China this morning.

The heavy score line deceives in what was a tight game, with England leading 2-1 at the half time. The telling difference between the sides was England’s clinical execution in the circle, as they scored from five of their seven penalty corners. England, currently ranked twelve places higher than Ireland in the world rankings, narrowly missed out on the bronze medal to Pakistan at the recent Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

“Whilst very disappointed with the score line, possession and circle penetrations showed this game was not as one sided as it may seem. However, England were clinical in winning corners and converting them,” Irish manager Steven Hiles said.

Ireland started brightly, making numerous attacks down the right through Andy Barbour but conceded a penalty corner after 22 minutes, which, despite being deflected by Irish keeper Mark Ruddle, was converted by England’s four-goal hero Richard Mantell to take the lead.

wo minutes later Cork Church of Ireland’s John Jermyn won a penalty corner for the Irish and converted it himself to level proceedings.

Seven minutes from half time Ireland left their feet exposed and Mantell again stepped up to convert the penalty corner and restore the English advantage going into the break.

Ireland again attacked from the restart with Antrim’s Mark Gleghorne forcing a reflex save off the English keeper’s shoulder.

Irish defender Jason Black did well to charge down England’s fourth penalty corner on in the 45th minute but England’s next corner hit an Irish foot on the line and the Ben Hawes scored for them from the resulting penalty stroke.

Following that Irish captain Paddy Brown’s through ball found Tim Cockram but the Lisnagarvey student’s reverse stick shot was saved. English hero Mantell added two more goals from set piece conversions before the final whistle to put the game out of Ireland’s reach.

Ireland plays Canada tomorrow in their second pool game and will be hoping for a better outcome.

“The match tomorrow will give us an opportunity to improve in certain areas as there are four group games remaining, and plenty of points to be won,” Hiles said.

Elsewhere in Ireland’s pool Pakistan beat Canada 1-0 and Belgium overcame Egypt 5-2.There are two pools of six teams in the qualifier, following the round robin stage the top two teams in each pool automatically qualify for the BDO Hockey World Cup in September, with the remaining teams battling it out for the final qualifying spot.