England Men overcome Ireland threat

Simon Mantell, by Ady Kerry - 450

England Men beat Ireland 3-2 in the first of their two test matches in Dublin, but had to survive a second half fight back from their hosts before securing the win on Friday evening.

A positive first 45 minutes saw England open up a three-nil lead, but a long day of travelling saw fatigue set in and they allowed Ireland to pull back two goals in the closing 20 minutes.

Head Coach Bobby Crutchley said: “Overall I was pleased with our performance after an early start and the travelling today. However, a disappointing period in the second half nearly gave Ireland the opportunity of a share of the spoils which I don’t think would’ve been deserved as we played well for long periods of the game.”

Simon Mantell put England ahead after six minutes when he found space in the circle and smashed a reverse stick shot into the roof of the net from eight yards out.

And just three minutes later their lead was doubled when, from England’s first penalty corner, Ashley Jackson’s low flick was deflected into the goal by a defender.

England continued to dominate play for the remainder of the first half, but it wasn’t until the 42nd minute that they added to their tally. A good move down the left saw Mantell cross from the byline on the reverse stick, for a sliding Barry Middleton to score at the far post.

However, fatigue set in shortly after, and Ireland narrowed the deficit on 53 minutes when Shane O’Donoghue flicked high into the goal from a penalty corner, giving Patrick Smith little chance.

And on the hour mark Michael Watt added a second Irish goal after he had edged ahead of the defence to deflect home a cross from the left.

England will take on the same opponent on Saturday (2pm start) as their preparations for the Investec London Cup continue.

The Investec London Cup is the first event to be hosted on England Hockey's new Olympic legacy venue, Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. England's Men and Women will be playing against South Africa, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, and with tickets from just £1 for U18s it'll be a great summer day out for the whole family!

For those of you who can't make it down to watch Sky Sports 1 will be showing live coverage on Sunday 13 July on finals day. The programme will run from 1430-1930.