Euro Hockey League Round 1.2: HC Bloemendaal 3-0 Lisnagarvey HC.

Lisnagarvey secured a place in the next round with a terrific defensive display here against already qualified HC Bloemendaal. Although the Irish were defeated, they qualified by virtue of their better goal difference ahead of Lille.

The game followed a familiar pattern as Bloemendaal attacked from minute one, whilst Garvey dug in for a long afternoon of defending.

Roel Bovendeert, Diede Van Puffelen and Teun De Nooijer all had early chances saved by John Tormey in the Garvey goal.

The men in blue were working hard to keep the Dutch at bay, but had a gilt-edged chance to take the lead themselves. James Dowling carried the ball a long way, and just kept going as the defence parted. Dowling entered the D and seemed to be in two minds about whether to pass or shoot and in the end did neither and the chance was gone.

At the other end Tormey made an outrageous stick save to turn Bovendeert’s reverse stick shot over the bar.

Quarter two, as expected, mirrored quarter one. Bloemendaal dominated possession whilst Garvey hassled, tackled and ran themselves almost to a standstill. Chances in this quarter were at a premium such was the defensive work of Lisnagarvey, the best effort was a Teun De Nooijer shot which Captain Jonathan Bell charged down.

Nick Meijer made a superb break along the baseline early in quarter four but could only find the side netting with his finish. With captain Bell marshalling the defence, Brian Waring and Jonathan Quigley tackling absolutely everything, the Dutch looked unusually rattled and their passes started to go astray.

Bloemendaal forced a penalty corner but Tormey made another wonderful save, diving to his right to get a solid connection on the ball and send it sailing over the bar, to the delight of the Lisnagarvey supporters.

Quarter four arrived with the crowd wondering if the unthinkable could happen. Could Bloemendaal be held? Peter Macdonnell charged down a drag flick at great personal cost, leaving the field injured, and again Tormey performed miracles, blocking De Nooijer’s close range effort after good link up play from Tim Jenniskens.

With 12:28 left in the half, Bloemendaal finally broke the deadlock. Yet another break down the right resulted in Freek Maartens having time and space in the D, as the goalkeeper approached he slotted it inside the near post to the relief of his team mates.

Garvey wobbled and having conceded one, they conceded another. This time Ronald Brouwer knocked home from close range to set up a nervy last 10 minutes or so for the Irish side.

Nerves became even more fraught as Bovendeert got another to make it 3-0.

Garvey tried manfully to create their own chances. Stuart McNeice made a splendid solo run down the right and smuggled ball to Steven Arbuthnot, who had tip-toed forward in support. His slap was well saved by Jaap Stockmann low to his right.

There was still time for a Bovendeert snap-shot to be saved by the heroic Tormey, and then a penalty corner on the final whistle. With the knowledge that they had done enough to qualify, the Lisnagarvey fans were already celebrating, and when the corner was mis-trapped they hailed their team with a huge cheer.

Bloemendaal will consider this job done. Lisnagarvey will bask in the glory of a famous defeat. Sport’s funny like that sometimes.

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