His world 14th-ranked country Ireland overturned the odds in the Unibet European Championships bronze medal match to beat the 5th-ranked host nation at Lee Valley on Saturday afternoon.
Twice they came back from a goal down, a Harry Martin giving England the lead from an open-play goal on eleven minutes and Adam Dixon restoring the lead with a penalty corner conversion in the 23rd minute.
Both Irish equalisers came from penalty corners, converted by Shane O’Donoghue on 13 minutes and Alan Sothern on 29 minutes.
The “Green Machine” finally took the lead from their third penalty corner of the game in the 39th minute, converted by Eugene Magee.
Leading 3-2. they then defended gallantly, surviving two penalty corners until England elected to take off keeper George Pinner with three minutes remaining.
England forced another penalty corner with 90 seconds remaining on the clock. But the ball was scrambled off the line and Ireland finally broke away two-on-one to force kicking-back Michael Hoare to concede a penalty stroke with two seconds on the clock.
The Irish celebrations had already started as O’Donoghue converted to seal victory.
After the match, England’s Dan Fox paid tribute to Ireland: “Whatever I say about us, we cannot take credit away from the Ireland side. They’ve done brilliantly this tournament. We’re so disappointed because we gave them corners too easily and we didn’t defend them well enough. On a given day, sometimes your corners fire but ours didn’t today. We had a lot of possession we couldn’t make it pay off in the final third. We’re really gutted how it’s gone today. It’s a difficult part of tournament hockey, playing in bronze medal matches when you were so close to playing for gold. We want to play our best hockey every game and we were set up to do that today, we just didn’t quite execute our skills in the final third.”
Michael Watt, seen here in Surbiton colours won a bronze medal with Ireland at the Unibet EuroHockey Championships at Lee Valley. Photo: Tim Reder Photography.