Caruth heroics edge Ireland into historic semi-final
EuroHockey Championships: Ireland 2 Belgium 2
Peter Caruth was a hero at both ends of the pitch as Ireland qualified for their first ever European championship semi-final in rain soaked London yesterday.
The livewire Monkstown striker not only scored one of the Irish goals at the Olympic stadium but, along with John Jackson, he also pulled off a brave last-minute save to deny Belgium victory at the end of an encounter which was nerve-janglingly close from start to finish.
A share of the points sufficed for the 'Green Machine' who were rewarded on goal difference for conceding just twice against Germany at the weekend, while the Belgians - ranked No 4 in the world - shipped four.
The outcome provided some measure of revenge after a contentious World League game between the two countries in Antwerp was shaded by the home side.
This time, Ireland took the lead when Caruth made the most of a Shane O'Donoghue cross before the interval, only for Sebastien Dockier to equalise soon after the resumption.
Then Jackson knocked in a rebound off Vincent Vanasch's pads but again the lead was short-lived - three minutes later, Florent van Aubel netted from close range.
Ten minutes in the sin-bin for Gauthier Boccard after a clumsy attempt to tackle Jackson helped to ease Ireland's passage to the finishing line through the closing quarter.
But Belgium were back to full strength in the dramatic last minute when they were awarded a couple of penalty corners and Caruth came to the rescue.
Ireland - D Harte, R Gormley, P Gleghorne, C Harte, J Jackson, K Shimmins, S O'Donoghue, E Magee, J Bruton, M Darling, K Good. Subs: M Watt, P Caruth, M Robson, C Cargo, M Bell.