Fulton woe as old enemy hit back to deny Irish a podium finish
Ireland 1 England 2
Ireland's quest to repeat their podium finish of two years ago ended at the Rabo EuroHockey championships in Amsterdam as they were beaten 2-1 by England.
Needing just a draw to reach the top four in the tournament at the Wagener Stadium, they finished one goal shy of their target in a match of very few chances. Afterwards coach Craig Fulton was disappointed that they lost a fixture in which his young team held an early lead which lasted to half-time.
The Irish goal came from the stick of Mattie Nelson, the Lisnagarvey striker putting a crafty touch on Conor Harte's low drive after 13 minutes.
The English equaliser came just after the break when David Goodfield found space - an otherwise rare commodity all day - to beat goalkeeper David Harte with a shot of raw power.
Shortly afterwards, Shane O'Donoghue was sent to the sin-bin following an off-the ball rumpus with David Ames, one of three Ulster natives in the England squad.
While Ireland were short-handed, Ames and fellow Northerner Ian Sloan combined to tee up Sam Ward for what proved to be the winner for England.
The best Ireland produced in the search for salvation in the closing quarter was an O'Donoghue drag flick which was capably dealt with at head height by the England 'keeper and an agonising fresh air from Stuart Loughrey at the death.
Today, the Irish women meet the Czech Republic in the 5th/8th place play-offs, while men wait until tomorrow to re-enter the fray as they bid to avoid dropping out of the top tier.
Ireland - D Harte, J Jackson, P Gleghorne, C Harte, M Bell, M Robson, S Loughrey, N Glassey, K Shimmins, S O'Donoghue, A Sothern. Subs: J Bell, M Nelson, S Murray, B Walker, D Walsh, L Cole.