Following a superb day of quarter-final action at the Men’s Hockey World League Round 2 event in Belfast, France, Scotland, Wales and Ireland have all progressed through to the competition semi-finals.
France (FIH Hero World Ranking: 17) continued their excellent form with a fourth straight win in the first match of the day, cruising to an 11-2 victory over Ukraine (WR: 24). Etienne Tynevez started and finished the match by scoring goals in the first and fourth quarters, while Charles Masson and Blaise Rogeau also scored two goals each in the rout.
France’s opponents in the semi-finals will be Scotland (WR: 27), who upset the FIH Hero World Rankings with a shoot-out win over Austria (WR: 21) after regulation time finished with the scored locked at 5-5. Alan Forsyth and Dominic Uher exchanged hat tricks in a game that was level on five occasions, with Uher’s final goal coming inside the last minute to take the match to the shoot-out. Scotland scored all four of their shoot-out efforts with Forsyth, Jamie Wong, Lee Morton and Gavin Byers all netting while David Forrester – swapping into goal for regular time shot-stopper Tommy Alexander – denied two Austrian efforts for the win.
Wales (WR: 34) booked their ticket to the semi-finals with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Italy. Gareth Furlong scored a penalty corner at the end of the first quarter before netting his second with a penalty stroke early in the second period. Rupert Shipperley’s third quarter field goal proved to be the killer blow as Wales sealed their place in the competition’s final four.
Ireland (WR: 10) set up a semi-final meeting against Wales by winning 5-1 against Poland (WR: 19). The Green Machine scored three goals in the second quarter to effectively kill the contest, with John McKee, Eugene Magee and Shane O’Donoghue all netting in a devastating six-minute spell, with O’Donoghue scoring a second penalty corner shortly after half time to take the score to 4-0. Poland netted a goal of their own nine minutes from time thanks to Patryk Bulka, but McKee finished off a fine Irish team move to complete the scoring two minutes from time.
The semi-finals will take place on Saturday 16 March, with Ireland taking on Wales at 14:30 GMT before Scotland face France in the second semi-final at 16:45. The day will start with the 5-8 play-off matches, with Austria going head to head with Ukraine at 10:00 and Poland playing Italy at 12:15.
Like all the Round 2 events, the competition in Belfast will witness a clash between teams that came through the first phase of the competition against sides that were automatically given a bye through to Round 2 due to their higher placement in the FIH Hero World Rankings. The highest ranked teams will enter the World League at the Semi-Final stage of the Hockey World League which will take place in this summer.
The top two finishers from the men’s Round 2 events in Dhaka, Belfast (11-19 Mar 2017) and Tacarigua, (25 Mar-2 Apr 2017) are certain to qualify for the Hockey World League Semi-Finals, being joined in the World Cup qualifier phase by the two highest ranked of the third placed finishers from those three events.
To learn more about how the teams progress through the competition in the hope of reaching the 2018 Hockey World Cups, click here, with more details about all of the HWL events available by clicking here.
Photograph: Rowland White / PressEyeMen’s