Ireland were beaten 6-0 by the Netherlands in their opening match of the women's European Hockey Championships in Belgium this evening.

Despite keeping the scoreline close for 50 minutes, a flood of Dutch goals in the final 20 saw Ireland on the wrong side of a heavy defeat.

Ireland felt the Dutch pressure early on when Frederique Derkx won a corner in the third minute but Ireland's most experienced player Nikki Symmons was on form to bat it off the line keeping Ireland out of trouble.

The Irish continued to defend well denying the Dutch early goals from their attacking efforts, including five penalty corners, but eventually they found a way through the deadlock when Maartje Paumen roofed her side's sixth penalty corner effort to take a goal lead in the 27th minute.

Ireland showed composure and kept the defence clean, including a top drawer helmet save from Nicola Gray in goals to close out the half trailing just one goal behind the Dutch.

Fresh from the break Ireland showed keenness to attack with young Naomi Carroll bouncing through to the Dutch circle but she was closed out before any meaningful shot was taken.

Ireland were back under pressure moments later but a cool Cliodhna Sargent plucked a near certain Dutch goal off the line.

Ireland put in a series of brave tackles to deny the Dutch onslaught but the constant Dutch attack finally paid dividends when Hoog popped home from close range in an effort that came off Audrey O'Flynns face for a 2-0 advantage.

The Green Machine must have felt penned inside their own 25 at times as the Dutch found attacking rhythm leading to a further four goals,

Paumen in the 58th after an exchange with Hoog tipping in the rebound from Gray's initial save.

For the fourth Gray did well to save from a loose Dutch player but Male was on hand to mop up and convert. Van Den Heuvel was on hand for the 5th goal after an Irish turnover before Hoog showed serious class squeezing home a reverse shot from the tightest of angles.

Irish coach Darren Smith was upbeat despite the heavy loss: "There was a lot to like about the first half where I thought we were very competitive and defended quite well.

"Through the second half we got a little bit tired which was an accumulation of the defensive work we were doing and we lost a couple of players off the rotation. Both our players (Alex Speers and Shirley McCay) will be back tomorrow."

Ireland starting XI: Emma Gray; Alex Speers; Shirley McCay; Naomi Carroll; Nikki Symmons; Audrey O'Flynn; Chloe Watkins; Nicci Daly; Niamh Atcheler; Anna O'Flanagan; Gillian Pinder;

Reserves: Cliodhna Sargent; Emma Smyth; Megan Frazer; Lisa Jacob; Niamh Small; Nicola Gray; Grace O'Flanagan.