Netherlands 5-1 Ireland

Ireland's men fell to a 5-1 loss to reigning champions Netherlands in their opening game at the Belfius EuroHockey Championships in Antwerp.

The Irish team were unable to recover from a dreadful start which saw them 3-0 down after a mere eight minutes.

They rallied well in the second and third quarters but ultimately were no match for the world's No. 2 ranked side. 

Inside three minutes, Seve van Ass burst into the circle, expertly picking out the top corner with an unstoppable reverse-stick shot; Ireland called for a video review, feeling he used the back of his stick illegally but the goal stood.

Soon after, Mirco Pruijser was fed with his back to goal and he wriggled out of a tackle and pumped home a vicious shot.

Ireland's woes deepened when Bjorn Kellerman did much the same from a greater distance. 

After the initial shell-shock, Ireland began to put some good phases together, most notably when Ben Walker clipped a foot for a penalty corner.

Shane O’Donoghue did the rest with his 107th international goal, sliding a low ripper past Sam van der Ven to give hope.

Eugene Magee then stung the palm of Sam van der Ven as the Dutch looked rattled, particularly when Jelle Galema was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes for an off-the-ball incident.

The Green Machine ramped up their ferocity in this period, tackling and harrying relentlessly, stretching every sinew to stay in the contest.

That, however, would be as good as it got. 

Kellerman slotted home the Netherlands' fourth goal in brilliant style, a perfect strike while running away from goal with an upright volley. This strike put paid to Ireland's comeback.  

Goalkeeper Mark Ingram pulled off a number of outstanding saves, but could not keep out Mirco Pruijser’s perfect neat post touch in the closing quarter.

For Irish captain Jonny Bell, he admitted it was a tough day in the teeming rain.

"We started very poorly and they caught us on the hop a bit, scoring those three goals. It’s a long way back from there but we did regroup and got one back. At times, we played up to the level required and there were good signs. But for long periods, we just weren’t on the money."

"Our tournament will start tomorrow (against Scotland); we will have to dress ourselves and respond."

There's little time to dwell on it with Game 2 arriving quickly against Scotland tomorrow(2:45pm, Irish time). 

The Scots lost 9-0 to Germany in the other group game in Antwerp but did push Ireland close in a two-game series in Glasgow last month.

The Irish women, meanwhile, will start their campaign on Sunday at 10.15am (Irish time) against England.

Ireland: J Carr, J Jackson, J Bell, E Magee, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, B Walker, D Walsh, P Gleghorne, C Harte

Subs: T Cross, M Robson, J Duncan, L Cole, S Loughrey, S Cole, M Ingram

Netherlands: P Blaak, J de Geus, B Bakker, S van Ass, S de Wijn, S Baart, M Pruijser, B Kellerman, T Brinkman, J Janssen, M van der Weerden

Subs: J Hertzberger, L Balk, G Schuurman, D van Puffelen, J de Mol, J Galema, S van der Ven