EuroHockey 2015: Ireland reach semi-finals after draw with Belgium

Peter Caruth scored Ireland's opening goal against Belgium
Peter Caruth scored Ireland's opening goal against Belgium
EuroHockey Championships
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London Dates: 21-30 August
Coverage: All England, Scotland and Ireland matches live on BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website, tablets, mobiles and app, plus selected commentaries on Radio 5 live sports extra.

Ireland booked their place in the semi-finals of the EuroHockey Championships for the first time after a 2-2 draw against Belgium in Pool B in London.

Peter Caruth put Ireland ahead in the second quarter, but Sebastien Dockier equalised on the rebound in the third after Davey Harte had made a fine save.

John Jackson's sixth international goal made it 2-1 later in the third quarter.

Florent van Aubel brought the Belgians level again but they could not find the goal they needed to make the last four.

The Irish survived two penalty corners in a scoreless final quarter and Caruth, whose goal was his 107th for his country, was named man of the match.

EuroHockey 2015: Draw gives Ireland semi-final spot

Ireland went into the game level on three points with Belgium having edged out France 4-3, before losing 2-0 to group winners Germany.

The match was played in torrential rain and although Belgium were on top for the opening phases, Ireland came more into the game and Caruth scored three minutes before half-time.

Jackson, who was a constant threat throughout, scored Ireland's other goal as they pipped their opponents to second place in the group thanks to a battling performance, epitomised by some stubborn defending.

Coach Craig Fulton hailed his team's performance "There is a very small difference between success and failure , and today in difficult conditions we put in enough detail to get a big result in a major competition when it counted. A fantastic team performance, now onto the semis!"

Ireland are likely to face the Netherlands in the semi-finals, which will be played on Thursday.

Victory in the tournament would ensure Craig Fulton's team a place at next year's Olympics, although they have other possible routes to Rio.

Ireland's chances of progressing to Rio have been boosted by the elimination of both Russia and France from the European tournament.

And if Ireland don't win the European Championships, victory for Australia in the Oceania Cup in October will guarantee the Irish an Olympic spot.

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