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The Ireland men’s national hockey team finished third at the 2021 EuroHockey Championship II with a 4-2 win over hosts Poland in the third-place play-off.
It was the second defeat that Jonathan Bell’s side had inflicted on the Polish after a 2-1 win in the teams’ opening match.
Teenager Kevin O’Dea’s brace was what separated the two sides in the end – O’Dea had made his Ireland debut against Poland earlier in the competition.
Ireland’s stunning first half had the host nation chasing after them from the beginning with a penalty corner in the opening minutes causing Poland trouble.
O’Dea scored towards the end of the first quarter after he controlled a pass from Peter McKibbin and slotted home.
Jonny McKee added another before the quarter came to a close who stroked home at the second time of asking.
Ireland continued their trend of missing chances while ahead after the loss to Scotland but it did not come back to haunt them like the semi-final.
Poland came to life in the third quarter and got their first goal through Wojtek Rutkowski, who fired home from their second penalty corner.
Ireland responded well and Shane O’Donoghue scored his fourth of the tournament to further the gap to two once more.
Jacek Kurowski kept his side in contention when he added a second but the Polish were unable to find an elusive third.
Ireland vanquished any lingering doubts about the result among fans with a fourth goal three minutes from time putting the final nail in the Polish coffin.
Ian Stewart’s shot was parried after a nice move from Bell’s attacking side but O’Dea was on hand to score his second of the day on the rebound and secure the bronze medal for the national side.
Ireland’s third-place finish also guarantees the side a 2023 FIH World Cup qualifier spot.
The side will battle it out with seven other European nations in Cardiff in October for a spot at the upcoming World Cup in India.