Rovers miss out in agonising fashion on top four spot in Plzen

Rovers miss out in agonising fashion on top four spot in Plzen

February 21, 2024

Three Rock Rovers came agonisingly close to a top four spot from the men’s EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy in Plzeň, eventually having to settle for seventh overall from the second tier competition.
Their tournament was defined by the finest of margins and ultimately hinged on their third game against Portugal’s AD Lousada on Saturday afternoon.

Prior to that, they ran up a hugely impressive 12-1 win over Sweden’s Roslagens IF; they rattled up seven first half goals with Ross Canning leading the way with five goals while James Walker scored four times. 

Against eventual champions Rotweiss Wettingen from Switzerland, it was nip and tuck for long periods. Three Rock led in the first minute via Canning and were in the mix going into the final quarter at 2-2 thanks to another goal from the captain. 

But the vastly experienced Swiss side kept their nerve with goalkeeper Joel Schübach putting in a world class performance while they subsequently picked up three goals in the final quarter which put them out of reach.

It meant the Irish representatives needed a draw to advance to the top four pool from their tie with Lousada.

They were playing catch-up, however, as José Santos – a star from Portugal’s recent European Championship success – fired in two early goals.

James Walker halved the gap in the second quarter but a third penalty corner goal from Santos before the break kept them 3-1 clear at the big break.

Rovers bounced back once more in the third quarter via Zeke Hougaard but yet another Santos goal from a set piece made it 4-2.

And the tie looked to slipping out of their grasp when Ricardo Teixeira tacked on a fifth goal. That was before Rovers produced a rousing comeback with Hougaard and Ross Canning – who ended with nine goals and second highest scorer from the event – netting within seconds of each other inside the last four minutes.

A Gonçalo Teixeira goal made it 6-4 but Three Rock mounted yet another seemingly impossible fightback. Hougaard’s second in the last minute gave them hope and then they won a penalty stroke with one second showing on the clock.

It offered the chance to grab an improbable draw but the effort was saved and Three Rock fell to a 6-5 defeat.

As such, it confirmed they would finish in the bottom four’s Pool C which in turn already confirmed they will play in the third tier of European hockey in 2025.

This is because the competitions will realign next year with four teams dropping down from the top division which, in turn, meant four teams will move down from this level.

As such, the defeat knocked the stuffing out of their challenge with the last two fixtures being largely academic. They went down to Scottish champions Western Wildcats 9-2 and were then denied 4-3 by Copenhagen HC with Jody Hosking scoring twice.


It means Rovers stay in the second tier came to a close but they will be fighting for promotion in a year’s time.


Three Rock Rovers came agonisingly close to a top four spot from the men’s EuroHockey Indoor Club ..


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