EuroHockey 2013: Ireland men edged out by Netherlands

Constantijn Jonker battles with Ireland captain John Jackson in Belgium

Ireland's men produced a brave opening display at the European Championships as they lost 2-1 against Olympic silver medallists the Netherlands.

Shane O'Donoghue's penalty corner gave the Irish a shock lead but goals from Mink van der Weerden and Robbert Kemperman secured the Dutch team's win.

Team captain John Jackson says the squad's target is to qualify for the semi-finals in Belgium.

"Our whole ethos has been trying to break moulds," said skipper Jackson.

"For us, it's finishing in the top four for the first time at a European Championships.

"I can only commend my guys, they worked their socks off like any Irish team would."

The Irish took the lead on 20 minutes as O'Donoghue slotted a penalty corner that had been won by Chris Cargo.

However, van der Weerden levelled for the Dutch from a penalty corner four minutes before half-time and Kemperman struck the winning goal five minutes from time.

Like his captain, Irish coach Andrew Meredith praised the performance of the team.

"This was a very positive first up performance against one of the world's top teams," said Meredith.

"For the majority of the game we were very disciplined in the application of our game plan with fatigue becoming a factor towards the last phase of the game, which unfortunately resulted in conceding the late second goal.

"I was extremely pleased with the younger players' performance and the leadership and organisation skills showed by the senior members of the group.

"Despite the result the tournament objectives remain the same and we must now turn our complete focus towards the upcoming difficult and must-win game against Poland."

The contest against the Poles takes place at 15:00 BST on Monday and Ireland will then face England in their final Pool B game on Wednesday (11:30).