Ireland Men Make Great Strides In Germany.

The Irish men’s national team enjoyed a highly productive training camp in Wittenberge, Germany from 22-24 July with a string of positive results.

The 16-man squad which travelled alongside coach Roman Abramenko to the Brandenburg town included four newcomers: Andrew Maher (Dublin City Handball), Mateusz Kaminski (UCD HC), Joshua Krohn Grace (Frederikshavn FI, Denmark) and Thomas Krohn Grace (Tornby, Denmark), who all integrated quickly on and off court, while Brian Campion was set for his first spell on court with the team since 2011.

Following an evening of training on Friday, matches were the order of the weekend as Ireland took part in the Prignitz Cup, hosted by PHC Wittenberge – Chris O’Reilly’s club in 2011/12, featuring three club sides at playing at various levels in 40-minute matches.

First up was a match against SV 63 Brandenburg-West, which proved to be the only defeat of the weekend. Despite staying in touch in the first half, the tournaments eventual winners ran out 32:19 victors as Ireland rotated the bench to give as many players a feel for the speed of the game as possible.

Next up was a match against the hosts, which saw the teams exchange leads throughout the match. Either team could have come away with the win, but it took a penalty save with no time remaining by Alim O’Sullivan to keep the scores level at 17:17.

Immediately after that draining affair, Ireland took on SG Ajax/ Altglienicke. This was once again an opportunity for everyone in the squad to see significant court time as well as taste victory as the boys in green came away with a 27.23 win.

Ireland’s top scorers on the day were Chris O’Reilly (11 goals), Chris Bregazzi (10) and Steffan Meyer (7), while Joshua Krohn Grace was nominated among the best players of the tournament by the participants’ coaches.

Ending on a high

Despite the exertion of the previous day’s matches, the young squad (average age of 22) were highly motivated going into Sunday’s test match against PHC Wittenberge, keen on going one better than the draw against their hosts.

Ireland came flying out of the blocks with two 5:0 runs in the opening 20 minutes to go 16:8 up thanks to a solid defence orchestrated by Alex Kulesh and fast break play by the likes of Colm Thiel, Steffan Meyer and Chris Bregazzi, while Joshua Krohn Grace unleashed a plethora of goals from the back court.

With the team’s collective muscles flexed, the bench started to rotate and although Wittenberge fought well to reduce the gap, Ireland ran out 34.32 winners after 60 minutes.

Goalscorers vs PHC Wittenberge:
Joshua Krohn Grace (10)
Steffan Meyer (8)
Chris Bregazzi (4)
Chris O’Reilly (4)
Colm Thiel (3)
Alex Kulesh (2)
Thomas Krohn Grace (1)
Chris Higgins (1)
Donal O’Doherty (1)

Next up for the squad is a training camp at home in September ahead of November’s trip to Malta, all in preparation for next June’s European IHF Trophy and EHF EURO 2020 Qualification Phase 1.