The GB U18 Men’s team finish the group stages at the EHF M18 Championship in Tulln, Austria, in fifth place, with one victory and four defeats.
The loss of experienced goalkeeper Jarred Cartlidge before the competition started was undoubtedly a big blow, but Hamish Bottomley and Jack Booth, who flew out as replacement, stepped up well. The further loss of right wing Miguel Vega-Harwood after the first match was another setback and forced a rethink, especially in defence.
GB played their best game on the opening day when they dominated Montenegro in the second half and only went down 20-25, but this was followed by three heavy defeats. Nevertheless the players never stopped fighting and showed great spirit throughout the competition. GB finished the group stages with a 25-13 victory over Ireland
This championship was always going to be steep learning curve for the GB team who are totally unfunded and have therefore had limited preparation compared to their opponents. Nevertheless there were plenty of positives for the team to take away.
“We have shown that we are technically as competent as many of our opponents” said GB U18 coach Ciaran Williams, “but we are not physically good enough to sustain the excellent 15 minute periods we’ve had in some of the tougher games.”
The intensity of the competition was a big step up for this young team, almost all of who play their club handball in the UK. “This championship will have provided these players with valuable experience and opened their eyes to what is required to compete at this level. It will make them better players in the future” added Williams.
GB will now go into the play-off matches for places 9-12, where they will hope to finish on a high.
Group stage results
10 August: GB vs Montenegro 20-25
12 August: GB vs Czech Republic 12-33
13 August: GB vs Ukraine 17-41
15 August: GB vs Turkey 15-40
16 August: GB vs Ireland 25-13
18 August - 11am (UK time): GB vs Kosovo – 9-12 placement match.
19 August - (time TBA): GB vs Ireland or Bulgaria – 9-12 placement match.
Official website: https://www.championship2018.at/
Results & tables: http://www.eurohandball.com/ech/01-01/18/men/2018/...