The GB Under-18 Men’s team finished 10th at the M18 European Championship, after showing constant improvement throughout the competition.
GB’s preparations were hampered by an injury to experienced back player Alex Trent who missed the Championship. This was followed by Head Coach being bumped off his overbooked Wizzair flight and missing the opening two games. Luckily experienced Assistant Coach Bobby White was there to cover.
The opening match against hosts Romania was always going to be a huge challenge, and the decision was taken to turn the bench and rest key players, however this, coupled with some unforced errors, resulted in a 46-10 defeat. GB’s second match against a strong Finland team was equally hard with GB losing both line players, Marley Boweh and Josh Leavy, to injuries, and despite a spirited performance they went down 43-22. GB put up a strong performance against Moldova, playing long spells with a 7v6 attack, and a late rally saw them come close, but they lost 35-28.
In the 5-8 cross-overmatch, GB were up against an experienced Estonian team and had some issues in the first half. A much improved second half, when they held the Estonians for long spells, was not enough as they lost 35-21. GB were up against Moldova again in the 9th place play-off and played their best match yet, holding their opponents right to the end, only to lose 30-27 in the closing minutes.
GB’s Euan Johnson was the competitions fourth top scorer with an impressive 34 goals in five matches.
GB M18 Head Coach John Pearce commented “I am really proud of the boys, they fought hard and improved with every match and came very close to a well-deserved victory in their final match. They have battled through the injury problems and shown great improvement during the tournament. This was all about getting experience for this new cohort, and we have a good base to build on for the future”.
BHA Chairman Paul Bray added “The team showed great character to improve with every game against more experienced opponents. Given the challenges they faced, this was a hugely encouraging performance and will have been excellent experience for this young cohort”.
GB M18 European Championship results:
GB M18 squad:
Aix en Savoie (France)
West London Eagles
Photo: EHF/Romanian Handball Federation