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What to look out for this Week – Preview 3

The National Indoor Finals are all to play for this Sunday.

Fixtures

Saturday 4th February

EYHL 1 – Round 11
MEN

Monkstown v Lisnagarvey, Rathdown, 14:15
TRR v Pembroke Wanderers, Grange wood, 13:00
YMCA v Glenanne, YMCA, 14:15
Cookstown v Banbridge, Cookstown, 14:30
Annadale v Instonians, Lurgan College, 14:30

WOMEN
Ards v Belfast Harlequins, Londonderry Park, 14:30
Pegasus v Pembroke Wanderers, Queens University, 16:15

National Indoor Final

Sunday 5th February
Women
Ards v University of Galway, Antrim Forum, 09:30 am
Railway Union v Glenanne, Antrim Forum, 10:45 am

Men
Monkstown v Annadale, Antrim Forum, 12:00 pm
Cookstown v TRR, Antrim Forum, 13:15

Womens 3rd v 4th, Antrim Forum, 14:20
Mens 3rd v 4th, Antrim Forum, 15:00

Womens Final, Antrim Forum, 16:50
Mens Final, Antrim Forum, 17:00

Irish Junior Cup

Fixtures
Women – Saturday 4th February
Cork Harlequins v Railway Union, Harlequins Park, 12:45
Avoca v Ashton, Newpark, 14:30

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National Indoor Finals – Sunday 5th February

The National Indoor champions will be decided on Sunday evening with four men’s and four women’s clubs vying for glory in Antrim Forum. We welcome all supporters.

The series starts on Sunday morning with the women’s semi-finals between Ards against University of Galway at 9.30 am with Railway Union up against Glenanne at 10.45 am. The winners will advance to the final at 3.50 pm with the third-place playoff at 2.20 pm. The women’s semis follow on the court with Monkstown up against Annadale (12 pm) and Cookstown facing Three Rock Rovers (1.15 pm) with the result of a 5 pm final with the third place match at 3 pm.

Match Schedule:​

9.30 Am – Ards v University of Galway – Ladies’
10.45 Am – Railway Union v Glenanne – Ladies’
12 pm- Monkstown v Annadale – Men’s
1.15 pm – Cookstown v Three Rock Rovers – Men’s
2.20 pm – Ladies’ 3rd v 4th
3 pm – Men’s 3rd v 4th
3.50 pm – Ladies’ Final
5 pm – Men’s Final

​Full programme will be posted here.

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Loreto move to the top with a 7-1 win

LORETO 7-1 ARDS

On a perfect day for hockey in Rathfarnham, what a performance by Loreto as they brushed aside the Northern challenge from Ards and produced their biggest win of the season so far.

Following the draw between UCD and Catholic Institute earlier in the day, Loreto knew that a win and 3 goals scored would be enough to put them top of the table for the first time this season. They went four goals better than that in a champagne display of attacking hockey.

It started so brightly with a lead goal in the opening minute. Yasmin Pratt’s solo run and shot giving her team the perfect start as she easily beat Naomi McKnight in the Ards goal.

After that it was a very close match for most of the first half. Ards are best on the break and used that tactic well. Their equalizer was deserved and a fine goal it was. Amy Benson’s dangerous cross from the right too hot for Lorna Bateman in the Loreto goal. Sophie Kidd’s clever touch setting up the always dangerous Zara Malseed for her 9th goal of the campaign.

Just before the half-time break, Christina Hamill showed her International quality as she won the ball, squeezed past two defenders and slotted home to give Loreto a narrow lead – and from there to the end of the match the result was never in doubt.

Five wonderful second half goals gave Loreto their biggest win of the season: from a penalty corner, Sarah Torrans scored from a narrow angle to make it 3-1; Aoife Taaffe got number four after Rachel Kelly went close; it was 4-1 at ¾ time.

The final quarter only got better for the Rathfarnham team as Ards were stretched to breaking point. Three magnificent goals from open play showed the gulf in class between the top and bottom of the EYHL.
Christina Hamill set up Sarah Torrans for number 5; Jasmin Pratt’s delightful pass put Síofra O’Brien clean through for number 6; and Rachel Kelly rounded off this magnificent display with a very well taken goal.

Six different scorers for Loreto bodes well for their confidence as they start their second half of the campaign at Monkstown next week. For relegation-threatened Ards it could be a real battle to avoid the drop – but they have some fine attacking players in Amy Benson, Sophie Kidd and Zara Malseed – they just need to concentrate on their next match against Belfast Harlequins.

EYHL Women’s 1st Division

UCD 1-1 Catholic Inst
Loreto 7-1 Ards
Old Alex 2-1 Monkstown
Railway 2-3 Pegasus
Belfast H 0-2 Pembroke Wdrs

In the other games in EYHL Women’s 1st Division, the league leaders were held by the Students in Belfield so Loreto’s big win pushes them top of the table on goals scored with just two points separating the top three.
Railway Union and Pegasus played out a five-goal thriller in Park Avenue: Lily and Kate Lloyd getting the goals for Railway. But Katie McKee, Sophie McDowell and a Pamela Glass winner enough to take all 3 points north.
Old Alex had a narrow win over Monkstown and that keeps them very much in the title race, just five points back but with a game in hand.

EYHL Men’s 1st Division

Pembroke Wdrs 1-6 Monkstown
Banbridge 2-1 YMCA
Instonians 1-1 Three Rock Rvs
Lisnagarvey 7-3 Cookstown
Glenanne 4-3 Annadale

EYHL 2 – Round 5

Men (Pool A)
Cork Church of Ireland 5-2 Cork Harlequins
Railway Union 2-6 Corinthian

Men (Pool B)
Kilkeel 2-5 Bandon
UCD 6-2 South Antrim

Women (Pool A)
Muckross 0-2 UCC, Muckross
Ulster Elks 2-3 Avoca, UUJ

Women (Pool B)
Cork Harlequins 2-3 Queens
Corinthian 2-0 Galway

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Park Developments extend Hockey Ireland agreement as Ireland Senior Women’s squad prepares to travel to South America

DUBLIN 30 Jan 2023: Hockey Ireland is delighted to announce a four-year extension to its current agreement with Park Developments, one of Ireland’s leading Property Development Groups, for continued investment in Irish Women’s Hockey.

It comes as the Ireland Senior Women’s squad prepares to travel to South America for a series of games against Argentina and Chile.

Park Developments’ initial agreement was signed in 2019 for four years and this continued investment in the success and development of the women’s squad comes as they begin the road to the Paris Olympics.

The financial investment will also be used to fund the Hockey Ireland Hockey4All inclusion programme and the Hockey4All National Representative Team.

The programme aims to offer young people with disabilities an opportunity to become part of the local hockey community, to keep healthy (socially, mentally and physically) and have fun in a team sport.

Commenting on the agreement Park Developments Director Jilly Cotter said,

“We are delighted to renew our support for the Irish Women’s Hockey team and to reinforce our commitment to this incredible group of Hockey players until 2027. Our investment is focused on direct athlete support by way of bursaries to assist them in their daily lives and to support them to perform at the highest level on the global stage. We are also delighted to expand our support to include the “Hockey4All” Program as a key area for development within the Hockey family, by supporting young people with disabilities and giving them an opportunity to play and enjoy the game.”

Ireland Women’s Head Coach Sean Dancer has included uncapped Loreto defender Caitlin Sherin in a squad of nineteen to travel to Argentina and Chile.

Katie McKee from Pegasus returns to the panel after missing out on the Nations Cup in Valencia before Christmas.

Tokyo Olympians Ayeisha McFerran, Deirdre Duke and Sarah Torrans are unavailable.

“This extension underlines the very supportive and engaged partnership we have shared with Park Developments since 2019 and it complements the unprecedented successes of our Senior Women’s International Team, with their first ever Olympic qualification in 2020 and history making World Cup silver medal in 2018” said Hockey Ireland CEO Ronan Murphy.

“The addition of support for our Hockey4All programme comes at an important time also, as we look to expand our inclusion initiative by moving into more Clubs and forming more teams. We very much look forward to continuing our successful partnership with Park Developments as new and exciting times for Hockey Ireland lie ahead.”

Squad List:
1 Elizabeth MURPHY
2 Holly MICKLEM
3 Róisín UPTON (VC)
4 Elena TICE
5 Caitlin SHERIN
6 Sarah McAULEY
7 Ellen CURRAN
8 Hannah McLOUGHLIN
9 Caoimhe PERDUE
10 Kathryn MULLAN (C)
11 Sarah HAWKSHAW
12 Michelle CAREY
13 Charlotte BEGGS
14 Christina HAMILL
15 Katie McKEE
16 Niamh CAREY
17 Naomi CARROLL
18 Zara MALSEED
19 Siofra O’BRIEN

Glencairn Gate, Leopardstown, Co Dublin 30/1/2023
Park Developments announces a four-year extension to its current agreement with Hockey Ireland until 2027, a significant boost to the continued investment in Irish Women’s Hockey since 2018 and in the buildup to Paris 2024 and beyond
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

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Catholic Institute fightback to deny gutsy Monkstown – EY Hockey League

Catholic Institute 2-2 Monkstown

League leaders Catholic institute had to perform a second half comeback, against an impressive Monkstown in Limerick. Goals from Sophie Moore and Rebecca Carthy looked to be enough for a fourth Monkstown win of the season, but quick-fire goals from Leah Clery and Ciara Moloney pushed Institute onto 20-points after nine rounds of action.

The Dublin side led early in the second half and looked certain to inflict just a second defeat of the season on their hosts. Their display was built on a strong work ethic and an organised defensive structure, key to that was the outstanding Orla Young-Hughes.

But, when the need was greatest, Institute found near their best, in a largely sub-par display. They were led by Naomi Carroll, who was influential, though Roisin Upton’s absence was perhaps most notable.

After a scrappy opening 10 minutes or so, Monkstown opened the scoring. Chloe Watkins, who was Player of the Match, dribbled hard at the home defence and her cross was flicked to the net by the diving Sophie Moore.

At the other end, young goalkeeper Martha Duignan was comfortable when stopping a brace of efforts from Naomi Carroll. Her first was a cross that could have been diverted, the second, was an under-strength attempt from the first penalty corner of the contest. Monkstown, who’d the second poorest defence in the opening eight games of the season, was comfortable keeping the Limerick side at bay in the first half.

They quickly set about doubling their lead. As with so much of their good attacking play on the day, it was 200-cap midfielder Watkins who was at the heart of it. Natasha Toomey was set clear by Watkins, her early shot looked by certain to cross the line but Carthy made sure by tapping home from two-yards out.

The reply didn’t come until Watkins received a green card. Institute took this advantage through Clery, almost immediately. Captain Eimear Ryan delivered from just outside the circle, and with the aid of a couple of deflections, the ball found Clery who scrambled beyond Duignan. Suddenly, extending their unbeaten run to eight games, appeared possible again.

An equaliser came and it was from a penalty corner, with the telling touch coming – three goals in one quarter and the game level, it was now all to play for in the final period.

This game came to a frantic conclusion with Roisin Begley and Watkins having a chance at either end, with both just inches away from connecting with a pass and finding what would have been the match-winner. Neither side could find the winner and had to settle for draw.

In the end, there was some frustration for Catholic Institute at two points dropped, knowing that Loreto and UCD will be looking to overhaul them at the top of the league in the second half of the season.

While Simon Lowry’s youthful side will be disappointed to led a two-goal lead slip, they were delighted to take a point away to league leaders, who’ve conceded just nine times in as many outings

Elsewhere in the EYHL Womens’ Division One, UCD were able to get closer to the summit, winning 2-1 at home to Peagusus in Belfield. A goal in either half, from Michelle Carey and Leah O’Shea helped them move to within two points of Catholic Institute – a side who they’ll host later in the season.

Ards against Old Alex and Railway Union’s clash with Belfast Harlequins were postponed due to frozen pitches.

EHYL Men

Monkstown 5-0 Cookstown
Midtable Monkstown sealed their second victory of the season, when thrashing winless Cookstown. They led 2-0 at half-time, thanks to efforts from Rory Nichols and Geoff Cole. The same two were on target in a dominant second half, while Jeremy Duncan also put his name on the scoresheet in Rathdown.

League leaders Banbridge’s clash with third-placed Glenanne was postponed.

YMCA 4-0 Instonians
YMCA put four past Instonians in their first game of 2023. Goals from Ed Collins, Ross Henderson, Grant Glutz and Tom Power.

Pembroke Wanderers 1 – 4 Annadale
Goals from S Pinion, M Robson, D Tremlet and W Aston for Annadale to take the win over Pembroke.

Lisnagravey travelled to Dublin to win a close fight against Three Rock Rovers.
TRR 2 (James Walker, Ali Empey) Lisnagarvey 3 (Andrew Williamson 2, Andy Edgar)

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Sustainability in Sport

Sport and Sustainability

We know the positive role sport plays in promoting healthy lifestyles and building communities. Grassroots clubs the length and breadth of Ireland are testament to sport’s inherent attraction and power.

The range of social, environmental, and economic issues which affect us globally, are also causing significant challenges for the sports community. Both in terms of day-to-day operations and duties to our young people and future generations.

But with this, there’s growing recognition also around how the power of sport can be used to help inspire participants and followers towards building a healthier, more sustainable future for all. That means for clubs themselves, their communities and for the environment.

 

Meath LSP’s groundbreaking initiative

It’s against this background that Meath LSP is leading an exciting new initiative promoting social and environmental sustainability in sport.

Through committing to pursue sustainability, a club can inspire its members and the local community to become more conscious of their own individual actions.

Whether aimed at maximising the social or community benefits of their club, or acting responsibly around their club’s environment and surroundings, there’s opportunity to work together for positive change.

 

Project Long Game – Saturday 28 January

The “Project Long Game” information event (9.30am-1pm, Saturday 28th January, Solstice Centre, Navan) will show local club leaders, decision makers and volunteers etc how they can make their club more socially and environmentally sustainable.

A host of local and expert international speakers will share insights around best practice, the benefits and crucially, advise how clubs can make a start on sustainability. (And in doing so, how they can meet objectives of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).)

With a line up including leaders of progressive grassroots GAA, football and rugby clubs, attendees will learn of the many opportunities to be gained through making this commitment.

The benefits driven for their players, supporters and communities – be it attracting new members, reduced costs, better sponsorships, meaningful environmental action etc. – are increasingly apparent and compelling.

 

Learnings from further afield

In addition to hearing about learnings and case studies from the GAA’s key ‘‘Healthy Clubs’ and ‘Green Clubs’ programmes, world sport and sustainability expert Russell Seymour will share his perspective on the significance of Meath’s ‘Project Long Game’.

Lastly, with the international conversation now including the likes of Meathman Sean McCabe (Climate Justice Manager, Bohemian FC) and triple Irish Olympic athlete, Natalya Coyle, the audience will hear how the county can play a leading and impactful role for the years to come.

As they say in sport, “It’s all to play for.

Register now to attend this free event at www.projectlonggame.ie

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Japan late strike consigns Ireland to fourth place in Nations Cup

After going in front twice, Ireland lost to Japan by the odd goal in five to finish in fourth position at the Women’s FIH Hockey Nations Cup this afternoon. Sean Dancer’s young side played an attractive brand of hockey all week, going toe-to-toe with some of the best sides in the world, but Japan’s cutting edge in front of goal made the difference in the end.

Despite a goalless first half, this bronze medal match was anything but cagey. Japan put pressure on the Ireland defence in the outlet, winning plenty of ball in their attacking half but tending to waste possession. Ireland, by contrast, looked dangerous on the counter, Carey twins Michelle and Niamh particularly dangerous using their speed and skill on the wings.
The third quarter was one for the neutral, four goals being scored as Ireland went in front twice, only for Japan to come back almost immediately on both occasions.

The Japan defence proved difficult to break down, so it was always going to take some magic to break the deadlock, and it was captain Katie Mullan who, with the deftest of touches, found a way through five minutes into the second half. Sarah McAuley hit a hopeful cross from the left side. Her bouncing ball went goalward and Mullan glanced the ball past her defender, slightly changing the line of the ball and wrongfooting the Japan goalkeeper.
The umpire referred to the video umpire, asking for confirmation that it did touch an Ireland stick. There was no advice possible and so the decision went with the on-field umpire – the goal stood and Ireland went one in front. Japan won their first penalty corner four minutes later, however, and though the initial shot was saved by Liz Murphy in goal, it fell kindly to the unmarked Mai Toriyama who didn’t need a second invitation to bring her side level.

The scores didn’t remain level for long, though, as Ireland went straight back down the pitch to win their first corner of the game, and an incredible team passing move saw Niamh Carey tap in a brilliantly executed routine to give Ireland the lead again in the 40th minute.

But not even a minute later, Ireland conceded yet another corner, and Japan showed their own precision with a roofed backhand deflection to draw level again.

In the end, it was, perhaps, indiscipline that cost Ireland, two green cards in the final quarter giving Japan the edge for four minutes of the toughest part of the game. With under five minutes to go, a beautifully struck ball from the right bounced through to a Japan player on the post who, under pressure from her defender, put the ball across goal in the air, and Japan captain Yuri Nagai tapped a difficult chance in to give her team the deciding goal.
Ireland withdrew their goalkeeper to play with 11 outfield for the last four minutes of the match, and the girls in green pushed hard for an equaliser with chances for Zara Malseed and Naomi Carroll, as well as a couple of penalty corners, but the Japan defence stood strong to hold out for the bronze medal.

Coach Sean Dancer is pleased with his team’s progress, if not today’s result. “Obviously we’re very disappointed not to get the third place today,” he admitted. “We felt we played some really good hockey over the last few days and we were up for the game today but credit to Japan, they were pretty good and they took their opportunities. So, we’re disappointed with today but overall, really pleased with what we’re doing.”

He is full of praise for the new tournament for nations just outside the top level. “I think Nations Cup is a great innovation by the FIH,” he said. “It allows teams just outside the top 10, like us, to play some quality games and it’s really important for us to play these games under pressure.

“Next year is a really big year for us. It’s all about preparation for Olympic qualifying and that’s going to be the next step. We need to go home from here, have a break, review the things that worked well and work really hard on those little details to get to the next step,” he finished.

Captain Katie Mullan can already see the bigger picture. “It’s been a fantastic week in terms of learning for this group,” she asserts. “We have come away finished higher than our ranking based off the teams that are here. We are disappointed today not to come away with the bronze medal, and we were disappointed not to get more out of the semi-final, but we are putting it up to some of the best teams in the world – India [whom Ireland lost to in a penalty shootout] finished third in the Pro League last year which tells you a lot about where we are right now. We have some clear things to work on now going into 2023, but I think when we reflect, we can take a lot of positives from the tournament, especially with such a young group that’s coming together really well and I think the fact that we’re disappointed says a lot about the group as well.”

As always, Ireland’s supporters have added to the players’ experience. “We’ve had some fantastic support over here in Valencia but also from home in Ireland,” said Mullan. “So just on a personal note, we want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has continued to support us on our journey. Huge thanks have to go to Park Developments, Softco and Sport Ireland for their continued support as well.

“We have a big year coming up next year and we just want to continue to drive on and inspire the next generation of kids. Playing three major tournaments this year was a really tough ask after losing so many players to retirement but we’ve filled the gap exceptionally, and special mention to our staff and the commitment that they’ve shown in guiding us to be better,” she added.

At the award ceremony in Valencia Ireland picked up two trophies. Best Junior Player: Sarah Mcauley (IRL) and Hero Top Scorer: Katie Mullan (IRL).

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Shootout heartbreak for Ireland in Nations Cup semi-final

Sean Dancer’s Ireland lost by the finest of margins in a classic against India in their semi-final of the Women’s FIH Hockey Nations Cup. After 60 minutes of nail-biting drama, it took a penalty shootout to separate the two sides and decide who would go into the gold medal match against Spain.

The girls in green defended for much of the match but were impressive in attack, causing the Indian defence plenty of problems. Charlotte Beggs and Sarah Hawkshaw marshalled the midfield well, with Hannah McLoughlin and Sarah McAuley creative out of defence. Indeed, it was underdogs Ireland who went in front through a sublime Naomi Carroll shot in the closing stages of the first quarter. Captain Katie Mullan had made a gut-busting run down the right sideline before a diving pass found Carroll, who used her first touch to lift the ball over her defender’s stick. She then dribbled the ball in the air into the attacking circle and hit sweetly off her right foot in between the goalkeeper’s legs to put Ireland a goal in front.

India won 12 penalty corners in the match, four of them in the first half, but Liz Murphy was in electric form between the posts and kept the Indian threat at bay. In fact, it was Ireland who looked like they had scored the second goal of the match when Christina Hamill found Siofra O’Brien, who crossed on the reverse for Carroll. The ball found its way into the goal off a combination of Carroll and her defender, but India referred and the video umpire adjudged that O’Brien had used the back of her stick and so the goal was disallowed.

It was a reprieve for India who went in at half-time looking dejected, unsure of how they would unlock the Ireland defence.

As they so often do, Ireland began the second half brightly – a reverse shot from Mullan that was touched over by Carroll the best chance of the quarter for the girls in green. But then India piled on sustained pressure, winning no less than seven corners in the third quarter, and the pressure finally told. The 11th Indian attacking penalty corner was one too many for the Irish defence as Udita swept a bobbly shot into the bottom left corner, and it was India who went in at the last break the happier of the two sides.

Both teams showed supreme fitness in the final quarter as the tempo of the game never let up. India will feel they had the chances to put Ireland away as they were handed some golden opportunities by Ireland defenders, but Murphy’s incredible performance continued as she pulled off save after save to keep the scores level.

With just a minute left in the game, India reviewed for a penalty corner, and it was awarded by the video referee. Once again, it was Mullan in the big moment, and she ran down the shot, getting a touch on the swept shot to deflect onto an Indian foot.

Neither team was willing to give away too much in that final minute, and the game went to a penalty shootout. The last time these teams met in a shootout was the 2018 World Cup when Ireland won 3-1 to go into the semi-final of that competition. But India goalkeeper, Savita, has a reputation in shootouts that will only grow after today.

Both keepers made saves, Savita impressively saving a stroke when she had fouled Ellen Curran during her shuttle, but it came down to the last shuttle with India 2-1 in front and Katie Mullan had the chance to make the scores level. Savita, though, stood tall as Mullan dummied a shot, and when the Ireland captain shot wide on her reverse, it was ecstasy for India and heartbreak for Ireland.

Ireland goalkeeper Liz Murphy said her team can still improve in their last match: “I think we can take a lot of positives from today, we played really, really well. But I think we do have an extra 10 percent defensively. We gave away too many corners and let India come back into the game. We’re not going to do that tomorrow and I think we’ll come out even stronger tomorrow,” she said.

Head coach Sean Dancer said his team executed their plans: “India are a very attacking team, so we wanted to control the way that they attacked and we did that really well. We probably gave away too many penalty corners,” he admitted, “but we did well for most of it. And then we wanted to bring out our speed and skill which you saw with the goal that we scored and the goal we had disallowed,” he added.

“Standout performance for us today was Lizzy Murphy in goal,” said Dancer. “Even though we conceded a lot of penalty corners, she saved almost all of them.”

It’s been a growing experience for this young squad. “We have done a lot of good things over the tournament and have improved game on game,” said a proud Dancer. “So today was a very good performance that’s been building for the past couple of days. We hope that we can finish off tomorrow against Japan. There is a bronze medal on the line and that’s something that we need to be good at – finishing off tournaments. I’m really happy with how the girls have improved and I hope we can keep improving tomorrow,” he finished.

Ireland play their final match at 12.30 pm tomorrow (Saturday) against Japan in the bronze medal match.

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Inter-Provincial Finals Weekend

The U18 Interpro final is on this weekend, 15th January, 2023 in UCD. Click on the links below to view on the Hockey Ireland YouTube Channel and view the programme

All games on the front pitch will be live-streamed on Hockey Ireland youtube channel.

The full program can be found here; U18 Inter-provincial Final Programme 

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Ireland bounce back with commanding win in Nations Cup

Ireland women turned disappointment to delight as they held out for a 2-1 victory against Italy in their second pool match in the Women’s FIH Hockey Nations Cup in Valencia this morning. Having suffered defeat to Spain in their opening match, a blistering third quarter of sustained pressure paid dividends for Sean Dancer’s charges today with goals from Naomi Carroll and Katie Mullan putting the girls in green two goals to the good after a cagey first half.

Ireland had much of the play in the opening stages but the lack of goalscoring opportunities was evident as Italy seemed happy to defend and feed off scraps when turning over in the press. After the half-time break, though, Ireland’s speed and fitness came to the fore and Roisin Upton, who won her 100th cap today, was particularly effective when coming out of defence.

Indeed, the link between Upton and player of the match Katie Mullan was twice the creative element Ireland required; first in the 35th minute when Upton beat a player and popped a pass to Mullan who posted up to the top of the circle. Mullan then turned and hit to the back post off her right foot where Naomi Carroll was perfectly positioned to tap in through the goalkeeper’s legs.

Ireland seemed to play with renewed energy after the opening goal and were rewarded for their sustained pressure when Upton again linked up with Mullan, this time from a long pass but again with Mullan making a run back to receive. She juggled between two defenders and showed great strength to hold them off as she lifted over the ‘keeper for a finish she won’t soon forget.
It was a strong Ireland performance that was not dulled by an attacking finish from the Italians, who pushed for a result in the last quarter and scored a consolation goal in the final minute. They were awarded a penalty corner, which Ireland reviewed, but it stood, and the Italian’s executed a well-drilled corner deflection to make it a one-goal game. It was too little, too late, however, and few would argue it was a deserved Ireland victory in the end.

There were too many excellent performers to name them all, but coach Sean Dancer had high praise for Upton on her 100th appearance. “Roisin is one of our key players and I’m so pleased for her. What a wonderful milestone and I hope she has a lot more. Katie Mullan was a really strong performer in the centre of the field and she held onto the ball well and controlled things, but the whole team did their job and that’s probably the key thing, everybody is doing their role,” he said.

He was particularly happy with the way that Ireland took their chances. “We scored two field goals today which is something we have worked hard at. The game was very close. The first half was about trying to control, taking away a few of their strengths and their skills and we did that very well in the first half. That set us up for the second half,” he said. “You’re always happy when you win, that’s what our job is about, high performance is all about getting results. The important thing for us is that it keeps us moving forward in the tournament. We’re now on three points and it gives us a good opportunity against Korea to get a result and then into the semi-finals,” he added.

Captain and player of the match Katie Mullan was, understandably, proud of her team. “It’s such a good team performance from us,” she declared. “We had such great control for the majority of the game. We dominated, we were clinical, and huge credit to the girls – we had a tough game yesterday and we came away and learned a few really valuable lessons last night, and I think you’ve seen them put into practice today.”

Upton was at the centre of a lot of what Ireland did well today, but she says the team improved on a few things, and that was what made the difference today. “We really wanted to bounce back after yesterday. We thought we performed well, we just needed to get a good result today to set us up for a final game against Korea. We didn’t make too many changes, we just talked about how we could do things a little bit better.”

The defender spoke about her own impact on the game. “My own role today was, basically, myself and the other centre back just looking to manipulate the centre forward and see if we could create an overload and I had the opportunity to do that sometimes from the middle, and then we executed well up front,” she added.

Goalscorer Naomi Carroll was all smiles after her team’s win. “I think we created a lot of opportunities in the first half and we were disappointed not to put them away, so we were delighted to take our first one in the second half and then to keep stepping up and keep pushing,” she said, but Carroll knows the job is not yet done. “We know Korea are a very fast team, they’ve very quick hands, and we know that this is going to be a very tough game on Thursday so we’re going to take tomorrow, regroup and take a look at the video today and get going again. Really excited for our third match.”

Ireland play Korea in their final group game on Wednesday at 9.45 am. A win would secure them a semi-final spot on Friday which would see them play either first or second in Pool B, depending on the results of the other group matches.