International Test Match Women’s:
Match 1: Ireland 7 (Z Wilson 2, E Curran, K Mullan, A Meeke, D Duke, L Colvin) Italy 0
The Irish Women’s pre-European Championship preparations took a marked step forward as they hammered Italy 7-0 at Stormont in the driving rain.
It came against a side that they often struggled against, recording two wins in their last eight meetings with the last three outings producing draws.
In terms of a result, though, this was done and dusted early on. Zoe Wilson banged home two penalty corner hits in the first 11 minutes. From a fourth corner before the end of the first quarter, Wilson hit goalward again and Ellen Curran – elevated from last week’s Under-21s in Valencia, along with Liz Murphy, finished it off.
A lovely Sarah Hawkshaw run down the line picked out Serena Barr who picked out Katie Mullan for a fourth goal before half-time as Italy struggled for meaningful periods of play.
The goals continued to flow in the second half with a turnover on the edge of the D opening an opportunity for Hawkshaw who held up play and picked out Ali Meeke for number five.
Deirdre Duke was an unused sub in the first half but was used to great effect as an “impact player” in new coach Sean Dancer’s rotation. She struck from the top of the circle for 6-0 and Lizzie Colvin got the seventh with 21 minutes to go.
There were big chances for more spurned while Italy did have one major chance skip wide of an open goal to keep Murphy’s clean sheet in place.
Head Coach Sean Dancer was delighted with the performance “Italy is certainly an improving team; they may not have had much preparation since the World Series or, as some teams do, go through their dips. I don’t think it was a true indication of where they are at.
For us, it was really pleasing to see a lot of things we have been practicing unfold in a game. Winning an international game 7-0, you have got to be happy.”
Ireland: L Murphy, R Upton, N Evans, K Mullan, L Tice, G Pinder, S Barr, L Colvin, S Hawkshaw, Z Wilson, A Meeke
Subs: S McCay, B Barr, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, E Curran, D Duke
Match 2: Ireland 4 (N Evans 2, S Hawkshaw, D Duke) Italy 1 (C Ruggieri)
Ireland’s women ran up another strong win over Italy at Stormont in substantially better conditions than their weekend encounter.
Nikki Evans was on form securing the opening goal of the game in the 13th minute from a lovely cross from Roisin Upton, who managed to run up the right hand side taking on a series of Italian defenders before providing Evans the opportunity to deflect home.
The visiting side brought a greater challenge than their weekend endeavour, with Emma Buckley defending the goal well in the second quarter. However, the Italy’s Giulianna Ruggieri managed to get the ball past her straight into the bottom corner to give Italy the equaliser.
Although Nikki Evans played well to get the ball back into the Italian circle, the opportunity was defended solidly by Italian Captain Chiara Tiddi. Goalkeeper Natalia Schinoni saved well Chloe Watkins managed to take a shot at the goal at close range in the 30th minute, closing out the quarter with half-time remaining 1-1.
The third quarter saw Evans restore Ireland’s lead early on. Emma Buckley produced another strong save shortly afterwards to defend the Green Army’s lead. A penalty corner to Ireland was dragged wide by Upton in the 37th minute. A following penalty corner won by Katie Mullan was saved by Schinoni as Hannah Matthews went in to deflect. Another penalty corner was awarded, and the Irish drag flick was saved again.
A penalty corner to Ireland in the opening minute of the final quarter saw Sarah Hawkshaw find the back of the net. A number of penalty corners in Ireland’s favour were awarded, with two saved from attempts by Zoe Wilson, and a third from Roisin Upton also saved by the Italian Goalkeeper. Deirdre Duke secured the final goal of the match in the 58th minute for the final score of Ireland 4 – 1 Italy
The Green Army will head to Belgium on August 7 – 9 to the Euro Hockey Championships tournament venue for matches against Belgium before the squad’s final selection is confirmed on August 11th.
Ireland: E Buckley, R Upton, N Evans, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, G Pinder, B Barr, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke
Subs: Y O’Byrne, C Watkins, H Matthews, S Hawkshaw, E Curran, S Barr
International Test Match Men’s: Ireland v Scotland
The Irish Men took on Scotland this weekend in a two-match series in Glasgow.
Match 1: Scotland 1 (K Bain) Ireland 1 (B Walker)
The first match saw Ireland draw 1-1 with both Tim Cross and Peter McKibbin making their debuts for Ireland in very wet conditions.
The tough conditions prevented either side from creating any clear opportunities in the early stages, with the teams looking evenly matched in the opening stages of the match.
Ireland forged an opportunity towards the end of the first quarter but the effort was well saved at the near post by Tommy Alexander; sending the ball into the air and over the bar.
Ireland opened strong in the following quarter, however Alexander was on form, producing a top class save getting his left pad infront of the ball to keep the sides even.
Ben Walker forced the ball home in a crowded D to put Ireland on the scoreboard and give a 1-0 lead to the visitors with 13 minutes to go.
However, Scotland’s Kenny Bain scored the equaliser when he lifted the ball home at the far post for 1-1 with six minutes to go.
Match 2: Scotland 1 (A Forsyth) Ireland 2 (J Duncan, B Walker)
Match two saw John Jackson receive his 250th cap for Ireland, with Michael Robson also receiving his 100th cap.
The Irish Men opened well. The first opportunity of the game coming from a penalty corner, with Lee Cole sending the ball just over the bar. It wasn’t long before Jeremy Duncan was applying serious pressure to Scottish keeper David Forrester, who double saved well to keep Ireland from taking the lead. The first was a reaction stop to his left, before getting to his feet and having to dive to his right to save the rebound.
A penalty corner to Scotland saw Alan Forsyth strike from a rebound to make it Scotland 1-0 Ireland.
Jeremy Duncan was on hand again early in the second quarter deflecting a Michael Robson ball into the top left corner to equalise for Ireland. Shane O’Donoghue presented another opportunity a minute later, although Scotland’s Forrester prevented Ireland from taking the lead at this point.
While early in the second half Ben Walker supplied a clinical finish into the bottom right corner to give Ireland the lead.
The final quarter saw Forsyth with the opportunity to equalise for Scotland but the wall went wide from a tight angle. While another penalty corner opportunity for Scotland was blocked on the line. Shane O’Donoghue was denied a last-minute goal with his flick at the goal blocked by Murray Collins, having already rounded the keeper.
Ireland: D Fitzgerald, J Jackson, J Bell, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, M Robson, B Walker, D Walsh, P Gleghorne, L Cole, S Cole
Subs: T Cross, M Nelson, K Shimmins, P McKibbin, J Duncan, S Loughrey M Ingram
Both teams will head to Antwerp in August to compete in the European Continental Championships, with important world ranking points at stake for each squad.
The Women’s team will take on England, Germany and Belarus in Pool B; and the Men will play the Netherlands, Germany and Scotland in their Pool B.
The Belfius EuroHockey Championships will take place from the 16th to 25th of August in Wilrijkse Plein, Antwerp. You can find more information on the tournament at //www.belfiuseurohockey.com/en/
Before that, the Men’s squad will head to Spain to play in a Four Nations Tournament against Spain, England and Malaysia.