Ireland get body-clocks ready for Dutch challenge
** Ireland v Netherlands will be broadcast live on RTE2 from 2am on Monday, July 26 – note this will be geo-blocked in Northern Ireland)
** For viewers in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, Discovery+ will broadcast every game from the Olympics live here: https://www.discoveryplus.co.uk/olympics/sport/field-hockey
Precious little time to rest on their laurels, the Green Army are straight back into action in the early hours of Monday morning (2am Irish time) to be precise when they take on the world number one Netherlands.
Both sides started on a winning note on Saturday, Ireland memorably winning their first ever women’s Olympic fixture 2-0 against South Africa while the Dutch shook off India in the second half 5-1.
For coach Sean Dancer, he says one of the toughest challenges is to get the body-clocks in sync. Saturday’s tie was a 9.15pm locally while game two is a 10am start, a very different proposition.
Nonetheless, his side got their mindset spot on for what could have been a tense opening date and getting into that groove will be key.
“These girls have been around, pushing as hard as they can for a long time to get to this position,” he said of their debut. “I feel very privileged to be part of it. I wanted them to enjoy it and that has certainly been the message over the last couple of days, relax, enjoy it and get into the game which they did really well.”
Katie Mullan admitted there were some celebratory songs on the bus from the Oi Stadium back to the Olympic Village but things toned down after that.
“We are the first female Irish sports team of any sort to come to an Olympic Games. That’s a huge honour and a history-making moment for our team and country, something to be very proud of.
“It was a dream come true, as cliché as that sounds. It’s been over a decade in the making and there is a little moment of thought for all those players, ex-internationals, who paved the way for us to be able to do that. It is such a great moment for our sport and was very, very special.”
Having finally reached the Games, goalscorer Roisin Upton is delighted they do not have to hang around for game two: “It’s been a long wait to get to this point so thank God we only have to wait one day for the next game!
“The turnaround time is tight for us and we have got to make sure we give ourselves the best chance.”
It is Ireland’s second meeting with the Dutch this summer, the previous one a 4-0 loss in the European group stages. Since then, Ireland have made a number of changes with Sarah Torrans and Sarah McAuley coming into the fold. For the Dutch, Xan de Waard has recovered from injury but Ireen van den Assem missed out.
Ireland v Netherlands – head to head
Overall – 37 meetings
Ireland: 4 wins, 0 draws, 33 losses; goals for 23, goals against 136
Most recent meeting: June 2021: Ireland 0 Netherlands 4 (Laurien Leurink 2, Caia van Maasakker, Frederique Matla)
Last Irish win: March 1963 – 3-2 in Dublin; Netherlands with 29 consecutive wins
Netherlands Olympic record: Winners in 1984, 2008 and 2012; silver in 2016 and 2004, bronze in 1988, 1996, 2000; only outside the medals once
NL Current world ranking: 1st; reigning Euro, World Cup and FIH Pro League champions