Irish Women defeat Czech Republic 4-0 to enter the final of the FIH Series Final in Havelock Park this afternoon. This result has earned them an Olympic qualifier place for October/November later this year.
A drenched pitch meant a slower pace in the opening quarter. The Czech’s started strongly, with 2 penalty corners in the first quarter: foiled once by pitch conditions, which helped Katie Mullan bring the ball back up the pitch, while the second was saved by McFerran, with Hannah Matthews on hand to take the re-bound back out of the Irish circle.
The first chance of the opening quarter came from O’Flanagan, after being set up nicely by Deirdre Duke, however the shot went wide. Duke was back again shortly with the last chance of the quarter, although Czech goalkeeper Cechakova prevented her from putting Ireland on the scoreboard.
The second quarter saw Ireland take the lead. A penalty corner, inserted by Hannah Matthews, provided the opportunity for Shirley McCay sweep it past Czech defence and Cechakova to put Ireland on the scoreboard. Zoe Wilson added to the lead shortly afterwards from another penalty corner. The shot looked wide but hit the post and bounced in to see Ireland 2-0 up. Ireland seemed to come into their own again in the second quarter with far more attacking, threatening the Czech Republic a lot more throughout.
Ireland remained dominant in quarter three, carrying the majority of possession. Upton, Tice, McCay, Barr all playing well throughout to bring ball up to threaten but the Czech defence was much stronger in this quarter. Despite no additions to the scoreboard, Ireland seemed comfortably in control. A short venture into the Irish circle was quickly countered by Chloe Brown who joined the squad this morning as Megan Frazer unfortunately had to withdraw from the tournament due to injury.
Sarah Hawkshaw takes a shot but Cechakova saves it. Ireland were back attacking almost immediately with Shirley McCay retrieving the ball on the line and passing nicely to Sarah Hawkshaw to bring the lead to three goals. Anna O’Flanagan brought it home in the final minute with the fourth and final goal of the match.
Speaking on the match, Interim Head Coach Gareth Grundie said, “I’m very pleased with that performance, it was controlled and disciplined.
We played good, attacking hockey and their keeper had a few good saves.
We’re looking forward to recovering and preparing to go again tomorrow.”
Ireland: A McFerran, K Mullan, L Tice, G Pinder, B Barr, L Colvin, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke, A Meeke
Subs: R Upton, C Brown, S McCay, C Watkins, N Daly, S Hawkshaw, E Buckley
Czech Republic: B Cechakova, K Lacina, J Reichlova, A Koziskova, T Mejzlikova, V Novakova, A Lehovcova, A Kolarova, V Decsyova, A Vorlova, N Novakova
Subs: T Holubcova, N Hajkova, K Jelinkova, R Capouchova, N Babicka, M Hlavata, B Brizova
Korea beat Malaysia 3-0 in the second semi-final of the day claiming their spot in the final tomorrow against the Green Army. The final will take place at 15:30 in Havelock Park, Banbridge.
Gareth Grundie had this to say regarding the Korean squad for tomorrow’s final, “We’ve done a fair bit of work on them ahead of the tournament. We’re looking forward to a good competitive game Now that top two is assured we can relax and play our style of hockey”.