Ireland’s Under-23 selection played out a series of competitive games at Club Egara, Spain last week in a Five Nations tournament that featured the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the host nation.
Against the Dutch, the tie was scoreless at half-time before the decorated opponents ended up winning 2-0 while Erin Getty had to depart early with a nasty head injury.
Game two was more open against Spain who took a 2-0 lead before Ellen Curran’s neat finish on the backhand got Ireland back in range. Spain did move further clear but some sharp reactions from Katie Fearon to her own rebound saw the game close out 4-2 in the host’s favour.
Against Belgium, it proved a frustrating 1-0 final score as Ireland held sway for much of the tie but could not find the killer touch.
Ireland did finish with a draw against Germany in a hugely impressive performance though they were left to rue two late goals which denied them victory. Abbie Russell’s super corner deflection made it 1-0 early in the game and that lead was doubled in the second half when Siofra O’Brien got an outstanding touch to Laura Foley’s cross.
But Germany fought back when they swapped out their goalkeeper in the closing minutes and took advantage of a couple of Irish sin-binnings to deny the Junior Green Army victory, settling for a 2-2 draw.
Nonetheless, coach Dave Passmore was upbeat about the performances from the campaign.
“Overall it was a great week against some of the world’s top teams at this level,” he said. “While we played some really good hockey and had periods of dominance in all games except the first. That said it was obvious most of the other players had not had the season-long Covid break we had and we were punished for lapses in concentration and defensive decision making.
— Hockey Ireland (@irishhockey) July 10, 2021
“It was pleasing not to concede any open play goals against Holland, Germany and Belgium but it was evident we are behind in developing a depth of drag flickers.
“Our performance against Germany was probably the best I have ever seen for an Irish underage team but we will learn a lot from the last nine minutes when two goals up and they took their keeper off; getting two cards during that period being a costly.
“The players have been fabulous and committed to what this program is about while building a strong bond and team ethos. We look forward now to taking on the Wales senior team this weekend, a team that has grown in strength in recent years and is preparing for their Europeans in August.
“Hopefully Erin Getty will be fit to return after her serious facial cut. She has returned to our squad fitter and stronger than I’ve ever seen.”
Next on the agenda for Ireland is a trio of games next weekend at Jordanstown against the Welsh senior team with the squad shuffled once again to maximise development benefits.
This week’s fixture schedule (all at Jordanstown):
Friday, July 16: Ireland Development squad v Wales, 7pm
Saturday, July 17: Ireland Development squad v Wales, 4pm
Sunday, July 18: Ireland Development squad v Wales, 9.30am
Ireland development squad for Wales series: Roisin Begley (Catholic Institute/Munster), Nadia Benallal (Beeston/Leinster), Niamh Carey (UCD/Leinster), Ellen Curran (UCD/Leinster), Sophia Cole (UCD/Leinster), Amy Elliott (UCD/Leinster), Katie Fearon (Railway Union/Leinster), Laura Foley (Co-captain, Catholic Institute/Munster), Erin Getty (Queens/Ulster), Christina Hamill (Loreto/Leinster), Hannah Humphries (GK, Catholic Institute/Munster), Anna Horan (Catholic Institute/Munster), Jane Kilpatrick (Loughborough Students/Ulster), Orla Macken (Co-captain, Pembroke/Leinster), KJ Marshall (UCD/Leinster), Ellie McLoughlin (GK, Muckross/Leinster), Lisa Mulcahy (Loreto/Leinster), Siofra O’Brien (Loreto/Leinster), Sara Patton (Railway Union/Leinster), Caoimhe Perdue (UCC/Munster), Yasmin Pratt (Loreto/Leinster), Ellen Reid (Banbridge/Ulster), Jess McMaster (Queens/Ulster), Siofra Murdoch (Monkstown/Leinster)
— JuniorGreenArmy (@JuniorGreenArmy) July 10, 2021