Women’s World Cup
Ireland 1 (R Upton) Netherlands 5 (F Matla 2, Y Jansen, S Plonissen, M Verschoor)
Ireland’s new look side put in a fearless performance but ultimately came unstuck against the Netherlands at a rocking Wagener Stadium, putting it up to the reigning World Cup, Olympic and European champions.
In the end, the Dutch ran out healthy winners with their set piece work – two corner goals, two from strokes – proving pivotal.
But Ireland were right in the contest in the third quarter when Róisín Upton’s long drag found the net. It was their first goal in their last eight meetings with the Oranje, dating back to 2005, cutting the gap to 2-1 for a spell.
“The scoreline doesn’t necessarily tell the tale of the game,” said captain Katie Mullan afterwards.
“We had them at 2-1 and were under their skin. We dominated in patches and I am extremely proud of the defensive effort out there and there are so many positives for us to take from it into the next one.
“There’s obviously moments we didn’t win but there were moments we did win and those are the ones to go away and learn from.
“Right now, it’s back to the drawing board but I am extremely proud of the girls. We have four debuts today and what a spectacle to do it in. they should be so proud of their performances. They were fantastic and played as if they had far more than zero!”
Indeed, coach Sean Dancer can take plenty of heart from a tie which saw Caoimhe Perdue, Charlotte Beggs, Katie McKee and Christina Hamill all make their international debuts in an orange cauldron.
“It’s really special for the four girls to get their first cap against the Olympic and world champions. What an opportunity; I was really proud of them. They stood up and showed they can handle themselves on the big stage.
“It’s great when you can see young kids come in and make an impact from the start against world class players. I am really excited about the future ahead for them.”
As for Perdue, the Tipp woman was able to reflect on a special moment despite the scoreline: “It was incredible. A packed stadium like that, I have never experienced anything like it before and the atmosphere was electric.
“They are an amazing team and that is the standard we want to be at. Playing the best, we worked hard on our defence and we want to build on that for our next performances.
“The music was pretty loud in the stadium! It is really difficult and you have to be switched on the whole time. We are yelling at each other; it is hard to hear but we are getting those messages across!”
In the early phases, the world number one side – buoyed by a full house, buzzing on happy hardcore pre-match music – set their stall out early with Felice Albers and Lidewij Welten going close.
They were denied by the outstanding work of Ayeisha McFerran who made numerous full length saves while she was back up by Sarah Torrans’ brave running down the barrel at corner time. Sarah McAuley coolly cleared a number of dangerous moments while, at the far end, Torrans fired into the side-netting from Ireland’s best moment.
As such, the Netherlands were unable to make any of their seven first half corners count due to the compact lines being run. They did, however, eke out a stroke from an intricate move with Yibbi Jansen slipping the ball under her arm to Maria Verschoor who was upended.
Frédérique Matla stepped up and while her shot was not the cleanest, it found the left corner. It remained that way through to the second half when the Dutch stepped up the pressure.
Yibbi Jansen doubled the lead in the 35th minute from a ripping drag-flick down the glove-side before Ireland got right back into the contest. Michelle Carey’s driving runs were a feature throughout and she won the set piece from which Upton added another to her international scrapbook.
But just as they sniffed an upset, the Dutch broke again and won a corner which Sabine Plonissen swept home from the top of the D.
Matla converted another stroke with seconds to go in the third quarter after Albers was felled for 4-1. And the victory was completed when Verschoor unleashed a perfect backhand shot to the bottom left corner seconds into the final quarter.
Ireland now have two rest days before their vital Tuesday meeting against Chile. The South American side lost 4-1 to Germany.
Ireland: A McFerran, R Upton, H McLoughlin, E Curran, L Tice, C Perdue, M Carey, S Hawkshaw, K Mullan, S Torrans, D Duke
Subs: S McAuley, Z Malseed, N Carroll, C Beggs, K McKee, C Hamill, L Murphy
Netherlands: A Veenendaal, S Koolen, L Leurink, X de Waard, F Albers, L Welten, F Matla, P Sanders, L Nunnink, M van Geffen, R van Laarhoven
Subs: F Moes, M Keetels, M Verschoor, E de Goede, S Plonissen, Y Jansen, J Koning
Umpires: H Y Kang (KOR), M Giddens (USA)