Ireland 1 (S O’Brien) Japan 2 (M Toriyama, Y Nagai)
Ireland completed their World Cup preparations with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Japan in the fourth fixture of this week’s SoftCo Series at Belfield.
Síofra O’Brien’s first international strike from close range was outdone by efforts from Mai Toriyama in the first minute and a spectacular winner from Yuri Nagai in a crackling first half.
Coach Sean Dancer, he was frustrated his young side could not eke out cleaner chances to make the difference in front of a capacity home crowd.
“We just didn’t have enough consistency and do the things we needed to do well enough,” he said, reflecting on the uncapped series.
“They hurt us with their outletting and we didn’t control that well enough. We are progressing with our attacking game but we need to put more chances away.
“I’ve been impressed by all [the uncapped players]. Being uncapped and going to a World Cup to face Holland, what more could you want?
Charlotte Beggs offers some really nice skills and certainly progressed. She has worked hard physically over the last three months and doesn’t look out of place – she will get stronger and stronger. Her skillset is quality.
“I was really pleased for Síofra O’Brien to get her goal; she has been working hard and put some good pressure, is carrying the ball well. Katie McKee scored the other day so the young ones are stepping up.”
It concludes a strange phase for Ireland, meeting Japan eight times in a three-week period, four times in Okayama, four in Dublin.
“These Japan games never got stale and they play a style of hockey which we want to be able to execute and compete against. It shows why we were so happy to beat them last Sunday and it showed some rewards for the hard work we have been doing.”
The Irish players will now take in two three rest days before flying out to Amsterdam for the World Cup next Monday with a hit-out against India serving as final tuning.
Dancer says, despite a couple of facial injuries to Naomi Carroll and Deirdre Duke, the side came through this physical test in good health and ready to face the Netherlands on Saturday, July 2nd.
“Everyone is actually in a really good spot. If you had asked me four weeks ago, it would have been a different conversation. Everyone is ticking along well; the players will get some R&R for a few days, then work on a few things in
Earlier in the day, Ireland’s Under-23 side beat Ukraine 3-0 with final quarter goals Ellen Reid, Leah O’Shea and Mikayla Power.
It was a special contest with Minister for State for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan and Senator Emer Currie greeting the two teams prior to the match.
Ukraine Hockey Federation vice president Maryna Horokova presented Hockey Ireland President Ann Rosa with a special memento to thank the hosts for all their efforts to support Ukraine’s visit to Ireland.
In the game itself, it was evenly matched with the game scoreless until the end of the third quarter before Ireland cut loose. Ellen Reid scored from a corner rebound to make it 1-0 before Cork woman Leah O’Shea scored a peach of a goal for the second.
Power then netted an excellent individual strike, weaving through the Ukraine defence before lashing home.
In game one, all the goals came in the final quarter with USA taking the lead in the closing phase only for India to storm back and win 4-1. India will take up a place in the final against the Netherlands on Sunday.
Before that, the Netherlands face Ukraine at 9am on Saturday morning before Ireland face USA at 11am.
Ireland: A McFerran, S McAuley, S Hawkshaw, K Mullan, H McLoughlin, S Torrans, L Tice, N Carroll, C Perdue, K McKee, E Curran
Subs: M Carey, R Upton, C Beggs, S O’Brien, D Duke, C Hamill, Z Malseed
Japan: A Tanaka, Y Asai, M Suzuki, Y Nagai, H Nagai, S Oikawa, M Kozuka, M Segawa, S Kobayakawa, M Toriyama,, A Shimada
Subs: E Nakamura, N Matsumoto, M Tsubouchi, K Mori, M Kawamura, K Urata, S Omoto
SoftCo Series: Ireland 1 (S O’Brien) Japan 2 (M Toriyama, Y Nagai)
Uniphar Under-23 series: India 4 (Annu 2, N Toppo, V Phalke) USA 1 (H Miller); Ireland 3 (E Reid, L O’Shea, M Power) Ukraine 0
Saturday 25th June 2022
Uniphar Under-23 series: Netherlands v Ukraine, Belfield, 9am; Ireland v USA, Belfield, 11am