Junior Green Army edged out by England on World Cup debut

Women’s Junior World Cup
Ireland 1 (C Perdue) England 2 (M Giglio, V McCabe)

The Junior Green Army were left frustrated from their first ever Junior World Cup fixture as they came up against an English defensive penalty corner brick wall to deny them in Potchefstroom.

In a late volley of attacks, Ireland ended up with eight penalty corners but goalkeeper Millie Welch and her defensive team repelled everything Ireland could throw at them to secure a precious victory.

David Passmore’s side had started brilliantly, taking the lead in just the fourth minute through co-captain Caoimhe Perdue but strikes from Millie Giglio and Vikki McCabe in the second half saw the English prevail 2-1.

“You can be the better team and play the better hockey for much of the game, particularly the last quarter, but it is about taking your chances,” Passmore reflected afterwards.

“I was really pleased with how we started because it was a historic day, our first performance at a World Cup. England had already got their tournament nerves out of the way yesterday.

“The English corner defence was excellent and, hands up, the better team won in that respect. Overall, really happy with the performance and conviction of the team – we will come back fighting on Monday to get a result against South Africa.”

With this group shortened due to Ukraine’s inability to travel, it means England are assured of top spot thanks to a 3-0 win over host South Africa on Friday. Ireland need a draw or better to join them in the last eight.

“South Africa have to come out to win it and there’s no way we will just come out to draw,” Passmore added. “That’s not our mindset or mentality. Being a host can be a great thing other than when you are under real pressure so we have to exert more pressure on them!”

Early on, Ireland got off to a dream start when Wesley schoolgirl Mikayla Power drove through the middle to win a penalty corner which Perdue slapped powerfully, taking a wicked ricochet into the top corner.

The advantage did not last long, though, as Katie-Jane Marshall was deemed to have pushed Maddie Axford in the circle illegally and Giglio stepped up to score from the penalty spot.

England had the best of the second quarter with Ellie McLoughlin making some key blocks down low while Claudia Swain deflected over the bar.

But were unbowed and they built a lot of momentum in the second half with Aoife Taaffe’s direct approach drawing some big fouls. There was panic stations when Emma Paul and Anna Horan corner shots spun and bounced and led to melees with England twice left scrambling the ball off the goal line as the chance would not stick.

Rachel Kelly also could not take in a ball when well placed as England clung on for their win and Ireland face a big Monday showdown.

Ireland: E McLoughlin, E Paul, S O’Brien, M Power, C Perdue, A Elliott, Y Pratt, C Hamill, L Mulcahy, S McAuley, K-J Marshall
Subs: H Micklem, E Reid, A Taaffe, S Murdoch, R Kelly, A Horan, C Sherin

England: E Wood, E Guckian, S Martin, L Mackenzie, B Alexander, M Giglio, B Brough, M Axford, E Burnley, K Curtis, M Long
Subs: M Mason, E Allroggen, M Welch, T Butterworth, V McCabe, G Gardens, C Swain

Monday, 4th April: Ireland v South Africa, 10am, Potchefstroom