Junior Green Army hit their stride to beat Canada

FIH Women’s Junior World Cup
9th-16th place classification match
Ireland 6 (R Kelly, C Hamill, S O’Brien, C Perdue, E Paul, Y Pratt) Canada 1 (J Berger)

Ireland took out their group stage frustrations on Canada at the Junior World Cup in Potchefstroom, running up a healthy win to begin their classification series on the front foot.

The quarter-finals proved elusive earlier this week after single-goal defeats to England and hosts South Africa, leaving David Passmore’s side to focus on trying to land a ninth place finish via this knock-out classification series.

Ultimately, they were far too strong for Canada, running up 11 penalty corners, 21 shots on goal and 40 circle penetrations. Five first half goals laid the base with Rachel Kelly, Christina Hamill, Siofra O’Brien, Caoimhe Perdue and Emma Paul scoring before Yasmin Pratt made it 6-0 as Canada scrambled a late consolation.

“The whole game was so enjoyable,” said co-captain and player of the match Perdue. “We came out and played as a team and having a different goalscorer each time shows we link so well together. We need to keep this level of performance.”

Coach Passmore added: “I thought they were excellent from the start, putting pressure on them and going on the front foot. We were a lot calmer and more composed with the ball around the circle and goal shots which we hadn’t done in the first two games.

“We you go five-up relatively early, you can’t necessarily continue like that the whole game, especially when it is a tournament. You need to rest legs and rotate – what I am really pleased with is we have the squad of 20 and have rotated each game and there’s a really nice team feel to the group.”

The level of mismatch was on display from the outset with Kelly thumping in a first minute goal with a classy backhand strike, set up by O’Brien’s gliding run along the 23-metre line..

Christina Hamill, Nadia Benallal and O’Brien had great chances soon after before Hamill’s coolness saw her flick in the second in the 11th minute. O’Brien got her goal moments later from a penalty corner second phase, building a 3-0 lead in the first quarter.

Perdue and Paul added to the advantage from set pieces as they ran up nine first half penalty corners, going into the break at 5-0.

Pratt’s wonderful strike off the baseline following a powerful and pin-point long pass from Benallal, making it a half dozen in Q3.

In energy-sapping heat, the pace died off in the closing quarter and Canada – against the run of play – got one back from something of a scramble, Jenna Berger’s push making it over the line despite the best efforts of Caitlin Sherin.

Ireland will now play either Malaysia in the ninth to 12th place playoff game on Saturday (2.45pm, Irish time). The winner of that ties will meet either Austria or Zimbabwe in the last game of the classification series.

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

Canada: I Sekhon, S Sajko, J Goodman, I Fraser, R Carvalho, A Kuzyk, S McCrory, M Scholz, D Husar, J Berger, N Goddard-Despot
Subs: L McKinney, B Anderson, M Kennedy, H Malhi, M Stelling, A Goddard-Despot, T Guy