Mullan and Dancer reflect on World Cup group stage exit

Women’s Hockey World Cup – Pool A

Ireland 0 Germany 3 (N Lorenz, C Stapenhorst, S Zimmerman)

Ireland were unable to summon the victory required to reach the knock-out stages of the women’s World Cup and must now regroup for the classification matches which start next Sunday in Amsterdam.


Coming into the tie, Ireland required a three-goal victory to be guaranteed a place in the knock-out stages while anything other than a win would send them into the 9th to 16th place playoffs.


And while they put in a performance full of endeavour and fight, Germany’s accuracy yielded goals from Nike Lorenz in the first half and a close range killer from Charlotte Stapenhorst. Sonja Zimmerman completed the win from a 57th minute penalty stroke.


“The scoreline doesn’t really tell the tale of the game,” said captain Katie Mullan post-match. “We really threw everything at Germany today but we needed to be a little bit more clinical and take our chances and that’s across the full attacking line.


“We showed a lot of character over the last 24 hours [since the defeat to Chile]. We turned it around and we showed a lot more hockey that we like to play. In tournament hockey you have to execute those pressure moments and we know that from 2018 and today we didn’t do that as we needed.”


In a lively start, Mullan’s strong running caused Germany plenty of discomfort and a lovely slip pass through from Deirdre Duke gave her a strong shooting opportunity. She cracked goalwards but Nathalie Kubalski calmly batted it away.


Germany, meanwhile, were working the ball through their star turn Nike Lorenz who pulled the strings for Elisa Gräve to first a dangerous shot which Ayeisha McFerran blocked.


Lorenz again was the creator for Charlotte Stapenhorst’s sharp chance, McFerran again getting a crucial pad on it.


And the world number four side took the lead in the 23rd minute from a clever switch to the left where Lorenz was on hand to flick across goal and find the net.


The Green Army stepped up quickly, Katie McKee and Michelle Carey both firing efforts on goal before the main break and they carried the momentum into the second half, winning their first penalty corner after the resumption.


Mullan’s through pass was inches from getting the perfect connection from Naomi Carroll but they were rocked once more in the 35th minute. Kira Horn’s driving run put Ireland on the back foot and while Sarah McAuley got a vital intervention, Stapenhorst pounced on the loose ball to sweep into the net.


Needing a huge comeback, they continued to make inroads with Mullan’s pass just evading a final touch from Naomi Carroll. And Sean Dancer threw caution to the wind in the closing quarter, swapping out goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran for an extra outfielder.


It led to Zara Malseed drawing the best save of the day from Kubalski, diving full length to repel the shot on the turn.


They bravely kept out two penalty corners with no recognised goalkeeper but Germany did get eventually another when Sonja Zimmerman netted a penalty stroke after Sarah McAuley blocked a shot on the empty goal with her body.


Lorenz had another stroke chance with 20 seconds to go but McFerran produced a magnificent save down low to limit the damage to three.


Reflecting on missing out on a playoff spot, coach Sean Dancer said it was a steep learning curve for this side featuring four uncapped players prior to the event and just five with experience from 2018.


“We knew coming into the tournament, it is a new and young group. We are certainly going to have some ups and downs and have to progress. When we review the tournament, we will have to take a lot of lessons out of the game but last night wasn’t the time to do it.


“We did bounce back and got ourselves into a good space to compete today. Sometimes that is not always the case in a tournament when you haven’t won the game you should have won.


“We knew it was a game we had to win and anything else would push us out. That was the mindset; we were going hell for leather to get something out of it. I was proud of how we played today; we are making some real progress.”


It means Ireland will now play their next fixture on Sunday with the opponent to be confirmed on Saturday in Amsterdam and Mullan says there is something still on the line.


“We didn’t want things to go like this but the difference between this and the last World Cup is that there’s still something very important to play for and I really do still believe in this group and there is a lot more to show. It’s important we come out in the next two [classification] games and show that.”

Ireland: A McFerran, R Upton, L Tice, E Curran, H McLoughlin, M Carey, C Perdue, S Hawkshaw, K Mullan, N Carroll, D Duke

Subs: S McAuley, Z Malseed, S Torrans, C Beggs, K McKee, C Hamill, L Murphy


Germany: N Kubalski, K Horn, A Wortmann, N Lorenz, A Schröder, L Michell, C Stapenhorst, S Zimmermann, C Pieper, V Huse, H Granitzki

Subs: S Oruz, E Gräve, P Heinz, P Maertens, L Weidemann, B Wenzel, J Sonntag


Umpires: M Giddens (USA), A Rostron (RSA)