SoftCo Series – Ireland v Japan & Uniphar Series

Ireland 1 (K McKee) Japan 2 (S Oikawa, M Toriyama)

Ireland’s women look set for a rousing send-off on Thursday evening at Belfield in their final warm-up fixture of the SoftCo Series, closing out a four-game run against Japan.


The visiting Japanese side edged out the Green Army on Wednesday evening 2-1 with Shihori Oikawa’s penalty corner and a late Mai Toriyama finish outdoing Katie McKee’s neat finish.


It played out in front of a healthy home crowd, a far cry from the final preparations for the now famous 2018 World Cup edition.


Back then, Ireland played their final warm-up games – also against Japan – at the Mardyke with scarcely 40 people in attendance but this week has seen the UCD grandstand fill and it looks likely to hit full capacity.


“It’s chalk and cheese,” said captain Katie Mullan. “A lot more people know we are going to a World Cup this time!


“I remember getting on the plane then and being asked if we were going to play in a rugby tournament. It’s fantastic to have a home crowd before we head away and it does get a buzz going, especially the number of the kids on the sideline.”


In terms of Wednesday’s outcome, they were not able to build on last Sunday’s win over the Asian champions when they ended Japan’s 14-game winning streak.


The Green Army made the opening waves, winning a couple of corners and McKee almost forced home from close range.


Oikawa, however, caught them cold from their second penalty corner, clipping into the bottom left corner for 1-0. McKee – who will make her formal debut in Amsterdam – snatched a great equaliser from Naomi Carroll’s cross, controlling and flicking home.


But the game was settled seven minutes from time via an incisive right wing move, squaring for Toriyama to flick in from close range.


“We are not as happy with our performance today as Sunday,” Mullan added. “We finished strong on Sunday so there is plenty to take into tomorrow and hopefully put Japan under more pressure and see where that leaves us. This is all about performance and learning and when we do that, it will put us in a good shape for Amsterdam.”


Earlier in the day, Ireland’s Under-21s lost 5-1 to Junior World Cup champions the Netherlands in their second fixture of the Uniphar Five Nations tournament.


The Dutch side held sway, building a 4-0 lead by the third quarter with two goals from Elzemiek Zandee before Emma Paul slammed home an excellent penalty corner shot.


Filiz Tuzgol closed out the win for the Dutch to lift them to seven points from three games where they are level with India at the head of the table. In the day’s first game, India were 3-0 winners over Ukraine.


Thursday looks set to be an emotional game for Ireland as they face Ukraine at 5pm – a match-up that should have been their Junior World Cup opening game before the Russian invasion.


It takes place at 5pm with the Irish senior women on next at 7pm at Belfield.


Ireland: A McFerran, S McAuley, Z Malseed, M Carey, R Upton, S Hawkshaw, K Mullan, H McLoughlin, S Torrans, L Tice, K McKee

Subs: N Carroll, C Beggs, C Perdue, S O’Brien, D Duke, E Curran, C Hamill


Japan: E Nakaumura, N Matsumoto, E Nishikori, M Suzuki, Y Nagai, S Oikawa, M Kozuka, M Segawa, K Mori, M Kawamura, A Shimada

Subs: Y Asai, M Tsubouchi, H Nagai, K Tanaka, A Tanaka, S Omoto, M Toriyama


Wednesday 22nd June 2022


SoftCo Series: Ireland 1 (K McKee) Japan 2 (S Oikawa, M Toriyama)

Uniphar Under-23 series: India 3 (N Toppo, M Chorisya, B Dungdung) Ukraine 0; Netherlands 5 (E Zandee 2, I Kroot, B van den Broek, F Tuzgol) Ireland 1 (E Paul)


Thursday 23rd June 2022


SoftCo Series: Ireland v Japan, Belfield, 7pm

Uniphar Under-23 series: India v USA, Belfield, 3pm; Ireland v Ukraine, Belfield, 5pm