South Africa complete SPAR Indoor Series in style

SPAR Indoor Hockey Series
Ireland 1 (M Power) South Africa 4 (E Molikoe 2, J Lardant, T Kock)

South Africa finished strong to win both the final test and the SPAR Indoor Hockey Series 4-1 at Gormanston Park in front of another big crowd at Áras Preston.

Overall, Ireland shone in game one, winning against world number 14 side South Africa for the first, 3-2, in game one but the visitors bounced back to win four on the spin, showing their know-how on the boards.

On Friday, coach Rob Abbott innovated from the start, going with six outfielders and no goalkeeper for most of the first quarter. They took the lead in the seventh minute when teenager Mikayla Power latched onto a chance and flicked in for her third international goal.

South Africa replied in kind, Jessica Lardant equalising from a penalty corner switch and they went in front just before half-time courtesy of Olympian Edith Molikoe’s first of this contest.

The third quarter was one for the goalkeepers with Millie Regan making a string of saves while Charlize Swanepoel did brilliantly to keep out Lily Lloyd and Sarah Patton.

The killer blow, though, came with 22 seconds to go in that stanza as Tamlyn Kock found some space to make it 3-1.

There was plenty of brave defence in the final quarter with Emma Buckley saving a penalty stroke – her second in succession indoors – and Amy Benson deflected over a corner as Kayla de Waal endured a frustrating evening from a personal perspective.

But it was all done and dusted when Molikoe netted with two minutes to go.

While the visitors took the laurels, the series was a promising one for Ireland as big crowds greeted each tie with post-match meet-and-greets with young fans proving particularly popular.

Regan was named the Irish player of the series for her performances between the posts and she says it will be an important milestone in developing this code.

“It’s been an unbelievable event,” she said. “Every night, we have had kids in, growing the game in this country and it is definitely on the up. SPAR have been unbelievable in their support and we really can’t thank them enough.

“Coming into this, we knew it was going to be a tough test against the world number 14 and luckily I played my part this week but there were a lot of girls out there on the court who could have easily got that award.”

As for those saves with her helmet, she added: “We’ve got all the gear! Why not use it?”

It concludes the indoor season locally with Ireland hosting 11 international games over the winter, the first time they have done so since the 1980s.

Ireland: L Graham, O Macken, M Power, O Fox, S Patton, A Benson
Subs: M Regan, E Buckley, K Kimber, R McMullen, H Kelly, L Lloyd

South Africa:
N Serage, J Southgate, D de Oliveira, E Molikoe, J O’Connor, E Walters
Subs: K de Waal, J Lardant, R Johnson, T Kock, D van Taak, C Swanepoel