At 16:30 (BST) on Sunday 5 August, Ireland and Netherlands will create their own history as they go head to head in the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 final.
Netherlands will be looking to retain the prize they won back in The Hague in 2014 and in doing so secure a record eighth title to maintain their status as the world’s number one women’s team.
The reigning European and Hockey World League champions will be hoping to continue their impressive form in this event having scored 29 goals and conceding only three, while superstar Kitty van Male leads the scoring charts with seven goals so far.
Netherlands emerged from Pool A having defeated Korea 7-0, China 7-1 and Italy 12-1 before winning their quarter-final against hosts England 2-0. Despite a 1-1 draw in the semi-final against Australia, they emerged from the shootout winners to erase recent memories of their Rio 2016 Olympic final shootout loss to Great Britain.
Following their semi-final win, Netherlands star Xan de Waard said: “I don’t think we’ve played Ireland in recent years so it will be interesting. We’ll need to do our homework in order to be fully prepared as they can always spring an element of surprise. But we can’t wait for the final – it’s so exciting!”
Ireland’s fairytale will end postively regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s final. This is the first time any Irish team has reached a World Cup final in the nation’s history, ensuring they will walk away with a gold or silver medal which will mark their greatest achievement in the sport.
Going into a women’s World Cup for the first time in 16 years, the second lowest ranked team emerged winners of Pool B following a 3-1 win against USA and a 1-0 victory over India.
Despite losing 1-0 to England in the closing minutes of their final Pool B match, their first place finish put them directly into the quarter-finals where they once again faced Asian champions India.
A goalless draw forced this tie into a shootout and gave fans the first opportunity to witness goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran’s magic. The Green Army’s hero on so many occassions throughout this event, she was the star again as she helped her team to a 3-2 shootout win in their semi-final against Spain following their 1-1 draw.
On reaching the final, Ireland’s Gillian Pinder said: “We’ve worked really, really hard and been through highs and lows over the last number of years and we’re just delighted now to finally get a bit of a reward.
Ireland coach Graham Shaw, added: “I didn’t think this would ever happen in my lifetime if I’m being honest. I mean, we’re 16th in the world – what’s going on? What a team, what a group of people. It just shows you that when you fight for each other and you get together anything can happen.”
Earlier in the day, Australia and Spain will pick themselves up from their semi-final losses as they battle for the bronze medals at 14:00.
While Australia’s Hockeyroos have only scored five goals from open play in this event, the Oceania champions will be hoping to medal for the seventh time in women’s World Cup history.
Meanwhile, Spain’s 7-1 victory against South Africa in the Pool stages will surely be a performance to draw confidence from as they bid to to finish higher than their previous highest finish, fourth, back in 2006.