Vitality Hockey World Cup, London
Ireland 1 (O’Flanagan)
The Green Army have beaten world number 10 India to book their place in the World Cup quarter final!
There was very little to separate the two sides for periods of the first half with possession sitting at 50/50 for much of the opening 30 minutes. India got off to the more lively start with a penalty corner in the 4thminute but superb running and a clearance by Hannah Matthews kept the 0-0 scoreline preserved. The Green Army settled quickly and were content to pass around the back and wait for the space to open up. That space did eventually open and Katie Mullan and Anna O’Flanagan linked up in the circle to win a penalty corner of their own. Shirley McCay stepped up for one of her powerful sweeps from the top of the circle and O’Flanagan deflected it into the net for the lead. Ayeisha McFerran was in fine form once again today as she made a superb high stick save to send Vandana Katariya’s shot over the crossbar. India amassed 3 penalty corners before the half was out but a super clearance off the line by Matthews prevented an equaliser.
O’Flanagan looked like she might double her tally early in the second half as she drove down the wing and along the baseline but Savita was out quick to make a strong low save. India continued to rack up the penalty corners, finishing the day with 7 in total, but McFerran couldn’t be beaten and the Green Army defensive unit were in imperious form. India continued to mount the pressure as they hunted the equaliser but Ireland created chances of their own with Mullan sending a pinpoint pass across the circle but Nikki Evans view was restricted and it skimmed past her stick. India pulled their goalie Savita in the hope of an equaliser and despite their high press and consistent pressure, the Irish didn’t waiver. The experience of Nicci Daly came to the fore along with the unstoppable McCay as Ireland wound the clock down and recorded a famous victory, securing their place in the World Cup quarter final.
Commenting after the game, head coach Graham Shaw said “What a group of players, I thought they were absolutely fantastic from start to finish. It was a difficult game, the conditions were very tough and India played very well, and made it difficult for us. Credit to the players and the work they put it, they’re a special group and they deserve this . It’s my privilege and honour to be part of this group”.