There were mixed fortunes for Wales on the final day of the World Cup Qualifiers as the men won their tournament in Cardiff but the women agonisingly missed out on a place at the 2022 World Cup.
Needing to beat Ireland to qualify for next summer’s event, Wales’ women put in a strong showing against a team ranked 18 places above them but came up just short. Their men capped off a perfect week though by overcoming France in the final to take victory in front of a jubilant home crowd.
That came after Scotland enjoyed double success as their men and women both won their final games to end their tournaments in fifth and third respectively.
Following on from confirming their place at a maiden World Cup yesterday, Wales’ men wanted to send the home crowd into raptures once again by beating France in the final.
The first quarter was an even affair but France took the initiative in the second and deserved to open the scoring in the 23rd minute through Gaspard Baumgarten. Wales came out firing in the second half though, with Rupert Shipperley pivotal in their 43rd minute equaliser as he produced a stunning run before finding Luke Hawker in the circle, the striker making no mistake.
With five minutes remaining, Shipperley then proved to be the match winner as he reacted first to a penalty corner flick that had been saved to score a second and see his team lift the trophy at the end of an exhilarating four days of action.
It wasn’t quite the fairytale ending for Wales women though as they suffered an excruciating 2-1 defeat in their final.
With only the tournament winner reaching for next summer’s showpiece event, Wales were outsiders heading into the final but had already caused upsets by beating Italy and Scotland to reach the last two. They fell behind early on however as Ireland’s Anna O’Flanagan gave her side the lead.
In the final minute of the first quarter, Izzie Howell drew Wales level by turning home a penalty corner and putting her side in the ascendancy. They dominated much of the rest of the game, forcing Ayeisha McFerran into several saves. However, with Wales briefly reduced to nine players in the final quarter, O’Flanagan scored again – her 86th international strike – to give Ireland the win.