Sunday, December 3, 2023

SoftCo Hockey series: Great Britain take opening honours against Ireland

Giselle Ansley, returning to the side for the first time since late 2019, missed a penalty stroke before carving Ireland’s defence apart with a 50-metre pass for Great Britain’s winner on Saturday. In the opening match of the series in Belfast, GB women were also led from the front by Lily Owsley’s superb display in a 2-1 win.

Great Britain had to negotiate a tricky wind and a dogged Ireland side on the Queen’s University pitch as they got better with each quarter to taste a first international success of the year, albeit in a friendly, uncapped match.

A bright Irish start saw the Green Army negate GB’s attacks with solid defence – newbie Sarah Maculey was particularly impressive – while holding a high press. It resulted in the opener as Anna O’Flanagan was felled by Maddie Hinch and Roisin Upton slotted home.

After the break, Sarah Jones won a stroke for GB before Liz Murphy deflected Ansley’s spot shot.

A few minutes later, the equaliser came after fine interchanging between Sarah Evans, Owsley and Sarah Robertson. It was left to Owsley to slot home and put GB in the ascendancy into the fourth quarter.

The winner came when Ansley, on the left, cracked a long pass into the Irish circle, Robertson turned on to her reverse and drove low past the advancing Murphy.

The second game takes place on Sunday at 5pm.

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