Monday, December 11, 2023

Ireland and Great Britain share spoils, next stop Tokyo Olympics

Ireland women’s captain Katie Mullan had admitted that this three-match SoftCo hockey series was as good as shaping up to “tournament intensity” before Tuesday’s final game.

Indeed, the fourth quarter in Belfast of the final match had all the hallmarks of a frantic finale in any women’s competition.

The vocals upped several notches, cards were being handed out and the game was stretched. Yet, the statistics will not be found anywhere official due to its ‘friendly’ nature.

For the record, 1-1 at Queen’s University.

The cool wrists of Roisin Upton slotting past Maddie Hinch for her third straight penalty stroke. Izzy Petter netting with five minutes left, clipping low on the reverse. Honours even overall in the series.

There were umpteen penalty corners for Ireland in the second half – all dealt with by Great Britain.

Indeed, Ireland’s trapping became more wayward from the injections as their PC’s racked up. It was almost as if the Green Army had run out of all their match routines, keeping the rest under wraps for sunnier, more important ventures.

After all, the next time these two sides meet will be in the final pool game at the Tokyo Olympics (although Ireland could face the majority of these players as an England outfit at the Euros).

Of the plethora of PCs against his side, GB coach Mark Hager said: “Ireland tested us again and got 14 corners which is not good for us. It highlights that our tackling and defence needs to improve.

“With our attacking in the final third we’ve been getting the ball in those zones a lot but not creating too much.”

Olympic trio Susannah Townsend, Lily Owsley and Giselle Ansley all had a sound trio of matches. Fiona Crackles impressed, as did the ever lurking Sarah Robertson. Upton, Megan Frazer and newbie Sarah McAuley stood out for Ireland.

Ireland will feel as if they deserved enough for victory on Tuesday. After a first ever win over a GB side at the weekend, they will certainly feel that they have also carved themselves a mental edge for those warmer climes ahead.

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