Ireland captain Katie Mullan admitted that the Green Army were a vastly removed side from the one which last met Holland in 2018’s World Cup final after going down 4-0 to the Dutch on Saturday.
The world and defending European champions were the superiod side as first quarter goals from Caia van Maasakker and Laurien Leurink stunned the Green Army, before Frederique Matla and a second from Leurink added gloss in front of 3,000 Oranje at the Wagener Stadium.
“I think anyone who watched both those games will see the improvement in us,” said Mullan. “There’s a few little things defensively where we get caught as a full team; those are the moments where they dominate and score and that’s where the Dutch are so clinical.
“Bu there were times we really did have control, held the ball well and were able to accumulate passes. We’re in a good place going into the Scottish game.”
For all Ireland’s progression since winning World Cup silver in 2018 – 13 of Ireland’s medallists are at these Championships – Holland’s dominance in women’s hockey remains unrivalled.
The Dutch have lost just twice since the Rio Olympic final and haven’t been beaten in a European Cup fixture in normal time since 2011.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s last win over the Dutch came back in 1963. And conceding two goals in the opening 14 minutes of this Pool A match was always going to be tough to overcome.
Yet it was Ireland’s first competitive fixture since the 2019 Olympic qualifiers. With the happy hardcore music reverberating around the Wagener Stadium, Mullan added it was a great way to get back into action.
“That was an incredible atmosphere; when you have had two years out of international hockey, what a way to come back to tournament hockey, playing the Dutch in Amsterdam in a packed stadium. It was all orange and we really enjoyed it!
“How do you prepare a youngster for that?” she added, referencing the tournament debuts for UCD pair Hannah McLoughlin and Michelle Carey.
“We tried to build them up for it all week and I’m very proud of them; they did incredibly well and enjoyed it too. That’s the most important thing for them too; for your first 10 caps you have free reign. You just go out and enjoy it, getting up to that pace. I’m almost jealous they got to do it against the Dutch in that atmosphere.”