Olympic champions Team GB moved with ease into the Tokyo Olympics quarter-finals of the women’s hockey competition after a 2-0 defeat of debutants Ireland.
Ireland needed a convincing win to topple India in fourth spot in Pool A, but struggled against the improving GB. Yet, they still made life difficult for Mark Hager’s side.
Goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran said: ” I’m devastated. I’m so proud of the girls and all the effort they put in. I can’t fault it and I’m proud to pull on the green jersey. I’m devastated our journey has to end now as this group.
“Credit to GB, they did some good stuff, but we were right up there with them and I think that’s one of the strengths of us, we just keep going.
“We don’t stop and we just keep fighting till the final whistle as you’ve seen.”
The result means that India will play second-ranked Australia while top-ranked side, Netherlands take on New Zealand and fourth-ranked Argentina face Germany to complete the mouthwatering first stage of the knockout matches in Tokyo.
Townsend scored her first goal of the Olympics as GB’s pressure told early into the second quarter, the experienced midfielder tapping home from a well-worked penalty corner from her inject after a string of openings for Mark Hager’s side.
Maddie Hinch was first called upon with a little over five minutes to go before half-time as Ireland sought to get a foothold, the GB No.1 pulling off a great save from a backhand shot by Nicola Daly.
GB nearly bagged a second with a minute to go before the break but wasted little time in the second period, as fantastic stick work from Ellie Rayer down the right and a pinpoint backhand cross was turned home by Martin, her third of the competition.
Martin, showing form with each game after pre-tournament injury, also summoned all her class as a finisher as Rayer’s cross was fired through two Ireland players yet she was still able to make solid contact.
GB’s youngest squad member at 21, Izzy Petter, was yellow carded in the fourth quarter, but unlike the women’s Olympic 100 metre final a few kilometres up the road, there was no surge in pace by Ireland, who failed to notch a penalty corner chance, to capitalise.