Friday, August 19, 2022

Ireland fall at first Women’s World Cup hurdle as Germany prevail

Amsterdam — A clinical Germany had no time for the romance of Ireland’s previous Hockey World Cup story as the new-look Green Army were cast aside 3-0 to end their hopes of another miracle knock-out run.

Ireland put in their best performance of the group stages but goals from Nike Lorenz, Charlotte Stapenhorst and Sonja Zimmerman left Sean Dancer’s side facing two ranking matches to finish ninth and above their world No 13 ranking.

‘The scoreline doesn’t really tell the tale of the game,’ said captain Katie Mullan.

‘We really threw everything at Germany but we needed to be more clinical and take our chances. 

‘We didn’t want things to go like this but the difference between this and the last World Cup is that there’s still something very important to play for and I really do still believe in this group.’

Hockey, Damen: WM, Irland – Deutschland, Vorrunde, Gruppe A, 3. Spieltag Image: Viktoria Huse and Amelie Wortmann

Dancer admitted Ireland went ‘hell for leather’ during their last chance saloon to reach the knock-out phase. And they started in that manner, buoyed on by strong Irish support.

Mullan had the best chance in the opening exchanges. A rapid 50-yard move saw Mullan force Germany goalkeeper Nathalie Kubalski into a near-post save from a flashing forehand.

Meanwhile, Ayeisha McFerran had to glove, boot and stick and body block an  increasing amount of German circle penetration. That continued until the final hooter.

It took a second penalty corner to finally pass McFerran when former captain Lorenz’s flick was rifled high into the net.

This was far from the stilted Ireland which surrendered meekly to Chile on Tuesday. The Irish were being offered space to run deep into German territory – and moments later Caoimhe Perdue fired just over the bar from a fierce backhand.

Germany’s second came after the break from a swift attack, moved from left to right and tucked in by Stapenhorst.

The Irish goal was empty for the last quarter, as Dancer went for broke with 11 outfield players and three goals needed. Having only accrued one goal in two previous matches, the task was a tall one. 

But their best chance of the match fell to Zara Mulseed with seven minutes left, forcing Kubalski into a flying stick save to her right.

Germany secured the win with three minutes left when Zimmerman slotted home a penalty stroke after Ireland had prevented a certain goal. McFerran was called back a second time, as she saved wonderfully at the death from a second penalty stroke.

Hockey, Damen: WM, Irland – Deutschland, Vorrunde, Gruppe A, 3. Spieltag Image: Roisin Upton, Kathryn Mullan (C) and Ayeisha McFerran (GK) after the lost match.

Ireland’s main weakness in this campaign has been a lack of fire power up front. They also hadn’t beaten Germany in five matches stretching back to their breakthrough year in 2018. 

Anna O’Flanagan was one of the scorers that day, but Ireland’s key goal threat has opted to take a rest after the Tokyo Olympics. The Green Army have also been missing Chloe Watkins, while rising star Niamh Carey – twin sister of Michelle – is currently in the US.

Ellen Curran, one of the standouts yesterday, said: ‘We have to be realistic in that we are a very new team; if you compare the average caps now to what we had in 2018, we lacked a bit of experience throughout the group stages.

‘But we have the building of a really, really talented team, we just need to tie it all together and unfortunately it didn’t really happen this tournament.’

Ireland now face either Germany, Japan or South Africa in the ranking placing matches at the weekend.

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