London, England: Ireland made history as they won their second game at the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup by a solitary goal over India. Prior to this tournament, Ireland had never won two games at a World Cup competition.
The win secures Ireland’s place at the top of Pool B and means the second lowest ranked team is the first to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Following the 1-1 draw between USA and England on Wednesday, Ireland (WR:16) went into today’s match against India (WR:10) knowing that a win would guarantee the lowest ranked team in the Pool B a quite remarkable first place finish. Determined to build upon their surprise 3-1 triumph over the USA on the opening day of the competition, the Green Army made the first mark on the scoreboard thanks to a beautiful penalty corner routine, with Anna O’Flanagan angling the perfect deflection high into the Indian net.
However, India were far from outplayed in the opening two quarters, creating numerous chances but failing to seriously threaten the goal occupied by Ireland shot-stopper Ayeisha McFerran.
India had the better of the third quarter and won a trio of penalty corners, but the continental champions of Asia failed to make the most of their opportunities and found themselves still trailing 1-0 as the two teams entered the final period. Although Ireland were forced deep into their own territory for much of the quarter, the team coached by Graham Shaw missed a glorious chance to score a second when Nicola Evans failed to connect to a terrific pass across the face of goal.
India went for broke in the final five minutes, replacing goalkeeper Savita with an outfield player in an effort to get the goal that they were looking for. India captain Rani had an excellent opportunity to give her side a share of the points, but her shot was confidently kicked away by McFerran to ensure that Ireland, the second lowest ranked team in the entire competition, became the first nation to reach the quarter-finals of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018.
“I think if we look at possession and shots, then we had the lion’s share,” said India Head Coach Marijne Sjoerd, “But in these matches, if you don’t put your chances away then you won’t get the outcome you perhaps deserve.
“I am happy with the way we played; we just need to make sure we get an outcome when we face the USA [on Sunday 29 July].
A delighted Nicola Daly was almost rendered speechless as she reflected on Ireland’s performance. “Ah, it’s just brilliant,” she said, as her team’s achievement began to sink in.
“It was really hot out there and I think both teams struggled but we had a game plan and stuck to it as far as we could.
“We don’t fear anyone. We are ranked 16 and we have no pressure. And the crowd brings so much energy, that was a great turn-out again today and I expect we will have a great turn-out when we play England on Sunday.”
FIH | Perspective Images