Ireland 1 vs. 0 India
2.00 push back
The furthest that Ireland have ever gotten in a world cup before, it was in 1994, which was hosted in Dublin and they came 11th out of 12. Today they have a chance to win their group and pass directly to the quarter finals. Shirley McCay, who is the most capped Irish sportswoman in any sport, starts for her team. Looking around the stadium just prior to push back, we ca see that there is perhaps a slightly bigger support for the Green Army than for the Indians. They will be wondering if Deirdre Duke and her team mates can carry on their form, from the previous game against USA. India push back and immediately Navneet Kaur mistrals it and the ball bounces off of the pitch.
In the third minute vice captain, Anna O’Flanagan puts the ball into the mixer, it’s blocked and Nicola Evans pounces on the second phase ball, but can’t find the space to create something meaningful. India go up the other end and get the first short corner of the game, but find it’s blocked by the first runner.
India regain possession around the left side of the pitch on the half way line, but the Irish win the ball back and move the ball around, trying to retain possession for a while. They send a direct ball up the line to the right corner, but to no avail. India look to go forward now. It doesn’t look like either team is going to give the space that found for themselves against the USA for that special Deride Duke goal, in their previous match.
Ireland are subtly patient, but quick on the ball. Their build up is rewarded, when Evans, whilst on the ball in the circle wins a short corner. There is 3 minutes and 20 seconds left in the game. The ball is injected to Shirley McCay, slapped in towards the goal and deflected in. The Scottish umpire gives the goal, but refers it herself, looking to see if the ball came off a stick, or a foot. The video umpire upholds the decision and the Irish take the lead. The Irish fans seem pleased. Anna O’Flanagan is the scorer.
In the thirteenth minute, India get a short corner. It’s deflected wide for a long corner. Nothing of note happens and the Irish get a hit out. The Indians are not looking great upfront. Ireland have been the better team in the first 15 and lead at the break.
The second quarters starts and after two minutes, Vendana Katariya turns her Irish defender and shots. It might be going over but Ayeisha McFerran in he Irish goal makes sure. This is the first time that India have looked like scoring. A minute later Sunita Lakra gets a green card. A pass from Chloe Watkins should be cut out by Deep Ekka, but it’s spilt and Alison Meeke pounces on it. Ekka panics and fouls her, giving away another short corner. Hannah Matthews slaps it towards goal, but the ball is blocked. Another foul by India and another short corner. This time Roisin Upton hits the Indian keeper, Savita. The second phase shot sees a free hit given for India and the chance disappears.
In the eleventh minute, after a circle entry and a shot, India win a short cornerThis is their chance to equalise, but cleared off the line by Ireland’s left post player. A missed interception by Ireland at the top of the ‘D’, allows a pass to find an Indian at the left of the circle. McFerran, who has been having a great tournament so far, saves the resulting shot. At half time, the score remains the same, one goal to nil for the Irish.
The second half starts and in the third minute. Monika is shown a green card for a foul on Meeke, when she was in possession of the ball, inside the Irish circle. Anna O’Flanagan has been the best player on the pitch, for the Irish, with plenty of forward drives. She is always looking to go forward.
In the eight minute we see an Indian short corner. The ball is sent out to first castle. Gurjit Kaur shoots and McFerran bats away with a two handed save, great confidence from the 22 year old. A minute later and another short corner for India. It’s sent out to Gurjit Kaur again and it’s come off the first runner in the body and the Indians are given another chance. The decision is referred and a free hit is given to Ireland as it hit the runner above the knee and the Indians spurn another opportunity to equalise.
As we enter the final period of the game, I get the sense that India are trying to turn the screw a bit. Ireland are still holding onto their one goal lead however, with a bit of tension building. The Irish have a backs against the wall attitude and are coping fairly well. The game hasn’t been very fluid in terms of tactics and formations, but the Irish media in the tribune don’t seem to care. In the ninth minute Nicola Evans misses a shot at the back post. Down at the other end, shortly afterwards, India win another short corner. I can’t think of an Irish short corner in the half of the match. This time Gurjit Kaur slips the ball to Deep Ekka at the top of the ‘D’, but first runner blocks the shot.
With five minutes left Savita in the India goal is taken off and replaced by a kicking back. Venddana Katriya picks the pocket of Zoe Wilson and gets a shot off, but denied by Ayeisha McFerran, yet again, who’s having a great time in this World Cup. Ireland hold out and win 1 – 0. They progress to the quarter finals, having guaranteed the top spot. This is massive for Irish hockey, as the second lowest ranked team in the tournament, and drawn in the same pool as their local rivals England. They play the host nation in the next match for both teams, with the English needing to win, in order to make sure that they stay in their own competition.