The Netherlands vs. Ireland
Match 36/Gold Medal Match
4.30 Push Back
Ireland play Holland in their first ever World Cup Final and their fans are out in force. I’ve just met Alison Meeke’s mum in the crowd. There is such an over abundance of Irish media, that yours truly has been dumped from the media box and has to sit in the cheap seats, as has Hockey World News and the correspondent from Dublin City Radio for some reason.
There are only four full time professionals in the squad for the Green Army, compared to the Dutch, who can pick from an entire league of professional athletes. Ireland’s Megan Frazer pulled her hamstring in the semi final last night and Emily Beatty had a phone call at 11 o’clock this morning to tell her that she was being called up for the Hockey World Cup showpiece. Zoe Wilson is, apparently, the third ever bespectacled hockey player, to play in a Word Cup Final. Chloe Watkins and Laura Nunnink both win their 200th cap for their respective countries.
The opening stages of the game look interesting, with the ladies in green maintaining some amount of possession, but Holland’s Frederique Matla takes the first shot of the game, after 90 seconds, but sends it wide of Ayeisha McFerran’s goal. The amount of fans here for Ireland is making it feel like a homematch for the team. In the seventh minute a spin and a shot from the right of the circle from Lidewij Welten goes through a crowd of Irish defenders, who have obscured McFerran’s view and the ball comes off her left kicker pad and into the goal; 1 – 0 Holland.
A stick tackle on a Dutch player sees the first short corner of the match for Holland, in the eighth minute, but it is slapped wide of McFerran’s left hand post. A good cross field pass to Chloe Watkins, opens up play somewhat and nearly provides O’Flanagan with a chance, but she can’t quite trap it. In the eleventh minute the Netherlands get their second short corner of the game. Caia van Maasakker sends it towards goal, but it doesn’t lead to a shot and the second phase goes off the baseline for a hit out for Ireland. Even this is worthy of a cheer from the Irish fans. At the end of the first period the score is one goal to nothing in favour of the Dutch.
Four minutes into the second quarter and McFerran has to make a good save. Holland win back the second phase and McFerran saves the shot from that as well, but Ireland can’t clear their lines and concede at the third attempt, with Kelly Jonker finding the back boards; 2 – 0.
Shortly after the push back from Holland’s second goal, they find an outcome for a short corner. A trick pass from van Male allows van Maasakker to try a drag flick, but she can’t hit the target and the ball goes out for an Irish hit out. In the eighth minute, the Netherlands get another short corner; Kitty van Male with the shot, but sees it deflected away.
Holland are running with greater and greater ease when they come forward now. Space is opening up in midfield and I’m sensing that Ireland are getting tired, with only a few of the players being full time athletes. A little over two minutes remain of the half and the Netherlands get their fifth short corner, giving them a third goal, with the ball going out to the Dutch left and Kitty van Male sweeping it in after injecting the ball; 3 – 0.
Thirty-eight seconds are left on the clock and the ball is played left to right across the top of the Irish circle. Malou Pheninckx picks it up, finds herself in loads of space and touches it into the circle, where she proceeds to smash a shot into the roof of the net at the near post. At half time the score is four goal to nil to the Dutch.
Holland, in keeping with what they have been doing all tournament, change their keeper at the break. Josine Koning comes on for Anne Veenendaal. Within a minute and a half of the restart an attack down the hits the right baseline. McFerran has to commit to the ball carrier and it’s slipped passed her. Marloes Keetles scores the fifth goal for the Netherlands.
In the fourth minute, after a turn over in the Irish half, the Dutch drive forward and drawing the Irish defence into committing a stick foul and winning a short corner; the first of the half. It’s a drag flick into the top right hand corner of the goal from Caia van Maasakker to make it six nil.
Eleven minutes into the third period and Roisin Upton takes a whack from the ball, but gets up to carry on. Forty-five seconds later, the Dutch are continuing their rampant runs at Ireland and win another short corner, but the trap is missed and rolls well for an Irish counter attack, it goes high to the left corner of the pitch, but the ball is cut out before it reaches the back of the net. At the end of the penultimate quarter the score is the Netherlands 6 – 0 Ireland. The biggest world cup final win was Holland 4 – Canada 2.
Ireland take the first shot of the fourth quarter, with Nicola Daly cutting inside to shoot from a tight angle, but Koning is up to the challenge. In the seventh minute, Kitty van Male drives to the left of the circle, plays a reverse stick pass in. The ball comes back out, but holland win a short corner in the second phase. McFerran makes a good save from Matla, but it comes up high and the Dutch get to try again. Margot van Geffen sends the ball over the bar from the second phase. The full time score isNetherlands 6 – 0 Ireland. The reigning world champions retain their title for their eight world crown. Marloes Keetles is award the Player of the Match accolade.