Limerick's Roisin Upton scores in Irish hockey defeat to Argentina

Ireland need to finish fifth to qualify for World Cup 2018

Donn O'Sullivan

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Donn O'Sullivan

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donn.osullivan@limerickleader.ie

Limerick's Roisin Upton scores in Irish hockey defeat to Argentina

Action from Ireland's 2-1 defeat by Argentina in South Africa today

LIMERICK'S Roisin Upton scored a second half goal for Ireland against Argentina yesterday in South Africa, however it was not enough to defeat the World number three side who won out 2-1 in Johannesburg.

A defensive masterclass from the Green Army wasn’t quite enough to topple the world number 3 Argentina in today’s quarter final. But Ireland’s World Cup dreams are still very much in reach with a 5th place finish enough to book their spot at the tournament.

Argentina came out of the blocks firing with Mario Granatto sending a reverse strike across the face of goal and Rocio Sanchez’s effort saved by Ayeisha McFerran in the opening minutes. But Ireland settled into the game and Katie Mullan, leading by example as ever, set up the Green Army’s first chance with a ball to the waiting Deirdre Duke in the circle.

Hannah Matthews was in inspired form throughout and sent a pinpoint pass to Nikki Evans on the edge of the circle but Noel Barrionuevo showed her experience in dispossessing the Irish.

The game nestled into a tactical battle with Argentina enjoying the bulk of possession but rarely being allowed to create clear chances by the Irish defence. The opening goal came in the 25th minute and was more a result of Irish error than spectacular attacking. A mis-trap saw the ball fall to captain Delfina Merino who calmly rounded McFerran at the top of the circle to shoot into the open goal.

The Green Army adapted their structure as the second half began and looked to force the Argentinians onto the wing rather than their danger route down the centre. Argentina won the first penalty corner of the game and a powerful shot by Julia Gomes into the corner left McFerran with no chance.

An incredibly disciplined Irish defence remained resolute and looked to create chances on the counter where possible. Anna O’Flanagan showed her strength when charging into the circle to win her sides first penalty corner in the 43rd minute. Roisin Upton was on hand to send one of her signature drag flicks past the diving Belen Succi to bring Ireland back into the tie. Matthews was again on hand to send the ball through the mid field to Mullan in the circle but she was swarmed by 3 defenders before releasing her shot.

Ireland began to pile on the pressure and looked a match for the world number 3 as they won another penalty corner in the final few minutes. Shirley McCay, rock solid throughout, entered the game as kicking back, but the equalising goal wouldn’t fall for the Green Army. A monumental effort from the girls in green with composure in defence to the forefront; Argentina had 38 circle penetrations but Ireland only conceded 1 penalty corner and only allowed 5 shots on target throughout.

Speaking after the match head coach Graham Shaw said “We are obviously disappointed losing that game. We started a little tentative and allowed them to control too many phases in the first half. The second half was a lot better and we put them under a lot more pressure as a result. We are very confident going into the 5th-8th playoffs and looking forward to the challenge”.  

The Green Army now move into the 5th-8th place playoffs and will be in action on Thursday (July 20th) against either Germany or South Africa. 5th place will still guarantee the Green Army a spot at the 2018 World Cup. Fixture to be shown live on BT Sport.

Ireland men’s hockey team compete against Spain in their quarter final tomorrow (12:30pm Irish time), shown live on BT Sport. A win would guarantee Ireland a World Cup spot, a loss would put the Green Machine in the 5th-8th playoffs with 5th place still guaranteeing a World Cup place.

Ireland: A McFerran, K Mullan (Captain), S McCay, E Tice, G Pinder, C Watkins, N Daly, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke Subs: G O’Flanagan, Y O’Byrne, N Evans, E Beatty, S Loughran, R Upton, L Colvin

Argentina: B Succi, M Cavallero, M Fernandez, D Merino (Captain), A Habif, M Granatto, F Habif, R Sanchez, L von der Heyde, NBarrionuevo, J Gomes Subs: A Gorzelany, E Trinchinetti, A Alonso, M Campoy, M Ortiz, J Jankunas, M Mutio