Ireland and South Africa line up for the anthems this afternoon
IRELAND’S women’s hockey side will now not know if they have a chance of qualifying for next season’s World Cup in England until later in the year. A 3-0 loss to South Africa in Johannesburg today sees Limerick’s Roisin Upton’s side having to win their final game of the tournament against India, tomorrow at 1.30pm, to see if 8th spot will be enough to get them trhough.
An eight placed spot could be enough, but all will depend on who performs best in the Continental Championships later this year.
The opening half of today’s was at times frantic by both teams with no real rhythm developing and turnovers abound. Ayeisha McFerran was called upon to make two early saves as South Africa began to make their presence felt through Tarryn Glasby and Bernadette Coston. Gillian Pinder darted through the midfield to create a one-two with Sinead Loughran but the South African defence swept up the ball before she should shoot. The Green Army seemed to take some time to settle into the game and South Africa won 3 penalty corners, the third of which Lisa-Marie Deetlefs fired into the net on her reverse. Ireland won their first PC in the dying moments of the first half and Roisin Upton’s drag was deflected onto the post-players face resulting in a stroke. But the post came to South Africa’s rescue and they went into the half with the lead.
The Green Army looked far sharper instantly in the second half as Anna O’Flanagan drew a super reaction save from Phumelela Mbande. The tempo of the game increased noticeably with the Irish completing far more passes and testing the South Africa defence with O’Flanagan and Katie Mullan going up a gear. Ireland’s second PC was saved from Chloe Watkins sweep, perhaps another PC for a high deflection should have resulted but Ireland had lost their referral early in the tie. But the chances just wouldn’t fall for Ireland and South Africa snatched their second goal from a defensive error and good advantage as Coston drilled the ball into the corner. With 9 minutes left Ireland opted for a kicking back but Lilian du Plessis broke into the circle and scored into the open goal.
One can take nothing away from a determined South Africa who took their chances but a 3-0 score line perhaps flatters the hosts slightly. With 31 circle penetrations and 4 short corners Ireland created more than their fair share of chances but credit to the South African defence who kept the shots to a minimum.
Ireland: K Mullan (Captain), S McCay, E Tice, G Pinder, A McFerran, 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
South Africa: C Evans, N Walraven, I Davids, S Jones, LM Deetlefs, N Terblanche, B Coston, P Mbande, J Mayne, Q Bobbs, S Damons (Captain) Subs: K Stella, C Manuel, L du Plessis, J O’Connor, S Baxter, N La Fleur, T Glasby