Ireland v India Post Match Breakdown!
Another big thank you to our superfan correspondent, @RuthyMcDonagh, for our post-match report after Ireland’s women’s hockey team’s game in Tokyo!
Alarms were set, and me and many other Irish supporters crawled out of bed for the Irish Women’s Hockey crucial fixture against India. Initially slated for a 3.45am (Irish time) start, we were met with the update that due to torrential rain in Tokyo the match was to be pushed out an hour. An opportunity to watch Thomas Barr come second in his heat in the 400m hurdles and to take in some of the Athletics.
Going into the fixture we hear that South Africa are out of contention for the final 8 as they lose 4-1 to Germany, recording their fourth loss of four and no way back regardless of their result against India tomorrow. India who are ranked 10th in the world, just one place behind Ireland, have yet to pick up points going into today’s fixture. A fixture they will have targeted points from to stay in contention for a quarter final place.
For Ireland, Deirdre Duke lines out for her 150th cap and we see Naomi Carroll and Sarah Torrans return to the mix with Michelle Carey and Zara Malseed taking their seats in the stadium. This year a match day squad of 16 can be named from the wider list of 18 players. Previously, a member of the initial 16 could only be replaced on medical grounds.
From the whistle, India really set their intent early, whilst it was a jittery start for Sean Dancers Green Army as they looked to find their rhythm in the 26-degree heat. The first quarter had the Irish defense under pressure throughout with India recording 4 penalty corners, but they were unable to convert any of them as the Irish defense closed them down. In the final minutes of the first quarter, Ireland started to find their pace with a good attack that resulted in a shot on goal but no points on the board.
Ireland started the second quarter significantly stronger with a couple of opportunities and Lizzie Holden winning their first penalty corner of the match. A miss-trap at the top and Holden takes her shot, but it goes high. Over the next 6 minute or so, Ireland continued to gain momentum with India seeing less of the ball, however Ayeisha McFerran in goal is kept in action and makes an excellent stick save as she rushes to the top of the circle to clear an incoming opportunity for India. A smart referral down the other end of the pitch sees a missed foot in the circle result in a penalty corner for Ireland. India loses a player on the defensive line for breaking the line but O’Flanagan obstructs as the ball is fired in and India regain possession. The second half of the quarter was all India who had a further 6 penalty corners, but McFerran was in form and alongside solid defending from Roisin Upton, Hannah Matthews and Lena Tice the Green Army closed out the half 0-0.
Moving into the second half, India win their 11th PC early into the quarter, which is quickly followed by two more, but again heroic defending from Katie Mullan and Sarah Torrans keeps them at bay and Ireland win their 3rd PC of the game. India refers to this one as they felt the ball did not travel 5 meters before entering the circle, however the PC stands and they lose their referral. Ireland is unable to convert. Down the other end a solid opportunity for India goes awry as they flick the ball past McFerran but it goes wide. Ireland is still in it. Opportunities came for both sides, another PC for India, now on their 15th but yet to convert, still 0-0 going into the final 15 minutes.
India went down to 10 players for the second time in the fixture early into the final quarter for pushing the ball away. Roisin Upton, Lena Tice and Hannah McLoughlin all doing well in defense with Chloe Watkins working tirelessly in midfield and Nicci Daly showing off her silky skills as she starts to see more of the ball. A big chance for Anna O’Flanagan came in the 55th minute following some lovely interconnecting play through midfield, but Duke’s attempted volley on the rebound resulted in a free out to India. Coming into the final five minutes and India attacked again in waves, McFerran demonstrated why she is the World’s number one goalkeeper, very much keeping Ireland in the game. However, with just 3 minutes to go, India finally break down the Irish defense and Navneet Kaur gets the ball across the line. Ireland referred for a back stick but it wasn’t upheld and the goal stood. McFerran is promptly taken off the field as Ireland go for 11 outfielders as they push for an equalizer in the dying minutes, but it wasn’t to be. India deservedly the winners, with a significantly higher circle penetration count than Ireland and 15 penalty corners won to just 3 for the Green Army.
A devastated Ireland now needs to pick themselves up once again and refocus and recover for their final pool fixture tomorrow against current Olympic champions, Great Britain, at 12.45pm, Irish time. India played South Africa earlier in the day and this result will dictate exactly what Ireland need to do against GB. Both Ireland and India are currently on 3 points, with goal difference and goals for going Ireland’s way as it stands.
It. Is. All. To. Play. For.