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Ireland v South Africa Post Match Update!

Check out our post-match update from Saba’s Hockey Superfan Ruthy!

Well, I don’t know about you, but before the match had even started, I was an emotional wreck, nervous, excited, everything!! Can you even imagine being an ACTUAL player stepping onto the pitch in Tokyo, representing Ireland’s Women’s Hockey team in their first ever Olympics. The first Olympics for ANY Irish women’s team. 

Ireland started brightly and looked confident. As they settled into the game, they enjoyed most of the possession with an early opportunity going awry as the ball flashed past the face of the goal past Anna O’Flanagan in the 4th minute. Just 5 minutes later, Ireland won their first penalty corner after some great skills from Deirdre Duke and Limerick woman Roisin Upton dragged the ball into the bottom corner giving Ireland the early lead and her 17th international goal and she became the first Irish woman to ever score a goal in the Olympics. 

In the second quarter South Africa sat deep giving Ireland plenty of opportunities to extend their lead. With several penalty corners missed, South Africa losing their referral early on and Naomi Carrol denied by the post, it was a busy half of hockey but Ireland just couldn’t get the final touch they were looking for. Towards the end of the half, South Africa had a good patch with Kristen Paton flashing a ball across the face of the goal but going unconnected. Halftime closed out 1-0 to Ireland.

In the 3rd quarter, Katie Mullan made her presence known with an excellent run and her pass was just missed by Sarah Torrans. A 5th penalty corner for Ireland was well defended with goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande denying O’Flanagan off her pads. The 44th minute saw South Africa win their first penalty corner but the move to connect with the injector, Nicole Walraven was missed, and the ball went wide. Not long later, Ireland were back in possession and a high ball into an unmarked Sarah Torrans came in and she calmly bats it down under the keeper and extends Ireland’s lead to 2-0.

The final quarter was just as exciting. Early on, O’Flanagan, always lively in the circle, missed a good cross from Duke and just moments later Ayeisha McFerran saved a chance from South Africa with the Irish defense cleaning up the second phase to regain control. A tidy aerial out of defense from Hannah Matthews gave Sarah Hawkshaw the opportunity to skillfully take down the ball from height. Ireland picked up another penalty corner for South Africa not being five meters away. Lena Tice slipped the ball to Matthews on the post but she couldn’t get the connection she wanted to score and Mbande saved well. Captain Katie Mullan won another PC for Ireland but again Ireland couldn’t get the ball across the line. The match ended with South Africa down to 10 players and a 2-0 victory to Ireland.

On Monday, at 2am Irish Time, Ireland will meet world number 1, The Netherlands who had a comprehensive 5-1 victory over India earlier today. Recovery will be crucial now and it will be interesting to see how Coach Sean Dancer manages his squad selection going into the fixture. 

A great start for the Irish with a promising campaign ahead.

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