Ireland produced a superb win over Germany, courtesy of Katie Mullan’s winner two minutes from time to beat the 2016 Olympic bronze medalists in Berlin.
The team’s captain touched in Hannah Matthews’ raking pass in the 58th minute to give Graham Shaw’s side the perfect start to the Four Nations Invitational event.
It capped a fine performance for the Irish side, one in which goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran made several key stops while Zoe Wilson and Roisin Upton impressed in the centre of defence.
The result will also bolster confidence ahead of a re-match in July against the Germans in World League Round 3 in the group stages, a tournament in Johannesburg where the 2018 World Cup tickets will be decided.
After a low-key first quarter, the game opened out in the second period. Marie Mavers fired the warning shot for Ireland with McFerran saving well at her feet.
On the counter a minute later, Ireland went ahead in classy fashion. Sinead Loughran turned over the ball on halfway and exploited the space to push forward before slipping a pass to Anna O’Flanagan.
The striker squared up the last defender, using the back-pedaling pace against her to open up a scoring opportunity and then smashed home from the top of the D.
Germany had a trio of chances before the break but nothing overly clear-cut and McFerran’s cool head saw her guide away the chances, holding the 1-0 lead into the break.
The hosts did continue to have slightly the edge from general play but Ireland were countering perfectly. Lena Tice’s diagonal ball located Nikki Evans who won a penalty corner and the another but those chances slipped by.
Jana Teschke, meanwhile, got her side back on terms from a clever set-piece move on the three-quarter hooter, making it 1-1 with 15 minutes to go.
The Germans had a second disallowed from their fifth corner while Franziska Hauke clipped the bar from another chance. But Ireland rode out that phase and looked the more likely winner down the final stretch as Deirdre Duke twice drew the best from Julia Ciupka in the closing five minutes.
Then came Mullan’s glorious winner and Ireland had their first ever win over Germany.
“Obviously we are very happy with the result,” coach Graham Shaw said afterwards. “We created some very nice goalscoring opportunities which is pleasing.
“We need to work on managing their phases better as we conceded a few soft circle entries. We will look at the video and try make improvements in these areas. We will look to recover well and look forward to playing China tomorrow.”
That game against China, the world number eight side, is at 4pm in Berlin.
Ireland: A McFerran, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, G Pinder, C Watkins, N Daly, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke
Subs: N Evans, E Beatty, S Loughran, R Upton, L Colvin, A Meeke, G O’Flanagan
Germany: J Ciupka, N Lorenz, B Wenzel, C Stapenhorst, J Muller-Wieldand, N Heyn, J Teschke, F Hauke, C Pieper, M Mavers, N Notman
Subs: E Grave, E Martin Pelegrina, M Hayn, C Nobis, H Granitzki, V Huse
Berlin Four Nations (all Irish time)
Thursday: Germany 1 (J Teschke) Ireland 2 (A O’Flanagan, K Mullan); Korea 1 China 1
Friday, June 16: China v Ireland, 4pm
Sunday, June 18: Ireland v Korea, 11am
The senior women’s team aren’t the only squad in action, the U21 women’s side will face Scotland in 3 matches this weekend in Queens University Belfast.
Match 1: Friday 16th at 7:30pm
Match 2: Saturday 17th at 2pm
Match 3: Sunday 18th at 10:30am