The Irish Women’s hockey team have suffered a setback in their hopes for a first ever Olympics appearance, after a sudden death shootout defeat against China, in their World Hockey League quarter final earlier this morning.
Darren Smith’s team went into the match on the back of famous results against South Africa and the US (two regulars at past World Cups and Olympic Games), and a win would have guaranteed the team a top four finish in the ten team tournament.
Similar to the match against the US on Tuesday the Irish side went into this morning’s clash, facing a team they had never beaten before, and defeating the Chinese team has unfortunately proved a step too far for the Irish team.
The game itself ended 1-1 with Chloe Watkins scoring for the Irish, after Zhang Xiaoxue had given the Chinese a flying start after just five minutes. The Irish had plenty of pressure, won numerous corners and even scored a second goal, when Megan Frazer scored from a corner chance, though the goal was ruled out on an umpire’s referral.
This meant that the game went into a shootout, and the first series of five ended 3-3. The next three sudden death chances were all saved, before Liang Meiyu slipped in the winning goal for a 4-3 Chinese success.
Ireland coach Darren Smith said afterwards;
“It’s devastating to lose in a shootout. All you want is that ticket to Rio and we will do all we can to try and get that. We could have been more clinical from the penalty corners. They defended them pretty well but it was a tight and tough match.”
Ireland must now try and secure a fifth or sixth place finish in Valencia and await the results of the Continental Championships to learn their Olympic fate.