The Ireland Women’s national hockey team lost 1-0 to India courtesy of a late goal from Navneet Kaur in the early hours of Friday morning.
Sean Dancer’s Ireland produced a defensive performance with periods of possession that ultimately failed to pull the side over the line and into the Olympic quarter-finals.
India’s constant pressure created many chances for the side three places below Ireland in the world rankings.
Sjoerd Marijne’s team were in desperate need of a big performance after losing their first three games and came into the game off the back of what the coach had dubbed the “worst match” of his side’s Olympic campaign.
His team responded with a strong performance at Oi Stadium in Tokyo, an hour after they were initially scheduled to play Ireland – the game was delayed due to the weather in Japan.
Ireland looked to press high up the field but India found it easy to break and used the wide flanks that Dancer’s side had surrendered via their formation to dominate proceedings early.
10 penalty corners and 13 circle penetrations in the first half underlined the side’s strong start but they missed the clinical touch.
Ireland fought back with a strong start to the second quarter but faded in the final minutes of the half with nothing to show for their time on top.
Penalty corners and a chance from Anna O’Flanagan looked set to be the start of the Irish taking control of the game but were frustrated by the Indian defence.
The Irish defence had a big task moments later with four consecutive Indian penalty corners pinning the Irish into their circle.
India used their video review twice in the third quarter after getting it back because the first play was not able to be reviewed sufficiently, losing it a minute later.
Ireland fought back to end the third quarter after another prolonged period of Indian superiority but the game remained scoreless heading into the final quarter.
The national side failed to follow-up on that spark of attacking hockey and India continued to peg them back.
Ireland had one notable chance – a shot from O’Flanagan was saved by Savita five minutes from time – as India finished the game on a high note with a lifeline goal from Kaur keeping them in the race for the Olympic quarter-finals.
Dancer brought off goalkeeper McFerran for an outfield player in an attempt to grab an equaliser but it was not to be.
Ireland has one more group game with a win needed to reach the quarter-finals but faces a Team Great Britain side that humiliated the Indian side they were beaten by.
India, on the other hand, faces South Africa and now has the momentum heading into their final game.
Ireland currently occupies the final quarter-final spot in Pool A with a better goal difference than their rivals.
Ireland will face Team GB on Saturday, July 31st at 12:45 pm at Oi Stadium in a must-win game.