Whilst most of the week’s Hockey activity centred around the men’s tournament at UCD, let us not forget that the Irish women began their own ‘Road to London’ campaign on St Patrick’s Day also, and with a very convincing 5-1 win over France at Beerschot,as Hockey.ie reports:
Ireland (Women): Ireland 5-1 France
Ireland (2) 5 (Aine Connery, Audrey O’Flynn, Michelle Harvey, Alex Speers, Lisa Jacob)
France (1) 1 (Dutel)
The Electric Ireland Irish Womens team started their road to London 2012 at Beerschot in Belgium with an opening match v France. Ireland were boosted with the return of their Captain Alex Speers to the pitch. Ireland started the stronger creating chances but were reduced to 10 when McCay saw green for over zealous challenge. In the 13th minute France took a surprise lead from break down the right finished by Dute to put France 1 up. Ireland equalised in the 20th minute when following Smyth’s quick free from outside the circle, Speers initial shot was saved, but super second phase shot is finished to the net to give Ireland a well-earned equalizer. Ireland had now found their rhythm and creating chances with Smyth and Evans coming close. Ireland took the lead on the hooter when after good work by Crowley a penalty corner was awarded which Audrey O’Flynn drags to the net to put Ireland 2-1 up.
Ireland first opportunity of the second half came after 2 minutes when O’Flynn’s Pc attempt was saved. Ireland were 3-1 up when Connery received the ball on the 23 metre line ghosting past two defenders and finished with a sublime flick over the keeper. Ireland now were totally dominant and from a crash ball by Nicii Daly Lisa Jacob got a neat touch for Number 4. In the 47th minute Connery won a corner after a rampaging run down the left which Harvey dragged low under the keeper to put Ireland 5-1 ahead. In the 49th minute their opponents won their 1st corner of the game but defence cleared. France had good spell around the hour mark but Gray saved well. Ireland had their chances in the final quarter but could not extend their lead a winning start. Ireland now play Russia today (Sunday) at 12.30 (Irish Time)
After the game Irish Coach Gene Muller said “It was a good start to the Tournament for us we were a little tentative at the beginning and conceded an early goal as a result. After they scored we played ourselves into the match and grew in confidence: we are now focussing in the Russia game and need to perform well tomorrow.”
Starting XI: Gray (GK), Symmons, Sargent, McCarthy, O’ Flynn, Smyth, Colvin, McCay, Speers, Connery, Jacob.
Subs: Harvey, Clarke, Daly, Crowley, Evans