The Green Army came back from 1-0 down against higher ranked India to claim 7th spot at World League, a result that could yet see them qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
India seemed slow out of the blocks and Ireland were only too happy to take advantage with Nikki Evans, Lizzie Colvin and Gill Pinder all sending threatening balls into the circle. Savita played a large role for India as she produced some fine saves from Irish PC’s, the first coming in the 10th minute from Roisin Upton’s drag flick. India slowly grew into the game but their goal still came somewhat against the run of play as Kaur drilled a PC shot into the corner in the 15th minute. Evans was again making a nuisance of herself in the Indian circle and chipped the ball goalward but Savita’s helmet came to the rescue. Katie Mullan, instrumental not just today but throughout the tournament, was drawing defenders and sending passes into the circle at will. India appeared to shake off their earlier lethargy and a potentially game changing moment arose when Ayeisha McFerran received a 10-minute yellow card for charging out of her goal and obstructing the striker. Grace O’Flanagan stepped onto the field and with her first piece of the action saved Rani’s penalty stroke with a superb dive to her right. Not long after, India had a goal disallowed for back stick and Ireland went into the half 1-0 down with the 2 previous big moments perhaps shifting the momentum to the Green Army.
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Sure enough as the second half started Ireland went hunting for the equaliser with Mullan drawing a good save from close range. Ireland were notching up the chances and did well to remain composed when India won 4 PC’s in quick succession. But Ireland went up a gear and it was only a matter of time before one of their opportunities was converted. With their 4th PC, Elena Tice swept the ball to the waiting Mullan who deflected into the goal in the 47th minute. Mullan again leading the charge won her side another PC moments later and Lizzie Colvin drilled the ball into the goal, 2 goals in 2 minutes for the Green Army. The final few minutes saw the tempo increase once more as India chased the game but Ireland never looked troubled as Mullan and Anna O’Flanagan continued to cause the Indian defence issues, while Nicci Daly kept Savita in the game with a late reverse strike.
The come-back win see’s Ireland finish the tournament above their ranking and claim that all important 7th place which could well be enough for a World Cup ticket once the Continental Championships are complete.
Commenting after the game head coach Graham Shaw said “I thought the performance was superb, we just didn’t get results out of the dominance we had in the first half. But this team has shown incredible character to go down to 10 players and have that resilience. We’re over the moon to score 2 great goals. This team deserve it, they work incredibly hard and deserve everything they get”.
The Green Machine play New Zealand in the 5th/6th place playoff at 5pm this evening. 5th place is a guaranteed ticket to the World Cup but 6th place looks highly likely to get the Green Machine there as well.
Ireland: K Mullan (Captain), S McCay, E Tice, G Pinder, R Upton, A McFerran, C Watkins, N Daly, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke
Subs: G O’Flanagan, Y O’Byrne, N Evans, E Beatty, S Loughran, L Colvin, H Matthews
India: D Ekka, Monkia, N Pradhan, Savita, V Katariya, N Toppo, A Barla, S Lakra, S Pukhrambam, Rani (Captain), L Minz
Subs: N Kaur, G Kaur, R Khokhar, R Etimarpu, R Rani, R Yadav, P Dubey