Ireland complete Belgian whitewash

Ireland 2 (Alex Speers, Jean McDonnell) Belgium 1 (Morgane Vouche)
For the third day running, Ireland wrapped up victory with something to spare as they netted twice in the first half at the National Hockey Stadium and while, Morgane Vouche got the Belgians in range, the hosts always held the aces.

Alex Speers broke the deadlock in just the fifth minute when she dived to finish off fine combination play between the forward trio, Anna O’Flanagan and Nikki Evans renewing their link-up from a couple of seasons ago at Hermes to create the chance.

And Jean McDonnell pouched her second international goal with a clinically struck hit two minutes before the interval from just left of centre of the circle. Miriam Crowley notched the assist to add to an impressive weekend’s work from the UCC woman.

In between goals, Emma Clarke almost capped her 100th international appearance with a spectacular goal but her shot cleared the bar while Emilie Sinia’s shot wide of Emma Gray’s posts was the sum of Belgium’s efforts.

They did, however, strike back when Jill Boon’s build-up play down the right wing set up Morgane Vouche to give the visitors hope of salvaging a result. It came in the 43rd minute, again during a third period in which they held sway in a similar manner to Saturday’s tie.

But Ireland recovered and went closest to adjusting the score when Nicci Daly struck the post with a little over 20 minutes remaining. It was the pick of a number of late chances, none of which were necessary to complete a first series whitewash for Ireland in many a year.

Overall, the three games series proved the right opposition at the right time – facing a side with a similarly new-look about it with places for new squad possible members in the balance.

With the centralised panel of 25 to be announced in the coming weeks ahead of its October inception, the attacking intent and fluidity shown by the side could see a number of new forward options retained.

Coach Muller said after series “I was very happy with the weekend. We were very solid at the back and were always a threat up front. The new players integrated well into the team and it augurs well for the start of our central preparation programme in October. ”

Ireland: Emma Gray, Cliodhna Sargent, Sinead McCarthy, Michelle Harvey, Lizzie Colvin, Emma Clarke, Shirley McCay, Anna O’Flanagan, Nikki Evans, Alex Speers
Subs: Niamh Atcheler, Nicci Daly, Louisa Healy, Jean McDonnell, Miriam Crowley

Belgium: Elizabeth Achten, Joy Jouret, Anouk Raes, Valeries Vermeersch, Lola Danhaive, Gaelle Valcke, Emilie Sinia, Caroline Himpe, Barbara Nelen, Jill Boon, Laurence Delmulle
Subs: Morgane Vouche, Olivia Bouche, Caroline Guisset, Julie Scraeyen, Helene Delmee

* Photos from Adrian Boehm

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