Four Nations – 3rd/4th place playoff
Ireland 1 (Aine Connery) India 4
Ireland’s eight game tour of Argentina came to an end over the weekend with two losses to finish fourth in the second Four Nations tournament in Parana, falling to India for a second time in four days.
It followed a close-run 2-1 loss to Argentina on Saturday. Positives can be drawn from the more attacking intent shown and the ability to match sides higher in the world rankings but just one win from the series provides a frustrating statistic.
They were left to contest the bronze playoff for a second time as they put in a strong showing against the hosting world champions on Saturday. After a flurry of shots at either end – Ireland drawing some good saves from Nahir El Barri – Argentina began to get particular joy down the left flank and won a penalty stroke from one of those attacks.
Noel Barrionuevo netted for an 18th minute lead and Las Leonas stepped up their game to go close though Delfina Merino going closest but Emma Gray denied her to keep the minimum in the difference at half-time, keeping out a half-dozen corners.
Ireland showed more accuracy in this regard as Audrey O’Flynn dragged home two minutes after the break to tie the gam up and put themselves in with a shout of repeating their draw of a week earlier.
But Argentina got the winning goal when Silvina D’Elia found Rosario Luchetti tne minutes from time from a 2 v 1 corner move.
It left Ireland to play India for a fourth time in the competition with honours shared in normal time to date, Cliodhna Sargent celebrated her 100th cap – becoming the 19th Irish player to do so – while Audrey O’Flynn picked up her 50th cap.
Aine Connery nabbed a seventh minute go-ahead goal off the back of Lizzie Colvin and Alex Speers good build-up play while Sargent was denied soon after from a corner chance. But India took control of the game and, from their third corner, saw the penalty upgraded to a stroke in the 25th minute which saw them level.
And the Asian side appeared to cope better with the stifling 35 degree heat, grabbing the lead with 12 minutes to go from a one-on-one. With little left to lose, Gene Muller swapped out Emma Gray for the last five minutes for an extra outfielder but it did not work out as India notched two more goals to complete the 4-1 result.
Speaking about the final game and the series, Muller said it was a beneficial trip ahead of 2012’s big challenges: ”We played well for 60 minutes, but then faded in the 35 degree heat. I have been so impressed with our performances in these matches. We have three months until the Olympic Qualifying Tournament and we will improve even more given the training ethic of the players.”
Ireland v India: Emma Gray, Aine Connery, Lizzie Colvin, Sinead McCarthy, Shirley McCay, Audrey O’Flynn, Cliodhna Sargent, Alex Speers, Michelle Harvey, Chloe Watkins, Nicola Evans
Subs: Hannah Bowe, Niamh Atcheler, Miriam Crowley, Niamh Small, Nicci Daly
Ireland v Argentina: Emma Gray, Aine Connery, Lizzie Colvin, Sinead McCarthy, Shirley McCay, Audrey O’Flynn, Cliodhna Sargent, Alex Speers, Michelle Harvey, Nicola Evans, Chloe Watkins
Subs: Niamh Small, Miriam Crowley, Hannah Bowe, Nicci Daly, Anna O’Flanagan
Argentina: Nahir El Barri, Silvina D’Elia, Noel Barrionuevo, José María Fernández, Rocio Sanchez Moccia, Macarena Rodriguez, Delfina Merino, Daniela Sruoga, Josefina Sruoga, Martina Cavallero, Rosario Luchetti.
Subs: Carla Dupuy, Roberta Werthein, Sofia Maccari, Mariela Scarone, Marcela Casale
** Photos courtesy of Matias Correa Arce