Women’s Athlon FIH Road to London Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Ireland 3 (Audrey O’Flynn 2, Michelle Harvey) Russia 0
Ireland’s women continued their excellent start to their Olympic qualifying campaign in Beerschot as their penalty corner routine yielded three flicks and three more points for the green army.
Emma Smyth and Lisa Jacob set the tone early, going close before the corners started to flow. Birthday girl Michelle Harvey slung the first one just wide but a strong run from Shirley McCay won another corner which she duly potted for a deserved 15th minute lead.
Russia enjoyed their best spell in the wake of that opener but they went further behind when Alex Speers burst forward and won a third corner. It was smothered but, from the reset, Audrey O’Flynn made it 2-0 just on half-time as she had done 24 hours earlier.
Jacob won the next corner eight minutes into the second period which O’Flynn converted. From there, the tie died out as a contest with Ireland comfortable in defence but unable to press home the advantage up top.
Emma Clarke won one more corner but it went unconverted for a final tally of three from five. Speaking about the result, Irish coach Gene Muller was pleased with the outcome.
“Our corners were very good today and performed well overall and played with good structure and precision against a tricky opponent. The team are looking forward to a rest day tomorrow and on the back of two good wins.”
The hosts achieved theirs with a 12-0 thumping of Mexico but the top-seeded Spaniards showed a bit of vulnerability as they scraped a 2-1 win over France.
Ireland: E Gray, N Symmons, C Sargent, S McCarthy, A O’Flynn, E Smyth, L Colvin, E Clarke, A Speers, A Connery, L Jacob.
Subs: M Harvey, S McCay, N Daly, M Crowley, C Watkins
** Photos courtesy of Stanislas Brochier