Symmons hits 200 but Canada spoil the party

Women’s Senior International challenge match
Ireland 2 (Audrey O’Flynn, Gillian Pinder) Canada 3 (Hannah Haughn, Sara McManus, Holly Stewart)

Nikki Symmons was not given the win she wanted to mark her 200th cap as Ireland succumbed 3-2 to world ranked number 23 side Canada at a wet and windy Belfield.

Pre-game, she was presented with a portrait to commemorate the occasion, a truly phenomenal achievement as she became the first Irish sportswoman to hit the landmark caps total.

In addition, her Loreto club mate won her 50th cap while Emily Beatty lined out for a senior debut. Canada, though, came to spoil the party. On their side, they fielded three newcomers, Holly Stewart, Karli Johansen, and Kaelan Watson as well as new head coach Ian Rutledge presiding over his first match in charge.

They made the best of the early tussles, hitting the front in the 11th minute when Hannah Haughn netted the first goal of the game, calmy slipping the ball past the diving Emma Gray.

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Audrey O’Flynn levelled from Ireland’s third corner after two efforts were blocked down with parity maintained until the interval. But Canada subsequently pulled 3-1 clear midway through the half. Sara McManus got their second in the 40th minute from a penalty corner and while Ireland piled on the pressure.

Kaitlyn Williams stood strong in goal before newcomer Holly Stewart slotted a reverse stick shot into the corner of the net to put Canada up by two. Katie Mullan did get one back when she got on the end of Gillian Pinder’s pass with less than ten minutes left.

Speaking afterwards, coach Darren Smith said: “We didn’t have a good day today. We were well below our potential. I thought we lacked a little bit of courage in some of the options we took and lacked composure in certain situations. We were a bit anxious and rushed at times and that has caused us a few problems.”

Symmons, meanwhile, added: “It was a huge honour to receive my 200th cap in front of our home fans and was great to see so many familiar faces here at UCD. It was just disappointing though that we didn’t play particularly well as a team today. We need to regroup and come back stronger tomorrow to try to get the win”

Ireland: E Gray, S McCay, A O’Flynn, L Colvin, M Harvey, K Dillon, N Symmons, N Evans, K Mullan, N Daly, E Smyth
Subs: N Carroll, G Pinder, B Flannery, E Beatty, G O’Flanagan, N Gray, N Small

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