O’Flanagan treble earns share of three match spoils with Canada

Senior Women’s International Friendly:
Ireland 4 (A O’Flanagan 2, N Symmons, D Duke) Canada 4 (K Johansen 3, K Gillis); three-game series shared

Anna O’Flanagan’s hat trick saw Ireland take a share of the evening’s spoils against Canada and also split their three-game series with a win a piece prior to this 4-4 draw.

In a helter-skelter tie, Canada started off the tie impressively, drawing Lizzie Colvin into saving one corner effort off the line while another run saw them round Pamela Smithwick only to miss the subsequent shot.

But it was Ireland who took the lead in the 20th minute when Anna O’Flanagan picked up a loose ball and finished it over the advancing goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams. And they continued to up their tempo after the sluggish start with Deirdre Duke drawing a good start from Williams with Frazer popping the rebound wide.

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But the game was turned around in a crazy eight minute spell before half-time as Karli Johansen dragged home twice in three minutes from corners. In a rapid-fire flurry of goals, though, Ireland were back on terms when O’Flanagan finished following a quick turnover by Alex Speers who worked the ball to Lisa Jacob, making it 2-2.

Incredibly, Canada hit the front at the interval when Kate Gillis scored off another turnover. Johansen then made it 4-2 with a half hour to go when a low drag that was deflected in, hitting the roof of the net.

Ireland, though, fought back. They drew a good save from Williams from another corner while Canadian indiscipline led to a step up in Irish pressure. Nikki Symmons reduced the gap with seven minutes to go, guiding in a corner.

And they snatched the last gasp equaliser when they won a corner on the final hooter. It was scrappy but O’Flanagan came up with the final touch to share the game and the series.

Speaking after the game, Irish coach Darren Smith said: “I thought Canada were pretty well organised and were able to put pressure on us at the back and deserved their lead heading into the second half.

“To their credit, our girls hung in there and played some good hockey in the final part of the match. They were positive, passed the ball and attacked their circle relatively well. It’s a good way to finish and it was certainly an entertaining game for the spectators tonight.”

Ireland: P Smithwick, E Smyth, A Speers, S McCay, M Frazer, L Jacob, N Symmons, A O’Flynn, N Gray, A O’Flanagan, A Meeke

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