Speers fires Ireland to 4-1 win over Scotland

Senior women’s international challenge match
Ireland 4 (A Speers 2, C Watkins, D Duke) Scotland 1 (own goal)

After the staccato performance against Wales, Ireland’s women bounced back with an impressive victory over Scotland in Newtownabbey on a day when Shirley McCay played in her 150th international match, donning the armband.

Played in wet and windy conditions, Alex Speers – who hit 150 caps a day earlier – got Ireland off to a great start in the third minute when she finished neatly from the left of the circle following good work by Nicci Daly to get to the back line

Deirdre Duke went close to extending the lead for Ireland midway through the half but saw her shot fly wide after Megan Frazer had played her in down the left.

The first Scottish attack on goal was registered in the 19th minute but the penalty corner set-play was defended well by the home side. Ireland’s set piece, though, worked well in the 23rd minute when Audrey O’Flynn’s initial shot was defended, but a second penalty corner accrued from which they doubled their lead to 2-0 when Speers finished from close range in the 25th minute.

Gordon Shepherd’s side did pull a goal back at 2-1 eight minutes from half-time when Holly Cram’s shot took a deflection off an Irish stick to land in the back of the net.

The hosts reclaimed their two goal advantage in the 49th minute when Nikki Evans’ effort on target was blocked by Amy Gibson only for Chloe Watkins to finish off high into the net for a 3-1 lead.

With Ireland reduced to nine players as a consequence of two yellow cards, Scotland piled on pressure but were unable to make the numerical advantage count.

But they did not take advantage and the fourth goal was scored in the 60th minute. Megan Frazer blasted an effort from the top of the circle, which was deflected into the net by Duke to round off the scoring at 4-1 to Ireland.

Darren Smith said it was a much improved performance: “Our intensity, work rate and effort was far superior than yesterday. To a degree I thought the score flattered us, they played some good hockey on a heavy pitch and we have got to be mindful that it is going to be another tough battle ahead on Thursday.”

Ireland will face Scotland two more times this week on Thursday and Friday with a 12pm start for both games.

Ireland: P Smithwick, N Evans, A Speers, S McCay (C), N Carroll, A O’Flynn, N Daly, N Atcheler, N Gray, G Pinder, D Duke
Subs: M Frazer, K Mullan, C Watkins, A O’Flanagan, A Meeke, E Beatty, G O’Flanagan (GK)

Scotland: A Gibson, N Cochrane, B Ward, C Ralph, H Cram, L Clement (c), A Wyllie, L Fawcett, N Kidd, S McGilveray, A Howie, N Skrastin, E Maguire, A Davis, A Brodie, S Robertson, N Lloyd, M McLellan.

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