Tri Nations tournament result:
Ireland 3 (N Evans, M Frazer, C Sargent) Italy 1 (A Wybieralska)
A composed performance saw Ireland beat Italy 3-1 in the idyllic surrounds of Mori near Lake Garda this evening to put them in the driving seat to claim the Tri-Nations and continue their strong recent form.
Nikki Evans smart early goal was built upon by captain Megan Frazer’s effort before half-time. Agata Wybieralska pulled one back for Italy early in the second half but a powerful penalty corner hit from Cliodhna Sargent restored the two-goal wedge.
It builds on their superb second place in the Champions Challenge I last month. Aine Connery came back into the side for the first time in 15 months while Loreto defender Hannah Matthews – daughter of former rugby international Philip – made her debut.
The win means Ireland need just a draw against Wales to claim this title and start off a busy summer of 17 international ties in confident mood with the target of improving the panel ahead of the Olympic qualification process in 2015. It means Ireland need just a draw against Wales on Friday to claim the Tri-Nations title.
Commenting after the match, coach Darren Smith was happy with the result: “It was good today against a tough Italian team. I am reasonably happy with aspects of the game.
“When you consider we arrived at midnight trained in the morning and then matched up against a team who if it wasn’t for the continental qualification would have been at the World Cup, we did quite well.”
“We created some good opportunities and had good periods of possession in their half. I also thought at the back we were solid. It will be interesting to see how we do against a Welsh team who are training hard for the Commonwealth Games. We are looking forward to playing them.”