Masters O-50s claim groundbreaking bronze medal

The Irish women’s Over-50s produced a stunning performance to defeat New Zealand 6-1 in the Masters World Cup bronze medal match in Rotterdam, concluding a superb tournament. Here are the reports from Gill Jackson and Helen Johnston from the competition.

Game One: Ireland 5 (Kathy Shaw 2, Dymphna Hill, Claire Bell, Dee Wallace) USA 0
The Irish Women Over 50’s got off to a great start to their World Cup Campaign in blustery Rotterdam, with a 5-0 win over a competitive USA team.

Inside three, minutes, Joan Dobson made a mazy run and slapped the pass to Marian O’Brien who was unlucky to miss the deflection. Following a number of surging attacks, Kathy Shaw was delighted to finish a great individual run with her first goal for the over 50s.

On 14 minutes, Shaw got the second and goal, after good work by Dymphna Hill and Siobhan Glynn. Just before the half time whistle, Hill scored a second after a fine Shaw baseline run.

The Irish O-50s team with their bronze medals in Rotterdam earlier this week

The Irish O-50s team with their bronze medals in Rotterdam earlier this week

Early in the second half, a slick interchange between O’Brien and Claire Bell set up vice captain Joanne O’Grady for a shot at goal, which the US Keeper deflected. Bell pounced on the rebound and scored. The final goal of the match came after good baseline running again from Bell to put it on a plate for Dee Wallace.

Captain Maggie Hunter had little to do at sweeper in this performance except applaud from the half way line. Coach Ben Epstein would like to improve the short corner conversion rate after 5 corners with no scores.

Game Two: Ireland 3 (Jane Salter, Claire Bell, Joan Dobson) Wales 0
Ireland Over 50’s women made it two wins from two beating Wales on a very hot Friday. 3-0 was the final score but the heavy sand pitch worked against the forwards who found it difficult to get power into their shots, keeping the score down.

Despite having all the play, Ireland needed an inspired Helen Roche in goal to keep out two Welsh attacks from mistakes in defence. The second save, was one on one, with Roche using her head – literally.

It was 0-0 until the whistle for half time brought a short corner. Captain Maggie Hunter’s strike found Jane Salter on the post to slot home for 1-0.

Ireland started the second half strongly again. The midfield of Joanne O’Grady, Joan Dobson and Dymphna Hill were causing all sorts of trouble for the Welsh and the speed of Kathy Shaw and Marian O’Brien tore the Welsh defence open on many occasions.

The Welsh defended brilliantly however and save after save was made by keeper and defenders off the line. There was a foot on the line at one point but the umpires ignored the appeals for a stroke and awarded a corner only.

Claire Bell caused havoc setting up many attacks and winning a number of corners. An intercepted hit out saw Kathy Shaw and Bell link up brilliantly for goal number two by the latter.

Number three came from a steal on the right by O’Grady, passed back to right back Maura O’Neill who slapped straight into the circle to a waiting Dobson, who calmly passed into the corner of the goal.

In between the sustained pressure from the Irish, the Welsh forced a couple of short corners but Ireland’s defence is well organized and very solid.

Game three: Ireland 3 (Cathy Walsh, Joan Dobson, Maggie Hunter) Netherlands 1
Ireland started the match off as the stronger team but, in the fifth minute, Holland had a breakaway and goalkeeper Sinead Guilfoyle was forced to make a great save at the top of the circle.

In the tenth minute, Ireland threatened the Dutch circle via Dymphna Hill coming down the right side and passing across to Cathy Walsh while a super steal from a Dutch defender by Claire Bell and she carried the ball into the circle, creating two great chances.

Maggie Hunter and Jane Salter worked very hard in defence to deny Holland the chance of attacking back. A great run by Marian O’Brien with a pass to Joan Dobson resulted in Ireland’s first goal as Dobson found the back of the net on 16 minutes.

A series of attacks by Ireland loaded pressure on the Dutch defence as Ireland enjoyed the lion’s share of possession throughout the first half. Three minutes into the second half, Ireland were awarded a corner which captain Maggie Hunter buried into the goal with obvious euphoria.

Eleven minutes gone, Dymphna Hill took a quick free hit, fed the ball to Cathy Walsh who slipped the ball into the bottom right hand corner to make it 3-0.

Holland made a break away attack which resulted in Guilfoyle being forced to save but, in an on-line scramble that saw Holland awarded a penalty stroke which was slotted home by the Dutch.

Ireland responded with great pressure in the Dutch circle which was rewarded by a penalty corner but even with two broken line runners being sent to half way line consecutively, Ireland failed to score from this opportunity.

Game four: Ireland 1 (Joan Dobson) Australia 2
Australia started strong and penned Ireland in their own half for the first 10 minutes, although created very few opportunities. The first shot from the Australians went wide on 10 minutes.

In this period, the Australians used a lot of aerial balls to secure possession while the first Irish attack saw Dee Wallace push through and play the ball towards goal, but Cathy Walsh just missed the touch at the right post.

This settled the Irish forwards and a few attacks were now being formed through Kathy Shaw and Dymphna Hill.

In reply, Australia scored an easy tap in after an innocuous ball skidded past Helen Roche in goal and trickled across the goal line. Attack after attack broke down at the forward line due to the energy sapping heat and the toll of the fourth game in as many days.

Short corners were awarded to both teams but defence dealt with them well and the score remained 1-0 at half time. Ireland regrouped and started the second half as they finished the first, gaining in confidence in each attack and became very steady in defence.

On eight minutes, Marian O’Brien and Joanne O’Grady, on the baseline, crossed to Dee Wallace in front of goal. She was stick tackled and a stroke was awarded without hesitation.

A query from the Australians and the second umpire formed doubt in the decision and it was overturned which robbed Ireland of a key chance.

Ireland won a further penalty corner which wasn’t converted. The winning goal came from a defensive mistake on 21 minutes into the second half and the Australian forward gave Roche no chance by placing a good strike into the goals.

Further attempts by the Irish forwards came to no avail and the final whistle blew with Australia winning 2-1.

Game 5: Ireland 0 England 1

Game Six: Ireland 2 (Joan Dobson, Maggie Hunter) New Zealand 0
Six games in six days was a tough draw for the Irish O-50s but they looked fresher than their opposition – who had a rest day – during the warm up which was now becoming a spectator sport with Ben Epstein orchestrating a dynamic warm up routine.

Ireland needed a win and as many goals as possible to keep their goal difference high as the final games in the pool were still to come with many possibilities still available including a final spot.

A fine performance from a hard working team got the deserved win with a 2-0 score to leave Ireland the team to chase.

In the first half, Ireland created many attacks from Dee Wallace, Kathy Walsh and Kathy Shaw who were well supported by the midfield trio of Joanne O’Grady, Joan Dobson and Dymphna Hill.

The New Zealand defence kept them at bay until the 21st minute when the first corner was converted after the first shot rebounded to Joan Dobson to slot home.

On the stroke of half time, Maggie Hunter scored from a penalty corner strike but was denied the goal by the umpire who claimed not to see the deflection by the New Zealand player.

The second half continued in much the same as the first with Ireland making all the play and they should have scored more than the one goal which was well taken after a lovely interchange of play by Dymphna Hill and Kathy Shaw resulting in a cracking finish by Kathy Shaw.

Ireland had to wait for the final placings from the results Australia v USA and Wales v New Zealand games but ended up agonisingly missing out on a final berth by a single goal on goal difference but were compensated with a place in the bronze medal match.

Bronze medal match: Ireland (Cathy Walsh 2, Dymphna Hill, Jane Salter, Claire Bell, Marion O’Brien) New Zealand 1
New Zealand started much better than Ireland and very quickly were awarded a corner which was well cleared by Helen Roche. 

This spurred Ireland to attack through a typical Claire Bell right wing run. She turned along the back line and placed a perfect ball on the flick spot for O’Brien to slot home. 

This lead didn’t last long and New Zealand scored at the left post from a direct stroke at their next corner, 1-1 at half time.

Ben Epstein used half time to settle his team and the second half was a different ball game. A quick aerial from Jane Salter put Kathy Walsh through on goal where she slotted ball home. 

Ireland’s third goal came after an intricate passing move when Kathy Shaw drew the keeper and slipped it to Claire Bell to score.

Ireland were now passing the ball with ease and more goals looked likely. A right side attack found Dymphna hill in space outside the circle and she quickly rounded the keeper and scored.

The fifth was scored by Walsh after a left sided individual run. The sixth and final goal came from a well worked corner that Maggie Hunter slipped back to Jane Salter to score at the left post.

Final score 6-1 and Ireland claim the bronze medal, the highest finish in masters hockey for an Irish team.

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