Tri-Nations series: Ireland 9 (A O’Flynn 4, A Connery 2, G Pinder, E Smyth, K Mullan) France 0
Audrey O’Flynn’s quartet of penalty corner goals ensured Ireland opened their series of eight games in 12 days in comfortable fashion, exposing a gulf in class to beat an inexperienced France 9-0 at Belfield.
France initially proved tough to break down with 17-year-old Manon Bruneau making some decent stops in her second international game while the post came to her rescue twice as both Anna O’Flanagan and Deirdre Duke dinged the metalwork.
It took 18 minutes for the breakthrough to come, O’Flynn dragging home her side’s fourth penalty corner and her second – going to the same stick-side – was achieved from the seven set-piece of the first half.
The French did not have a single circle penetration in that opening period, packing the defence in order to frustrate Darren Smith’s charges. They had lost 9-2 to Spain a day earlier and are employing a brand new panel with three Under-18s and ten players with less than 20 caps to their name and were made to look very much a side ranked to places below Ireland in the world.
Another couple of flicks went past replacement goalkeeper Alienor Allain, starting a run of four goals in six minutes from the 46th minute. Smyth bagged the first from play with a thumping effort from mid-circle while Gillian Pinder mercilessly scored from a swift counter-attack as France were tempted out for a rare foray forward.
It left them horribly exposed at the back, conceding a three-on-one chance that left Pinder with just a back-pedalling defender in her way who was more keen on evasive action.
Katie Mullan got a lovely deflection to Megan Frazer’s excellent crash ball for 7-0 before Aine Connery, camogie-style, volleyed in her first on the hour and 45 seconds later scored a freak effort – the ball bouncing back off the post from a ball in straight to her on the flick spot to pot into the open goal.
Darren Smith’s side will hope for a bigger test this evening against Spain, ranked a place above them in the world rankings, at 6pm in Belfield.
The three teams repeat the format three times in the coming week with Ireland playing France on Sunday and Spain for a second time on Monday.
Ireland: S Davis, C Sargent, E Smyth, M Frazer, N Carroll, A Connery, A O’Flynn, N Daly, A O’Flanagan, G Pinder, A Meeke
Subs: C Brown, H Matthews, K Mullan, D Duke, K Dillon, E Beatty, E Gray
France: M Bruneau, C Sansonetti, A Rogeau, A Perrocheau, M Huvelle, M Billore, I Lardeur, A Minet, M de Galzain, I Plocque, J Hevin
Subs: D Lefrance, S Dain, J Martinot, C Roger, A Allain
Umpires: G Garrett, G Calderon
Friday, August 15: Ireland v Spain, 6pm
Saturday, August 16: Spain v France, 4pm
Sunday, August 17: Ireland v France, 4pm
Monday, August 18: Ireland v Spain, 7pm
Tuesday, August 19: Spain v France, 7pm
Wednesday, August 20: Ireland v France, 7pm
Thursday, August 21: Ireland v Spain, 7pm
Friday, August 22: Spain v France, 5pm
Saturday, August 23: Ireland v France, 3pm
Sunday, August 24: Ireland v Spain 3pm