Five-star Ireland cruise past sluggish Ukraine

UDG Healthcare Hockey World League Round 2
Pool A: Ireland 5 (E Smyth, A O’Flanagan, C Sargent, M Frazer, A Connery) Ukraine 0

Ireland cruised to a powerful opening victory in Pool A of the UDG Healthcare Hockey World League Round 2, beating Ukraine 5-0 at Belfield.

It gave them a solid base for the week which acts as the first qualifying phase of the 2016 Olympic qualifying process. Emma Smyth got them off to a superb start when she guided in a Katie Mullan cross just three minutes into the game. It came in a rip-roaring start in which Ireland had two further goals ruled out while a couple of close range chances also went a begging.

O’Flanagan doubled up on the quarter-time hooter as Nicci Daly – Ireland’s stand-out performer – tore down the right wing and picked out the striker. From mid-circle, she thumped through goalkeeper Tetiana Stepanchenko’s defences.

Cliodhna Sargent’s swept penalty corner strike extended the lead to 3-0 by half-time of a dominant display though there were more chances to build on the total.

The second half saw more of the same early on with Megan Frazer potting a penalty stroke 35 seconds into the half after Aine Connery’s shot was blocked on the line by a Ukranian body.

Connery applied a simple touch for number five from McCay’s clever angled shot in the 36th minute. With the tension out of the game, the next stages proved frustrating for the Irish as they created a glut of chances but could not add to their tally but they will nonetheless be satisfied with a comprehensive opening day victory.

Anna O'Flanagan celebrates making it 2-0 Pic: Adrian Boehm

Anna O’Flanagan celebrates making it 2-0 Pic: Adrian Boehm

“We could have scored a few more and were a bit wasteful but 5-0 is not too bad to start a tournament,” head coac Darren Smith said after the match.

“Ukraine arrived in last night and were probably a bit sluggish. What you would like to do is rise above that and be sharper. We lacked a bit of being clinical but also scored some nice goals.”

Next up, they play Canada on Sunday at 3.15pm in Belfield in their second group game and Smith is looking forward to that task.

“I watched them a month ago against New Zealand and they look like they are doing a good job. They are fit, aggressive and pretty hard nosed so it will be a good game and I reckon we will enjoy that.”

Ireland: E Gray, C Sargent, E Smyth, N Evans, S McCay, M Frazer, N Daly, H Matthews, K Mullan, A O’Flanagan, G Pinder
Subs: N Carroll, A Connery, C Watkins, L Colvin, K Dillon, A Meeke, A McFerran

Ukraine: T Stepanchenko, K Shokalenko, Y Kernoz, Y Shevchenko, K Samokhodchenko, O Derkch, Y Sitalo, V Stetsenko, N Honcharenko, O Hulenko, H Liashenko
Subs: Y Fadieieva, O Honcharenko, O Kurovska, I Stelnyk, Y Vorushylo, A Fadieieva

Lizzie Colvin lines up a shot Pic: Adrian Boehm

Lizzie Colvin lines up a shot Pic: Adrian Boehm

Canada 5 (B Stairs 2, H Haughn, T Culley, S McManus) Turkey 0
Canada made a confident first step forward as they saw off the world number 38 side Turkey with something to spare in the final match of day one. Hannah Haughn got them up and running in the seventh minute before Thea Culley applied a simple finish for number two.

Sara McManus’s corner bullet stretched the lead to 3-0 at half-time in spite of a number of good saves from Selin Guzeller. Brienne Stairs added another couple in the second half to complete the victory.

Pool B: Belarus 2 (S Bahushevich 2) Austria 0
Sviatlana Bahushevich’s pair of goals propelled Belarus to an opening 2-0 win over Austria to start their UDG Healthcare Hockey World League round two campaign in style at Belfield.

She was a constant threat and won an early penalty stroke which Austria’s Karin Stiefelmeyer saved brilliantly. Ryta Batura hit the post from Belarus’s first corner before Bahushevich eventually popped up with the first goal from a corner rebound to close out the first quarter.

Austria’s chances were fleeting with Julia Schrodt hitting the outside of the post with the pick of their chances.
But the tie was sealed in the 36th minute when Bahushevich thumped home a second with an excellent reverse-stick effort from mid-circle. Austria’s Viktoria Kruger had a corner strike saved off the line with five minutes to go and Belarus held on for a 2-0 win.

Chile 4 (D Caram 2, S Walbaum, A Venegas) Lithuania 0
Daniela Caram’s double and solo efforts from Sofia Walbaum and Agustina Venegas saw Chile get off to a comfortable start as they defeated Lithuania 4-0 in Pool B.

They controlled the play from the opening half and took the lead 21 minutes in via a scrambled Caram effort from close range. The second arrived a minute later when Walbaum applied a lovely touch to a corner move for a 2-0 half-time lead.

The South Americans continued that ascendancy into the second half with Caram finishing off an excellent team move for the third goal. Venegas then tipped in the final goal with four minutes left after a fine right-wing incision to earn the top spot in the table overnight.

Hockey World League Round Two (all at Belfield)
Saturday, March 14
Pool A:
Ireland (E Smyth, A O’Flanagan, C Sargent, M Frazer, A Connery) Ukraine 0; Canada 5 (B Stairs 2, H Haughn, T Culley, S McManus) Turkey 0
Pool B: Belarus 2 (S Bahushevich 2) Austria 0; Chile 4 (D Caram 2, S Walbaum, A Venegas) Lithuania 0

Sunday, March 15
Pool A:
Austria v Lithuania, 10.45am; Chile v Belarus, 1pm
Pool B: Canada v Ireland, 3.15pm; Ukraine v Turkey, 5.30pm

Tuesday, March 17
Pool A:
Belarus v Lithuania, 10.15am; Austria v Chile, 12.30pm
Pool B: Ireland v Turkey, 2.45pm; Ukraine v Canada, 5pm

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