Ireland strike three times in last 10 minutes to nick draw

Women’s Senior International challenge match
Ireland 3 (M Harvey, C Brown, D Duke) Italy 3 (G Ruggieri, V Braconi, M Ronsisvalli)

Darren Smith’s Ireland side produced a thrilling late comeback to earn a second successive draw against Italy at Jordandstown, coming from 3-0 down in the closing 10 minutes.

Michelle Harvey, Deirdre Duke and Chloe Brown all scored in the latter phases of the tie to record the draw after Italy had built a three-goal lead at half-time.

The tie was Nicci Daly’s 100th in green, becoming the 28th Irish player to do so and the third from Loreto.

But it looked set to be a day to forget as the Italians took the lead 11 minutes in from a corner, Macarena Ronsisvalli latching onto a corner rebound.

And they built further on that lead with the best of the second period. Valentina Braconi roofed a shot in the 26th minute to make it 2-0 and Giuliana Ruggieri extended the lead out to three in brilliant fashion. She was picked out by an incisive pass and fired home from the top of the circle.

Ireland started to build their momentum in the third period as they found a bit of flow and rhythm but it was not until the final quarter that they made an impact on the scoreboard.

With Eugenia Garaffo in the sin-bin, Ireland took their chance to get off the mark with Harvey scoring from a switch left corner move.

Smith went for broke in removing the goalkeeper in favour of an extra player and it paid dividends. From a series of corners, another switch to the left was fed to Chloe Brown who slapped home number two with six minutes to go.

And the equaliser came in the 58th minute when Duke volleyed home a rebound off the pads for 3-3, capping the fine comeback.

It meant Ireland edged the three-game series with one win and two draws to their name as they start preparations for June’s World League Round 3 in Valencia.

Ireland: Stella Davis, Michelle Harvey, Cliodhna Sargent, Emma Smyth, Chloe Brown, Shirley McCay, Megan Frazer, Naomi Carroll, Hayley Mulcahy, Ayeisha McFerran (C), Lizzie Colvin, Nicola Daly, Hannah Matthews, Deirdre Duke, Kate Dillon, Ali Meeke, Yvonne O’Byrne, Emily Beatty

Italy: Natalia Leonoir, Celina Traverso, Marta De Guiro, Constanza Aguirre, Valentina Braconi, Macarena Ronsisvalli, Eugenia Garaffo, Dalila Mirabella, Martina Chirico (GK), Giulia Galligani, Elisabetta Pacella, Maria Mercedes Socino, Martina Lecchini, Chiara Tiddi, Aldana Lovagnini, Agata Wybieralska, Giuliana Ruggieri, Marcela Casale.

Umpires: Alison Keogh, Fiona Davitt

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