Two from two for Irish women in Prague

Women’s EuroHockey Championships II
Ireland 3 (Y O’Byrne, N Carroll, C Brown) Ukraine 0

Munster women Yvonne O’Byrne and Naomi Carroll set Ireland up for a second win in two days as they beat Ukraine 3-0 in Prague.

Shirley McCay lines up a pass

Shirley McCay lines up a pass

The win confirms Ireland will play in the semi-finals of the EuroHockey Championships II as Graham Shaw’s fresh-faced side made another confident step forward, backing up Saturday’s 7-1 success against France.

With seven changes to their line-up from last month’s World League Round 3 panel and a new coach in charge, both ties represented banana skins but were dispatched in good style.

After an early exchange of corners, O’Byrne got a deserved opening goal 13 minutes in when she dived to deflect Cork Harlequins’ club mate Cliodhna Sargent’s swept shot on goal over the hapless Tetiana Stepanchenko.

O’Byrne has been primarily employed as a defender for the national panel but revelled in midfield in a dynamic performance. For the most part, Ireland were well on top but did need to be wary of the Ukraine’s counter-attacks. Megan Frazer cleared one corner effort well from one such moment.

Gillian Pinder was denied by the post from another strong Irish attack while Hannah Matthews miscued a corner shot at the injector’s spot that went dangerous, keeping the gap at 1-0 at half-time.

The pressure eventually led to the second goal with 22 minutes remaining. Carroll was the beneficiary as a half-stopped effort bounced her way with Stepanchenko out of position and she used her camogie skills to volley home.

Matthews kept the sheet clean with an excellent volleyed save with a couple of minutes to go before Chloe Brown added an extra flourish to the scoreline on the final whistle with a drag-flick to the top left corner to close out the win.

Reflecting on the game, coach Graham Shaw said: “We’re happy with a 3-0 score line. We know that it wasn’t the performance that we are looking for but we’re in the semi finals which is most important.

“I thought Ukraine worked very hard and made it very difficult for us. But we’ll review the video and look forward to the next match on Tuesday”.

Next up is a final group game against the Czech Republic who have also won both their games to date. They play at 4.45pm (Irish time) on Tuesday.

Ireland: A McFerran, C Brown, K Mullan, S McCay, M Frazer (c), N Carroll, G Pinder, C Watkins, N Daly, H Matthews, C Sargent
Subs: Y O’Byrne, K Lloyd, D Duke, K McDonald, A Meeke, E Beatty.

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