Women’s Masters Over-50s World Cup final
Ireland 2 Australia 3
Ireland’s Over-50s Masters were denied a famous World Cup victory last week as home favourites Australia edged them out in a thriller. Ireland had reached the final off the back of a flawless group stage, not conceding in any of their build-up matches.
A 12 noon pass back was not going to be kind to Ireland on the hottest day of the tournament but manager Gill Jackson was prepared as usual and kept the players cool with ice and towels.
Coach Ben Epstein had his team well briefed for their first ever World Cup final and with great encouragement from the Irish contingent of the crowd gave a hearty rendition of Ireland’s Call.
Ireland started the game with high intensity and an attacking move by Kathy Shaw gave Cathy Walsh an early chance for shot on goal which she took with aplomb. This lead in the second minute gave the Irish team confidence and they continued to press the Australian defence with good attacks down the right by Roly Burke and Joanne O’Grady.
Early in the second quarter, Australia forced a penalty corner and, after a poor clearance, an infringement on the goal line resulted in a penalty stroke being awarded. A well-taken stroke gave keeper Pamela Chittick no chance in the Ireland goal.
In the third quarter, Ireland continued to break down the Australian possession with Annie Lawlor and Jane Salter being instrumental. At the other end, an Australian foray into Ireland’s half resulted in a crossed ball finding an Irish foot and a slight defensive hesitation gave the attacking team the edge and the ball was slotted home.
Ireland equalized in the final quarter after intricate passing between Maggie Hunter and Maura O’Neill giving Roly Burke a chance to attack the goal line and thread a pass to find Dymphna Hill who finished superbly on the left post.
At this stage, both teams were now pushing for the winner and it was Australia who capitalised in the gaps that opened up with a break away by top Australian goalscorer Claire Wright four minutes from time breaking Irish hearts both in Australia and those watching the live feed.
A final flurry by the Irish with Claire Bell winning a corner which was well cleared by the Australian keeper.
Nonetheless, this was an extremely successful world cup for the women’s over 50s team; a silver medal is Ireland’s best ever finish on the world stag. Ireland’s Cathy Walsh was equal top goal scorer in the 50s section with eight of Ireland’s 17 goals and best defensive record with three goals against.