Hawkes Bay Cup
Ireland 1 (D Duke) India 1 (N Toppo), Ireland win 4-3 in a shoot-out
Ireland ended the Hawkes Bay tournament in fifth place, two above their pre-tournament ranking, with a second successive shoot-out win as they saw off Rio-bound India for the second time in the tournament.
In the process, Cliodhna Sargent became just the third Irish woman to hit the 200 cap mark, following Nikki Symmons and Shirley McCay (for an excellent tribute from McCay to Sargent, click here).
Early on, India seemed content to give the Irish defence space to build from the back and, as a result, found themselves under pressure. It took four minutes for the first strike on goal as Anna O’Flanagan and Sinead Loughran combined, with the latter firing a reverse shot at Savita in the Indian goal. A minute later saw the first of 10 Irish penalty corners, none of which were converted.
The opening goal came in the 19th minute as Emily Beatty pirouetted around her marker to feed the ball to Nikki Evans, who in turn fired the ball into the circle for Deirdre Duke to deflect home.
India, however, punished the Irish profligacy from corners to level the game up in the 26th minute, Namita Toppo on hand to score from a rebound after Ayeisha McFerran’s initial save.
The second half was an even affair despite Ireland winning seven corners to India’s 1. Darts down the wings by Gillian Pinder paired with the 3D skills of Naomi Carroll and Nicci Daly’s trickery meant the Green Army were creating chances aplenty but the conversion never came.
Sonika and Megan Frazer both took yellows in the fourth quarter while, in the final minute, it appeared there would be another dramatic late goal flurry by the Irish as Zoe Wilson did well to get the ball to Carroll who drew the keeper but fired her reverse shot over the bar.
And so to a shoot-out once again. Chloe Watkins, Frazer, Gillian Pinder and Nicci Daly all scored while McFerran again showed her poise to stay on her feet as a pair of Indian attackers went off course, one beaten by the hooter, the other dribbling her shot wide.
Ireland: A McFerran, Y O’Byrne, C Sargent, N Evans, K Mullan, M Frazer, L Tice, S Loughran, C Watkins, N Daly, A O’Flanagan
Subs: N Carroll, G Pinder, H Matthews, Z Wilson, D Duke, E Beatty, P Smithwick
** To watch the shoot-out, skip to 42.05 (first half of the match not available)