Hockey World League Round 2
Ireland 10 (A O’Flanagan 2, K Mullan 2, R Upton, N Evans, C Watkins, R Barry, G Pinder, N Daly) Hong Kong 0
Graham Shaw says his Irish women’s side will work on their “conversion rate” despite a 10-0 win over Hong Kong that saw them top their initial World League Round 2 group in Kuala Lumpur.
They added the big victory to a 12-0 success against Kazakhstan and a 2-1 win over hosts Malaysia. It sets up what looks a relatively simple quarter-final date with Singapore who are ranked six placed below Hong Kong in the world rankings at 43.
Shaw saw his side lead 1-0 at half-time in their third game thanks to Roisin Upton’s first international goal before they struck nine times in the second half with Anna O’Flanagan and Katie Mullan netting twice each. There was also a goal on her 100th cap for Gillian Pinder
Head coach Shaw said there is still plenty for the side to work on if the side are to reach their target of a top-two finish.
“It’s always difficult when a team puts all 11 players inside the 25 line or sometimes the circle,” he said. “We struggled finding space in the first half but played with a lot more tempo and quality in the second half.
“We spoke about leading patterns in the second half and the goals started to come. We are very happy with topping the group as this was our first goal for the tournament but we will always look at having a higher conversion rate inside the circle and from penalty corners.”
It proved a largely frustrating first half for Ireland as they were scarcely engaged in their own half, leading
to a jam-packed Hong Kong circle. The opening goal proved elusive in the first quarter with both Chloe Watkins and Naomi Carroll seeing shots scrambled away.
Upton broke the deadlock in the 18th minute with a straight drag-flick as the volume of chances grew but Hong Kong were scarcely tempted out of their shell.
Both Nicci Daly and Katie Mullan saw reverse strikes saved, while Carroll displayed nice 3D skills to charge her way into the circle but the final shot flew wide.
The floodgates, however, opened wide in the second half with Nikki Evans’ deflection at the right post in the 34th minute, created by Mullan’s reverse strike, doubling the lead.
Three goals in three minutes as the third quarter wound down quickly gave the match a different feel. Watkins converted from a corenr in the 41st minute, before O’Flanagan managed to get on the end of a crash ball to deflect in.
Mullan rounded her marker and struck on the run to give her side a 5-0 lead. O’Flanagan got her second of the match as she fired home a rebound; a minute later, Rebecca Barry added her name to the scoresheet as she deflected a pass from Watkins to make it 7-0.
A similar barrage occurred in the 52nd minute when Pinder’s shot from the top of the D went through the keeper, a just reward on her 100th cap.
Mullan got the goal of the game when claiming the ball from mid-air in the centre of the circle before dragging the keeper right and finding the net from a narrow angle.
Daly rounded out the scoring two minutes later as she darted along the baseline, forcing the oncoming Pang to commit, before chipping the ball over her and into the goal.
In Pool A, Italy topped the group with three wins from three and no goals conceded with Wales second, Thailand third and Singapore fourth.
Ireland: A McFerran, C Sargent, Y O’Byrne, N Carroll, G Pinder, R Upton, C Watkins, A O’Flanagan (captain), Z Wilson, R Barry, H Matthews
Subs: C Cassin, N Daly, L Colvin, L Tice, S McCay, K Mullan, N Evans
Standings: 1. Ireland 9pts (+23) 2. Malaysia 6pts (+19) 3. Kazakhstan 2pts (-23) 4. Hong Kong 1pt (-19)