Mullan strikes again as Ireland add another top ten scalp

Four Nations Invitational
Ireland 2 (S McCay, K Mullan) Korea 1 (S K Cheon)
Ireland beat their second world top ten side in quick succession as they saw off Korea 2-1 at the Berlin Four Nations Invitational, adding the ninth ranked side to the scalp of Germany claimed last Thursday.

While they hung on at times against the Germans, however, they were composed and assured in bossing a ninth-rated Korea, rated six places above Graham Shaw’s side.

Indeed, with more accuracy in front of goal, they would have added to Shirley McCay and Katie Mullan’s third quarter efforts.

Katie Mullan scored the winning goal for the second time this weekend

In the first half, Ireland had the best of it with three penalty corners and an Emily Beatty strike well blocked by the Korean defence.

From Ireland’s fourth corner just after the break, McCay nudged home from close range on the rebound. Moments later, Anna O’Flanagan uncharacteristically let a golden chance slip after beating goalkeeper Soo Ji Jang.

Korea pounced to level the game in the 37th minute from their only penalty corner, Seul Ki Cheon whipping a drag-flick into the top corner.

It was a rare break, though, in a dominant second half from Ireland. Emily Beatty fresh-aired when clean through on goal having affected her own turnover but the winner was not long in arriving.

Deirdre Duke picked up the ball 70 metres out, embarking on a lengthy run before threading a delicious pass between the last two defenders to Mullan – who had also scored the winner against Germany.

She pulled the ball left away from Jang and fired home on her backhand for the 2-1 lead, a fine finish. From there, Ireland bossed possession for the remaining 18 minutes, scarcely giving up a half-chance.

It gives Shaw a positive frame of mind as he plots his final squad this week for July’s World League Round 3 event in Johannesburg where the 2018 World Cup tickets will be decided.

Speaking after the victory, head coach Graham Shaw said: “We controlled the phases a lot better today than we did against China.

“It’s very pleasing to see the areas we discussed being implemented and we’re very happy with the performance and result.

“This Four Nations has been invaluable for us in our preparation for World League in Johannesburg and we’d like to thank German Hockey for the invitation.”

Ireland ended up second in the rankings with Germany winning 3-0 against China in the final game of the competition, moving them ahead of Ireland on goal difference.

Ireland: G O’Flanagan, Y O’Byrne, K Mullan, L Tice, E Beatty, G Pinder, S Loughran, R Upton, L Colvin, N Daly, Z Wilson
Subs: N Evans, S McCay, C Watkins, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, D Duke

Korea: S J Jang, H Kim, Y Hong, E Cheon, E Cho, S K Cheon, H Cho, K Park, E Baek, Yuri Lee, J Kim
Subs: Y Kim, S Park, Yongsil Lee, Y K Cho, H Shin, Y Cha

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