Under-18 girls keep rolling with Belgian win; U-16 boys draw with the Dutch

Siofra O’Brien continued her hot scoring streak with two vital goals in Ireland’s 3-2 victory over Belgium U-18s. Belgium started the brighter of the two sides and from the first penalty corner rifled home to Jade Arundel’s stick side.

Although this was not in the game plan, Ireland were not deterred from their end goal – European domination. Within moments, Ireland were back in the game after some fine individual skill from Caoimhe Perdue down the right-hand channel, resulting in a penalty corner.

From the second phase, Christina Hamill pumped the ball back post on her open side where O’Brien got a crucial touch to guide home. In the third quarter, Belgium stepped up a gear and Ireland managed the phases well but couldn’t prevent another corner opportunity.

Belgium were again clinical, flicking into the stick side. Going into the final quarter, Ireland showed their physical superiority. They upped the tempo and gained large territory with Caitlin Sherin down the left hand side.

Belgium were still dangerous on the counter. Jade Arundel, Grace McLoughlin and Issy Delamer were able to mop up any Belgian threats.

Ireland had a number of corner opportunities won by Yasmin Pratt and Laura Foley. It was Issy Delamer’s flick that was deflected home once again by the in-form O’Brien on the back post. The sides were now level and Ireland went looking for a third immediately.

Holly Taggart and Katie Fearon were extremely solid in midfield, providing a fantastic outlet for the back four. The Belgians created some scoring chances, the biggest of which was dealt with by a cool, calm and collected Delamer, trapping a Belgian reverse on the line with the goal gaping.

Down the other end, Ireland created some pressure of their own through Katie McKee and Niamh Carey’s 3D skills. It was with five minutes to go that Ireland created some space down the left channel, turned out and found Delamer in space.

She fizzed a pass into the circle to Sophie MacDowell who provided the deftest of touches to lift the ball over the flailing keeper, 3-2 Ireland. With the timer ticking down, Belgium upped the pressure and opted for a kicking back but were unable to break down the Irish defence.

A second win from two games leaves Ireland top of the table. Man of the match was awarded to Hamill and Coach Stephen Arbuthnot hailed the performance as one of the best he’s seen from any Ireland side.

U-18 girls: Ireland 3 (S O’Brien 2, S McDowell) Belgium 2
U-16 girls (Wednesday): Ireland v Belgium, 11am

On the boys side, Ireland’s Under-16s produced a superb performance against the Netherlands, coming agonizingly close to victory in Nottingham.

The sides went scoreless for the first three quarters before Mount Temple’s Mark Duggan put Ireland in front with 12 minutes to go. The Dutch took their goalkeeper off with six minutes left and laid siege to the Irish goal in the closing phases, ultimately having a series of four penalty corners on the final hooter.

The fourth was eventually converted to end the tie at 1-1. The Dutch subsequently got a bonus point from the post-match shoot-out. The Under-18s, meanwhile, had a tough outing in a 7-0 loss to the Dutch.

U-16 Boys: Ireland 1 (M Duggan) Netherlands 1
Thursday: Ireland v Germany, 2.30pm
U-18 Boys: Ireland 0 Netherlands 7
Thursday: Ireland v Germany, 10am

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