Torrans makes big impact on debut for much changed Ireland

Senior women’s international test match
Ireland 1 (J McMaster) Scotland 1 (C Watson)

Ireland’s women shared a 1-1 draw in their first of three test matches against Scotland this week as Jessica McMaster’s eighth-minute goal cancelled out a Charlotte Watson effort a minute earlier at Stormont.

It was Ireland’s first international tie on home soil of 2017 with coach Graham Shaw using a much-changed side from the one that played in the summer, earning World Cup qualification and retained their top tier European status.

Ireland celebrate their goal. Pic: Adrian Boehm

He handed debuts to teenagers Sarah Torrans and Hannah McLoughlin while there were ten changes from the side that played in August’s Europeans. Given all the changes, the coach was reasonably content with the performance for a side with an average age of 21.

“All in all, we are quite happy,” Shaw said of the tie. “We tried a few different things, a few different shapes, different people in new positions.

“We’ve got to look at the World Cup but we also have to look even further, beyond that to Tokyo. We have to make sure we have a squad full of different generations. We need to give the younger players, give them the opportunity and see if we can make a really competitive squad.”

As for the debutantes specifically, he added: “Hannah showed a lot of composure. She has a good physical presence and is calm on the ball. She needs to play a bit more but I was happy with how she went.

“Sarah was a real constant threat up there. When you have that speed, it’s really exciting to see her use it. We feel her skill-set and the physicality she has is so suited to international hockey.”

Indeed, for Torrans, it has been a particularly steep rise through the ranks, playing for the Irish Under-18s and 21s this summer, even more remarkable given that she spent the guts of nine months out with a cruciate knee injury.

“She was someone we were targeting at the time,” Shaw said of the injury, one which he was in attendance at the time. “We were pretty excited when she was coming through. When she picked up the injury, it was obviously disappointing but to come back like that and show the level to play Under-18, 21 and make her debut at senior is a testament to her.”

The tie got off to a flying start with Watson racing onto Lucy Lanigan’s clever through ball to guide past Clodagh Cassin with an early shot. Within a minute, Ireland were level with Torrans getting in between two defenders to get to the right baseline and cross for McMaster to turn home.

Sinead Loughran’s swivel and shot drew a top save from Lucy Camlin as Ireland finished the first quarter well. Scotland replied in the second quarter with the better chances, Laura Swanson hitting the bar on her backhand while a couple of corners also had to be dealt with.

The third quarter got scrappy with both sides trying to find cohesion with their new look sides. Again, Torrans went closest when she intercepted and fired just wide.

Coach Graham Shaw leads a team talk. Pic: Adrian Boehm

She also showed beautiful three-dimensional trickery in the closing minutes to beat a couple of players with her slipped shot going agonisingly wide of the left post. Scotland saw a third corner saved on the line by Lena Tice, leaving the honours even.

The two sides meet again on Tuesday evening at Banbridge at 7pm before returning to Stormont on Wednesday at 12.30pm.

Ireland: C Cassin, J McMaster, Y O’Byrne, K Mullan, E Getty, G Pinder, S Loughran, R Upton, L Colvin, D Duke, R Barry
Subs: L Murphy, S Torrans, L Tice, N Carroll, H McLoughlin, Z Wilson, E Curran

Scotland: L Camlin, B Ward, K Robertson, L Swanson, K Cuthbert, K Belch, S Jamieson, M Brown, F Bruce, K Holmes, R Condie
Subs: L Cruickshank, E Newlands, E Dark, C Watson, R Mack, L Lanigan, D McMurray

Partners of The Hook