Improved Ireland denied win late on by Canada in Softco Series

Softco Series Women’s International test match
Ireland 1 (Z Wilson) Canada 1 (B Stairs)
Ireland drew 1-1 with Canada, producing a markedly improved performance in the second of their Softco Series ties this weekend at Serpentine Avenue.

The green army made four changes from Friday with Aisling Naughton, Shirley McCay, Sarah Torrans and Ellen Curran coming in while Anna O’Flanagan, Hannah Matthews, Emily Beatty and Deirdre Duke were rested.

Ireland and Canada contest a high ball. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Ireland started with much greater purpose than game one with Sarah Torrans shot from the right squeezing across goal with Aisling Naughton unable to react to get a touch.

Katie Mullan had a chance deflected over soon after with a sharp effort in the fourth minute. Wilson put them in front from a stroke after Naomi Carroll was adjudged to have been bundled over mid-circle when leading for a ball in from the right.

Graham Shaw’s side continued to hold the majority of the play in the second quarter before Canada summoned a late salvo, Stephanie Norlander’s reverse keeping Ayeisha McFerran on her toes.

Into the second half, Ireland again started brighter with Sinead Loughran’s corner deflection taken off the line but the visitors upped their tempo with Natalie Sourrisseau to the fore. She reversed over the bar while McFerran had to boot away a Norlander shot, too.

The equaliser came with seven minutes to go when Brienne Stairs latched onto a loose ball at close quarters and slotted in. Her side continued to push on in the latter stages but could not find another major chance of note.

Reflecting on the performance, Shaw said: “We started the game the way we expect to start a game, building a lot of phases and chances and probably were a bit disappointed to only be one goal up.

“We were very dominant with 70 or 80% of the ball. We left a few chances behind us in that first half that we know, come the major competitions, that we need to take. The good thing is that we came out well at the start.

“On the flip side, we had a second half a little bit on the back foot. We need to get better at managing those phases because you can’t continue to keep giving the ball back and keep going backwards.

“You need people to be brave, take the ball in the pockets and win frees to help us play the game in their half. You can’t keep taking the safe options of going backwards and sideways because you will be pressed.”

He will now assess his options ahead of a series in Germany, starting on Thursday, which will feature two games against the host country and another one against Canada.

Ireland: A McFerran, A Naughton, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, R Upton, C Watkins, L Colvin, S Torrans, Z Wilson, E Curran
Subs: Y O’Byrne, C Sargent, N Carroll, S Loughran, A Meeke, L McGuire, G O’Flanagan

Canada: K Williams, N Sourisseau, D Hennig, , H Haughn, K Johansen, S McManus, H Stewart, A Woodcroft, B Stairs, C Karringten, S Johnston
Subs: A Lee, K Leahy, R Donohoe, N Woodcroft, S Norlander, A Thicke, R Harris

Umpires: A Keogh, L Clifford

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