Matthews’ last minute corner nicks victory over Japan

Women’s senior international test match
Ireland 2 (A O’Flanagan, H Matthews) Japan 1 (M Shimizu)

Anna O’Flanagan’s last minute goal saw Ireland’s women complete the Cork leg of their World Cup preparation with an upbeat 2-1 win over Japan at the Mardyke.

It was an even affair in the opening exchanges with Katie Mullan creating Ireland’s first chance as she turned from her marker and sent a snap-shot towards goal that was deflected narrowly wide.

Ali Meeke followed up that deflection by sending a ball across goal but the outstretched Naomi Carroll couldn’t quite reach. The Japanese goal came in the 12th minute when Minami Shimizu sent a carefully placed shot high into the net.

Grace O’Flanagan made a strong stick save from Japan’s first penalty corner but the goal had taken the wind out of the Irish sails slightly as Japan pressed for a second with Akiko Kato acting as the linchpin in midfield.

The Green Army came out with renewed vigour in the second half and Mullan found herself in the circle but couldn’t quite connect cleanly with the ball and Megumi Kageyama made the clearance.

Japan amassed a further three penalty corners but the Irish defence ably dealt with the threats. Anna O’Flanagan pulled her side level from a well-worked corner routine that saw her deflect home Hannah Matthews sweep from the top of the circle.

The final quarter saw the Green Army go up a gear again as Duke continued to cause the Japanese defence trouble with one effort going just wide and another setting up O’Flanagan in front of goal, only for Kageyama to make a super close-range save.

But the winner came in the 59th minute from another corner and Matthews sent a sweep through Kageyama to give Ireland the victory over the world number 12.

Next on Ireland’s schedule is a game with Chile on Thursday evening at 6pm before they face Italy at 2pm in Pembroke next Saturday.

The Irish Under-23s, meanwhile, drew 1-1 with the Chile senior squad with Jessica McMaster on the mark.

Ireland: G O’Flanagan, Y O’Byrne, N Evans, K Mullan (Captain), S McCay, E Beatty, S Loughran, L Colvin, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson
Subs: E Tice, N Carroll, A McFerran, C Watkins, N Daly, D Duke, A Meeke

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