Irish coach Graham Shaw says his side has a full bill of health ahead of their crunch World Cup date with India this evening (6pm, live on RTE2 and BT Sport) as they look to make more history in London in their quarter-final.
“All good at the moment,” Shaw told Dublin City FM’s Declan Hughes. “Bodies have all held up quite well. Obviously you are going to pick up some niggles here and there as the tournament goes along but that’s tournament hockey and it’s something we’re very much used to.
“The rest days between games has made a huge difference compared to previous tournaments. All the players are fit and ready to go tonight.”
As for facing India once again, while he reckons a different format might have been preferable, meeting a new side, he is probably not too disappointed to miss out on playing either Argentina or Spain, the other alternatives.
“I think it’s a huge help the fact that we’ve been preparing for months to play against India in the Pool. We’re two sides that know each other very well, I don’t think there’s going to be many surprises.
“We know their team quite well. We know their strengths and their weakness and it’s now a matter of performing on Thursday , what team can perform at their best.”
Skipper Katie Mullan added, meanwhile, that while they know they can beat the opposition, it doesn’t make for an easier game than the alternatives.
“To be honest, no I don’t think so. It’s a World Cup Quarter final , he team that goes and performs better on that day ; the team that wants it more [will make the last four]. We have a game plan which we will stick to, but it’s not an easy route by any means.”
India impressed in their 3-0 win over Italy on Tuesday night; it remains to be seen whether that provided a release of tension for a side also playing on this magnitude of stage for the first time and how the extra rest days for Ireland factor in.
There’s an entire army behind the scenes driving the Green Army forward 💪🏼 Countless hours put in both on and off the pitch by our sublime coaching team to get us Quarter Final ready ☘️🏑 #HWC2018 #GreenArmy #ChaseIt #TeamWithinATeam #OneMoreSleep pic.twitter.com/g1RH5miydL
— Green Army (@IreWomenHockey) August 1, 2018
“I think we always put huge emphasis on the transition from defence to attack” Mullan said of the possible key battlegrounds. This game will be no different than normal. We’ll do exactly what we’ve doing , while taking something from the Italy-India game we’ll most likely take more from watching ourselves playing India in the pool stages.”
Whatever happens, Shaw is confident his side will leave nothing on the field: “We always go in with an attitude of having no excuses and mo matter what the result at the end of the game; it’s all about the performance on the pitch.
“We’re confident that if we do what we need to do and get the performances going, we’ll get the result that we want. But it’s not about looking ahead , it’s about taking this quarter final as it comes and focusing on that fully at the moment.”
Women’s Hockey World Cup, quarter-final: Ireland v India, 6pm (live one RTE2, BT Sport 1)