Michelle Barry’s single goal proved just about enough to see the Irish Under-21 women through to the final of the Cantor Fitzgerald Under-21 Four Nations tournament.
Ireland required a draw or better to advance from their tie against Canada and went ahead via the Cork Harlequins woman’s fifth minute touch to a low Hannah McLoughlin push.
“I actually can’t believe it!” Barry said afterwards of her goal. “We went out to put in our best game; we needed to win and had the right mindset, pushing really hard in the first half. We dropped off a little bit and thankfully we got over the line.
“We had loads of good opportunities in that first half, maybe unlucky a little bit with the final pass or not getting a corner. We could have been a bit more clinical so hopefully for tomorrow we can do that.”
From there, Dave Passmore’s side had the best of things in the first half but were forced to withstand plenty of pressure in the second half, culminating in an Anna Costanzo goal four minutes from time.
But – with UCC goalkeeper Hannah Humphries making some key saves – they held on for the 1-1 draw which sets up a rematch with India on this afternoon at 3.45pm in Pembroke Wanderers.
It is all part of the side’s build-up to the EuroHockey Junior Championships with Barry adding the mix of styles offers plenty of interesting challenges.
“We are used to having Scotland and Wales come over but to have Canada and India especially, it’s a totally different game to what we are used to playing against so it’s a great opportunity to learn and test our tactics to compete against them.”
The Irish men, meanwhile, continue their FIH Series Finals preparations when they meet France on this evening at Lisnagarvey’s Comber Road at 7pm.
David Harte comes back into the panel in place of Mark Ingram as one of the goalkeeping options while coach Alexander Cox will be on the sidelines having missed the recent series win over USA.
Their campaign begins on June 15th, a week after the Irish women start their tournament in Banbridge.
All of their matches have now been confirmed to be broadcast live on the BBC website for the duration of the competition, beginning with a contest against Malaysia before they meet the Czech Republic and Singapore in the group stages.
Monday, June 3rd
Cantor Fitzgerald Women’s Under-21 Four Nations: Ireland 1 (M Barry) Canada 1 (A Costanzo); India 2 Scotland 1
Standings: 1. India 9pts (+4) 2. Ireland 4pts (+1) 3. Canada 4pts (-1) 4. Scotland 0pts (-4)
Tuesday, June 4th
Senior international: Ireland vs France, Lisnagarvey, 7pm
Cantor Fitzgerald Women’s Under-21 Four Nations (both at Serpentine Avenue)
Final: Ireland v India, 3.45pm
Third place playoff: Scotland v Canada, 1.30pm