Green Army one win from a guaranteed Olympic qualifier place

Interim coach Gareth Grundie says last Sunday’s 8-1 mauling of the Czech Republic will have “no bearing” on his Ireland side’s outloook as they face a rematch in Saturday’s FIH Series’ semi-final at Banbridge.

The stakes are much higher this time around for the Green Army with victory assuring a direct Olympic qualifier next October.

The Czechs scraped into the final with a quarter-final shoot-out win over Scotland on Thursday evening after a low-quality 0-0 draw.

The Green Army sing Ireland’s Call prior to their game with Singapore. Pic: Billy Pollock

As such, the Irish side will take huge confidence into the tie. The understated Grundie, however, was typically careful not to ramp up expectations.

“We’ve done quite a bit of homework on them leading into the tournament so we know their strengths and won’t take anything for granted,” he said.

“The last game has no bearing on the outcome of this semi-final and we’ll make sure we are prepared as best we can be.”

Nonetheless, the World Cup silver medalists have been the stand-out side this week, scoring 21 and conceding just two in three games to date.

The win over the Czechs was their most complete performance against a side they have previously struggled against with Anna O’Flanagan gobbling up four chances.

She was deployed in midfield in the Singapore game in the midweek 11-0 win while Shirley McCay was used in the forward line. They could well revert back to more regular positions given the elevated stakes.

The win on Saturday will earn a final shot on Sunday against either Korea or Malaysia and while that would mean the key target will already be in the bag, that tie could also prove important for a few additional world ranking points.

Currently, Ireland are in the shake-up for a home Olympic qualifier with the points on offer here and August’s European Championships going a long way to aid that cause.

Korea would be a direct rival in that regard so finishing above them could be crucial further down the line.

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