Ireland’s Under-21 women go into their final Cantor Fitzgerald Four Nations tournament group game against Canada (3.30pm, Pembroke) on Monday with a draw or win ensuring them a place in Tuesday’s final against India.
They started off their campaign on Friday with a 2-0 success against Scotland with both goals coming in the first quarter via Abbie Russell and Jessica McMaster.
The first came when Erin Getty took a quick free to play in Niamh Carey before her UCD team mate Russell took over and let fly with a fabulous goal.
McMaster added a diving effort in the 12th minute but they could not build further on that despite controlling much of the tie at Serpentine Avenue.
Russell said afterwards of her effort and the game: “it was a good team goal. We tried to work on taking early shots off the back of the Canada [warm-up] matches where we should have had a few more.
“The Scottish did ramp up their defence [after the early goals] and made it really hard for us to get into the circle which is something we need to work on for the India tie.”
In game two, Ireland fell to a 2-1 defeat to India with a late counter-punch from Sharmila Devi. Laura Foley had broken the deadlock in the first half as their press worked well early on.
India got back on level terms five minutes into the second half from Reet as they had the best of the third quarter. They got their winner when Ireland were on the front foot, earning a series of corners, as the Asian side countered from one of them with Devi on the end of the attack.
Coach Dave Passmore said afterwards: “We played some really good hockey and showed we have some really athletic players. We have a skillset now where we can eliminate and play a passing game and created enough chances to have avoided defeat, if not to win it.
“We did set a target to not concede to a counter-attack goal in this tournament because we are playing that style of team in the Europeans and we did concede one today. It’s double-edged – you kind of want it to happen to know what it feels like and they won’t let it happen again. It does mean we have to get a result in our final game so that does put us under a bit of pressure which can also be good.”
“We had a series of five or six corners which isn’t an area we have had enough time yet to work on which is disappointing. I’ll hold my hand up there. We probably should have done more on it but we do have an eight-day camp in Alicante where we plan to work on those.
“We also have three of our main corner people not here who will be back then – Caoimhe Perdue and Caitlin Sherin are great off the top – but I am really proud of how we did today and showed what we are about.”
Canada lost their opening game 2-0 to India before beating Scotland 1-0. It leaves them on three points with Ireland but behind on goal difference.
As such, it means Ireland need a draw to reach Tuesday’s final. Looking ahead to Monday’s Canada tie, Passmore says there is no holding back.
“It doesn’t suit the Irish mentality to play for a draw. I’d rather we go out for the win and you do learn more about the players when you need to win. So we will see who stands up!”
Cantor Fitzgerald Four Nations Tournament Matches (Pembroke Wanderers HC)
Friday, May 31: India 2 (M Khan 2) Canada 0; Ireland 2 (A Russell, J McMaster) Scotland 0
Saturday, June 1: Scotland 0 Canada 1 (O McMahon); Ireland 1 (L Foley) India 2 (Reet, S Devi)
Monday, June 3: India v Scotland, 1.30pm; Ireland v Canada, 3.30pm
Tuesday, June 4: 3rd v 4th Play-off, 1.30pm; Final, 3.45pm