Women’s senior international test match
Ireland 7 (Z Wilson 2, E Curran, K Mullan, A Meeke, D Duke, L Colvin) Italy 0
Ireland’s pre-European Championship preparations took a marked step forward as they hammered Italy 7-0 at Stormont in the driving rain.
It came against a side that often struggled against, recording two wins in their last eight meetings with the last three outings producing draws.
In terms of a result, though, this was done and dusted early on. Zoe Wilson banged home two penalty corner hits in the first 11 minutes. From a fourth corner before the end of the first quarter, Wilson hit goalward again and Ellen Curran – elevated from last week’s Under-21s in Valencia with Liz Murphy – finished off.
A lovely Sarah Hawkshaw run down the line picked out Serena Barr who picked out Katie Mullan for a fourth goal before half-time as Italy struggled for meaningful periods of play.
The goals continued to flow in the second half with a turnover on the edge of the D opening an opportunity for Hawkshaw who held up play and picked out Ali Meeke for number five.
Deirdre Duke was an unused sub in the first half but was used to great effect as an “impact player” in new coach Sean Dancer’s rotation. She struck from the top of the circle for 6-0 and Lizzie Colvin got the seventh with 21 minutes to go.
There were big chances for more spurned while Italy did have one major chance skip wide of an open goal to keep Murphy’s clean sheet in place.
For coach Sean Dancer, it was a third win out of four since he took charge but was by the far most convincing performance to date.
While he said there may have been mitigating circumstances, he was delighted with the performance.
“Italy is certainly an improving team; they may not have had much preparation since the World Series or, as some teams do, go through their dips. I don’t think it was a true indication of where they are at.
“For us, it was really pleasing to see a lot of things we have been practicing unfold in a game. Winning an international game 7-0, you have got to be happy.”
The sides play again on Tuesday at Stormont at 3pm.
Ireland: L Murphy, R Upton, N Evans, K Mullan, L Tice, G Pinder, S Barr, L Colvin, S Hawkshaw, Z Wilson, A Meeke
Subs: S McCay, B Barr, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, E Curran, D Duke
Italy: N Schinoni, C Traverso, E Bianchi, T Dalla Vittoria, E Pacella, C Tiddi, F Carta, J Singh, M Busechian, L Oviedo, S Laurito
Subs: E Munitis, C Carosso, S Puglisi, S Cesanelli, C Cusimano