** Words from Helen Johnston
The Irish women’s masters finished second behind England in all three age categories to record the highest finish ever at the Women’s Masters Home Nations which was held this weekend in Swansea, Wales.
The W50s recorded a 2-1 win over Scotland in the first match of day three. Ireland started the stronger of the two teams with Dee Wallace outpacing the Scottish defence down the wings.
Ireland were rewarded when Anne Snoddy scored a straight strike off Ireland’s first corner. Snoddy was instrumental in Ireland’s second goal, too, when she put in a hard hit which cut through the Scottish defence to find Dymphna Hill unmarked in the circle, who controlled the ball and slipped it past the advancing Scottish keeper.
The second half was a different story with sustained Scottish pressure. Ireland defended 13 penalty corners through strong first runners Julie Wilson and Dee Wallace and heroics in the Irish goals from goalkeeper Helen Roche.
When Roche was beaten, there were goal line clearances from Fiona Marshall, Anne Snoddy, Helen Johnston and Ireland’s W50 player of the tournament Maggie Hunter. Ireland did concede a stroke but held on for a 2-1 win. England beat Wales and finished first in the W50s section, with Ireland second and Scotland third.
The W40s also played Scotland knowing if they could win with a big score they could win their section of the tournament. They had the early pressure with Ireland W40s player of the tournament Clodagh McMoreland and Ali McSweeney creating chances.
However, it was Scotland who opened the scoring from a counter attack move. Ireland equalised soon afterwards when Lynn Mills finished off a well executed penalty corner to leave the half time score at 1-1.
Ireland pushed forward for more goals and got their second when Gillian Garrett took a quick free and crashed the ball into the circle for Mairead D’Arcy to deflect it in past the keeper.
Scotland, however, equalised soon afterwards when the ball took a deflection off an Irish stick at a Scottish short corner. Despite having a shot taken off the line Ireland were unable to find another goal and so the final result was 2-2. England again won the W40s section with Ireland finishing a strong second.
It was a similar story for the W45s who played out a 0-0 draw with Scotland. There were few clear cut chances created by either team with both midfields countering each other and failing to find the final pass for the forwards.
Ireland had the best of the play in the first half with Ireland W45s player of the tournament Julie Shaw running tirelessly. Scotland began to dominate in midfield in the 2nd half but neither team could find the net. The 0-0 result meant that England were again winners at W45s level with Ireland finishing a very creditable 2nd.
This completes the women’s masters tournaments for this season. Next year, the Home Nations will be in England in June, with a Masters European tournament in London in August. There will be a World Cup in Canberra, Australia in 2016.
The Masters are always looking for new players at 40, 45, 50 and 55 age groups, so anyone interested should look out for the Masters Interpros which will be held in Ulster in April 2015.