Hannah McLoughlin’s goal saw Ireland’s women beat France 1-0 at the EuroHockey Junior Championships in Valencia, ensuring they will avoid the wooden spoon.
Less than 24 hours since having relegation confirmed, Dave Passmore’s side showed a determined will to bounce back and largely held sway to record Ireland’s first win in the top tier in over 15 years.
Controlling possession, Michelle Barry won an early corner while Niamh Carey’s great run caused problems in a lively opening phase.
While another corner went awry, Ireland hit the front when McLoughlin struck just before half-time following Christina Hamill’s excellent turnover.
More chances came in the second half with Michelle Caret’s turnover and sprint leading to a pass that went just beyond Jessica McMaster. The Queen’s woman also fired a reverse just over and a third corner flashed wide as the openings were there to put the game out of reach.
France did earn a corner with a minute to go which led to another but Ireland held on for a good win and now will play in the seventh place playoff on Sunday.
Ireland’s Under-21 men, meanwhile, will hope to pin down a promotion spot on Friday afternoon in Plzen Litice when they take on Scotland in the EuroHockey Junior Championships II semi-final.
With 18 goals in three games to date, they go in as heavy favourites, especially following four wins over the Blue Thistles in the past month in warm-up games.
But they will need to be wary of tournament top scorer Cameron Golden who missed most of those ties due to senior international duty. The game will be streamed live on www.eurohockeytv.org.
EuroHockey Junior Championship, Pool A: Ireland 1 (H McLoughlin) France 0
EuroHockey Junior Championships II, semi-final
Friday: Ireland v Scotland, Plzen Litice, 1.45pm