Ireland’s four game uncapped series against Great Britain at Bisham Abbey provided plenty of food for thought for coach Sean Dancer as they ended with three defeats and one draw for their week’s work.
In game one, despite a concerted second half performance, they fell 3-1. Anna O’Flanagan struck in the third quarter off the back of a Katie Mullan ball into the circle to reduce a 2-0 half-time deficit.
But Britain snagged a penalty corner goal in the second half to stretch out their advantage in this first of four ties to be played between now and Sunday.
The tie saw Cashel’s Caoimhe Perdue become the first woman from Tipperary to play for Ireland since Pam Smithwick in 2016, getting a quarter of the game for Sean Dancer’s side.
Otherwise, Chloe Watkins stood out in midfield while Shirley McCay’s big save off the line augmented a strong performance, making a series of key interceptions at the back.
In game two, Sarah Torrans got the only Irish goal with a peach of a solo goal, taking on a free hit herself before unleashing a rocket of a shot as they went down 4-1.
Game three was the high point with a 0-0 draw coming from a much more composed performance with Watkins, Roisin Upton and Hannah Matthews providing assured performances in the spine of the team.
Lizzie Murphy made a couple of key saves while the game could have been won had a couple of corners been converted.
In the final game, Ireland conceded six times in the final quarter to scupper what had been an impressive performance to that point.
Hannah Matthews’ goal from a short corner and a Deirdre Duke strike from open play, slipping home a reverse-stick finish under the keeper from close range, had Ireland 2-1 up at three-quarter-time.
But a volley of goals from Shona Mccallin, Ellie Rayer, Giselle Ainsley, Laura Unsworth, Grace Balsdon and Izzy Petter turned things around dramatically.
Ireland will next face Scotland before the final squad for the European Championships is announced.
He will expect to have goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran available once again following the conclusion of her Dutch season with SV Kampong.
The Larne woman ended the season with a second successive clean sheet as her side drew 0-0 with Hurley to finish in eighth place.
That concluded a tricky season in decent fashion; Kampong sat bottom in March before a change in coach helped them finished strongly, picking up 10 points in their last six games.
Also in Utrecht, Kinsale man David Harte’s season will continue into the playoffs with Kampong finishing the regular season in second place after a 6-3 success against AH&BC Amsterdam. They will meet HC Rotterdam in the playoff semi-finals.
In the US, former Catholic Institute player Anna Horan helped the UConn Huskies reach the final four of the NCAA Division One championships. They dismissed Rider University 5-0 in the quarter-finals of the competition.