Hockey – Ireland Earn First Ever Olympic Hockey Win
Ireland made a dream start to life as a women’s Olympic hockey team as they got the best of South Africa in their debut on this stage at the Oi Stadium.
Róisín Upton’s powerful low drag-flick in the ninth minute meant they held the lead from the outset, an advantage they eventually strengthened before the end of the third quarter via Sarah Torrans.
“You could see the smiles when we walked out,” Torrans said after the win, scoring in what was her first senior ranking tournament game.
“It was just fun; it was a long day waiting to get out on the pitch and it still feels so surreal. To do it with this group of girls is incredible It is just a pity we can’t do it with family and friends but hopefully we are doing them proud. It is nice to get on the score sheet in the first game; it is what an attacker dreams of and hopefully we can bring that into the next few games.
“Netherlands next, the best in the world. It’s always a fun game but we will come out fighting.”
Ireland got off to a fast start with Torrans and Nicci Daly storming down the right flank. Deirdre Duke’s trickery duly earned the first penalty corner of the match which Upton duly whipped into the left corner past the stick of Phumelela Mbande.
After that, it was a case of when rather than if Ireland would score again as they held the vast majority of the play against South Africa, the lowest ranked side in the tournament at number 16.
Three more corner chances came and went in the first half while Naomi Carroll pinged the post with a rasping shot from close range.
The African champions showed their threat in fits and starts with Nomnikelo Veto the danger player.
But it was the Green Army who always looked the more likely to push on. Torrans missed out from a great chance created by Katie Mullan’s driving run and diagonal ball into the danger zone. Anna O’Flanagan also stung the pads of the goalkeeper and Sarah Hawkshaw chipped one over.
The insurance goal eventually arrived in the 44th minute when Loreto team mates Hannah Matthews and Torrans connected. The former provided the pace on the ball into the circle which saw the ball deflected high in the air and Torrans instinctively batted down and into the net.
After that, there were further corner chances which went incomplete but goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran never looked unduly troubled in a composed defensive outing. Matthews was denied a third by Mbande’s brilliant diving stop but Ireland content to win 2-0.
Ireland next meet the Netherlands on Monday morning (2am Irish time). The Dutch eased to a 5-1 win over India with four second half goals.
Róisín Upton, who scored the sudden death stroke that sent Ireland to Tokyo – now becomes the first Irish woman ever to score a goal in #hockey at the Olympic Games. Some woman for one woman. #Tokyo2020 #TeamIreland ☘️ pic.twitter.com/3edfPaRhVZ
— Elaine Buckley (@ElaineBucko) July 24, 2021
Swimming – Ellen Walshe
Templeogue’s Ellen Walshe swam a time of 59.35 in her 100M Butterfly heat to take the win.
Walshe’s time wasn’t enough to progress through to the semi-finals but it was a great performance from 19-year old who was just 0.03 off her own Irish Senior record. At the 50M mark, Walshe was sixth in the race but a fabulous turn and gutsy final length saw her pull away with a final split of 31.06.
In January 2020, Walshe became the first Irish woman to break 60 seconds in the 100M Butterfly and with Walshe consistently swimming fast times – the future is bright for the young swimmer.
Walshe, who is coached by Brian Sweeney, came into the 100M Butterfly ranked 26th and finished 24th overall. She was 1.27s off Briana Throssell who took the 16th and final place, with a time of 58.08.
Next up for Walshe is her more favoured event, the 200M Individual Medley. Walshe is the current Irish Senior record holder where she broke the record three times in June at the Swim Ireland Performance Meet to subsequently qualify for the Games.
Rowing – Early Morning Session
In London 2012, Sanita Puspure was the only Irish rower representing Team Ireland at the Games. This morning in what is the sign of the times for Irish rowing, Team Ireland had three female crews hoping to secure their places in the semi-finals and final of their respective events.
The Four of Emily Hegarty, Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe and Aifric Keogh were impressive in their heat as they secured automatic qualification to the A final. The Irish crew finished second, just 0.23 seconds behind Australia who set a new Olympic best time of 6.28.76.
Australia led from the front, but it was neck and neck between the two boats for the entire race. Ireland found themselves 0.87s behind the Aussie crew of Lucy Stephan, Rosemary Popa, Jessica Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre at the half-way mark but the final 500M saw Ireland push hard to close the gap but ultimately run out of water.
It will give the Irish Four huge confidence and belief going into the final. Australia are the current World champions and have been hotly tipped as favourites to win the gold medal. Ireland are the current European silver medallists, finishing just behind the Netherlands a few months ago in Varese. It’s a remarkable rise for this Irish crew who have only been in this combination since March – Emily Hegarty in stroke, Aifric Keogh in bow, Eimear Lambe in 2 and Fiona Murtagh in 3.
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) July 24, 2021
In the other heat, the Netherlands had an easier task as they comfortably took first place with a time of 6:33.47 – over 5 seconds ahead of the Chinese crew in second place.
The final for the Women’s Four will take place on Wednesday morning and Ireland will fancy their chances to get on that podium – perhaps even take gold. They finished 0.23 seconds behind Australia in their heat and back at the European Championships in April, they finished 0.55s behind the Netherlands in the final.
In the Pair, Monika Dukarska and Aileen Crowley will take to the repechage tomorrow after finishing fourth in their heat. Competing against New Zealand, Denmark and Spain, the Killorglin duo missed out on automatic qualification by 0.43s. The pair were in third place for over 1500M but were pipped by the Spanish crew in the final few metres. The Spanish crew cranked things up and were stroking at a rate of 42 with 200M to go. Dukarska and Crowley will go against USA, China and Greece for a place in the semi-final.
In the Lightweight Double, Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen finished fifth in their heat. With the top two automatically qualifying for the semi-finals, the young Irish crew will compete in the repechage tomorrow.
Casey and Cremen were fifth at the halfway mark but weren’t able to close the distance. France won the heat with Italy in second place.
Stay Tuned Later Today For The Following
11:28 Swimming – Ellen Walshe – Women’s 100m Butterfly, Heat 2
13:15 Hockey – Ireland v South Africa – Pool Match