Ireland’s Women’s Hockey team pulled off a stunning penalty shoot-out victory against India in the quarter-finals of the Hockey World Cup to progress to the semi-finals.
Ranked 16th in the world and competing in their first World Cup since 2002, the Green Army were treading on unchartered territory heading into the quarter-final.
As expected, both teams started cautiously in the first quarter, with very few chances being created. India adopted a high-press to counter Ireland’s possession game at the back which left big gaps for Ireland to exploit if they could find the right pass.
The second-quarter saw chances fall to both sides. Katie Mullan delivered a quick ball from the right hand side to Anna O’Flanagan who deftly tried to flick the ball into the net. India’s goalkeeper Savita, was on hand to keep the ball out of the net. India created a chance for themselves but the presence of Ayeisha McFerran in goal was enough to see the Indian shot go wide.
In a game scarce of clear-cut chances, India got the best chance of the game in the final quarter thanks to a penalty corner. This was the only penalty corner of the game and it saw another amazing save from University of Louisville goalkeeper, Ayeisha McFerran. McFerran got down low to her right-hand side to keep the scores level and send the game into a penalty shootout.
After both sides missed the opening two penalties thanks to more terrific goalkeeping from Ayeisha and Savita, Roisin Upton opened the scoring in the penalty shootout.
Ayeisha McFerran who is regarded as one of the best shot-stoppers at the World Cup, pulled of another terrific save to give Ireland the chance of going 2-0 up in the shoot-out. Ali Meeke was up next and put Ireland two goals up after brilliant skill to send the ball into the Indian net.
India responded with a goal but Ireland just needed to score one more penalty to send them through to the semi-finals. With all the pressure on Chloe Watkins, she calmly stepped up and slotted the ball into the back of the net, sending the Irish into euphoria.
— International Hockey Federation (@FIH_Hockey) August 2, 2018
Head coach Graham Shaw said “I’m just so proud of the group of players. It was really difficult at times, India are a very good side but we dug so deep.
“To go to a shootout and bury some demons is also really important for us, I’m just full of pride. I felt if we could score two then we’d win because Ayeisha is an incredible goalie, she’s so difficult to score against”.
Ireland now face Spain, the World Cup’s top scorers in the semi-finals on Saturday, which can be watched live on RTE.
Ayeisha McFerran, Katie Mullan (c), Shirley McCay, Roisin Upton, Hannah Matthews, Zoe Wilson, Gillian Pinder, Chloe Watkins, Lizzie Colvin, Nikki Evans, Anna O’Flanagan.
EXIN Masters Hockey World Cup
The Hockey World Cup madness is currently in full swing, as Ireland also currently have Irish squads representing the nation at the EXIN Masters World Cup at Club Egara in Terrassa, Spain.
Today the Over 40’s played against the Netherlands and were defeated 2-0 in the quarter-finals.
The Over 50’s were up against Scotland in the semi-finals of the tournament after beating the USA 2-1 in the quarter-finals. The 50+’s beat Scotland courtesy of goals from Julie Doak and Ali Pigot. They now progress to the final which is played on Saturday at 17:30 Irish time. This can be watched here.
The Over 55+’s still have a chance of reaching the final themselves despite a 1-0 defeat to Scotland today. They will play Australia on Friday, 3rd August at 17:10 in a must win clash.