The Ireland Women’s Indoor hockey team have earned promotion to Division Two of the European Championships after winning five out of their six games in Bratislava.
This was the first time that Ireland have entered into the tournament after 28 years in the wilderness. Around the continent, usually the players in the National team play in both formats, outdoor and indoor, however in Ireland things are different.
The European Championships is a round-robin event, consisting of seven teams, where each team plays each-other once. The top two finishing teams would earn promotion.
On the opening day of the tournament Ireland defeated Portugal 5-0. With a number of players making their debuts this was the perfect result and start for the Girls in Green. Chloe Brown scored two before Sarah Patton and Sophie Barnwell added to the score.
Ireland then faced the tournament favourites and eventual gold medallists Spain. Spain had just come off an 18-0 win over Slovenia. They defeated Ireland 5-1 and kept to their pre-tournament favourite tags throughout.
The Green Army then followed this up with a stunning 4-3 win over Slovakia. Slovakia had won their previous two games and this proved to be the decider for second place. Ireland stormed back from 3-1 down in the second quarter to seal victory. Sarah Patton and Naomi Carroll netted within a minute of each other before Amy Benson swooped to score the winner.
Following that result, the fate of promotion was in Ireland’s hands. They would be required to win against bottom three ranked sides required to secure second spot.
Denmark were comfortably beaten 4-0 before the hapless Finland were dismissed 15-0 on Sunday morning. Ireland then wrapped up their final game by dispatching Slovenia by a 9-2 margin.
Victory for Ireland saw them claim the silver medal and promotion to Division Two, which will be played in two years time
Coach Dave Passmore believes this success can provide a launchpad for greater commitment to the short-form of the game.
“Working with great people is always rewarding but working with this bunch has been an absolute pleasure,” he said.
“They’ve come so far in such a short period of time, playing really good team indoor hockey.
“We have varied our tactics in every game and they’ve reaped the rewards.
“Hopefully this is something we and Hockey Ireland can build on for the future.”
“Going into Saturday’s games, we always expected the one against Slovakia to be the most difficult and so it proved.”