Impressive start with a score of Ireland 3 (R Upton 2, D Duke) Poland 0.
Ireland recorded a strong opening win in the Women’s EuroHockey Championship Qualifier B at the Sport Ireland Campus to head their group after day one.
Deirdre Duke opened the scoring in the second quarter with a deft touch to Katie Mullan’s cross and Róisín Upton added her 22nd and 23rd international goals to put the result beyond doubt.
It has Ireland top of the group after day one following a 1-1 draw between Turkey and Czech Republic, putting them in pole position for the one ticket to next summer’s European Championships, a key waypoint on the road to Paris 2024.
IRL ☘️ 3-0 🇵🇱 POL
🏟: Sport Ireland Campus#GreenArmy | #EHCQ2022 pic.twitter.com/ExguSLfCBM
— Hockey Ireland (@irishhockey) August 18, 2022
“It was always going to be a really tough game because we know the importance of these games and that brings a bit of stress. To get the result is really positive,” said coach Sean Dancer.
Poland – ranked 27th in the world, 14 places below Ireland – offered a new challenge to the Green Army, one which took the hosts took a while to break down.
In the first quarter, Michelle Carey and Hannah McLoughlin both had shots brilliantly saved by Marta Kucharska while Katie Mullan poked a chance wide.
They went in front after 19th minutes when Duke got the deftest of touches from a move set in motion by Caoimhe Perdue and crossed by Mullan.
Upton then slung home a powerful drag-flick from the Green Army’s second corner of the game to give extra daylight. Poland, though, fought back in the second half and had a couple of key chances which Ayeisha McFerran dealt with confidently.
Ireland missed out on two glorious chances to make the game extra safe with both Ellen Curran and Mullan denied at point-blank range by sub goalkeeper Anna Gabara.
It left some tension in the contest until Upton repeated the feat in the closing minutes with another low bullet for 3-0.
Thank you to all the fans who came out to the Sport Ireland Campus to support the Green Army. We are ready for day two tomorrow are you?
🎟: https://t.co/rZ8AVPYgPU#GreenArmy | #EHCQ2022 pic.twitter.com/ZGtmMfkf96
— Hockey Ireland (@irishhockey) August 19, 2022
“We are playing a tournament where we don’t really understand the opposition and so there is a lot of figuring out and a little bit of chess playing in the game,” Dancer said of the challenge.
“We got the better of the first half and they probably got the better of the second. 2-0, we were never fully safe and they still had a chance. Their keeper made some really good saves and if we had put one away, the game would have been done a bit earlier.”
Ireland face the Czech Republic on Saturday morning in their second fixture of the tournament at 1pm at the Sport Ireland Campus before completing the competition on Sunday against Turkey.
Ireland: A McFerran, S McAuley, M Carey, R Upton, S Hawkshaw, K Mullan, H McLoughlin, L Tice, N Carroll, C Perdue, D Duke
Subs: N Carey, S Torrans, C Beggs, K McKee, C Hamill
Poland: M Kucharska, M Drozda, A Katerla, J Balcerzak, M Rybacha, M Polewczak, S Tatarczuk, W Blaszyk, B Strubbe, N Suszynska, D Mazur
Subs: M Czujewicz, A Szot, D Skoraszewska, K Diurczak, M Pabiniak, P Slawinska