Ireland will be in the Qualification groups for the 2024 Olympics next January in either China or Spain following a 1-1 draw with Italy in their final game at the EuroHockey Championships Saturday morning. Group rivals Spain had played Scotland on Friday and surprisingly lost 2-1.
This meant that if Italy won today's game with Ireland all four teams in Pool C would have finished on four points. The goal difference advantage meant that as long as that victory was by two goals or less Ireland would still win Pool C and secure 5th place in the tournament.
That in turn would achieve the two basic goals for Ireland from these games: One, secure Ireland a spot in the Olympic Qualification groups taking place in January 2024, and two, keep Ireland at the elite level with a place in the EuroHockey Championships in 2025.
Both sides showed their discipline in a scoreless first quarter. The second quarter was also uneventful, featuring only a single penalty corner for the Italians.
The half time score was 0-0.
Things got interesting in the third quarter as Italy went 1-0 up when Sofia Laurito converted a penalty corner. As outlined earlier, a 1-0 defeat would not have been a disaster as Ireland would still have won Pool C on goal difference and 5th place would have been secured.
However, the Ireland team in 2023 are a different group and have a resilience that was missing in previous years. Trailing 1-0 at the end of quarter three, Ireland began the fourth and final quarter strongly and Naomi Carroll scored from open play in the 48th minute to make the score 1-1.
What was also remarkable about this game was that both sides were disciplined throughout, and the umpires were not tempted to issue any cards to either side.
The game ended 1-1, meaning Ireland had secured a point, winning Pool C and securing 5th place, meaning a guaranteed spot in both the Olympic Qualification groups in January 2024 and a spot in the elite tier of European Hockey in 2025.
Ireland: Ayeisha McFerran (GK), Sarah McAuley, Roisin Upton, Niamh Carey, Sarah Hawkshaw, Katie Mullan (C), Elena Neill, Charlotte Beggs, Caitlin Sherin, Katie McKee, Deirdre Duke
Subs: Michelle Carey, Hannah McLoughlin, Sarah Torrans, Naomi Carroll, Ellen Curran, Caoimhe Perdue
Italy: Lucia Ines Caruso (GK), Emilia Munitis, Dalila Mirabella, Federica Carta (C), Sara Puglisi, Mercedes Pastor, Sofia Laurito, Lara Oviedo, Ivanna Pessina, Camila Machin
Subs: Teresa Vittoria Dalla, Ailin Oviedo, Elettra Bormida, Antonella Rinaldi, Candela Caruso, Chiara Di Bella
Report sourced from Hockey Ireland.