Belfius EuroHockey Championship
Women’s Pool B
Ireland 11 (R Upton 4, A O’Flanagan 2, N Evans 2, B Barr, D Duke, Z Wilson) Belarus 0
Ireland ran up a huge win over Belarus to get their drive for a semi-final place back in gear as their penalty corner routine worked wonders in Antwerp.
After a close-fought first half ended 2-0, the Green Army went goal crazy with nine second half goals seeing them run up a huge 11-0 success. It sets up a showdown for a semi-final spot with Germany on Wednesday where a win would see Ireland reach the final four for the first time.
Sean Dancer’s side were in control from the start, creating chances inside the first few seconds. From their second corner in the fourth minute, Roisin Upton whipped in a drag-flick and she was denied another one a minute later by a defender on the line.
Belarus, in response, had a huge chance to equalise in the sixth minute but Svetlana Bahushevich’s back post volley was off course when it hit an Irish body. From the corner, Ulyana Kasabutskaya drew a brilliant save from Ayeisha McFerran shuffling across her goal line.
Anna O’Flanagan got the second on 13 minutes, a simple finish from the third phase of the fifth penalty corner after Zoe Wilson and Chloe Watkins had initial digs.
The second quarter was a quieter affair with Ireland creating more but Belarus stood firm to go in 2-0 down at half-time.
Ireland well an truly cut loose after the big break with their penalty corners the main avenue of success. Zoe Wilson thumped in a direct hit before Nikki Evans got the first goal from play, scrambling in from close range.
Upton completed her hat trick in the 39th minute with a third flick; Beth Barr deflected in the next and Evans added a second from a rebound. O’Flanagan, Deirdre Duke and Upton’s fourth goal took the score beyond double-figures as Ireland ended with nine penalty corner goals from 18 set pieces.
Top scorer Roisin Upton said of the win: “Delighted with the conversion rate – we knew we needed to be ruthless. We were disappointed with the England loss, especially as we dominated parts. It wasn’t the perfect performance but we will take it!
“There was a talking to at half time [from coach Sean Dancer]: ‘switch on, get back in the game, play to our standards’. Sean had a word about chasing the opportunity. You only get five game in this competition and not to waste any of them.”
And she is now looking forward to that showdown with the Germans.
“It’s great now that it is in our hands for a semi-final spot, somewhere we have never been before. The Germans will be tough and won countless medals from years gone by, defensively structured and there dangers going forward.”
Umpires: Y Makar (CRO), C Martin-Schmets (BEL)
Ireland – Belarus
4’ Roisin Upton (PC) 1-0
13’ Anna O’Flanagan (PC) 2-0
31’ Zoe Wilson (PC) 3-0
34’ Roisin Upton (PC) 4-0
38’ Nikki Evans (FG) 5-0
39’ Roisin Upton (PC) 6-0
41’ Beth Barr (PC) 7-0
42’ Nikki Evans (PC) 8-0
48’ Anna O’Flanagan (FG) 9-0
55’ Deirdre Duke (PC) 10-0
57’ Roisin Upton (PC) 11-0