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Coach Graham Shaw is so proud of his battling Irish girls

By John Flack

Published 06/04/2016

Key role: Ulster’s Katie Mullan was involved in Ireland’s goal
Key role: Ulster’s Katie Mullan was involved in Ireland’s goal

Ireland's women continued their impressive form at the Hawke's Bay international tournament in New Zealand yesterday although two goals in the last eight minutes gave the host team - ranked fourth in the world - a 3-1 victory.

Ireland had led 1-0 at half-time but were punished in the final quarter when they were down to 10 players as the Black Sticks capitalised to seal the win with those late goals.

However, it was another good performance from Graham Shaw's side and follows Sunday's 4-0 win over India.

The Irish coach said: "We started well, built some nice attacks, controlled the phases and it was quite an even game.

"We're very pleased we performed to the level we know we can. We'll take the positives from it and learn from our mistakes."

Ireland took the lead when Nicci Daly latched on to an overhead pass from Ulster's Katie Mullan and her cross was deflected in by Nikki Evans.

Two minutes into the second-half, New Zealand levelled matters when Anita Punt rifled a penalty corner high into the net.

After Chloe Watkins had been shown a yellow card the Black Sticks took advantage of their numerical superiority in the 52nd minute when Stacey Michelson beat Ulster goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran with a terrific backhand shot.

Two minutes later, and with Ireland still down to 10 players, Charlotte Harrison finished clinically after a swift breakaway to complete the scoring.

Ireland, who are without their injured most-capped player Shirley McCay who broke a finger during a warm-up match, will now face Australia in the quarter-finals tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Ards can avoid a relegation play-off if they take a point from Saturday's EY Irish Hockey League clash with Railway Union in Dublin.

The Ulster champions hold a two-point advantage over UCC, who have just one game left, away to champions Hermes on Saturday week.

Randalstown have been granted automatic entry into the qualifying competition for next year's IHL alongside Lurgan and Belfast Harlequins.

Town were due to meet Trinity in a play-off on Saturday but the Dublin students have withdrawn due to exam commitments.

Belfast Telegraph

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