Reality check for Irish women as China hit them for five in Berlin
Following their first ever win over Germany 24 hours earlier, Ireland were brought back to earth with a bump when they lost 5-2 to China in their second game of the Four Nations tournament in Berlin yesterday.
However, two goals in the last 10 minutes put some gloss on the scoreline for the Chinese after Ireland had been in contention for most of the game.
It was the first meeting between the sides since the Irish were denied a place in the Rio Olympics by a penalty shoot-out defeat at the qualifying tournament in Valencia two years ago.
This time around, it will be a place in the 2018 World Cup at stake for both teams, who will attempt to qualify via the World League 3 tournament in a few weeks time.
National coach Graham Shaw will reduce his squad from the 20 players that are Berlin to 18 for the trip to South Africa after the Four Nations event, which concludes with a game against Korea tomorrow (11am UK time).
All five Ulster players started yesterday and it would be a major surprise if any of them failed to make the cut as they were among the most impressive in the two opening games in Germany.
Goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran was kept busy early on yesterday, making two saves from penalty-corners in the first few minutes.
China broke the deadlock in the 10th minute when Lang scored from the spot after a set-piece had been kept out by an Irish foot.
Chloe Watkins levelled early in the second-half in similar fashion after a foul in the circle but China made it 2-1 through Zhong before Roisin Upton equalised with a fine solo effort.
Peng made it 3-2 before the end of a frantic third quarter and then late goals from Zhang and Peng sealed China the win after Ireland had withdrawn their keeper.
Meanwhile, Ireland's U-21s lost 2-1 to Scotland in the first of three weekend internationals at the Dub, Edel Nyland with the consolation goal after the visitors had led 2-0 at the break.