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Birthday girl Bethany celebrates as Ireland net a semi-final spot

Ireland 11 Singapore 0

Happy day: Goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran and Chloe Watkins celebrate clinching place in last four at Havelock Park yesterday
Happy day: Goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran and Chloe Watkins celebrate clinching place in last four at Havelock Park yesterday

By Graham Hamilton

Bethany Barr couldn't have asked for a better birthday present as Ireland's women cruised into the semi-finals of the FIH series with a ruthlessly efficient display in hammering Singapore 11-0 at Banbridge's Havelock Park yesterday.

Ireland now face either Scotland or the Czech Republic in the semi-finals on Saturday when a win will secure them a place in the last stage of qualifying for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

Barr, who turned 24 yesterday, was pleased with the performance as she made only her 11th appearance in the green shirt - 270 fewer than Shirley McCay, who became Ireland's most capped player when she started the game.

One of seven Ulster players in the squad, Barr said: "I couldn't have asked for a better birthday celebration and I'm excited to have it with the girls.

"It will be a bit different from the usual though because I usually celebrate it with my twin sister Serena, so I will miss her but it was brilliant to get the victory."

Ireland totally outclassed Singapore although former Lurgan defender Barr saw room for improvement after they failed to score in the third quarter of the game.

She added: "I think it was a good performance but we dipped a bit and then came out and scored a few more goals so overall we're very happy to be top of the group.

"Recovery is key so we'll do that tomorrow and then get back into training, study the opposition, see what they're good at and what their threats are."

After sending an earlier penalty corner over the bar, Roisin Upton's second effort in the seventh minute was saved but Megan Frazer was on hand to volley in the rebound.

Two minutes later, Katie Mullan doubled the lead with a deft deflection after Anna O'Flanagan had delivered a teasing cross from the right.

Gillian Pinder added number three in the 11th minute with a clinical backhand shot after the Singapore defence had failed to clear its lines.

Upton hammered in a set-piece to make it 4-0 seven minutes later and Lena Tice added a fifth from Ireland's next award within 60 seconds with another direct shot.

Sarah Hawkshaw made it six by turning in a left wing cross from McCay and then Upton added her second with a carbon copy of her first with five minutes remaining in the first half.

After that scoreless third quarter, Ireland scored from their next set-piece in the 48th minute, Hannah Matthews on target.

O'Flanagan made it 9-0 with under five minutes remaining from another corner and Mullan brought up double figures a minute later with the best goal of the day, slamming home an Upton pass from the edge of the circle.

There was still time for number 11 as Zoe Wilson stole possession from a defender and slipped the ball home with the last play of a totally one-sided game.

Results: Pool A: Malaysia 3 Czech Republic 1, Ireland 11 (M Frazer, K Mullan 2, R Upton 2, G Pinder, L Tice, S Hawkshaw, H Matthews, A O'Flanagan, Z Wilson) Singapore 0; Final standings; 1. Ireland, 9pts; 2. Malaysia, 6pts; 3. Czech Republic, 3pts; 4. Singapore, 0pts; Pool B: Korea 1 France 0, Ukraine 0 Scotland 4; Final standings: 1. Korea, 9pts; 2. Scotland, 3pts; 3. France, 3pts; 4. Ukraine, 0pts.

Tomorrow: Play-offs: Malaysia v France (3.45pm), Scotland v Czech Republic (6pm)

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