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Brilliant Ireland make World Cup history

 

By John Flack

Ireland’s jubilant womens hockey team secured their place in the World Cup quarter-finals with a game to spare as they upset India 1-0 to win their group that also includes England and the USA.

Anna O’Flanagan’s opening-quarter goal was enough to clinch a battling win for a side fielding six Ulster players, including captain Katie Mullan.

The result, following on from Sunday’s win over the USA, means England, who face Ireland on Sunday, cannot qualify automatically for the quarter-finals.

O’Flanagan’s winner came through a sublime touch when she deflected Ulster player Shirley McCay’s low drive into the top right corner with 11 minutes played.

“For so many years we have been banging on the door of world hockey, come to big tournaments and fallen at the last hurdle,” said O’Flanagan after scoring the 64th goal of her international career, one shy of Ireland’s all-time leading scorer Lynsey McVicker, also from Ulster.

“We’ve come here and got as good results as we could hope for because we are playing to our potential and now we’re absolutely buzzing for that English game in front of a sell-out crowd.”

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