Classy Ireland women hit Italy for seven
Ireland's women produced a devastating display to crush Italy 7-0 at Stormont yesterday and give themselves a boost ahead of the European Championship, scheduled for Antwerp later this month.
It was the team's best performance by some distance in the Sean Dancer coaching era, easily surpassing the 2-1 series win over Scotland in the Australian's first games in charge.
Italy are ranked 17th in the world - two places higher than the Scots - but they were no match for the rampant Irish yesterday with the second and final match of the series to come tomorrow at the same venue (3pm).
Team captain Katie Mullan, one of seven Ulster women in the squad said: "I was delighted with the display and the most pleasing aspect was that we scored a mixture of field goals and penalty corners and that's something we have been working hard on.
"Sean has introduced a new, more offensive style and it seems to be working well and it's certainly one I like as an attacking player.
"I also think it suits us although there's always the risk that you turn the ball over more than you'd like but we are still getting used to the new style."
Ireland had the game put to bed by the end of the first 15 minutes by which time they lead 3-0 after a trio of set-piece goals from Zoe Wilson (2) and Ellen Curran.
The hosts continued to dominate and Mullan made it 4-0 before the break with a fine backhand shot.
Ali Meeke, with a simple tap-in, Deirdre Duke and Lizzie Colvin - both from the edge of the circle - all got on the scoresheet in the second half to complete the rout.
After the second Italian game, Ireland face two internationals in Belgium next week as they round off their preparations for the Europeans in which they take on Germany, England and Belarus in the first phase.