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Mullan proud of Irish girls' effort despite late GB strike preventing them from claiming series success

 

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On the run: Ireland ace Chloe Watkins attempts to evade the lurking Susannah Townsend of Great Britain

On the run: Ireland ace Chloe Watkins attempts to evade the lurking Susannah Townsend of Great Britain

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

On the run: Ireland ace Chloe Watkins attempts to evade the lurking Susannah Townsend of Great Britain

Ireland went agonisingly close to winning their three match contest with Great Britain at the Dub yesterday, only to have victory snatched from their grasp by a late equaliser which earned the 2016 Olympic champions a 1-1 draw and levelled the series.

Roisin Upton, who scored the winner in Sunday's 2-1 victory that reversed Saturday's result and squared the series, put Sean Dancer's side ahead from the penalty spot with nine minutes left, but GB levelled through Issy Petter five minutes later.

The result was rough justice on the Irish, who had enough opportunities to win the game, including 13 penalty corners.

Ireland captain Katie Mullan said: "We were disappointed not to have won the game because we had enough chances to put it to bed.

"We have been through a lot of tough training over the past few months and you never know where you stand until you play matches, and it's been a very positive series."

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Katie Mullan

Katie Mullan

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Katie Mullan

Ireland will face GB in their last pool game at the Tokyo Olympics when the stakes will obviously be higher.

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Dancer used the final game of the series to give some of the less established members of his Olympic training panel a chance to impress.

Ards striker Zara Malseed, along with Loreto forward Sarah Torrans and rookie Muckross defender Sarah McAuley, were named in the starting line-up.

Ireland made a blistering start and, with less than two minutes gone, Anna O'Flanagan burst into the circle and forced Maddie Hinch into a smart save, and Malseed was unable to convert the rebound.

Ireland then forced three penalty corners in quick succession but an indifferent routine meant they were unable to get a shot away.

Great Britain had two unrewarded set-pieces of their own and, as a frenetic first half drew to a close, Ireland's Nicci Daly had a shot saved by the in-form Hinch.

Ireland dominated the third quarter, forcing a barrage of penalty corners, with Hinch performing heroics for the visitors on several occasions.

The game followed a similar pattern at the start of the final quarter, with the hosts earning four more corners, the last of which saw Giselle Ansley take Michelle Carey's shot off the line with her foot and Upton scored clinically from the resultant penalty stroke.

Ireland funnelled back in a bid to hold onto their lead but paid the penalty when they failed to clear their lines under some pressure.

Petter skilfully worked her way into the circle before finding the far corner of the net with a strong backhand shot for the equaliser. That proved enough to earn GB a draw.

Ireland coach Dancer will now be hoping to arrange more warm-up matches ahead of selection for the European Championship trip to Amsterdam from June 4-13, which will be followed by the Olympic Games in Tokyo - delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic - in late July.


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