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Who Ireland's hockey girls can face in World Cup quarter-finals

England 1-0 Ireland

No way through: Irish star defender Shirley McCay blocks England’s Ellie Rayer
No way through: Irish star defender Shirley McCay blocks England’s Ellie Rayer

By John Flack

Ireland will face either Italy or India on Thursday for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

Graham Shaw's girls gave a battling display in yesterday's defeat by an England side containing eight Olympic gold medallists, but still finished top of their pool despite losing for the first time in the series in London.

Indeed, it took a last-gasp winner from Giselle Ansley to breach the heroic Irish defence in which Ulster keeper Ayeisha McFerran was outstanding.

Ireland had already reached the last eight as group winners with victories in their first two games.

They now await the winners of the crossover match between India and Italy which takes place tomorrow.

England sealed second place in Pool B and will now tackle Korea tomorrow.

The winners will face world number one ranked the Netherlands - who have scored 26 goals in their three matches - in the quarter-finals.

Ireland coach Shaw said: "I was really proud of the girls, they put in an incredible shift.

"It was disappointing to concede so late in the game. We defended so well at penalty corners which is good for the future but I wish we hadn't conceded 15!

"Now we'll get a good rest, watch Italy and India on Tuesday to see what we are up against on Thursday."

Ireland will be quietly confident of progressing as they have already defeated India in London while Italy are the lowest ranked team in the tournament.

India and USA drew 1-1 earlier, leaving those two teams and England level on two points apiece.

England made the stronger start and McFerran was by far the busier of the keepers, saving well from Alex Danson and then stopping a Laura Unsworth penalty corner.

Two more set-pieces followed in quick succession, one of which flew wide with Shirley McCay's diving block averting the danger from the second.

However, Ireland improved in the second quarter although Yvonne O'Byrne had to be alert to block another Unsworth penalty corner in the 20th minute.

Shirley McCay sent in a terrific reverse stick cross for England keeper Maddie Hinch to kick clear with Mullan waiting to pounce.

Six minutes after the restart, McFerran again performed heroics when she made a point-blank save and clearance from Sarah Haycroft.

England ramped up the pressure in the last quarter but McFerran was equal to everything thrown at her.

However, the incessant pressure paid off when, with seven minutes left, Ansley deflected home England's 14th penalty corner for the winner.

Ireland are in illustrious company in the last eight, as they are joined by the Netherlands, Germany, and Australia - all former World or Olympic champions.

Meanwhile, Ireland men had to settle for a 2-2 draw against France in the Four Nations series in Dusseldorf.

Once again they fielded a relatively inexperienced team - Garvey's Ryan Getty and Annadale's Callum Robson were winning only their second caps having made their senior debuts against Argentina on Thursday and Germany on Friday respectively.

It was Lee Cole who gave the Irish an early lead, converting a penalty corner but Aristide Coisne levelled 17 minutes later.

Stuart Loughrey restored Ireland's lead, deflecting in a cross in the third quarter but three minutes from the end Charles Masson equalised from a penalty corner rebound.

Belfast Telegraph


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