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Familiar foes as Ireland face India for semi spot

Wednesday, 1st August, 2018 4:52pm

Ireland will face India for a place in the semi-finals of the 2018 Hockey World Cup this evening. The girls in green were the first team through to the quarter-finals after topping their table, despite a 1-0 loss to England on Sunday.

India are familiar opposition for Ireland who already beat them in the pool stages 1-0, following the Irish girls shock opening round win over the USA. This pair of results allowed Ireland progress to the knockout stages regardless of the result against England.

A sensational effort so far, this is Ireland's first World Cup in 16 years - the national side were the lowest ranked team in Pool B with a 1-0 win over the number seven ranked side USA catapulted the team to the top of the group.

The number two seeds in the world, England edged the possession stats in Sunday's loss in the opening exchanges and it was their captain Alex Danson that drew the first save of the game. England won three penalty corners in the opening quarter but Cork's Yvonne O’Byrne put huge pressure on Laura Unsworth at the top of the circle to prevent her efforts being successful. Likewise, Shirley McCay made a phenomenal diving deflection to send Ellie Watton’s close range shot wide.

O’Byrne was also the creator of a chance for the Green Army but Deirdre Duke couldn’t slip her marker and score. The half ended with England notching up 13 circle entries but the discipline and structure of the Green Army defence limited their clear cut chances.

England eventually broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute courtesy of Giselle Ansley’s drag flick which was deflected into the net. Ireland very nearly had an equaliser in the dying moments as Anna O’Flanagan sent the ball into the circle but Duke couldn’t get the vital touch.

Head coach Graham Shaw told Ireland Hockey: “I cannot fault our players, I’m very proud of their effort. We need to learn from moments and phases in the game, but it’s a different atmosphere and environment than we’ve ever played in before, and I thought our players reacted superbly. From the very first minute they worked incredibly hard and stayed compact.”

The quarter-final against India will be shown live tonight (Thursday) on RTÉ 2 at 6pm.

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