HOCKEY: Ireland beat Chile to secure place in final

Alex Speers was on target for Ireland
Alex Speers was on target for Ireland

Ireland beat Chile 1-0 in the final pool game of the Electric Ireland 4 Nations currently taking place at UCD securing them a spot in Wednesday’s final against World Number 4’s New Zealand.

In a match that saw young Chloe Watkins aged 22 securing her 100th cap Ireland secured a narrow win over Chile with a goal late into the second half thanks to striker Alex Speers.

Ireland started strong with numerous chances being created with a string of passes through midfield but the closing shot evaded the girls in green, including a penalty stroke opportunity in the 24th minute which was saved well by Schuler in goals for Chile. Ireland were forced to soak up a period of pressure deep into the first half but a well organised Irish defence marshaled by Cliodhna Sargent and Emma Gray at the back ensured Ireland’s clean sheet at the break.

Ireland finally broke the deadlock in the 57th minute when Gillian Pinder burst through from midfield on a great run picking out the experienced Alex Speers who finished to give Ireland the much needed 1-0 lead. Ireland ramped up the pace looking for a second to ensure their place in the final and had to cope for a period of three minutes with eleven outfield players as Chile swapped out their keeper for an extra outfield player but Ireland held strong seeing the match out until the end keeping the 1-0 lead in tact.

Commenting after the match Coach Darren Smith said: “It was a tough tight match, both teams knowing that a place against New Zealand was at stake in tomorrow’s final. I felt we had more opportunities, territory and possession deserving the victory but it was a closer match than we would have liked, this was because the Chilean team competed well looking for a win.

“The girls are looking forward to the opportunity to play against one of the best teams in the world for the second time in five days, we’ll need to contain their pace and direct approach. We need to play with our own confidence and we need to enjoy the occasion.”

Starting XI: Emma Gray; Cliodhna Sargent; Nikki Evans; Shirley McCay; Megan Frazer Capt; Chloe Watkins; Nicci Daly; Anna O’Flanagan; Gillian Pinder; Deirdre Duke; Ali Meeke

Reserves: Stella David; Emma Smyth; Alex Speers; Naomi Carroll; Hannah Matthews; Kate Dillon; Yvonne O’Byrne.

Finals Day

Wednesday 16th July

17.00 - 3rd/4th Play off: Canada v Chile

19.30 - Final: New Zealand v Ireland.