Ireland lose to New Zealand in Dublin

Ireland's  Nikki Evans
Ireland's Nikki Evans

Ireland 0 N Zealand 3

Ireland lost 3-0 to the world number four ranked team in the final of the Electric Ireland Four Nations taking place at UCD on Wednesday.

In a match that saw a much improved Ireland from their previous encounter unleash attacks and goal scoring chances on this top nation.

Ireland gifted the Black Sticks with their first goal just three minutes in when a defensive error set Krystal Forgesson up for a free shot at the top of the circle which left keeper Emma Gray no chance.

Ireland regrouped quickly and minutes later Shirley McCay at the back sent a great line ball up to Naomi Carroll who slipped to Nikki Evans but their efforts yielded no goal.

Moments later Ireland were tracking back Forgesson diving to meet Webster’s pass but Ireland kept the effort out.

Ireland were forced to soak up pressure late into the first half but a solid looking defence team kept calm while Emma Gray in goals batted away numerous attacks.

New Zealand doubled their lead in the 22nd minute when Krystal Forgesson shot from a narrow angle to bang it in at pace making it Ireland 0 New Zealand 2 before the break.

Ireland came out fighting after the break Gillian Pinder setting the tone bursting through to set up Nikki Evans who worked well to find circle space but the ball just ran away and no shot ensued.

Plenty of attacking waves came from the Irish side coming through from defence and midfield who combined well and with penalty corners and open play opportunities but the goal just wouldn’t come. New Zealand too had plenty of chances as the game ensued in an end to end fashion, Emma Gray in goals for Ireland in particular pulling off top drawer saves to keep the black stick efforts out.

With only minutes to go Ireland suddenly found themselves down to 10 when a yellow was shown and with hardly a chance to breath New Zealand pounced Sophie Cox this time finishing to put the match beyond Ireland’s reach.

Commenting after the match Coach Darren Smith said: “It was a big improvement from Saturday to Wednesday, we tackled and defended better around the circle. The way we handled New Zealand’s attacking corner where they scored five from set pieces on Saturday and none today was a big difference. We created some good attacks especially in the second half which was good to see.

“We enjoyed the opportunity to play New Zealand, one of the best teams in the world, along with two quality nations in Chile and Canada. The Electric Ireland 4 Nations has been hugely beneficial now we look forward to playing France and Spain in August as we continue our World League preparations.”

IRELAND: Emma Gray, Cliodhna, Emma Smyth, Nikki Evans, Alex Speers, Shirley McCay; Megan Frazer, Chloe Watkins; Anna O’Flanagan; Gillian Pinder; Alison Meeke

Reserves: Stella Davis, Naomi Carroll, Nicci Daly, Hannah Matthews, Deidre Duke, Kate Dillon, Yvonne O’Byrne