Ireland women secured top spot in their group and a place in Saturday’s semi-finals of the FIH Series Final with an 11-0 win over Singapore on Tuesday.
It crucially keeps Gareth Grundie’s side on track for a place at the Olympic Qualifying tournaments later in the year, provided they reach Sunday’s final at the tournament which has been hosted at Havelock Park, home of Banbridge Hockey Club, for the past week.
Roisin Upton and captain Katie Mullan both scored twice against Singapore as Ireland finished top of Group A, having previously beaten Malaysia (2-1) and Czech Republic (8-1).
Megan Frazer, Gillian Pinder, Lena Tice, Sarah Hawkshaw, Hannah Matthews, Anna O’Flanagan and Zoe Wilson were also on target.
While local girl, Bethany Barr, did not get on the scoresheet, it was still a special day for the former Lurgan star.
Barr, currently playing out of UCD, made her tournament debut on Saturday and celebrated by scoring her first internatinal goal.
Yesterday it was her birthday and helping the Irish side reach the semi-finals was a perfect present.
“I was excited to have my birthday here with the girls. Different way to have it, I am a twin and Serena and I would normally celebrate it together and I miss her today,” said Bethany.
“But it was great to get this victory (over Singapore) and go top of the group. So it is a good birthday present if you like.
“It was a good performance, started out strong in the first quarter and yes we dipped a bit in the third, but we came out in the final quarter and scored a few more goals.
“We are happy with the performance, happy with the scoreline and delighted to be top of the group at this stage.”
Barr added: “There are three days before we play again and recovery is key to the preparation.
“We will get back into training Thursday and Friday and really study the opposition once we know who it may be.
“We need to learn what they are good at, what their threats are and be really ready to go on Saturday.”
Barr admits video analysis cannot be under estimated.
“You can learn a lot from the opposition, even looking at your own video, the mistakes you make and what you can improve on for the next game.
“We will look at the Singapore game, what we did well and what we need to improve on and then look at our opposition and seeing where their threats are and what we have to do to ensure we can get the victory.”
Ireland can certainly expect a step up whoever it may be they will face in the semis and Barr said: “Coming into the game we will look and learn from watching the teams we could play.
“We know it will be a tough game, but we are also excited about the opportunity that it brings us.
“A win gets us into the final which would be brilliant.”
Barr added: “The support has been fantastic as well and hopefully the fans will come out again at the weekend.”
Interim head coach Gareth Grundie said “I’m pleased with the way we approached the game today (against Singapore).
“We started again with real attacking intent, creating plenty of chances and scored a few nice goals.
“We’re delighted to top the group and go through to the semi-finals on Saturday.”