Ireland were defeated by two late goals against Japan at UUC, Cork.
Japan, ranked 12th in the world, got off to the better start as they built continuous phases of possession.
But they had few real goalmouth chances, the main two being a reverse strike and a crash ball into a crowded circle, were saved by Ayeisha McFerran. Nicci Daly was also on hand to clear Minami Shimizu’s shot off the line.
Ireland pounced on any loose passes and attacked on the counter utilising the pace of Anna O’Flanagan. It was O’Flanagan who won the first penalty corner of the game with some tenacious running into the circle but Zoe Wilson’s strike was well saved by Megumi Kageyama.
Ireland upped the pressure as the half went on with Ali Meeke robbing Maho Segawa of the ball and feeding Deirdre Duke, winning her 100th cap, on the end line but the final slip back to penalty spot was well read and cleared by the Japanese defence.
McFerran continued her great game with two fine saves early in the second half.
Motomi Kawamura got an awkward touch in front of goal but McFerran made a good reaction save and moments later came sliding out of her goal to prevent Aki Yamada’s close-range strike.
The first goal came from a bobbly ball into the circle that saw Yukari Mano get the touch past McFerran in the 53rd minute.
The Japanese doubled their lead courtesy of an Irish error; a well won PC went awry and they countered at pace down the right with Hazuki Nagai picking the ball up at the base line and firing into the corner.
Ireland had a few chances as the clock wound down; Zoe Wilson sending a great ball into O’Flanagan and Pinder doing the same for Mullan but Kageyama made the late save.
Ireland: N Evans, K Mullan (Captain), S McCay, E Beatty, G Pinder, A McFerran, L Colvin, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, A Meeke
Subs: G O’Flanagan, Y O’Byrne, E Tice, C Watkins, N Daly, S Torrans, D Duke
Ireland vs Japan 4/7/18 7pm UCC
Ireland vs Japan 6/7/18 7pm UCC
Ireland vs Japan 7/7/18 5pm UCC