Ireland coach Graham Shaw hailed his team as an “incredible group of people” after they reached the semi-finals of the Hockey World Cup for the first time.
Outsiders Ireland, who came into the tournament as the second-lowest ranked team, reached the last four yesterday with a 3-1 shoot-out success over India following a tight goalless draw.
They will face Spain next tomorrow at 4.30, with a place in Sunday’s final up for grabs.
“Incredible, I’m just so proud. To come in here 16th in the world and now we’re in the top four, it’s a dream come true,” Shaw told BT Sport 2. “Sometimes these games are not really about performing, even though we all talk about it as coaches, it’s just about digging deep and having the discipline to defend when you need to defend and try and find that bit of quality in the final third.
“(We) probably didn’t do that today but I can’t fault the effort.
“I just thought they were incredible; an incredible group of people.”
Chloe Watkins converted the decisive penalty at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre in London after Ireland goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran helped keep out three of India’s four attempts. Watkins paid tribute to team-mate McFerran and felt determination was the key to success.
“We knew we have the best keeper in the game, we knew she was going to keep making saves, had faith in her and she just kept blocking,” said Watkins. “It ended up being a very tight game, India played really well, all credit to them.
“We just stuck at it and when it came down to one v ones we were confident.”