Ireland run riot against Czech Republic at the FIH Hockey Series

Ireland celebrate
Ireland celebrate
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Ireland made it two wins from two starts at the FIH Hockey series yesterday when the scored a tremendous 8-1 victory over the Czech Republic at Havelock Park.

They now need only a draw against lowly Singapore tomorrow to top their pool and edge closer to the final stage of Olympic qualifying.

Anna O’Flanagan scored four of the goals, with the others coming from Nicci Daly, who got two, Zoe Wilson and Sarah Hawkshaw in a terrific win for Gareth Grundie’s side, who dominated throughout.

The Ireland interim head coach said: “I was very pleased with the performance which was better than Saturday’s against Malaysia, helped by the drier under foot conditions which meant we were able to play at a higher tempo.

“We want to keep the momentum going now against Singapore and we will be treating the game like any other and taking nothing for granted.

“We cannot afford to take our foot off the gas.”

Ireland got off to a dream start when Daly scored the opener after only four minutes tapping home from close range after O’Flanagan’s shot had been saved.

Katie Mullan went close six minutes later when her backhand shot was well saved by the Czech keeper and Ali Meeke was next to be denied at the expense of a penalty corner but it came to nothing.

O’Flanagan was a constant threat and she went agonisingly close shortly afterwards when her shot went narrowly wide.

But the Dublin woman got her reward in the 15th minute when she fired home a pass from Chloe Watkins.

Ireland continued to dominate in the second quarter, forcing the Czechs onto the back foot with some swift and accurate passing.

O’Flanagan received a bad knock when she was struck by the ball but was able to resume after treatment and from the resulting corner, Roisin Upton dragged the ball agonisingly past the far post.

Megan Frazer then was foiled by the keeper from a penalty corner slip as Ireland began the second half where they had left off in the first.

In the 34th minute O’Flanagan, who was having a superb game, got her second and Ireland’s third, skilfully making space for herself before firing home on her open side after a neat dummy.

Hawkshaw then set up a chance for Lizzie Colvin but, once again, the Czech keeper came to the rescue and Shirley McCay fired over as Ireland controlled proceedings.

In the 42nd minute, Wilson, one of seven Ulster woman in the squad, added number four when she scored with a first time shot after an assist from McCay who had taken a quick free.

Two minutes into the final quarter, Hawkshaw got number five, diving to push home Lena Tice’s penalty corner.

O’Flanagan completed her hat-trick in the 49th minute, with a diving set-piece deflection and then added her fourth from a Gill Pinder cross before the Czechs pulled one back through Jinriska Reichlova with six minutes left.

But it proved only to be a temporary respite as Daly got her second two minutes later after being set up by Mullan to wrap up a hugely impressive victory.