Ireland end EuroHockey Championships on high
Anna O’Flanagan’s double earned Ireland a Ireland a closing win to secure sixth place at the women’s EuroHockey Championships in Amsterdam on Saturday, ending a rollercoaster week on a high.
Ultimately, the main targets of World Cup qualification and a first European semi-final proved out of reach with ‘goals scored’ denying both those outcomes in the group stages.
In that context, O’Flanagan – Ireland’s record goalscorer with 83 to her name now – reflected on a mixed bag of two wins, a draw and two losses.
“This European competition, the margins are so small,” she said after the win over Italy. “You are one goal away from a semi-final and then you are playing the Olympic champions for fifth; it’s crazy.
“It’s an amazing tournament to play in but also an extremely difficult one, the most difficult you will play in. We did some good things, some not so good so it is a big learning curve.
“A few things didn’t go our way for sure. Tournament hockey is a rollercoaster and we certainly had more downs than ups.
“We need to look at the fine details, improve on some small things and if we do that we can do some damage.”
O’Flanagan struck in the second and third quarters to set up the win before Ards woman Zara Malseed netted her first international goal in just her second full cap, giving an upbeat finish to a bruising tournament.
Megan Frazer and Naomi Carroll were both rested, joining Chloe Watkins in the stands with Muckross’s Sarah McAuley coming into the side for her first formal cap.
Róisín Upton departed in the third quarter with a head injury.
The first goal arrived in the 27th minute when Upton drove forward from the back. Her cross popped up dangerously off a defensive stick but O’Flanagan did not stick around to wait for a whistle, clubbing the ball baseball style into the goal.
The extra breathing room came in the 42nd minute when Sarah Hawkshaw used her pace to out-strip her marker on the right baseline and she laid on the perfect pass for O’Flanagan to sweep in her second of the day.
Malseed extended the lead with an expert tip-in, guiding in her first international goal from Katie Mullan’s intercept and cross.
They duly closed out the tie comfortably with McFerran never looking unduly troubled.
“We’ve been disappointed so far so it was really important for us as a team to play well but also to win and score some nice goals,” O’Flanagan concluded.
“So nice to finish on a high; it’s always been a big summer for us and it nice to get a bit of confidence going forward.”
Ireland: A McFerran, Z Malseed, R Upton, N Evans, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, H McLoughlin, L Holden, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan
Subs: M Carey, N Daly, H Matthews, D Duke, S McAuley, L Murphy
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