Limerick’s Roisin Upton scores as Ireland draw 1-1 with Japan in Johannesburg

Ireland’s women draw 1-1 with Japan in their opening match of the World League semi-finals in Johannesburg.

A Roisin Upton goal was not enough to get the win for Ireland as Japan equalised with ten minutes remaining.

Ireland started well exerting pressure on the Japanese and not allowing them to settle.

The pace of the Irish press seemed to catch 11th ranked Japan off guard as both Anna O’Flanagan and Nikki Evans forged early chances to no avail.

Despite Ireland’s pressure the first real opening fell to Mami Karino who pounced on an error in the Irish defense but couldn’t get the better of the advancing Ayeisha McFerran who pushed her attempt past the post.

The teams went in level the break and with a 50/50 share of possession. Ireland were relentless, launching wave after wave of attack with Pinder and Duke to the fore.

The first penalty corner arrived in the 43rd minute with Zoe Wilson’s sweep drawing a save onto the defender’s foot, earning a second PC.

Ireland made no mistake this time and Upton fired one of her signature drag flicks left of the keeper for a 1-0 lead.

Japan levelled from their first penalty corner in the 50th minute, Shihori Oikawa sending the ball low past the diving Ayeisha McFerran.

Speaking to media after the game head coach Graham Shaw was happy with a share of the spoils.

“It was the first game of the tournament so we were happy to get points on the board,”

“It got a little frantic at times. We need to show a bit more composure and will work on that throughout the rest of the tournament.”

Ireland’s next game is against Olympic bronze medallists Germany on Monday.soc

Their other Pool A opponents are Poland and England.

Katie Mullan gave her post match thoughts as Ireland were pegged back late on by the Japanese.

Ireland: A McFerran, N Evans, K Mullan (Captain), S McCay, E Tice, G Pinder, R Upton, N Daly, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson

Subs: G O’Flanagan, C Watkins, Y O’Byrne, E Beatty, S Loughran, L Colvin, D Duke

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Raffaele Rocca