Upton scores as Ireland lose last eight tie to strong Argentina side

Limerick’s Roisin Upton scored for Ireland Women’s hockey team in there 2-1 defeat to Argentina.

Third ranked Argentina did just about enough to defeat a resilient Irish side in today’s quarter finals of the World Hockey League in South Africa with Limerick’s Roisin Upton getting on the score sheet.

A very impressive defensive display from Ireland wasn’t enough to stop one of the tournament favourites, however all is not lost as Ireland can still clinch World Cup Qualification if they win their 5th place play off game.

Argentina started very brightly with Ireland goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran having to make an early save from a Rocio Sanchez strike. After early pressure from the Argentinians, Ireland began to settle in and had their first chance through Deirdre Duke in the circle which was saved after good work from Katie Mullan.

Ireland’s Hannah Matthews was impressive throughout and created one of their better chance when she sent an excellent pass to Nikki Evans on the edge of the circle but she was expertly dispossessed by  Noel Barrionuevo.

As the game went on, Argentina controlled possession for large parts but weren’t allowed many clear cut chances due the hard working Irish defence. The game’s first goal was scored in the 25th minute and was a result of an Irish mistake rather than good Argentina play. A mis-trap play ended up in the Argentinian captain’s possession who rounded the Irish and easily finished into an empty goal.

In the second half, Ireland altered their structure in an effort to push Argentina to the wing rather than through the centre where they were most effective, however Argentina did win the first penalty corner of the game which Julia Gomes finished well.

Ireland’s defence remained strong even after conceding two goals. Ireland looked to counter attack as much as they could as that’s where they looked most likely to score from. After a powerful run from Anna O’Flanagan saw Ireland awarded their first penalty corner, Limerick’s Roisin Upton superbly rounded it off with a nice drag flick finish. Ireland had other half chances to equalise but found it hard to capitalise on them against a resolute Argentine side.

These half chances encouraged the Irish and they won a second penalty corner towards the end of the match. They weren’t so lucky the second time round as Argentina held on to secure a place in the semi-finals.

Argentina had 38 circle penetrations throughout the match yet Ireland only conceded one penalty corner and allowed on five shots on target which indicates the resolution of their defence.

After the loss, head coach Graham Shaw said

“We are obviously disappointed losing that game. We started a little tentative and allowed them to control too many phases in the first half. The second half was a lot better and we put them under a lot more pressure as a result. We are very confident going into the 5th-8th playoffs and looking forward to the challenge”.

Ireland’s next game is on Thursday July 20th in the 5th – 8th pace play offs. If they win and finish fifth, the Irish women’s hockey team are guaranteed a spot at next year’s World Cup. This game will be shown live on BT.


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Diarmaid Scannell