Ireland 4 (Jacob, Connery, O’Flynn, N. Gray) beat Czech Republic 1
The Electric Ireland Irish Women’s team got off to a winning start vs. Czech Republic at World League 2 today in Valencia despite losing an early goal in warm conditions in Spain. Darren Smith’s side fell behind in the 5th minute when a defensive mix up resulted in the ball somehow finding its way into the Ireland goal. It wasn’t the start the Green Army would have wanted but credit to the side led by Captain Alex Speers, they were up for a fight today and worked hard to get themselves back into contention in the important opening game.
Ireland forced a couple of penalty corners over the next 10 minutes which didn’t come off for the Green Army and Captain Alex Speers was unlucky to see her shot slide wide of the goal following a one on one with the Czech goalie. Ireland’s equaliser finally came off the back of their third penalty corner with Hermes Lisa Jacob finishing off a rebound following a good save from the Czechs.
The Green Army struck again before half time to turn the tide in their favour when Corinthian player Aine Connery trapped a crossed ball into the circle and expertly finished to give Ireland a 2-1 lead. The goal coming just before the half time hooter was exactly what the Green Army needed.
The 2nd half began with Ireland showing renewed energy and they quickly raced into a two goal lead when Audrey O’Flynn converted a penalty corner within 2 minutes of the restart to extend the lead to 3-1. Ireland controlled possession in the main from here on in and while their play didn’t result in vast amounts of clear cut chances the Green Army never looked in danger of conceding a 2nd goal to the Czech’s that would have made the game a tense affair. Towards the finish, Ireland managed to add a 4th goal through UCD’s Nicola Gray following good work from Emma Smyth to win the penalty corner.
Ireland were efficient in the remainder of game and potentially could have extended the lead further through two additional penalty corners but in the end, must be satisfied to run out 4-1 winners despite the early scare.
Speaking to hockey.ie following the game, Electric Ireland Irish Women’s Coach Darren Smith said “Our win was a reasonable start for us. The Czech team played as we expected, looking to exploit any counter attack opportunity. We need to be tighter defensively against Belarus, and be sharper and more creative offensively”
Smith’s side are back in action tomorrow where they will face Belarus at 10am Irish time. Live streaming of the game is available at http://www.fhcv.tv with live twitter updates at http://www.twitter.com/IrishHockey
Electric Ireland Irish Women Starting XI: Smithwick, Speers, Jacob, O’Flanagan, Smyth, Watkins, Symmons, N Gray, Atcheler, O’Flynn, Sargent
World League 2 Results & Fixtures – Valencia, Spain (All times local)
25/02/2012 Ireland 4-1 Czech Republic
26/02/2012 Ireland v Belarus (11:00am)
02/03/2012 Ireland v Spain (1:00pm)
03/03/2012 Ireland v Italy (11:00am)