The Irish women’s team defeated France twice last weekend. Ireland won the first clash 3-0, while the Irish formation was again too strong (4-0) in the second encounter. Both teams prepare for one of the remaining three WorldHockey Olympic Qualifiers.

First match: Ireland-France 3-0

Ireland dominated the majority of the game and despite winning three nil they will no doubt be disappointed not to convert more of the chances they created.

Ireland controlled the play from the start, their first circle entry coming in the forth minute by captain Cregan who passed the ball through the circle but there was no one at home to pick up. Ireland’s Louisa Moore got the first shot on goal only three minutes later but the French keeper was in position to make her first save of the night.

The Irish applied plenty of pressure to the French defense but the finishing touch continued to evade the Irish girls. Ireland won a total of five penalty corners in the first half and showed of some creative set moves and although coming close on a couple of occasions they couldn’t find a way into the back of the French net until the last set piece when O’Brien stepped up for the direct strike which skimmed off a defender’s stick to give Ireland a one nil edge going into half time.

As sheets of rain pelted down on the two teams they continued to battle it out under the National Hockey Stadium Lights. Ireland were first off the mark again in the fifth minute when they won their sixth penalty corner of the night a drag flick by Symmons was saved high to the left side of the goalie.

Ireland continued to create some excellent chances leaving them with opportunities in front of the French goal but the clinical finish just left Ireland short until the 58th minute when an excellent move by Speers saw her weave some magic through midfield to lay Moore up for a strike at the top of the circle which bulleted high and hard into the back of the net for a two nil Irish lead.

Ireland’s third and final goal of the night came through the third phase of a broken down penalty corner and Cregan was on hand to put the final touch to close out the match in Ireland’s favor.

Commenting after the match Muller was happy with how his team performed “I was really happy with our performance tonight, we created a number of good chances but we were not as clinical in our finish as we could be, but that’s something we are continuing to work on. The French were gritty tonight so this has been a good test for us.”

Second match: Ireland-France 4-0

Ireland played France in their second match against them this weekend and put in a convincing four nil victory in their last test before they compete in the Olympic Qualifiers later this month.

Ireland opened the game creating a few early chances but the French were on their toes to keep the Irish at bay. France too created more opportunities in the first half than they had in the whole of the match on Friday night and tested the Irish defense on a number of occasions including when they won the first penalty corner of the game in the 20th minute, which went wide of Keeper Healy’s post.

The only goal of the half came from O’Brien’s stick in the 33rd minute from a set piece penalty corner which O’Brien struck well to fire it into the back of the French net for a one nil lead at half time.

Ireland started the second half with more energy and doubled their lead only 6 minutes in when O’Halloran fed through a great ball for Speers to pick up and drive into the circle for a McKean deflection which Speers then got a stick to for the conversation. The Irish girls were not waiting long for their next when a long corner in was deflected and saved by the French keeper for Stewart to convert the rebound, an excellent way for her to celebrate her fiftieth cap today.

The French managed to find their way into the Irish circle on a number of occasions and forced Ireland to concede four short corners in the second half but a sturdy Irish defence saw to it that Ireland kept a clean sheet. Ireland copper fastened their victory in the 49th minute when McDonough dribbled along the back line and lobbed the approaching keeper for what can only be described as a superb goal.

Speaking after the game was Coach Muller “We did not play with much rhythm today but we managed to score some good goals.”

 “France were good opponents for us at this stage, they were battling matches and ideal for us”. He continued.

Source: Irish Hockey Association