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Ireland recorded their second win of the campaign this afternoon.
Ireland recorded their second win of the campaign this afternoon.
Image: Virginia Mayo

O'Flanagan strikes late to give Ireland priceless win over Belgium

Sean Dancer’s side have taken a big step towards retaining their European Hockey Championships status.
Aug 23rd 2019, 4:29 PM 6,591 1

Ireland 2

Belgium 1

DESPERATELY UNLUCKY NOT to advance through to the semi-finals, Ireland again produced a performance infused with skill and fight to take a major step towards retaining their place amongst the top eight nations in Europe.

Anna O’Flanagan’s late, late goal snatched victory for Sean Dancer’s side in stifling conditions in Antwerp, but it was no less than Ireland deserved after another brilliant display.

Victory now means Ireland are almost guaranteed to stay in the top tier of the European Hockey Championships for 2021, barring an unlikely goal difference swing in the final set of games on Sunday.

Bethany Barr’s deflected goal in the opening quarter put Ireland in the ascendancy and while Belgium battled back and eventually found an equaliser through Ambre Ballenghie, the Green Army conjured a late salvo.

With the clock ticking down and Ireland pressing for a winner, Shirley McCay’s reverse into the circle from this near touchline was touched on by Nicci Daly for the prolific O’Flangan to pop up and divert it home. 

Ireland now lead Pool C on six points and know a draw against Russia on Sunday would be enough for a fifth-place tournament finish.

“It was a game we played quite well in. We probably deserved to be another goal up at half time,” Dancer said.

“Belgium played really well in the second half. We probably went to sleep in a few areas, so they certainly got back into the game.

“It was really cut-throat to the end, and I suppose for me what was pleasing is that the girls kept fighting and we were good enough to score a goal in the last minute.”

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IRELAND: A McFerran, N Evans, K Mullan, S McCay, E Tice, B Barr, C Watkins, L Colvin, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke.

Subs: R Upton, G Pinder, N Daly, H Matthews, E Murphy, S Hawkshaw, A Meeke.

BELGIUM: S Limauge, J Vandermeiren, E Puvrez, L Versavel, B Nelen, A D’Hooge, S Vanden Borre, P Leclef, L Hillewaart J Boon, A Ballenghien.

Subs: A Raye, A Fobe, A Gerniers, E Sinia, AS Weyns, M Struijk, E Picard. 

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