Dublin: 9°C Saturday 29 January 2022

Ireland dominate but Canada survive Olympic qualifier first leg in front of record attendance

Sean Dancer’s side were unable to break the deadlock at a very wet Energia Park.

Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Ireland 0

Canada 0

(After First Leg)

IRELAND AND CANADA played out a scoreless draw in the first leg of their Olympic qualifier in front of a record attendance of 6,086.

Both sides struggled in the torrential rain, but Sean Dancer’s side enjoyed most of the possession throughout the tie, where Shirley McCay earned her 300th international cap.

It was also an historic occasion, as the record for an Irish international women’s sporting event was broken, with a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics still very much up for grabs.

Ireland were awarded five penalty corners in a thrilling contest at Energia Park, all of which occurred in the second quarter.

kathryn-mullan-with-danielle-hennig Katie Mullan in action for Ireland. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Ireland asserted their authority in the opening seconds of the first quarter as Hannah Matthews and Chloe Watkins combined well to create a scoring opportunity.

Captain Katie Mullan and Gillian Pinder also featured, as the hosts continued to take control, while Nicci Daly also tried to threaten the Canada goal.

Bethany Barr impressed in the Ireland defence, as the visitors really only troubled the Irish goal twice.

Rachel Donohue was the first to get a shot off at Ayeisha McFerran in the 14th minute, while Madeline Secco also came close just before the end of the quarter.

Q2 began much the same as Q1, with Ireland still in control, but the poor weather conditions started to affect both sides, as passes went astray and the ball drifted out of play.

But Dancer’s side regained their composure, and the flood of penalty corners followed.
Anna O’Flanagan got them off the mark after just five minutes, as she punched the air with delight after earning her side’s first penalty corner.

Roisin Upton failed to convert, but more chances were to come. A second penalty corner was awarded when the ball connected with a Canadian foot inside the circle area, but again, Ireland failed to find the target.

anna-oflanagan-with-sara-mcmanus Ireland's Anna O'Flanagan. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Zoe Wilson was next up to attempt to score from a penalty corner, but the glove of Canada goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams deflected her shot away.

Ireland’s fourth penalty corner came just before half-time, as Wilson stepped forward to try and steer the ball home, but Canada survived, as the weather conditions worsened at half-time.

Nicci Daly also had a chance to score from play, but her close-range shot was denied by Williams.

The number of scoring opportunities dropped in the third quarter, as both sides tried to contend with the biblical rain.

Canada did manage to come close in the 11th minute, but McFerran reacted quickly to get off her line and block out the shot. Colvin also got back to make an important interception, but the hosts were still firmly in control, as the clock headed for the fourth quarter.

lizzie-colvin-with-natalie-sourisseau Lizzie Colvin on the ball for Ireland. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The sense of urgency was clear in both teams when the final 15 minutes of action got underway.

Daly had a half-chance when possession fell to her in the Canada circle, but the ball slipped under her stick and out of play.


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After Ireland had been awarded five penalty corners, Canada tried to secure one of their own in the closing minutes via video referral, claiming that the ball struck the foot of an Irish player.

It didn’t bring them any luck as Ireland stood firm to keep their goals clear.

Both sides continued to press for a goal in the concluding moments, with half chances coming to O’Flanagan and Natlie Sourisseau on either side.

But Ireland ultimately had to settle for a 0-0 draw, as they prepare for the second leg on Sunday night at the same venue.

IRELAND: A Ferran, R Upton, K Mullan (capt), S McCay, L Tice, B Barr, C Watkins, L Colvin, N Daly, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson.

Rolling Subs Used: L Murphy, N Evans, G Pinder, H Matthews, D Duke, S Barr, S Hawkshaw.

CANADA: K Williams, K Wright (capt), D Hennig, R Donohoe, K Johansen, N Sourisseau, S McManus, A Woodcroft, B Stairs, S Johnston, S Norlander.

Rollings subs Used: A Lee, H Haughn, M Secco, N Woodcroft, K Leahy, R Harris, E Wong.

Umpires: Michelle Meister (Germany) and Ivona Makar (Croatia). 

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About the author:

Sinead Farrell  / Reports from Energia Park, Donnybrook

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