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Irish women's hockey team's Olympic dream ends after Great Britain defeat

The Green Army fell to a 2-0 loss.

Great Britain's Hollie Pearne-Webb and Deirdre Duke of Ireland.
Great Britain's Hollie Pearne-Webb and Deirdre Duke of Ireland.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Ireland 0

Great Britain 2

IRELAND’S HISTORIC OLYMPIC adventure has come to an end after Sean Dancer’s side fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of defending champions Great Britain in their final pool game at Tokyo 2020.

A must-win game to keep their debut Games dream alive and reach the quarter-finals, this was do-or-die for the Green Army at the Oi Stadium.

It was a big ask, Ireland yet to beat GB in a capped international match, though they did triumph 2-1 in an uncapped fixture in March. The England, Wales and Scotland combination, this is GB’s eighth Olympic appearance.

A rollercoaster week for the Green Army in Tokyo, they head home with one win from five in Pool A: the 2018 World Cup silver medallists started their journey on a high with a 2-0 win over South Africa last week, before a 4-0 defeat to overwhelming favourites Netherlands, a 4-0 loss to Germany, and that hammer 1-0 blow at the hands of old rivals India.

India’s dramatic 4-3 win over South Africa this morning blew the pool wide open, and that, matched this afternoon’s result, means India now progress.

Dancer’s side finish an historic debut campaign with a fifth-placed finish in the group stages, while GB now face Spain in the quarter-final after finishing third.

After a pre-match round of applause from both teams for Nicci Daly — who was playing her 200th game for Ireland — it was an extremely tight first quarter. Ireland conceded three dangerous penalty corners, though stood defensively firm with goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran, Lena Tice and captain Katie Mullan particularly bright sparks.

While there were some nervous moments, it was an encouraging start as the Green Army grew into the game more as an attacking threat with time.

Great Britain continued to threaten themselves in the second quarter, and their penalty corner efforts eventually paid dividends as Susannah Townsend’s close-range finish made it 1-0 with 17 minutes on the clock. After a low drag was cleared off the line, Townsend was on hand to dispatch the rebound for her first goal of these Games.

Daly came closest for Ireland in a promising attacking spell as half time neared, the lively Dubliner forcing Maddie Hinch to pull off a brilliant save.

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While Ireland went in search of that all-important equaliser, GB impressed on the counter-attack. Important that Dancer’s side didn’t concede again before the break, they held firm, just about shutting out several more GB chances to ensure it remained 1-0.

Just after the restart, Ireland were left with a big mountain to climb, however, as Hannah Martin turned in Ellie Rayer’s cross. It came as the killer blow, with three final-quarter goals required for Ireland to have any chance at progressing.

To their credit, they never gave up, even removing ‘keeper McFerran as 11 outfield players went in search of goals in the last five minutes.

It wasn’t to be, the goals never arrived, and it came as the end of the road — for now — for this incredible group.

Today’s starting teams

HOCKEY2 Source: Hockey Ireland/Olympics.

About the author:

Emma Duffy

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