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Bryan Keane/INPHO Chloe Watkins celebrates her goal with Lizzie Colvin.
# Road to Tokyo
Watkins and Upton give Ireland huge win against Olympic champions Great Britain
Ireland level three-match Belfast series ahead of Tuesday’s deciding match.

Ireland 2-1 Great Britain

ROISIN UPTON HELD her nerve from the penalty spot to give Ireland a huge win over reigning Olympic hockey champions Great Britain.

Sean Dancer’s side lost the opening game of this three-match uncapped series on Saturday, but a Chloe Watkins goal and Upton’s penalty saw them come from behind to win 2-1 in Belfast.

The sides meet again on Tuesday (3pm) in the deciding game of the series before attention turns to Tokyo where they will be rivals in the pool stage of the Olympic tournament.

After a first half in which both sides could have broken the deadlock, it was GB who deservedly took the lead with four minutes remaining before the break.

Sarah Evans drove the ball across the face of the Irish goal and Laura Unsworth was on hand to steer it past Irish stopper Ayeisha McFerran.

But a resurgent Ireland were level just three minutes after the restart as Watkins picked up the ball deep and ran at the British defence, switching on to her reverse before firing past Maddie Hinch.

The decisive moment came seven minutes from time as Anna O’Flanagan was tripped by Lizzie Neal as she fought her way into the GB circle.

Upton went left with her penalty stroke, and while three-time World Goalkeeper of the Year Hinch guessed correctly and got a glove down, it wasn’t enough to deny Ireland.

“Obviously, winning the game is great and that’s certainly what we play for,” Dancer told RTÉ Sport afterwards, “but what I’m happy about and proud of the girls for is the way that we played today.

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“We talked about really trying to step it up and take it to GB a bit more today and I was really pleased to see the girls do that.

“I think probably the key thing is us with the ball, trying to be a little bit more aggressive, trying to move the ball a little bit better and also, in the attacking third, trying to go a bit more at them.

“Use our skills, back ourselves. We do have some very good, skilful players and I want to see them try to take on any defence that they play against.”

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