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Ireland women's hockey team take step towards World Cup qualification with victory over France

Next up is a semi-final with Belarus on Saturday, following this morning’s 4-1 win in Pisa.

Ireland's players celebrate.
Ireland's players celebrate.
Image: Frank Uijlenbroek

IRELAND’S BID TO qualify for the Women’s FIH World Cup remains intact thanks to a 4-1 win over France this morning.

Eight nations are in Pisa this week aiming to earn the one spot up for grabs for next summer’s finals, which will be co-hosted by Spain and the Netherlands.

Despite a difficult first half, which ended scoreless, the Green Army eventually ran out comfortable winners thanks to goals from Róisín Upton, Hannah McLoughlin, Zara Malseed and Niamh Carey, with Guusje van Bolhuis on target for the French.

Ireland will now face Belarus, who hammered Russia 7-1, in Saturday’s semi-final (11am Irish time). If they can get through that, a place in Sunday’s final awaits.

“It’s something we talked about, sticking to the process no matter how long the game went on at 0-0, or even if we concede,” said Upton.

We were really pleased we stuck to the plan and broke through. We knew we needed to win corners; the execution in the first half wasn’t so good so we had to pick it up and nail it. Getting on the scoresheet early in the second half settled everyone.”

Niamh Carey added: “Knowing it was a tournament game, there is that added pressure of it being ‘must-win’.

“It was nice, though, facing a lower-ranked team, unlike [her twin] Michelle’s first cap against Holland [in June], knowing we would have more of the ball and I would get some touches than she would have had!”

Ireland: A McFerran, M Carey, R Upton, K Mullan, L Tice, N Carroll, H McLoughlin, C Watkins, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan, N Carey. Subs: E Getty, Z Malseed, S Torrans, D Duke, E Curran, S McAuley, L Murphy.

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France: M Petriaux, E Ponthieu, J Brachet, M Simon, A Lesgourgues, G van Bolhuis, E Verzura, I Lardeur, A Garot, D Gaspari, T-M Schubert. Subs: M Lahlah, Y Lhopital, G Verrier, E van der Zanden, N Roque, L Ehrmann.

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