Could Ireland pull off one more major shock and complete the fairytale campaign?
Full-time: Ireland 0-6 Netherlands
Good afternoon and welcome along to the Lee Valley Stadium in London for our live coverage of the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup final between Netherlands and Ireland.
Graham Shaw’s side have exceeded all expectations during a magical campaign and after shootout wins over India and Spain in the quarter and semi-finals, are now just 60 minutes away from becoming world champions.
Ranked 16th in the world coming into the tournament, Ireland are already guaranteed a famous silver medal but have their eyes on a bigger prize as they look to pull off one more major upset.
Netherlands, however, are the defending champions and seven times winner of the World Cup, with the Dutch in formidable form in London over the last fortnight.
It will undoubtedly be Ireland’s biggest test of the campaign but after the drama of yesterday’s defeat of Spain, have nothing to lose against the number one ranked side in the world on the biggest stage.
The action gets underway at 4.30pm and we’ll bring you minute-by-minute updates right here.
Ireland arrived at the stadium a short time ago and were in good spirits ahead of the biggest game in Irish hockey history.
TEAM NEWS: Graham Shaw has just announced his starting XI for the final, and unsurprisingly the Ireland head coach has stuck with the same line-up from yesterday’s semi-final win over Spain.
There is, however, bad news on the injury front with Megan Frazer ruled out of the game with a hamstring injury having recently returned from a serious knee problem.
She is replaced in the squad by Pembroke Wanderers midfielder Emily Beatty, who was one of the non-travelling reserves.
Ireland have just started their warm-up on the back pitch here at the Olympic Park as we edge closer to tip-off at 4.30pm. It is extremely warm in London this afternoon with temperatures close to 30 degrees down at pitch level again.
There’s a huge Irish contingent in and around the Lee Valley Stadium, with many travelling over on early-morning flights for this historic occasion. There has been a mad scramble for tickets after the shootout win over Spain, with many set to be left disappointed with demand far exceeding the number of seats available inside this 10,000-seater venue.
The crowd are slowly making their way into their seats and the atmosphere is really building ahead of the 2018 World Cup final. Huge Irish contingent here and ready to get behind the teams, including former Ireland winger Shane Horgan, who is sitting just below the press box.
Not long until we get underway now but to whet the appetite, here are a couple of our pre-match offerings:
How are the nerves, everybody? The overriding feeling inside the ground at the moment is excitement ahead of an historic occasion for Irish sport, but no doubt there are plenty of nerves around too.
Which way do you see this one going? Can Ireland pull off another major upset and win a famous gold medal?
Warm-up complete. We’re nearly set.
It’s hot, hot, hot at the Lee Valley with temperatures hitting the mid-30s down at pitch level as we head towards tip-off. The teams are gathering in the tunnel and we’ll have the anthems shortly.
Ireland captain Katie Mullan has won the toss and they’ll tip off. 8 minutes to go!
A roaring rendition of Ireland’s Call as the Green Army raise the roof. We’re ready for the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup final!
WE’RE UNDERWAY! Lizzie Colvin tips us off in London.
Q1 15.00 - Bright start from Ireland as they get a few early touches, with Shirley McCay winning a free inside the Dutch half.
Q1 14.00 - Netherlands look to hit Ireland on the counter and Frederique Matla has space to run at the Irish defence, before switching it onto her reverse and striking just wide. McFerran had it covered either way.
Q1 12.00 - Every Irish tackle being cheered as if it’s a goal, with the green support making this virtually like a home game for Graham Shaw’s side. Anna O’Flanagan embarks on a mazy dribble in midfield and sets Deirde Duke away down the left, but the UCD captain runs out of space.
Q1 10.00 - A really positive start from Ireland and O’Flanagan steals possession in midfield, and just as she looks to free the supporting Nicola Daly, is fouled and it’s an Irish free. At the other end, great work from Wilson and Byrne shut the door on the Dutch.
Q1 8.00 – GOAL! Ireland 0-1 Netherlands
That’s always the danger. McFerran initially makes a fine stop but Ireland fail to clear the danger and are punished as Welten swivels and strikes low into the corner from the right side of the circle.
Q1 7.00 - That was a really soft goal to concede from an Irish point of view. They ought to have really got rid of the ball from their circle but were unable to clear and then McFerran — perhaps slightly unsighted — was beaten at her near post.
Q1 7.00 - Netherlands have settled into the game now and are applying serious pressure on the Irish goal. The defending champions are awarded a penalty corner for a stick tackle, with the set-piece effort going narrowly wide.
Q1 6.00 - Ireland doing a lot of defending in the last few minutes and with conditions as hot as they are, Shaw is taking every opportunity to rotate his forward line and keep things fresh. Emily Beatty is on for her World Cup debut after being called into the squad hours before the final.
Q1 4.00 - Ireland have regained their composure after that initial Dutch onslaught and very nearly pick a hole in the Oranje defence, only for Watkins’ pass into O’Flanagan to narrowly miss her target in the circle.
Q1 4.00 - This is dangerous. McCay gives possession away cheaply and then as she looks to make amends, conceded a penalty corner for a foot in the circle — but it’s saved by McFerran, who gets down low to her right to parry the attempted slap.
Q1 1.00 - Really strong and skilful carry down this near side by Daly gets Ireland on the front foot and she spreads it wide towards Meeke, who wins the free on the opposite flank. Ireland hammer it into the circle, looking for the penalty corner just before the end of the first quarter, but the Dutch hold firm.
END OF FIRST QUARTER: Ireland 0-1 Netherlands
A gripping 15 minutes of hockey and Ireland, despite trailing, started very positively and will be extremely disappointed with the manner in which they conceded after just seven minutes. Plenty of encouraging signs, though.
Q2 15.00 - We’re up and running again.
Q2 14.00 - The Netherlands’ quality is there for all to see with the defending champions playing at a higher tempo every time they get on the ball, but Ireland are fighting and scrapping for absolutely everything. They’ve yet to manufacture a chance for themselves, but the longer they stay in the contest, the more confidence will grow.
Q2 12.00 - There’s an incredible atmosphere inside the Lee Valley and all the noise is coming from those in green, who are doing their best to urge their side on in this second quarter. Whatever the end result, this is a truly historic occasion for Irish sport.
Q2 11.00 – GOAL! Ireland 0-2 Netherlands
The Dutch strike for their second and it’s a hammer blow for Ireland. Again, McFerran makes a fine save and Lena Tice does brilliantly to scramble it off the line initially but the danger isn’t gone and Kelly Jonker clinically fires home on her reverse.
Q2 11.00 - Netherlands going for the kill now, and they come inches away from adding a third. Ireland need to rally and see it through to half-time, when they’ll be able to regroup.
Q2 9.00 - Ireland having to work incredibly hard off the ball as Netherlands continue their unleash their expansive and skilful attacking game, with the Dutch playing at a tempo the green shirts have been unable to deal with so far.
Q2 7.00 - Graham Shaw is urging his defence to ‘step out’ as they drop deeper and deeper under relentless pressure from the Dutch. In the end, Ireland concede a penalty corner and Netherlands are looking to kill this game off.
Q2 7.00 – Saved! Another brilliant stop from McFerran as she reads the set-piece and parries the shot to safety with help from Upton. Ireland are hanging on.
Q2 4.00 - Rare surge into Dutch territory for Ireland as Beatty carries down the right and after cutting inside, wins the free in a good position, drawing a huge cheer from the Irish support on that far side.
Ireland try and work the free short but it comes to nothing and the chance is gone, with Netherlands bringing the ball out of defence. Four minutes until half-time.
Q2 2.00 - To Ireland’s credit, they have done well to rebound from conceding that second goal at the start of this second quarter, and have been able to take the sting out of the Dutch onslaught for the time being. Have said that, they’ve just won another penalty corner…
Q2 1.00 – GOAL! Ireland 0-3 Netherlands
Ireland had done well to repel the previous three Dutch PCs but they’re undone from this one, as Kitty van Male slaps the ball home after O’Flanagan had blocked down the initial effort from the top of the circle. Netherlands showing their clinical edge.
Q2 1.00 - Really unfortunate time to concede that third goal, with just a minute left before the half-time break, and Ireland now face a nigh-on impossible task to overturn this deficit against the world’s number one ranked side.
Q2 1.00 – GOAL! Ireland 0-4 Netherlands
From bad to worse for Ireland. Netherlands move it from left to wide so quickly and Malou Pheninckx has acres of space to drive into the circle and unleash an unstoppable drive past McFerran at the near post. An incredible finish.
HALF-TIME! Ireland 0-4 Netherlands
Those two goals on the stroke of half-time have killed Ireland off after Shaw’s side had done well to consolidate after falling two goals behind. It’s hard to see a way back for Ireland now.
Q3 15.00 - Ireland are back out for the third quarter and face an unenviable task of stopping this ruthless Dutch side from causing further damage.
Q3 14.00 – GOAL! Ireland 0-5 Netherlands
The defending champions have now scored three goals in as many minutes either side of the break as the Dutch class tells. Ireland look out on their feet under the searing London sun after their energy-sapping efforts in the quarter and semi-finals.
Q3 11.00 – GOAL! Ireland 0-6 Netherlands
This is a real shame for Ireland, as things are starting to get ugly. After Keetels adds the fifth, Van Maasakker scores the pick of the bunch with a superb drag flick high into the top corner from another PC. What a finish that was.
Q3 9.00 - Ireland have hardly touched the ball since the restart and are camped inside their own half, with Netherlands pushing and probing for a seventh. It’s a damage limitation exercise for Shaw’s side at this stage.
Q3 4.00 - Netherlands win another PC but the injection is poor and Ireland launch a breakaway, only for Duke’s attempted square ball to be blocked and the Dutch survive. A big chance for Shaw’s side to pull one back, but they were unable to take it.
END OF THIRD QUARTER: Ireland 0-6 Netherlands
Q4 15.00 - We’re into the 15 minutes of this final. Ireland are standing firm defensively and looking to nick a consolation goal at the other end.
Q4 4.00 - Netherlands pushing for a seventh with a succession of PCs, but Ireland hold firm.
FULL-TIME! Ireland 0-6 Netherlands
Ireland’s fairytale campaign comes to an end as Shaw’s side finish with a sensational silver medal, while the Dutch claim their eighth World Cup crown.
Ireland always faced an unenviable task against the defending champions this afternoon, and as it was, the Dutch flexed their considerable muscle to power to a record eighth World Cup crown.
For Ireland, however, there is so much to be proud of at the end of a truly momentous campaign, with Graham Shaw’s side claiming a historic silver medal.
What an achievement, what an adventure!
You can read our match report from London here.