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'A huge moment' - Ireland secure World Cup spot after beating Wales

Anna O’Flanagan was the hero on the day.

The Ireland team celebrate with the EuroHockey trophy after winning the tournament and qualifying for the World Cup.
The Ireland team celebrate with the EuroHockey trophy after winning the tournament and qualifying for the World Cup.
Image: Giuseppe Fama/INPHO

Updated at 21.17

IRELAND BEAT Wales 2-1 today to win the the EuroHockey trophy and seal a place at the World Cup for the second successive time.

Anna O’Flanagan was the hero as her double proved the difference in Pisa.

Ireland opened the scoring early on, as O’Flanagan finished a lovely team goal after good work from Lena Tice and Sarah Torrans.

Wales responded before the end of the first quarter, as Isabelle Howell converted from a well-executed penalty corner.

In the final quarter, Wales were reduced to nine players, with Phoebe Richards and Emily Rowlands both sin-binned.

Ireland capitalised 11 minutes from time, as O’Flanagan volleyed home, after being set up by Zara Malseed.

The result, coupled with previous wins over France and Belarus, means Ireland have earned a ticket to Amsterdam and Valencia next summer.

“What just happened here is a huge moment for the legacy of this team, continuing to build on the success we have already had,” captain Katie Mullan said afterwards

“We knew it would be a defining moment. It wasn’t pretty but it shows the character within our group to come away from the game with a win from such a tough battle. Credit to Wales, they put on a big performance and took us right to the end.”

She continued: “We’ve played three tough tournaments in one year at international level with the Euros, the Olympics and this qualifier. It is pretty unheard of so it was always going to be a tough ask after the Olympics to bring the group back together to come here and do the job.  

“I am so proud of us for doing that. Now, we have another amazing tournament to look forward to and prepare for. 

“This group needs to be going to major tournament after major tournament. This was the first roadblock after 2018 and this is a massive achievement. It may not seem like it is bigger than some of what we have done in the past but, for our sport, to continue to grow the way it has and to continue to inspire the next generation, it was so important for us.   

“I have no doubt the players who have stepped away and retired in recent weeks will be the most happy watching it today, seeing us get over the line because they will be the ones in the stands next summer supporting us.” 

There was disappointment, meanwhile, for the Irish men’s hockey team, as a 4-3 shootout loss to Austria saw them finish their World Cup qualifying tournament in fourth place.

Their hopes of a World Cup spot had been ended earlier by Wales, meaning only ranking points were up for grabs in the Austria encounter.

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It ended 3-3 before the shootout, with Ireland’s goals coming from Jonny McKee (2) and Jeremy Duncan.

Ireland: A McFerran, E Getty, R Upton, K Mullan, L Tice, N Carroll, C Watkins, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan, N Carey, S McAuley

Subs: Z Malseed, M Carey, S Torrans, D Duke, E Curran, J Kilpatrick, L Murphy

Wales: R Thomas, S French, S Jones, P Richards, E Bingham, L Wilkinson, M Lewis-Williams, X Hughes, J Westwood, S-J Thorburn, M Holme

Subs: O Hoskins, S Robinson, E Drysdale, I Howell, E Rowlands, I Webb, E Jackson

Umpires: C Martin-Schmets (BEL), I El Hajem (FRA)

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