By Rory Noonan
(Ireland win 4-3 after shoot-out)
Shear joy for Ireland as they qualified for the Olympics in Tokyo next summer after their win over Canada at Energia Park tonight in dramatic fashion.
It took a sudden death penalty from Catholic Institute’s Roisin Upton to put Ireland through after the game and regular shoot-out ended all square.
Having drawn 0-0 on Saturday last night was a winner-takes-all encounter and after a tremendous battle the Green Army came through.
Ireland started much more aggressively than the Saturday encounter with early chances coming from Nicola Daly and Anna O’Flanagan. But the best one fell to Kathryn Mullan, who just missed getting a touch to a ball in from Daly.
Canada’s only chance of the quarter came from a penalty corner, with Sara McManus’s effort well saved by Ayeisha McFerran and the danger cleared, to leave it scoreless at the end of the quarter.
Chances were few and far between in the second quarter, with the only real highlight the denial of penalty corners to both sides after video refferals.
Ireland were first to be denied, when it was deemed Mullan has used the back of the stick. Then Canada were denied after one of their players was deemed to have hit it off their foot first to see it remain scoreless at half-time and all to play for in the second-half.
Unfortunately the rain returned for the third quarter and both sides failed to create any real chances, with the only notable point the sin-binning of Hennig for two minutes for Canada as it was all to play for in the final quarter.
The fourth quarter also failed to see either side score and so we went to the lottery of the shoot-out.
Stephanie Norlander put Canada in front, with Gillian Pinder missing Ireland’s first attempt. Amanda Woodcroft got Canada’s second after they used their refferal to overturn the umpire’s decision to give a free out.
Kate Wright was fouled by McFerran and Canada were awarded a penalty stroke from their third attempt, which was converted by Sara McManus.
Upton missed to make it 3-1, but then it turned in Ireland’s favour, with McFerran saving twice and Beth Barr and Chloe Watkins scoring to take it to sudden death.
Upton put Ireland in front, with Amanda Woodcroft missing, but appealed the decision and the original decision was upheld and Ireland are on their way to Tokyo.
IRELAND: A McFerran; R Upton, K Mullan, S McCay, E Tice, B Barr, C Watkins, L Colvin, N Daly, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson.
Rolling subs: S Barr, N Evans, G Pinder, H Matthews, E Murphy, S Hawkshaw, D Duke.
CANADA: K Williams; K Wright, D Hennig, R Donohoe, K Johansen, N Sourisseau, S McManus, A Woodcroft, B Stairs, S Johnston, S Norlander.
Rolling subs: A Lee, E Wong, H Haughn, N Woodcroft, M Secco, R Harris, K Leahy.
Umpires: Annelize Rostron, Michelle Meister.