Roisin Upton slams in vital goal as Ireland beat Great Britain

Third meeting between the teams will take place on Tuesday
Roisin Upton slams in vital goal as Ireland beat Great Britain

Ireland's Roisin Upton after scoring a penalty in the win over Great Britain. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Ireland 2 Great Britain 1 

FORMER Cork Harlequins defender Roisin Upton got the all-important goal in Ireland's 2-1 win over Great Britain at Queen's University Belfast.

Upton's goal helped Ireland to level the series, with a win apiece, with the deciding game to take place on Tuesday.

On Saturday Ireland lost 2-1 to GB, with Upton also on target in that game, with both of her goals coming from penalty strokes.

Roisin Upton, left, and Sarah Hawkshaw of Ireland celebrate. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Roisin Upton, left, and Sarah Hawkshaw of Ireland celebrate. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

The second match of the SoftCo series saw Great Britain start the better of the two sides, however, Ireland hung in there with Lena Tice making a remarkable on the line save from a Laura Unsworth shot.

Ireland grew into the game and the opening quarter saw both sides having opportunities to score, with Deirdre Duke and Sarah Hawkshaw both finding themselves in the GB circle but failing to finish. GB’s Sarah Jones and Giselle Ansley also went close.

The second quarter saw GB starting to get the upper hand with Lily Owsley going close. Ireland's best chance came from a GB attack. An Anna Toman shot was well saved by Ayeisha McFerran and Ireland quickly broke up the pitch.

Nikki Evans burst forward, passing to Deirdre Duke who crossed for Lizzie Colvin but Maddie Hinch saved superbly in the GB goal.

Just before half-time, GB took the lead when a Katie Mullan pass was intercepted by Ellie Rayer who played a superb ball to Sarah Evans and her cross was finished to the back of the net by Unsworth to put GB 1-0 up at half-time.

The second half saw Ireland have much the better of the play and it was no surprise when the outstanding Chloe Watkins, with a brilliant individual goal, equalised.

Watkins also played a part in the winning goal in the final quarter, as she played Anna O’Flanagan in and she was taken down in the circle, with the umpire awarding Ireland a penalty stroke.

Up stepped Upton to coolly slot home to make it 2-1 to Ireland and despite the best efforts of GB they couldn't break through the Irish defence.

So it's all to play for in the final game on Tuesday as both sides continue their preparations ahead of the Olympics this summer.

Speaking after the match, Captain Katie Mullan said: “We've never beaten the GB team before, they're current Olympic gold medalists, so to do it on home soil is special. I think the character of the girls, in the second half especially, was second to none and I'm so proud of their performance.

“At international level, it's the fine margins, but we stayed in it and we fought the tough fight in the first half. We came out all guns blazing in the second half, and I think there was nothing going to stop us in that second half. We're delighted with the win.” 

The third match of the series takes place on Tuesday at 2pm and can be watched live on the BBC Sport NI website, the BBC iPlayer, and the RTÉ Player.

IRELAND: A McFerran, N Evans, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, B Barr, C Watkins, L Colvin, H Matthews, S Torrans, A O'Flanagan; L Murphy, M Carey, R Upton, H McLoughlin, S Hawkshaw, N Carey, D Duke.

GREAT BRITAIN: M Hinch, S Jones, S Evans, E Rayer, S Townsend, S McCallin, L Unsworth, L Wilkinson, L Neal, H Pearne-Webb, A Toman; S Robertson, I Petter, L Owsley, F Crackles, G Ansley.

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