Upton on target as Ireland draw with Great Britain

Former Cork Harlequins hockey player Roisin Upton scores in all three games of their three-match series with reigning Olympic champions
Upton on target as Ireland draw with Great Britain

Ireland's Roisin Upton, left, celebrates with Katie Mullan and Nicci Daly after scoring Irelands' goal in their third game against Great Britain. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Ireland 1 

Great Britain 1

FORMER Cork Harlequins player, Roisin Upton, looked like she had secured a second win for Ireland over Great Britain at Queen's University, Belfast.

The defender put Ireland in front in the 51st minute, when she scored from a penalty stroke, but GB equalised late on to see the game and the three-match series end level.

GB won the first game on Saturday by 2-1 and Ireland won by the same margin on Sunday so it was all to play for going into the third tie.

Having never beaten Great Britain in an international game before Sunday Ireland looked like they were going to repeat that feat until Izzy Petters scored to see it end level with Ireland the unluckier of the two to see it end that way.

GB’s Lily Owlsey created the first real chance but the Irish defence, led by Upton, cleared the danger.

Anna O’Flanagan had the first real opportunity for Ireland, with Maddie Hinch’s save rebounding just out of Zara Malseed’s reach. Both sides brought plenty of energy to the game but overall defences were on top in the first quarter.

Michelle Carey made a great run from her own half and played O’Flanagan but again GB keeper Hinch, saved well to see it still scoreless at the end of the first quarter.

Strong running by Zara Malseed saw Ireland awarded the first penalty corner of the game but Lena Tice’s deflection was defended well by GB.

In the second quarter, Ireland were awarded a number of penalty corners, and again in the second half, but failed to convert any of them. No doubt this is something that coach Sean Dancer will be working on in the coming months as they continue their preparations for the Olympics.

Catholic Institute's Naomi Carroll, who impressed all through, created another chance for Ireland which led to a number of penalty corners but again all were cleared to see it level at half-time.

GB were on top at the start of the second half but again the Irish defence stood strong as they kept their opponents at bay and at the end of the third quarter it was still level.

Following another penalty corner for Ireland, the ball was stopped on the line under the body of Hinch after a goalmouth scramble. It looked like one of the Carey’s (Michelle and Niamh) had gotten it across and it resulted in a penalty stroke being awarded to Ireland. Up steps Upton to put Ireland in front as she scored her third goal of the series, one in each game and all coming from strokes.

GB, who are the Olympic champions, started to put the Irish defence under massive pressure and with Chloe Watkins in the sin-bin they finally broke through, with only two minutes left, to secure the draw which saw the series end all square.

Afterwards, Upton said: “Immediate response is disappointment for the result in the third game, the opportunity was there to win it by a couple. But in general, it’s been a fantastic four days, and we’ll take a lot of confidence into whatever comes next.

“We’ve been training hard over the last eight months after we came out of lockdown in September, so it’s been great to have these games to get tested against the best. They’re the reigning Olympic champions and we’ve got three fantastic games in the bag now that we can reflect on and look back on. There’ll be a lot of take away, it’s been a good four days.” Ireland: A McFerran, Z Malseed, R Upton, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, N Carroll, C Watkins, S Hawkshaw, A O'Flanagan, S McAuley.

Subs: M Carey, M Frazer, G O'Flanagan, N Daly, H Matthews, S Torrans, N Carey, D Duke.

Great Britain: M Hinch S Robertson, I Petter, L Owsley, F Crackles, E Rayer, S McCallin, L Unsworth, G Balsdon, H Pearne-Webb, A Costello.

Subs: G Ansley, J Hunter, S Evans, S Townsend, L Wilkinson, S Heesh, E Burge.

Umpires: R Abbott and L Coughlan.

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