Hockey: Ireland into Nations Cup semi-finals after late Korean scare

A 2-2 draw proves enough to secure second in their pool

Ireland are through to the semi-finals of the Nations Cup in Valencia after a 2-2 draw with Korea secured them second place in their pool behind Spain.

They were given a late scare, though, when Korea scored twice in the last four minutes to level the game after Ireland had been well in control following second-half goals from Sarah Hawkshaw and Katie Mullan.

It was from their ninth penalty corner of the game, in the third quarter, that a dominant Ireland broke the deadlock, Korean goalkeeper Jinmin Lee saving Roisin Upton’s initial drag-flick and Ellen Curran’s rebound, before Hawkshaw turned the ball home.

Mullan appeared to wrap up the points when she made it 2-0 eight minutes from time, the captain pouncing on a stray Lee clearance to slot the ball past the goalkeeper on her near post.


But Korea came to life in those closing minutes, Hyejin Cho converting a penalty stroke before Sujin An’s drag from a penalty corner deflected off Upton and past Elizabeth Murphy to make it 2-2 just two minutes later.

Ireland kept their cool, though, to run down the clock, earning the point that ultimately proved enough to put them through after Spain and Italy drew 0-0.

“The performance overall was extremely pleasing,” said coach Sean Dancer. “It was actually one of the best games I’ve seen this team play – the way that we held on to the ball and controlled the game. It’s obviously very disappointing that it ended 2-2 and we certainly need to look at that last five minutes to make sure we control the game a bit better. We had more than enough opportunities in penalty corner attacks to put them away but, overall, I’m really pleased.”

Ireland’s most likely opponents in Friday’s semi-finals are India, but they will know for sure later this afternoon.

Ireland: E Murphy, S McAuley, R Upton, N Carey, S Hawkshaw, K Mullan (capt), H McLoughlin, S Torrans, E Tice, N Carroll, C Beggs. Subs: H Micklem, Z Malseed, M Carey, C Perdue, S O’Brien, E Curran, C Hamill.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times