Ireland thrash Singapore to secure semi-final place
Eight players get on the scoresheet as visitors are outclassed at Banbridge
Ireland’s Gillian Pender scores against Singapore during the FIH Women’s Series Pool A clash at Banbridge Hockey Club, Belfast. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
FIH Series Finals, Pool A
Ireland 11 (R Upton 2, K Mullan 2, M Frazer, G Pinder, S Hawkshaw, L Tice, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson) Singapore 0
On a day when she retook the national caps record back from Eugene Magee, Shirley McCay got a rare chance to ply her trade in the forward line as Ireland blitzed a hapless Singapore 11-0 at Banbridge.
The simple win assured Ireland of top spot in their group, meaning they skip the quarter-final phase and go directly into the semi-finals, one step away from a guaranteed Olympic qualifier showdown next October.
For McCay, it was her 281st cap, but only her second appearing in the forward lines in her extensive career.
“I would have played further forward in my youth but I feel the older you get, you tend to go the other way and drop backwards,” she said. “We are playing teams where we have a bit more ball than what we are used to so it’s nice to pose a bit of a threat!”
She was not among the nine players to get on the score sheet as she saw Megan Frazer volley in the opener on seven minutes before classy efforts from Katie Mullan and Gillian Pinder rendered the game a dead duck by the 11 minute mark.
Singapore were content to crowd their defensive circle, not particularly effectively, and ship a lot of penalty corners and chances. Roisín Upton added a couple before half-time with drag-flicks while Lena Tice also slammed one in and newcomer Sarah Hawkshaw got her second in two games.
A scoreless third quarter took away the chance of breaking their all-time record of a 13-goal win, but four late goals – including Anna O’Flanagan’s 73rd for Ireland – completed the rout.
Ireland can now put their feet up for three days before the business end of the competition on Saturday.
“We broke this tournament down into two phases,” McCay continued. “That’s phase one done and we hit all our targets. Now we reset and wait to find out who we play in the semi-finals where everything will be focused to make sure we are ready.
“These are baby steps [on the Road to Tokyo] but this tournament is massive for us, especially on home soil with so many kids out to watch us. We aim to win it and go from there!”
Ireland: A McFerran, R Upton, S McCay, M Frazer, L Tice, G Pinder, B Barr, C Watkins, S Hawkshaw, Z Wilson, D Duke.
Subs: K Mullan, L Colvin, N Daly, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan A Meeke, E Buckley
Singapore: F Lai, P Maligaya, N A Abdull, I Chan, P Ho, N S Saban, L M Toh, L Tan, R Sanip, G Leck.
Subs: J Ng, S Wong, C Chia, S Ng, M Francis, X Chua, Y T Liu