Vitality Hockey World Cup Final, London
Netherlands 6 (Welten, Jonker, van Male, Pheninckx, Keetels, van Maasakker)
It was always going to be a tough task against the world number 1 side in sweltering heat but the Green Army were in their usual determined form. The opening goal came in a crowded circle in the 7th minute when Lidewij Welten spun her marker and shot home from close range.
Anna O’Flanagan and Nicci Daly were causing the Dutch some trouble down the left wing but the experienced Dutch defence kept the circle entries to a minimum. Kelly Jonker doubled her sides lead in the 19th minute as she sent a rocket into the corner from her reverse shot.
The Netherlands notched up 5 penalty corners in the opening half but the corner runners weren’t giving the Dutch any time and drag flicks were sent high and wide until Kitty van Male picked up a loose ball from an initial penalty corner block and swept into the corner. A minute later and Malou Pheninckx found herself free in the circle and smashed the ball high into the net to put her side 4-0 in front at the half.
The start of the second half didn’t go according to plan as Welten broke into the circle in the 32nd minute and slipped the ball to Marloes Keetels free in front of goal for the tap in. Caia van Maasakker made it 6 from a penalty corner drag high into the corner. Chloe Watkins, winning her 200th cap today, was appearing all over the pitch as she poached the ball from the Dutch and then looked to set up attacks on the counter. The best chance of the quarter came from a Dutch penalty corner mistrap that saw Ireland break at pace and Deidre Duke pick up the ball in the circle but good scramble defence by the Netherlands so them win possession back.
There was no lack of effort from the Green Army as they defended resiliently, and Lizzie Colvin and Katie Mullan were at the core of several turnovers as Ireland chased a goal. Daly was the first to test Anna Veenendaal as she darted into the circle and smashed the ball goalward but the shot was well saved. 2 penalty corners in quick succession for the Dutch were duly dealt with as Roisin Upton saved one off the line and Shirley McCay threw her body in front of another to see Margot van Geffen’s shot go high.
Netherlands ran out deserved winners but the Green Army cemented their place in history with World Cup silver and Ayeisha McFerran was rightly named Goalkeeper of the Tournament.
Starting: N Evans, K Mullan, S McCay, G Pinder, R Upton, A McFerran, C Watkins, L Colvin, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson
Subs: G O’Flanagan, Y O’Byrne, E Tice, E Beatty, N Daly, D Duke, A Meeke