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Sport Northern Irelandv2

Irish Hockey League

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Electric Ireland Irish Women strike early to beat Scotland

The two sides had met each other twice recently in early June in Edinburgh with a 2-2 draw and 4-3 win to Scotland highlighting the competitive level of both teams.

The game was played in unusually wet & windy conditions for a July evening but it didn't affect Ireland who raced into an early lead in the 3rd minute when Alex Speers finished neatly from the left of the circle following good work by Nicci Daly to get to the line and pull back for Speers. Ireland's first half performance certainly had more intensity than yesterday's game with Wales with the Green Army aggressive in their tackling from the offset.

Deirdre Duke went close to extending the lead for Ireland mi-way through the half but saw her shot from just inside the circle fly wide of the goal following good work from Megan Frazer down the left hand side of the Irish attack.

Scotland's first real chance of the first half came in the 19th minute when they won a penalty corner but Ireland defended resolutely and the change went begging for the Scots. Ireland won their first corner with 12 minutes to play in the half following good work from Meeke & O'Flanagan. Audrey O'Flynn shot was blocked but Ireland won a second corner which pin balled around the circle before falling to Alex Speers to nudge home and give Ireland a 2-0 lead.

Scotland pulled one back with 9 minutes to play in the half when Holly Cram blasted the ball into the circle and it took a nasty deflection off an Irish stick high into the net. There was still time for Ireland's Nikki Evans to have a goal chalked off for an earlier infringement and Katie Mullan to sting the palms of the Scottish keeper before the teams headed for the break with the score 2-1 to Ireland

With a very wet pitch in the 2nd half, both sides failed to create any real chances and their play was littered with errors. It wasn't until 14 minutes into the half that Ireland extended the lead as Nikki Evans weaved past two defenders before seeing her effort blocked but UCD's Chloe Watkins was on hand to sublimely lift the ball over the keeper high into the net to make it 3-1 to Ireland.

Midway through the half Ireland were reduced to 9 players as first Beatty and then O'Flanagan both saw themselves yellow carded and out of the game for 5 minutes. Ireland weathered the Scottish storm during this key moment though and maintained the 2 goal lead for the Green Army.

Ireland made it 4-1 with 10 minutes to play when strong midfield running from Megan Frazer saw her burst through the Scottish defence and fire a shot from the top of the circle which Deirdre Duke deflected home to grab her first International goal for Ireland.

Speaking after the game, Electric Ireland Senior International Coach, Darren Smith said "It's good to have a nice win and we scored some good goals. Our intensity, work rate and effort was far superior than yesterday. To a degree I thought the score flattered us, they played some good hockey on a heavy pitch and we have got to be mindful that it is going to be another tough battle ahead on Thursday here at Mossley Hockey Club"

Ireland will face Scotland two more times this week on Thursday & Friday with a 12pm start for both games.

Ireland Starting XI: Smithwick, Evans, Speers, McCay, Carroll, O'Flynn, Daly, Atcheler, Gray, Pinder, Duke

Subs: Frazer, Mullan, Watkins, O'Flanagan, Meeke, Beatty, O'Flanagan (GK)

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