Shaw’s girls doing country proud at hockey World Cup

“What a group of players, I thought they were absolutely fantastic from start to finish. Credit to the players and the work they put in, they’re a special group and they deserve this.

"It’s my privilege and honour to be part of this group,” said Graham Shaw after Ireland’s fantastic win over India.

The Irish women’s senior hockey team have qualified for the Quarter-Finals of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup despite a narrow 1-0 to an England side ranked second in the world.

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Graham Shaw from Firhouse is coach of the Women's Ireland Hockey team. Photo by Word Sport Pics

Victories over the USA and India, and both those teams drawing 1-1 when they later met, had assured Firhouse man Graham Shaw’s side qualification to the next round regardless of the result in their third match.

Once again Loreto’s Hannah Matthews was in the starting line-up, while clubmate Alison Meeke was among the substitutes.

As expected the World No. 2 side were fast out of the blocks, and they forced an impressive three penalty corners in the first-quarter, but the Irish defence were once more well up to the task, and all the trio of chances came to nowt, with Yvonne Byrne in particular a towering presence at the back.

Later in the half Shirley McCay made a phenomenal diving deflection to send Ellie Watton’s close shot wide, and keep the score at 0-0.

Soon after the restart Ayeisha McFerran in the Ireland goal made a fantastic double save to deny Sarah Haycroft a near-certain goal.

The Ireland team then managed to win a trio of Penalty Corners themselves, but they were unable to trouble the home side with their efforts.

Relentless pressure

By this stage England had notched up an impressive total of 15 Penalty Corners, and their relentless pressure finally paid off in the 53rd minute as Giselle Ansley’s drag flick was deflected into the back of the Irish net.

Still Shaw’s team battled on, and so nearly scored an equaliser at the death, but Deirdre Duke was unable to get the touch needed on Anna Flanagan’s stroke into the circle, which would have sent the ball goalwards.

Next up for Ireland is a Quarter-Final tie against India tonight (Thursday).

Giving the scintillating form they are in at the moment, you would dismiss their chances at your peril.

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