/ Hockey

Ireland 2-1 South Africa

Updated: Wednesday, 25 Jan 2012 21:30

Cliodhna Sargent scored a brace for Ireland in Johannesburg
Cliodhna Sargent scored a brace for Ireland in Johannesburg

Ireland women have beaten South Africa, in the first of two training matches in Johannesburg, as part of their warm-weather training in the build up to the FIH Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

The early moments of this game presented both sides with goal-scoring opportunities, but it was Ireland who had the first breakthrough when Cliodhna Sargent hammered home from a penalty corner to take the lead in the 18th minute.

The home side immediately countered, securing a penalty corner, and despite Pamela Smithwick saving Kim Hubach's drag flick, she could do little to stop Jade Mayne's rebound effort which levelled the sides.

Ireland's defence got to show their composure, coping very well as the South African's gained attacking momentum, but some great defensive play ensured the sides were 1-1 at the break.

Ireland were first out of the traps, mounting the first attack of the second half and putting the home side under some serious pressure with shots on goal and penalty corner routines in the early stages.

South Africa showed composure before finding a way through, forcing keeper Smithwick into action.

Ireland were forced to ten men with just seven minutes to go when Emma Smyth was shown yellow, but despite the pressure, Ireland showed flair and determination to create goal-scoring opportunities, which eventually paid dividends when a resulting penalty corner set up Sargent for her brace as she fired home her trademark shot, rattling the backboard with just two minutes left on the clock.

Commenting after the match, coach Gene Muller said: "This was a good start to our South African tour, we preformed well and stuck to the task, especially in defence.

“We have had many close matches against South Africa in the past so this win was very satisfying for the team."

Ireland starting XI: Pamela Smithwick (GK); Michelle Harvey; Cliodhna Sargent; Sinead McCarthy; Audrey O’Flynn; Emma Smyth; Emma Clarke; Shirley McCay; Lisa Jacob; Alex Speers; Sinead Connery

Reserves: Louisa Healy (GK); Miriam Crowley; Megan Frazer; Chloe Watkins; Lizzie Colvin