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Ireland into hockey Olympic Qualifier final on Sunday after defeating Spain 3-2

Updated: Tuesday, 27 Mar 2012 17:48

Audrey O'Flynn
Audrey O'Flynn

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Ireland have booked their place in the hockey Olympic Qualifier on Sunday in Belgium after defeating Spain 3-2 - the winner of which will be heading to the London 2012 Olympics.

Ireland got off to good start with a right wing cross flashing across the Spanish goal but no Irish stick was there for the deflection.

Just five minutes later Aine Connery secured Ireland a penalty corner which Audrey O'Flynn powered home for a 1-0 lead. Just 30 seconds later Spain equalised when Malda reverse sticked a rebound to make it 1-1.

Ireland were forced into soaking up a few minutes of pressure, which included a disallowed goal from a Spanish set piece.

Ireland settled well after that and had a number of goal scoring opportunities, including their third penalty corner which O'Flynn dragged home to put her side into a 2-1 half time lead.

Ireland came under pressure once again 40 minutes in when Malda was on hand to take a shot but her effort went wide and Ireland were let off the hook.

 

Both sides were at times reduced in numbers as the umpires produced cards.

But despite Ireland being on the back foot at times they soaked up the Spanish pressure well with some big tackles to clear the lines.

Captain Alex Speers put away Ireland's third goal after Symmons and Evans set her up to increase Ireland's lead by two which proved to be vital in the end as Spain rallied with just three minutes on the clock to claw it back to 3-2.

Commenting after the match Coach Gene Muller was clearly pleased with the results saying: “It was a fantastic win for us in a very high pressure match. The players put in a great performance and we got what we deserved. "

Ireland are now in the final but before that Ireland will play Belgium on Saturday in the final pool game at 6pm Irish time and the final on Sunday at 3.30pm Irish time.