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Ireland lose out to Kiwis in Four Nations final

Updated: Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014 22:05 | Comments

Emma Gray performed well in goals for Ireland, but couldn't prevent a New Zealand victory
Emma Gray performed well in goals for Ireland, but couldn't prevent a New Zealand victory

Ireland women lost 3-0 to New Zealand, the world's No 4-ranked team, in the final of the Electric Ireland Four Nations, taking place at UCD this evening.

The home side gifted the Black Sticks with their first goal just three minutes in, when a defensive error set Krystal Forgesson up for a free shot at the top of the circle, which left keeper Emma Gray no chance.

Ireland regrouped quickly and minutes later Shirley McCay at the back sent a great line ball up to Naomi Carroll, who slipped to Nikki Evans, but their efforts yielded no goal.

Ireland were forced to soak up pressure late into the first half, but a solid looking defence kept calm, while Gray in goals batted away numerous attacks.

However, New Zealand doubled their lead in the 22nd minute, when Forgesson shot from a narrow angle to bang it in at pace, making it 2-0 before the break.

Ireland came out fighting after the break, Gillian Pinder setting the tone, bursting through to set up Evans, who worked well to find circle space, but the ball just ran away and no shot ensued.

Plenty of attacking waves came from the Irish side, coming through from defence, and midfield, who combined well with penalty corners and open play opportunities, but the goal just wouldn't come.

New Zealand too had plenty of chances as the game ensued in an end-to-end fashion.

Gray, in goals for Ireland, pulled off top-drawer saves to keep the Black Sticks efforts out.

With only minutes to go Ireland suddenly found themselves down to ten women, when a yellow was shown, and with hardly a chance to breath New Zealand pounced.

Sophie Cox this time finishied to put the match beyond Ireland's reach. 

Ireland coach Darren Smith commented afterwards: "It was a big improvement from Saturday to Wednesday, we tackled and defended better around the circle.

"The way we handled New Zealand's attacking corner, where they scored five from set pieces on Saturday and none today was a big difference.

"We created some good attacks, especially in the second half, which was good to see.

"We enjoyed the opportunity to play New Zealand, one of the best teams in the world, along with two quality nations in Chile and Canada.

"The Four Nations has been hugely beneficial, now we look forward to playing France and Spain in August as we continue our World League preparations."

Starting XI: Emma Gray, Cliodhna, Emma Smyth, Nikki Evans, Alex Speers, Shirley McCay; Megan Frazer, Chloe Watkins; Anna O'Flanagan; Gillian Pinder; Alison Meeke

Reserves: Stella Davis, Naomi Carroll, Nicci Daly, Hannah Matthews, Deidre Duke, Kate Dillon, Yvonne O'Byrne  

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