The Electric Ireland Irish Women’s team bowed out at World League 2 today following a narrow defeat to Italy in Valencia, Spain.
Darren Smith’s side came into the game knowing a win would guarantee a spot in World League 3 in the summer, with the exact same scenario for their Italian opposition.
It was an extremely close-fought encounter, with neither side dominating a game that ebbed and flowed from the start.
Ireland had the better of the early exchanges and marginally shaded a first half where neither team were able to edge themselves in front.
Hermes’ Lisa Jacob was a constant threat for the Green Army, while Goal Keeper Emma Gray was effective in minimizing the Italians' threat.
Both sides failed to convert a number of penalty corners in the first half and headed to the break with the score at 0-0.
Both sides began the second half knowing they had 35 minutes to guarantee a spot at World League 3 and it appeared that one goal might be the difference today.
That is how it turned out as Ireland were left to rue a number of missed chances, both from penalty corners and open play in a tight and tense second half.
Italy struck the winner with 15 minutes to go as Pacella stole in to slip the ball past Emma Gray, leaving Ireland with an uphill task.
Italy defended impressively for the remainder of the game and were effective in their possession.
Ireland, to their credit, never gave and worked right to the final hooter to get on the score sheet but it wasn’t to be, and Italy progressed.
Speaking following the game, a disappointed Darren Smith said: "While we were wasteful with our opportunities, Italy took their goal chance well. In the end, Italy played well, defended well and protected their lead well, closing off our opportunities.
“This tournament showed us that we were found wanting in attack and that defensive mistakes at this level usually get punished”
Electric Ireland Irish Women Starting XI: E Gray, O’Flynn, Sargent, N Gray, McCarthy, Watkins, Symmons, Daly, O’Flanagan, Speers, Mullan