Ireland showed their resolve as they twice bounced back twice to record an impressive 3-2 opening day win over hosts France in the Celtic Cup.
The Irish were behind inside 20 seconds as the heavens opened on the Cote d’Azur, leading to a farcical opening goal on a water-logged pitch with French forward Charlotte Boyer nipping in to score.
Within a minute, the TD stepped in to suspend play for an hour. And Ireland started much the better, Michelle Harvey whipping home a drag-flick in the 5th minute.
Philippine Berly – well-known to many of the panel due to her time with the Ulster Elks – restored the lead for the French from a penalty corner as les bleus were in the ascendancy.
Ireland hung tough with Louisa Healy pulling off a couple of saves as Audrey O’Flynn made her exit with a hand injury.
The Irish bounced back from their second corner, Harvey’s strike deflected high into the net by Rachel Mulligan to make it 2-2 at half-time. And that corner threat eventually settled the tie as Harvey (pictured) shot the third of a series of corners low for the only goal of the second half.
Eimear Cregan (ankle) and Niamh Small (hamstring) picked up injuries, too, to make it a busy day for the physios but Ireland is now in pole-position to claim the reduced Celtic Cup, enjoying a rest day tomorrow ahead of Sunday’s showdown with Scotland.
Speaking afterwards, Gene Muller said: "It was a nightmare start to the match for us but the players handled it very well. They showed good maturity to stick to the take in adversity. We clawed our way to a win in a difficult game.” Ireland play Scotland on Sunday at 10am (Irish time).
Ireland: Louisa Healy (Loreto); Roisin Flinn (Old Alex); Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins); Eimear Cregan (Catholic Institute); Emma Clarke (Leicester); Emma Stewart (Armagh); Bridget Cleland (Ballymoney); Shirley McCay (Dragons); Audrey O'Flynn (UCC); Alex Speers (Dragons); Rachel Mulligan (Armagh); Nikki Symmons (Loreto); Emma Smyth (Railway Union); Lizzie Colvin (Loreto); Lisa Jacob (UCD); Michelle Harvey (Pegasus) Did not play: Mary Goode (Bray) Niamh Small (Loreto)