Senior Women's International
Ireland 0 Australia 1 (Emily Hurtz)
For the second game running, Emily Hurtz proved Ireland’s denier, this time striking just two and a half minutes from time to deny Ireland a famous draw at Belfield against the world number fives.
Again, they would have been reasonable value for it as the hockeyroos struggled to find the invention to unlock an organised Irish defence which offered precious little by way of clear-cut chances bar six penalty corners.
It was an almost a carbon-copy of the previous day’s action with Australia holding plenty of possession but creation in the 25 escaped them.
Louisa Healy – on her 50th cap – did pull two immaculate saves from that series but the number of saves was on a par with counterpart Kate Hubble who needed to be sharp to deny Shirley McCay, Julia O’Halloran and Cliodhna Sargent.
In a low-key start, Ireland struggled to get out of their own half in the opening 15 minutes but Ashleigh Nelson’s sweep wide from close range was the only chance of note.
Ireland responded well; Sargent’s corner bash well saved by Hubble’s extended stick while O’Halloran rounded on the ball at the top circle but straight down the pads of the netminder.
And in another fine move, McCay did well to latch onto Eimear Cregan’s slip pass and battered an upright reverse goalward from the baseline but Hubble’s glove nurdled the ball around the post.
It was a lively time with the Irish holding sway until the Aussies got a grip back on the tie, aided by the otherwise impressive Sinead McCarthy’s green card.
And they should have taken the lead 20 seconds after the turnaround as Amy Korner deflected high from close range but Healy dived with head and stick to save brilliantly.
Four further corners came and went for Australia but an inventive Irish effort saw Lisa Jacob denied from close in when well placed from Michelle Harvey’s lay up. Hubble scrambled to save.
Healy tipped a Nicole Arrold corner around the post as the game looked set to peter out into stalemate. Australia held the vast majority of play but only one shot came to pass in the closing 18 minutes from either side.
It was the vital one, though; as Arrold’s push zipped wide of the right post and Hurtz finished the chance.
Ireland face Australia in the third of their three test matches tomorrow at 4pm in Belfield. Eimear Cregan could be a doubt for that tie having shipped a finger injury which required observation in St Vincent’s hospital.
Ireland: Louisa Healy, Niamh Small, Eimear Cregan, Nikki Symmons, Emma Smyth, Alex Speers, Michelle Harvey, Audrey O’Flynn, Emma Clarke, Bridget Cleland, Cliodhna Sargent Subs: Julia O’Halloran, Sinead McCarthy, Nikki Evans, Lisa Jacob, Shirley McCay
Australia: Kate Hubble, Nicole Arrold, Anna Flanagan, Ali Bruce, Teneal Attard, Fiona Boyce, Kary Chau, Madonna Blyth, Ashleigh Nelson, Kim Walker, Kate Jenner Subs: Georgia Nacscewan, Megan Rivers, Amy Korner
* For more of Adrian Boehm's photos from the game, click here; Ondine Roche's photos of the game can be seen here.