Ireland 1 Britain 2
Ireland’s long wait for a win over Britain goes on as the visitors fought back in the second half to win 2-1 in the first of three uncapped Softco Series games this week.
Roisin Upton had flicked Ireland into an early lead but a concerted second half show by the British team turned things around with the tireless Lily Owsley levelling a cracking team move before Sarah Robertson finished off a more direct second goal 14 minutes from the end.
Sean Dancer’s side took the lead seven minutes in via Upton’s penalty stroke following a rapier-swift counter-attack between Sarah Torrans and Anna O’Flanagan ended in the latter being flattened by Maddie Hinch.
And they held that lead though to half-time despite some hairy moments as Grace O’Flanagan kept her sheet clean while Sarah McAuley – in her first taste of international hockey – put in the key tackles.
But GB bossed the third quarter, catching the Irish off-guard and unready right from the centre-pass. Liz Murphy’s first act between the posts as a second half substitute was to fell Owsley but she instantly redeemed herself, saving Giselle Ansley’s ensuing stroke onto the right post with a diving stick.
Owsley got the equaliser two minutes later, however, playing three separate roles in the move with pin-point give-and-goes to Sarah Evans and Robertson in the lead-up.
Irish chances were fleeting and Britain got their winner in the final quarter. Ansley provided the chance with an almighty pump from left back all the way to Robertson at the head of the D and the Scottish striker calmly turned Murphy and slid the shot in on her backhand.
The sides meet again on Sunday (5pm) before concluding the series on Tuesday in Belfast with plenty of changes in personnel likely as both sides test their 25-strong Olympic panels.
Ireland: G O’Flanagan, S McCay, S McAuley, H Matthews, K Mullan, R Upton, S Hawkshaw, L Colvin, N Evans, A O’Flanagan, N Carroll.
Subs: L Murphy, H McLoughlin, B Barr, M Frazer, M Carey, Z Malseed, S Torrans.
Britain: M Hinch, S Robertson, S Evans, I Petter, S Townsend, L Owsley, L Unsworth, F Crackles, G Ansley, Hollie Pearne-Webb, A Toman.
Subs: J Hunter, S Jones, S McCallin, L Wilkinson, G Balsdon.
Umpires: A Keogh (IRL), E Duffy (IRL).