Ma­chine over­drive

The Hockey Paper - - NEWS - By Claire Mid­dle­ton

Ire­land’s Green Ma­chine cheer World League 2 vic­tory

IRE­LAND’S women boasted the best team, the best player and the star goal­keeper as the Green Ma­chine com­pleted a clean sweep at the World League 2 tour­na­ment in Kuala Lumpur.

They beat hosts Malaysia 3-0 in the fi­nal to claim their slot in the World League Semi-Fi­nals while also se­cur­ing the awards for the best player, top goalscorer and goal­keeper of the tour­na­ment.

“This was our first com­pet­i­tive tour­na­ment in 18 months and we’re very proud of the team and the level of per­for­mance,” said their de­lighted coach Gra­ham Shaw.

Wales notched their best World League per­for­mance but fell short in the semi­fi­nals, los­ing to Ire­land, and then in the play-off for bronze, where they were de­feated by Italy.

With only the win­ners and fi­nal­ists cer­tain to qual­ify for the next World League stage, Wales must look to the EuroHockey Divi­sion 2 Cham­pi­onships in Cardiff, in Au­gust, as they seek to qual­ify for the 2018 Com­mon­wealth Games in Aus­tralia.

Goals from Anna O’Flana­gan, the event’s top scorer and player of the tour­na­ment, Kathryn Mul­lan and Zoe Wil­son gave Ire­land their vic­tory over hosts Malaysia, who also qual­ify for World League 3.

They con­ceded just once through­out the com­pe­ti­tion – when they met Malaysia in the group stages and won 2-1 – and shot stop­per Aye­sha McFer­ran was con­se­quent- ly named the goal­keeper of the tour­na­ment.

“The per­for­mance was out­stand­ing,” said Shaw.

“We played a very at­trac­tive style of hockey and it was very en­joy­able to watch, played in front of a huge home crowd.

“We have had an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence and have grown and learned a lot as a group.

“We have ex­cit­ing times ahead with World League semis and the EuroHockey Cham­pi­onships. We’ll use this tour­na­ment as a bench­mark go­ing for­ward.

“Our No. 1 goal is to qual­ify for the World Cup and fin­ish as high as pos­si­ble at the Euro­peans in Au­gust.”

Italy’s win over Wales to clinch bronze gives them an out­side chance to progress as the two high­est-ranked teams from the third-placed fin­ish­ers will earn places in the semi­fi­nals. Wales coach Kevin John­son said he was pleased with the progress of his squad.

“We will look back at the tour­na­ment proud that we have been able to com­pete pos­i­tively against high­er­ranked na­tions and our de­vel­op­ment as a group con­tin­ues to grow at a fast rate.

“Along­side this, how­ever, the tour­na­ment has also made us aware of ar­eas of our game we must im­prove so we can turn our com­pet­i­tive­ness into more pos­i­tive score­lines in clas­si­fi­ca­tion games,

“All in all, we have got what we wanted and have earned valu­able world rank­ing points on the way to a top-four fin­ish.”

The next women’s World League Round 2 tour­na­ment fea­tures Scot­land and starts on Fe­bru­ary 4 in Va­len­cia, Spain.

Cham­pi­ons: Ire­land won a spot in the World League semi­fi­nals af­ter a 3-0 fi­nal vic­tory over Malaysia in World League 2

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