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