Wednesday 16 October 2019

Ireland look to sharpen up against hapless Singapore

Ireland's Anna O'Flanagan. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Ireland's Anna O'Flanagan. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Stephen Findlater and John Flack

Having seen hapless Singapore concede 17 times in two games, the question is how many Ireland will score in their final FIH Series Finals group game.

Ireland need just a draw from the tie to top the group and the timid nature of the Asian team, the lowest-ranked side at Banbridge, means it should be a handy afternoon for Gareth Grundie's side.

When the teams last met at a World Cup qualifier in Kuala Lumpur in 2017, Ireland won 10-0 and Singapore were thrashed 12-0 by Malaysia on Sunday.

Anna O'Flanagan - scorer of four goals on Sunday in Ireland's 8-1 demolition of the Czechs - made a tacit admission that most of the hard yards have already been run in terms of securing a semi-final spot.

"We knew these were the two main games in this group and the one against the Czechs was probably the group decider," she said.

"We can't underestimate Singapore and we will do our homework on them.

Additionally, Shirley McCay will set a new caps record today when she lines out for Ireland in an unfamiliar role.

The 31-year-old Omagh woman will be making her 281st international appearance, overhauling Eugene Magee, who set the previous milestone last week when playing against France.

However, McCay is set to play up front today instead of in her usual position in the Irish defence which she also occupies at club level with Pegasus.

She has been moved up the pitch by interim head coach Grundie, who feels she can make a useful contribution in the attack.

Grundie said: "In terms of our shape, moving Shirley up just gives us a bit more of a threat."

Their semi-final opponents will be determined later in the week but whoever the opposition might be - a rematch with Malaysia is a possibility - it will be tougher than today's game.

Megan Frazer may be used sparingly today - or perhaps not at all - as she recovers from a long season in Germany and a handful of injury niggles.

Ireland will need to win their semi-final on Saturday to progress to the final stage of Olympic qualifying.

Today's FIH Series matches (Havelock Park, Banbridge)

Pool A: Malaysia v Czech Republic (12.0); Ireland v Singapore (2.0).

Pool B: Korea v France (4.0); Ukraine v Scotland (6.0).

Irish Independent

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