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Naomi Carroll’s deft winner against Japan for new-look Ireland

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Deirdre Duke in action for Ireland against Japan at Belfield, UCD.

Deirdre Duke in action for Ireland against Japan at Belfield, UCD.

Deirdre Duke in action for Ireland against Japan at Belfield, UCD.

Naomi Carroll’s sixth minute penalty corner goal earned Ireland a 1-0 victory over world No 10 side Japan on day two of the SoftCo Series at Belfield .

It was a positive performance from the new-look side as they controlled the tie from start to finish with Carroll getting a delicate touch for the only goal of the game.

Ireland did create a number of other chances but were not able to get the final touch but this was a hugely encouraging performance on the final lead into July’s World Cup.

As if to emphasise the current changing of the guard, recent retirees Shirley McCay, Hannah Matthews, Grace O’Flanagan, Lizzie Holden and Nicci Daly - amassing a combined 915 caps - were presented with mementoes for their incredible careers at half-time.

The win reversed Saturday’s 2-0 defeat in which Ireland had the upperhand in general play in quarters one and three but were not able to snag the goals required.

Japan, meanwhile, struck twice in the closing quarter with more clinical attacks and it is something coach Sean Dancer is keen to get in place.

“I thought we played really well today and certainly dominated the game,” said coach Sean Dancer. “We are working hard on some of the decision-making and shot selection but it will click.”

Dancer’s side are back in action on Wednesday in game three of the series at 5pm.

Earlier in the day, the Irish Under-23 selection was undone 4-1 by India in the Uniphar Five Nations tournament which also runs throughout the week at Belfield.

The Junior Green Army were well in the contest at half-time with Cork Harlequins’ Leah O’Shea on the mark but the Indians were accurate on the counter-attack to pull clear in the second half.

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Ireland are next in action on Wednesday when they meet the Junior World Cup champions, the Netherlands, before facing Ukraine on Thursday evening.

Today’s Under-23 fixtures between USA and Ukraine (1pm) and India against the Netherlands (3pm) are free entry while all games this week are free for Ukranians in Ireland.


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