Saturday 20 July 2019

Understated Grundie eager to keep expectations in Czech

Interim Ireland women’s coach Gareth Grundie says last Sunday’s 8-1 mauling of the Czech Republic will have “no bearing” on his side’s outlook as they face the same opposition in today’s FIH Series semi-final at Banbridge. Stock photo
Interim Ireland women’s coach Gareth Grundie says last Sunday’s 8-1 mauling of the Czech Republic will have “no bearing” on his side’s outlook as they face the same opposition in today’s FIH Series semi-final at Banbridge. Stock photo

Stephen Findlater

Interim Ireland women's coach Gareth Grundie says last Sunday's 8-1 mauling of the Czech Republic will have "no bearing" on his side's outlook as they face the same opposition in today's FIH Series semi-final at Banbridge.

The stakes are much higher this time around for the Green Army with victory assuring a direct Olympic qualifier next October.

The Czechs scraped into the final with a quarter-final shoot-out win over Scotland on Thursday after a dismal 0-0 draw.

Ireland will obviously take huge confidence into the tie, although the understated Grundie was typically careful not to ramp up expectations.

"We've done quite a bit of homework on them leading into the tournament so we know their strengths and won't take anything for granted," Grundie said.

"The last game has no bearing on the outcome of this semi-final and we'll make sure we are as prepared as we can be."

Nonetheless, the World Cup silver medallists have been the stand-out side this week, scoring 21 and conceding just two in three games to date.

The win over the Czechs was their most complete performance against a side they have previously struggled against, with Anna O'Flanagan gobbling up four chances.

She was deployed in midfield in the Singapore in the midweek 11-0 win while Shirley McCay was used in the forward line. It is likely they will revert back to more regular positions given the elevated stakes.

A win today will earn a final shot tomorrow against either Korea or Malaysia.

While the key target will already be in the bag, that tie could also prove important for a few additional world ranking points.

Ireland are currently in the shake-up for a home Olympic qualifier with the points on offer here and August's European Championships going a long way to aid that cause.

Korea would be a direct rival in that regard so finishing above them could be crucial further down the line.

Irish Independent

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