Watkins seals friendly victory over China
Ireland's women ran up a lively 4-2 victory over China yesterday at Belfield as they ramp up their preparations for November's Olympic qualifying ties against Canada, writes Stephen Findlater.
The match saw Grace O'Flanagan make her return in a first appearance of any kind since the 2018 World Cup final having taken a break from the game while Lena Tica and Zoe Wilson both won their 100th caps.
Xiayun Xi did give China - two places lower than Ireland in the world at 10th - the lead early on but Ireland fought back with Nikki Evans equalising in the 23rd minute.
Shirley McCay put the Green Army in front in the third quarter courtesy of a penalty corner special, sweeping in after Róisín Upton's stepover.
Zoe Wilson cracked in the next for 3-1 before Xiaoming Song pulled one back with seven minutes to go. Chloe Watkins' crisp strike, however, sealed the deal for the Irish women with time running out. The two sides will meet again tomorrow in an uncapped challenge match.