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Ireland suffer another Olympic qualifier heartbreak
Ireland 1 (0)
Audrey O'Flynn pc 56m
Belgium 4 (3)
Gierts 13m op; 17m ps; 19m pc; Coppey 57m op
Ireland took on the host Belgium in the final of the women's Olympic hockey qualfier in Beerschot today but their Olympic dreams came undone after an unbeaten run in this tournament, when hosts Belgium secured a 4-1 victory.
The defeat came a week after Ireland's men lost their Olympic qualifying final against Korea.
The last men's and women's hockey place at the London 2012 Olympic Games will be decided in Kakamigahara, Japan in early May (April 26- May 6, men, April 25 - May 5, women).Ireland started the match pressing high looking to attack from the get go but it was Belgium who secured the first penalty corner in the 4th minute but the attempt was well cleared by Ireland's defence. Ireland immediately countered but the turnover resulted in Boon for Belgium winning a free which went flying across the circle just missing a touch from De Vos letting Ireland off the hook.
Ireland immediately went goal hunting with Emma Smyth making a great run down the right crossing but a diving Emma Clarke just couldn't get to it. 13 minutes in Belgium broke the deadlock when a high ball in gave Gierts a chance to smash the ball in from the top of the circle to make it 1-0. Ireland continued to attack but to no avail and became a bit unstuck when Belgium were awarded a controversial penalty stroke which Gierts put away high into the net to make it 2-0 to the hosts. Just two minutes later Ireland conceded their third when a well worked penalty corner was switched back to the injector for Gierts to score her hattrick and make it 3-0.
Ireland continued with chances a plenty in the first half in the shape of six penalty corners but with the Belgian number one defender running down the barrel Ireland found it difficult to get the shots away and it remained Ireland 0-3 Belgium at half time.
Early on in the second half Audrey O'Flynn was forced to put in a great and brave tackle to ward of a Belgian shot and Ireland again looked to attack as the hosts seemed happy to defend the lead. Ireland then secured another penalty corner this time making no mistake as O'Flynn dragged home for Ireland to make it 1-3. But Belgium immediately countered and reinstated their 3 goal lead within 30 seconds thanks to Coppey who volleyed it into the back of the Irish net.
Ireland continued to look for goals fighting through to the end but a stronger looking Belgian side on the day defended well and secured the 11th spot in the London 2012 Olympics.
Coach Gene Muller said: "Belgium were the better team on the day today, we couldn't get a foothold on the game. They scored three goals in quick succession and we couldn't sink our nails into the match. I think we played with a level of consistency throughout the week and that got us into the final but Belgium were better over the course of the week. I am disappointed in the result but it was a fair result."
Ireland will fly home tomorrow morning.
Emma Gray, Nikki Symmons, Sinead McCarthy, Cliodhna Sargent, Emma Smyth, Lizzie Colvin, Emma Clarke, Lisa Jacob, Alex Speers, Aine Connery, Audrey O'Flynn
Michelle Harvey, Shirley McCay, Nikki Daly, Nikki Evans, Miriam Crowley