Ireland are a step closer to qualifying for the 2022 Women's FIH Hockey World Cup.
They beat France 4-1 in Pisa to secure a European qualifier semi-final with Belarus (ranked 21st in the world).
Ireland (12th in the world) need to win that game, and Sunday’s final, to qualify for next summer’s finals, which are being held in Spain and the Netherlands.
Galway native Niamh Carey scored her first-ever senior international goal in what was her debut with Roisin Upton, Hannah McLoughlin, and Zara Malseed all also on target.
A great start as @IreWomenHockey shake off the shackles to reach the semi-final of the World Cup qualifiers in Pisa!
— Hockey Ireland (@irishhockey) October 21, 2021
Speaking after the game, Irish midfielder Roisin Upton said their ability to stay calm and not get frustrated before finding their scoring chances was crucial.
“It’s something we talked about, sticking to the process no matter how long the game went on at 0-0, or even if we concede.
“We were really pleased we stuck to the plan and broke through. We knew we needed to win corners; the execution in the first half wasn’t so good so we had to pick it up and nail it. Getting on the scoresheet early in the second half settled everyone.”
Limerick native Upton, who played for Ireland in their famous run at the 2018 tournament, was also delighted to see Carey's goal but also said it didn't come as a major surprise that she got on the scoresheet.
“It’s no different to what we see every day in training! Her first cap has been a long time coming but she scores goals like that constantly, even in the uncapped games and it is great to have her here.
“Knowing it was a tournament game, there is that added pressure of it being a ‘must-win'".