Ireland v South Africa Pre-Match Report

A big thank you to our superfan correspondent, @RuthyMcDonagh, for our pre-match report ahead of the Irish Women’s Hockey Team’s first game in Tokyo.

After decades of hard work, highs, and lows, this Saturday the Irish Women’s Hockey team aka The Green Army, finally take to the pitch in their first-ever Olympic campaign (1.15pm Irish time, RTE2). South Africa, ranked 16th in the world are first up for Ireland’s Green Army, who themselves are currently ranked 9th in the world.

In the lead up to the Olympics, Ireland have had a busy few months with a number of training camps, test matches and most recently the Europeans in June where they just fell short of securing a ticket to the World Cup. For South Africa it has been a quieter lead up with no formal fixtures since February 2020, where they played Ireland in a 3 match series, Ireland winning all three. Recent plans for the sides to meet again last March were cancelled due to the pandemic. 

On a personnel side, both teams have plenty of experience in their panels to draw from. Double Olympian Lisa-Marie Deetlefs (Beijing and London) lines out for South Africa along with Lilian du Plessis, Quanita Bobbs and Celia Seerane (née Evans) who have a range of tournament experience in World Cups and Commonwealth Games. 

Ireland will certainly take from their 2018 World Cup campaign where they secured an unprecedented Silver Medal. Captained by Katie Mullan, the Green Army will draw on the experience of the panel that includes Shirley McCay, Anna O’Flanagan, Chloe Watkins and Lizzie Colvin who boast over 950 caps between them, whilst also introducing newly capped trio Michelle Carey, Zara Malseed and Sarah McAuley

In terms of the tournament, there are 12 teams competing across two groups. For Ireland (9th), following Saturday’s fixture against South Africa (16th) they will meet number 1 side the Netherlands on Monday. Continuing their tight fixture schedule of five games in eight days, they take on Germany (3rd) on Wednesday (27th) before back-to-back fixtures against India (10th) on Friday, July 29 and Great Britain (5th) on Saturday 30th

Notably this year, the International Olympic Committee have made a number of hockey-specific amendments to the tournament regulations. Teams can now select 16 players from a wider panel of 18 players. Previously the reserve players were only allowed to be brought in to the playing squad following an injury. Additional updates mean if a side cannot field – primarily due to Covid – for a particular game, a 5-0 loss will be recorded but they will not be removed from the competition. Where two teams cannot field, a 0-0 result will be recorded but no points will be allocated. You can find out more information on the amendments here:

Ireland women’s squad for Olympic Games – July 24-August 6, 2021, Oi Stadium, Tokyo, Japan (club/caps):

  • Ayeisha McFerran (SV Kampong, 105) – goalkeeper
  • Anna O’Flanagan (Muckross, 212) – vice-captain
  • Chloe Watkins (Monkstown, 229)
  • Deirdre Duke (Old Alex, 146)
  • Hannah Matthews (Loreto, 152)
  • Hannah McLoughlin (UCD, 19)
  • Katie Mullan (Ballymoney, 198) – captain
  • Lena Tice (Old Alex, 114)
  • Lizzie Colvin (Belfast Harlequins, 201)
  • Lizzie Murphy (Loreto, 13) – goalkeeper (travelling reserve)
  • Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute, 115)
  • Nicci Daly (Loreto, 194)
  • Róisín Upton (Catholic Institute, 81)
  • Sarah Hawkshaw (Railway Union, 38)Sarah McAuley (Muckross, 1)
  • Shirley McCay (Pegasus, 311)
  • Sarah Torrans (Loreto, 26)

Fixture list (times Irish):

July 24: Ireland v South Africa, 1.15pm

July 26: Netherlands v Ireland, 2am

July 28: Germany v Ireland, 4.15am

July 30: Ireland v India, 3.45am

July 31: Ireland v Great Britain, 12.45pm

August 1-6: Knock-out matches

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