- Lifestyle & Sports
- 04 Nov 19
The women’s team have qualified for Tokyo 2020 in a dramatic penalty shootout where they came from 3-1 down to win 4-3 in the sudden death phase – the first time an Irish women’s team have qualified for the Olympics.
Two matches were played this weekend in front of a packed stadium in Donnybrook’s Energia park. The atmosphere was electric on Saturday despite the rain, at times it looked like it was going to be water logged and the game abandoned! The crowd who turned out set a record for an International women’s fixture in Ireland and were not deterred by the conditions – so happy were they to get behind their team.
The first game finished 0-0 setting the stage for a final showdown on Sunday in a winner takes all game. The crowds gathered early and lined the pitch in preparation. Even during the warm up the players knew they would have the best support in a home venue. There was good banter with the Canadian fans who valiantly tried to out sing / out shout the supporters… an impossible task.
The weather held up and it was ‘game on’.
While both teams had chances, defensive units stood firm, and sent the game into a penalty shoot-out. Each team had 5 players take it in turns to score in a 1 v 1 competition against the goalie and 8 seconds on the clock.
A nerve wrecking affair! Initially, only Nicci Daly’s shot went in and Ireland were 3-1 down. All around the grounds the Irish supporters were sick to the stomach and had hearts in their mouths as the goal-keeper, Ayeisha McFerron stepped up and made two key saves in a row, with both Chloe Watkins and Bethany Barr scoring to tie score at 3-3 and to bring the competition to a sudden death phase.
Up stepped Limerick’s Roisin Upton to take the first sudden death penalty – which was saved by Canada on the first shot but cracked into the goal on the recovered rebound. Then it was down to 'Queen' Ayeisha to send the team to Tokyo with yet another outstanding save between the posts.
The grounds erupted, the tears flowed, the dream had come true – Ireland, after heartbreaking defeats in previous years are off the Tokyo. Qualified directly in the head to head and ready to set the world alight next summer in Tokyo!