Women's Olympic hockey qualifier: Ireland beat Canada on shootout to secure Olympic berth

Ireland realise Olympic dream after penalty drama

Ireland's women have qualified for the Olympics for the first time, courtesy of a highly dramatic shootout win over Canada at Donnybrook.

After the second leg finished in a 0-0 draw as the first leg had done, Irish hopes hung in the balance having missed two of their first three efforts in the shootout.

Ayeisha McFerran then made two saves to force the shootout into sudden death.

After Roisin Upton scored for Ireland, Amanda Woodcroft failed to convert, sparking jubilant home celebrations.

A week ago Ireland's men fell foul of the video umpire as they missed out on an Olympic berth in controversial fashion, but the women's team were spared such heartache despite the video umpire's heavy involvement in the shootout.

On another cold and wet night in Donnybrook, the game itself followed a similar pattern to the first leg.

Although Ireland began with more purpose they were unable to take control of proceedings as both sides struggled to find rhythm to their game.

Anna O'Flanagan saw her first-quarter effort slide narrowly wide of the post before Brienne Stairs nearly deflected the ball beyond McFerran, but again the ball drifted past the goal.

With the deadlock unbroken after four quarters, it was Canada who took the ascendancy in the shootout.

Ireland's women
Ireland's women have booked their place at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

Stephanie Norlander, Woodcroft and Sara McManus converted for the visitors while Nicci Daly was the only one of Ireland's first three takers to find the back of the net.

With Canada needing to score only one of their two remaining shootouts to qualify, and Ireland needing to score both of theirs in order to force sudden death, all the momentum was with the visitors.

However McFerran, so often the hero during Ireland's run to the 2018 World Cup final, made two saves from Stairs and Shanlee Johnston while Bethany Barr and Chloe Watkins held their nerve to score.

Upton, who had missed her first effort, stepped up for Ireland's first in sudden-death and scored, surviving a video referral which revealed that the eight-second shot-clock had not been set before the shootout was taken.

Then Woodcroft failed to get her shot off before the eight seconds were up, sending Ireland through to Tokyo 2020.

We can do something special - McFerran

Ireland goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran

"I'm doing my job for the team. They get me there, they believe in me and I believe in them.

"It's just about trying to stay calm. I really try to ignore the crowd and not let them into my head.

"I know I can do the business when I'm ready."

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