Ireland’s first Women’s World Cup field hockey final ended in defeat as the Netherlands retained the title with an emphatic 6-0 victory on 05 August 2018. Ireland, the second-lowest ranked country in the tournament, was unable to produce a fairy-tale ending at Lee Valley Hockey Center.
Goals from Lidewij Welten, Kelly Jonker, Kitty van Male, Malou Pheninckx, Marloes Keetels and Caia van Maasakker capped a dominant performance from the Dutch as they won the competition for a record eighth time. The Netherlands team hasn’t lost since the Olympic final two years ago. This was Ireland’s first World Cup since 2002, and its previous best result was 11th in 1994. Ranked 16th, Ireland topped a group including Olympic champion England and was first into the quarterfinals.
Graham Shaw’s Ireland began brightly but did not manage a shot at goal until the final quarter and the Netherlands, which lifted the trophy on home soil four years ago, soon showed its superiority. Welten put Alyson Annan’s team ahead in the seventh minute, turning to hit a powerful shot through a crowded circle and past Irish goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran at the near post.
Jonker found the bottom-left corner to double the lead in the 19th, while superb blocks from Irish pair Shirley McCay and Roisin Upton following penalty corners prevented further goals. The free-scoring Dutch, who registered 29 goals in five matches to reach the final, put the result beyond doubt with two quick goals in the final stages of the second period.
Tournament top scorer Van Male smashed in her eighth of the competition from close range and, moments later, Pheninckx was allowed too much space to fire the ball high into the net. Shaw called for his players to “be proud” at halftime but they were outclassed by the world’s top-ranked team and powerless to stop Keetels tapping home a fifth and Van Maasakker adding another from a penalty corner.