Gillian Pinder said Ireland’s second place finish at the FIH Series Finals last Sunday at Banbridge was a bittersweet one as they missed out on gold but did hit their primary target – a place in next October’s Olympic playoffs.
The Dubliner played a key role as the World Cup silver medalists beat Malaysia (2-1), Singapore (11-0) and the Czech Republic in both the group (8-1) and the semi-final (4-0) to take a big stride to a potential place at Tokyo 2020.
The final, though, slipped through their grasp as they fell 3-1 to Korea with all the goals coming in the last 15 minutes of a tense battle.
Ireland had a goal disallowed in the first half when a Roisin Upton drag-flick was ruled out for a perceived obstruction and it cost Ireland dear.
They fell behind early in the fourth quarter and they were caught again when pushing for a late equaliser. Nicci Daly did get one back but Korea killed off the tie with their third with six seconds left.
“We had our eyes set on winning this tournament and the ranking points that come with it,” Dubliner Pinder told Dublin Gazette.
“Of course, it is disappointing but we are still qualifed for that playoff and still have pretty big fish to fry in the European Championships in August. It’s not the end of the world but it is a disappointing end to a really good week.
“The first three quarters of the final, there were phases we were on top; phases they were on top; 0-0 into the last quarter, we felt good. When we did concede, we did have to gamble a bit more and in that, they got their second.
“To get one back with two minutes to go, we thought we would have a repeat of Hawkes Bay when we levelled from three down but it wasn’t to be.”
The competition was Ireland’s first appearance in action on home soil since the World Cup and they performed in front of a sold out crowd for the final at the Co Down venue.
“They were great all week even without the weather which usually brings a big crowd.
“Warming up and the PA was on the speaker getting people to move in; we don’t get that in hockey. Banbridge did a brilliant job. The stadium looks great; it was so well run and we are just disappointed we didn’t deliver the goods [in the final].”