There was to be no dream ending to Ireland’s fairytale Hockey Women’s World Cup as the Netherlands cruised to a record eighth title with a stunning 6-0 win. Graham Shaw’s side – the second-lowest ranked in the tournament defied the odds on their way to an unlikely place in the World Cup final. Despite London being turned green for the day and the encouragement of a passionate crowd, six different scorers netted for the Dutch who retained the title they won in 2014.
Ireland’s series of brave displays, picking off the higher ranked teams every step of the way had captured the imagination of the hockey world and even those outside it. Kitty van Male, one of the Dutch goalscorers is among their fans. She told The Top of the D afterwards:
“I think they are great. They play with balls! They are very good. I like the way they play. I love defence and the way they go about it and they go for it. I love that about them.”
“If they weren’t good they would not be in the final. The final is the final. It’s always different. It is tense but it’s not difficult for us to motivate ourselves for it.”
Van Male was among the six scorers for the Netherlands who dismissed any notion of big match nerves with a four-goal blitz in a seven-minute spell around the half-time break. Lidweij Welten, later named player of the tournament opened the scoring on seven minutes and despite some forays forwards by the Green Army the Dutch asserted their dominance scoring through Kelly Jonker, van Male and Malou Pheninckx before half time.
“You know how finals work so you can tell the younger players to relax and play their games, do their thing and do what they’re good at.” said Van Male. “That’s the one thing we had that Ireland doesn’t: The experience of finals. We had to trust that and we did.”
Ireland fought all the way but third quarter goals from Marloes Keetels and Caia van Maasakker sealed an emphatic win for the Netherlands and confirmed their place as World Champions in a tournament where in truth, they have been a class above the rest of the competition.
“It feels great I’m so happy and I’m so proud of the team. Winning medals is great. You have to train for it and you have to love it. You can’t get this feeling in work anywhere else. I love it.” said a delighted Van Male afterwards. The Dutch dominance continues….