Ireland captain Katie Mullan reflects on 'devastating' loss as Olympics dream over

Ireland senior women suffered Olympics qualifiers heartbreak in Spain on Saturday as a 2-1 loss to Great Britain signalled the end of the road.
Ireland senior women suffered an end to the Olympics qualifiers dream with defeat by Great Britain in Valencia. (Photo by Frank Uijlenbroek)Ireland senior women suffered an end to the Olympics qualifiers dream with defeat by Great Britain in Valencia. (Photo by Frank Uijlenbroek)
Ireland senior women suffered an end to the Olympics qualifiers dream with defeat by Great Britain in Valencia. (Photo by Frank Uijlenbroek)

Ireland, with one previous Olympics qualification compared to a Great Britain set-up boasting a clean sweep bar 2004, the all-or-nothing clash would mark a significant test.

And so it proved as Great Britain moved 2-0 up before Ireland’s late consolation in the bronze medal showdown.

The opening goal arrived on 18 minutes following a penalty corner deflected home by Sarah Jones.

Katie Robertson added number two for Great Britain on 46 minutes.

Ireland scored in the final minute off Hannah McLoughlin.

"It’s absolutely heartbreaking,” said Ireland captain Katie Mullan on BBC Radio Ulster. “The commitment that we give, the team environment that we have, the camaraderie, the friendships, the strengths...it’s just such a cruel, cruel thing to experience today.

"I’m just so proud of our fight, we fought so hard, we fought until the last minute.

"In the second half we came out all guns blazing, we put them under an awful lot of pressure.

"It’s so disappointing, I think the game was there for the taking but, as I say, I’m so proud of the girls and I’m so grateful to all of our friends and family for all of their support, they’ve been amazing.

"It’s just devastating.

"It’s a very long time since we’ve gone through a tournament and been consistent in every game and we were consistent in how we performed.

"We’re disappointed not to get on the right side of the result at the end of those performances.

"But I think it’s a huge positive for the group moving forward.

"We started this journey with a dream of going to Paris...it’s heart-breaking that that’s not going to be our reality and not going be our ending.

"But this has been an incredibly special journey and it’s been such a privilege to be on this journey with such a special group of women.

"And to have come out and shown up and presented ourselves the way we have...it’s one of the privileges of high-performance sport and one of the privileges of team sport and representing your country and it’s just devastating because we have definitely worked hard enough.”

IRELAND: Ayeisha McFerren, Róisín Upton, Niamh Carey, Sarah Hawkshaw, Katie Mullan, Hannah McLoughlin, Naomi Carroll, Ellen Curran, Charlotte Beggs, Katie McKee, Beth Harper.

Subs (used): Sarah McAuley, Michelle Carey, Sarah Torrans, Elena Neill, Chloe Watkins, Deirdre Duke, Liz Murphy.

Ireland senior men now face Korea on Sunday aiming to get over the line and secure a spot at the Olympics.