Ireland finish fourth at Nations Cup after Japan defeat

Sean Dancer’s side twice lost a lead in their third-place playoff in Valencia

Japan 3 Ireland 2

Ireland had to settle for fourth place at the Nations Cup in Valencia on Saturday after twice surrendering a lead to Japan in their third-place playoff, Sean Dancer’s side conceding the winner in a 3-2 defeat five minutes from time.

A scoreless first half was followed by four goals in five third-quarter minutes, captain Katie Mullan getting her third of the tournament, making her its top scorer, when she pounced on Sarah McAuley’s cross from the left.

Japan, though, levelled within four minutes, Mai Toriyama turning home the rebound from Liz Murphy’s penalty-corner save. Niamh Carey swiftly restored Ireland’s lead, finishing off a fine team move, but within a minute Japan were level again through Mai Toriyama’s penalty-corner strike.


Yuri Nagai settled the game with five minutes left on the clock, the Japanese captain tapping home an awkward airborne ball past Murphy, and while Ireland poured everything in to the search for an equaliser, chances falling to Zara Malseed and Naomi Carroll, Japan held out to take bronze in the tournament.

India beat hosts Spain in the final, a sixth-minute goal from Gurjit Kaur deciding the game, so they have qualified for the top-tier Pro League.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times