Defying the odds and at times pulling off some near miraculous feats of defending, Ireland overcame pre-tournament favourites Korea 2-1 to earn a place in the semi-finals.
As the team that finished in last place in their pool, Ireland were not expected to win this encounter, but from the start the Ireland team played attacking, confident hockey that rocked the composure of the Korea team. Ireland were the first to strike in the 3rd minute, when Kathyrn Mullan scored from a penalty corner. The rest of the first half was a case of attack and counter-attack, with Korea building patiently up the right-hand side of the pitch, and Ireland relying on solid defending and quick breaks. A series of penalty corners towards the end of the half yielded no joy for the team in red, with Emma Gray performing heroics in the Ireland goal.
Nicola Evans, who was one of Ireland's energetic midfielders, said: "At half-time we spoke about playing our game and building up play in phases. We knew that if we could suck up the pressure then we would be able to get behind the Korea defence with quick breaks. We had identified that this is where there were gaps to be exploited."
Standing up to the Korea pressure was definitely a feature of the second half. Korea came out with a renewed intensity and spent much of the half trying to break the Ireland defence down. Driven by their captain Jong Eun Kim in midfield, the Koreans piled the pressure on the Ireland circle and this paid off when Hye Lyoung Han (49) scored from a penalty corner.
With the game back on even terms the Koreans began to increase the pace of their game, switching the ball quickly around the pitch and forcing the Irish team to work hard to regain possession. Three penalty corners for Ireland gained the initiative back for the team in green, and Anna O'Flanagan (57) was able to strike from the left and make it 2-1. This signalled a renewed attack from the Koreans and for the next five minutes Korea were camped in the Irish circle, with Gray called into action time and again.
"I think Korea ran out of ideas," added Evans, complimenting the defence for the battling display that helped propel Ireland into Saturday's semi-finals.