It was a rollercoaster of emotions for former Ballymoney Hockey Club star Megan Frazer as Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for Rio 2016 were dashed.
Initially the Irish girls were on track when they defeated USA for the first time to ensure they finish in the top two of Pool B of the World Hockey League Round 3. Megan also celebrated her international milestone before the Rio dream crumbled before their eyes.
It was Irish Captain Megan who got her team off to the perfect start against USA she served notice of her intent with one backhand shot that was brilliantly tipped around the post by Jackie Briggs before she opened the scoring. Gillian Pinder set it up with a neat turn before laying it into her captain’s path and she pinged home a low finish. Frazer and her team mates kept clinging on for the result and, from their sole attack of the second half, with 70 seconds to go, they broke through thanks to Megan who laid on for O’Flanagan to sweep home the second goal and stun the Americans, ranked 5th in the world.
The result was the perfect way to mark Megan’s 100th cap for her country. Frazer has been integral part of the green army since winning her first cap against France in the Celtic Cup and has since won Player of the Tournament at both the Champions Challenge and World League 2.
Following on from the high of the victory, Megan and her teammates suffered devastation when they lost out on automatic qualification when they were beaten by China on a penalty shoot out. The Chinese took a first half lead with Ballymoney’s Katie Mullan coming close to levelling matters. Chloe Watkins got the Irish equaliser on 42 minutes before Megan had a late strike ruled out. The goal was initially awarded before the umpire Elena Eskina called a referral on her own decision and, after video footage, the goal was chalked off sending the game into a shoot out.
Unfortunately for the Irish Megan’s penalty hit the post before Anna O’Flanagan missed and the Chinese slotted home for a 4-3 win.
However, there was still a lifeline as Ireland, currently ranked 14 in the world, were aiming for a spot in the fifth/sixth place playoff, and with that another chance at qualification.
Having been literally the width of a post away from securing qualification for Rio 2016 against China two days prior, the Olympic qualification dream was brought to a cruel end as they again faced USA, losing 6-1. Unable to summon up any of the heroics they had previously display, the Irish girls also lost 4-0 to South Africa to finish 8th overall.
“Despite her disappointment Megan Frazer commented: “We were devastated to lose, we put our heart and souls into this but we have to look ahead now. We have the Europeans in August which we will look to do well in. We have a core group which has come together in the last two years. We’ve beaten numerous teams around the world all ranked above us and we are hoping to get in to the top ten spot really soon. There’s too much talened to be limited to playing down ranking sides.”
Elle Kirgan, one of Ballymoney’s up and coming stars is following in Megan Frazer’s footsteps. The Dalriada pupil started at the club when she was a toddler Elle and has risen through the ranks to make her representative debut for Ulster Under-16s against Scotland at the weekend.