Ireland’s first Hockey World Cup final ended in defeat as favourites Holland retained their title with an emphatic 6-0 victory in London.
The Irish team, the second-lowest ranked country in the competition, upset the odds to reach the last two but were unable to produce a fairy-tale ending at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre.
Goals from Lidewij Welten, Kelly Jonker, Kitty van Male, Malou Pheninckx, Marloes Keetels and Caia van Maasakker capped a dominant performance from the Dutch as they won the competition for a record eighth time.
Graham Shaw’s underdogs began brightly but did not manage a shot at goal until the final quarter and the tournament favourites – who lifted the trophy on home soil four years ago – soon showed their superiority.
Welten put Alyson Annan’s team ahead in the seventh minute, turning to hit a powerful shot through a crowded circle and past Irish goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran at the near post.
Jonker found the bottom-left corner to double the lead in the 19th minute, while superb blocks from Irish pair Shirley McCay and Roisin Upton following penalty corners prevented further goals.
The free-scoring Dutch, who registered 29 goals in five matches to reach the final, put the result beyond doubt with two quickfire goals in the final stages of the second period.
FT: Ireland 0 - 6 Netherlands. Well done to the world number 1’s. We couldn’t be prouder of the #greenarmy, making history and winning a World Cup silver medal!!!! Keep watching folks, we’ve got a medal presentation to attend pic.twitter.com/RyLqbsbbPm— Irish Hockey (@irishhockey) August 5, 2018
Tournament top scorer Van Male smashed in her eighth of the competition from close range and, moments later, Pheninckx was allowed too much space to fire the ball high into the net.
Shaw called for his players to “be proud” at half-time but they were outclassed by the world’s top-ranked team and powerless to stop Keetels tapping home a fifth and Van Maasakker adding another from a penalty corner.
Earlier on Sunday, Spain beat Australia 3-1 in the bronze medal match.
The President has since congratulated the Irish side on their silver medal achievements, stating that it was a "fantastic accomplishment" and "truly inspirational."
Meanwhile, the Lord Mayor of Dublin has plans for a Civic Reception at The Mansion House to welcome the 'Girls in Green' home.
President Higgins has offered his “warmest congratulations to the Irish women‘ s hockey team on their historic achievement of winning the silver medal at the World Cup.”
A homecoming reception is being planned for Dublin tomorrow evening.
Councillor Paul McAuliffe says there will be 'dancing in the streets'.
Elsewhere, pressure is being put on the Sports Minister to provide Ireland's international teams with funding before they do well.
Fianna Fail Cork East Deputy, Kevin O'Keefe, says Shane Ross should ensure the Irish women's hockey team have their expenses reimbursed.
He said: "Any team that goes abroad and represents our country should be helped out in any way possible given that these sports are recognised on the world scene.
- Press Association and Digital Desk