Kuper pleased with team

 

The Irish women's hockey team produced a creditable performance against Spain in Barcelona yesterday, only losing 1-0 to the 1995 European silver medallists in a 75-minute practice match.

The game's only goal came in the second of three periods when poor defending at a short corner allowed Lucia Lopez to score. It was an evenly-balanced contest, however, with chances falling to both sides, but Sharon Hutchinson, Sarah Hilliard and Tara Browne, the three Irish goalkeepers used in the game, acquitted themselves well. Once again coach Riet Kuper used all 20 of her players, including the five members of last season's under-21 squad - Anya Bowers, Jill Orbinson, Shauna Parkhill, Claire Redpath and Caitriona Carey.

"They've all done very well so far, considering it's their first taste of senior international hockey," said selector Bernie Heffernan after the game. "It's a bit of a shock to the system for them to be playing teams of this quality but they're learning a few lessons and coping well."

Carey, in particular, has impressed to date while Caitriona O'Kelly and Rachel Kohler also drew praise from Kuper for their displays in the defeats by Germany on Monday and Spain yesterday.

The Germans have asked the Irish for another practice game on Friday, which they have agreed to, but first Kuper's team will meet the Spanish again, today, in a 70 minute match.

Meanwhile, on the club scene, former Irish captain Jeanette Turner has given up her coaching role at Pegasus so that she can concentrate on playing for the rest of the season. Turner, who succeeded the current Irish assistant coach Glynis Taylor at the start of the season, will be replaced by David Scott, the Ulster's men's coach.