Women’s Hockey: Ireland step up preparations for European Indoor Championships

Passmore’s squad beaten 2-1 in South Africa in first game of a six-match series

Orla Fox: Railway Union player was on target as Ireland returned to the indoor hockey arena against South Africa  in Durban. South Africa won 2-1.  Photograph:  Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Orla Fox: Railway Union player was on target as Ireland returned to the indoor hockey arena against South Africa in Durban. South Africa won 2-1. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

As part of their preparations for January’s European Indoor Championships in Bratislava, where they will take on Slovakia, Slovenia, Portugal, Spain, Denmark and Finland in the third division of the competition, the Irish indoor side are in South Africa this week for a six-match series in Durban and Cape Town.

Wednesday’s game against their hosts, which ended in a 2-1 defeat, was the first indoor international played by Ireland since 1990. The squad was assembled following trials in Abbotstown in October.

The trip to South Africa has been partly subsidised by Spar, sponsors of South African indoor hockey, the 14-strong squad coached by Dave Passmore.

Among the 14 players are six from Hockey League clubs, Orla Fox and Kate McKenna (both Railway Union), Sophie Barnwell (Muckross), Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute), Orla Patton (UCD) and Niamh Small (Loreto), hence this weekend’s reduced programme of matches, with Queens’ Erin Getty, Tori Hastings and Jessica McMaster, Ards’ Caroline Adams and Amy Benson, Chloe Brown (East Grinstead), Roisin O’Brien (Glenanne) and Millie Regan (East Grinstead) completing the panel.

It was Fox who got Ireland’s goal on Wednesday in a creditable display against a side playing their 29th indoor international of the year. The team play two more matches in Durban before moving on to Cape Town where they will play another three.

Back home the pick of the three surviving Hockey League games is the meeting in Belfast of the top two in the table, Pegasus and Pembroke Wanderers, the Dublin side leading the defending champions on goal difference.

Cork Harlequins, still looking for their first win of the campaign, host fourth-placed Old Alexandra while Muckross, who beat Harlequins last weekend for their first victory of the season, are at home to UCD.

Hockey League: Saturday: Pegasus v Pembroke Wanderers, Queens, 2.30; Cork Harlequins v Old Alexandra, Harlequins Park, 1.05; Muckross v UCD, Muckross Park, 3.15.

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