Quins coach not taking Knock for granted

DESPITE the fact that Cork Harlequins have beaten today’s Irish Senior Women’s Cup opponents Knock in the competition for the past two years, coach Ivan Bateman is taking nothing for granted in the third round encounter at Harlequin Park (hit off 1.30pm).

The Cork outfit beat their Northern rivals 8-0 in the cup two years ago in Cork and last year they travelled to Belfast and won 4-0, but Bateman says that the result of last year's game was certainly not as clear-cut as the scoreline might suggest.

"Knock play in the Senior B division in the North and they are a very talented hockey team, although they also have a strong physical element to their game. We certainly deserved to win the cup game last year, but I don't think we deserved to win by so much," said Bateman.

He added that Knock have some excellent defensive qualities and a really good goalie, so racking up those types of scores against them for a third time might not be so easy.

One reason for that, Bateman reckons, is that his own side are not scoring as prolifically as they were last year.

Another reason why Bateman is certainly not taking Knock for granted is that they beat fancied Dublin outfit Pembroke in the last round of the competition against the expectation of many experts, not least Pembroke themselves.

"I think that Pembroke might have been a little too confident of progressing, but Knock hung in there right to the end and they eventually won it on penalty strokes, so it would be silly for us to think that we are simply too good for them."

With a relative surfeit of striking options open to him, Bateman has the luxury of being able to play the experienced recently retired international Karen Bateman in midfield, alongside the also recently retired international captain Rachel Kohler.

"None of our squad are in America with the Irish women's team right now, which is something of a novelty for us, so we have a full strength squad and with players as experienced as Rachel and Karen, that means a lot. But having said that, our team knows that we will have to play well against Knock if we are going to progress in the Cup."

He added that players like Joanna Hyland and Nan Kearney would be crucial to them and said Harlequins' only injury worry was Marissa Ahern, who has a slight ankle strain, but is confident of playing.

Meantime, the Irish women's team lost 3-1 to America late on Thursday in San Francisco in the second of three internationals against the USA squad.

The trip is being made in preparation for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, on March 19-28 and this was Ireland second consecutive loss.

The Americans are ranked 10th in the World four places ahead of Ireland and for this match, coach Riet Kuper capped another two debutantes, Pamela Orr from Randalstown and Loreto's Orla Ryan.

Ireland played attacking hockey in the first half with Nicky Symmons scoring from a penalty stroke after the US keeper brought down Lynsey McVicker following a fine solo run.

Both teams were on equal footing throughout most of the game, but USA produced three goals in the second half from well-rehearsed set play.

The final game in the series will be played today at 14.00 local time (22.00 Irish time)

Ireland: N King (GK), C O'Brien, K Maybin, N Symmons, F Connery, B McKeever, L Caulfield, E Cregan, J McDonough, L McVicker (Capt.), D Casey, N McCaughern, P Orr, S Beaney, O Ryan, E Bromell.

Jill Orbinson, Kristin Farrell, Angela Platt and Jenny Burke did not play.

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