Passmore backs young Irish stars to pass Argentina test

IRELAND senior men’s interim coach Dave Passmore believes the young players in his squad will be in for a serious test as they take on Argentina in the first of an international double-header at Belfield tonight (7.30pm).

Passmore has named two panels for the games, with the second taking place tomorrow at Serpentine Avenue (12pm), and has named Ronan Gormley and Mark Black — who returns to the squad after a seven-month absence — as co-captains, even though both are carrying injuries.

“This is a great opportunity for some of the younger players to come in and compete against a top side such as Argentina,” said Passmore.

“These games will be tough and fast-paced, and the Argentineans will be out to settle a score after Ireland defeated them in the Olympic qualifiers earlier this year. These matches will provide challenging and entertaining hockey.”

Passmore has opted for a more experienced lineup for tonight’s encounter, with old hands Stephen Butler, Graham Shaw, Karl Burns and Timmy Cockram all involved.

That quartet will make way tomorrow for Conor Harte, Joe Brennan, Geoff McCabe, David Ames and Annadale’s Peter Caruth, who may make his international bow. Harte and McCabe are among a number of players in the squad who will be playing their fifth or sixth match in four days, having featured in regular Ulster and Leinster league action on Saturday before joining up with their respective colleges at the intervarsities in Kilkenny.

Hopes of a Cork double in that competition evaporated yesterday, as UCC’s women and CIT’s men both fell at the final hurdle.

UCD exacted revenge for last year’s Chilean Cup final defeat to UCC, as a golden goal gave them a 1-0 win and denied the Cork girls a prestigious three-in-a-row.

The sides had played out a 0-0 stalemate in the group stages on Monday, and the final proved to be an equally tight affair, with chances at a premium.

UCC weren’t happy with the awarding of a short corner to their Dublin rivals in extra-time, and there was to be further heartbreak as the Belfield side grabbed the crucial strike from the resultant set-piece.

Earlier in the day, UCC had earlier come through a dramatic 3-2, golden goal semi-final win against Ulster Elks. An early lead for the Jordanstown side was cancelled out when Audrey O’Flynn roofed a drag, but the Elks went back in front just after the break.

Julia O’Halloran missed a glorious chance to level when she saw her penalty stroke saved 10 minutes later, but Ali O’Connor hauled UCC level from a short corner with seven minutes to go.

College thought they’d won it in extra time, only to see a golden goal ruled out by the umpires. But it mattered little as Eibhlín O’Donoghue deflected home a short corner shot to send them through to the decider.

UCD’s passage to final was far more straightforward, as they thumped local rivals Trinity 4-0.

In the Mauritius Cup, Ulster Elks retained their title thanks to a 2-1 win over CIT. The Bishopstown college had defeated the Elks 2-1 in the pool stages, thanks to two Alastair Smith strikes.

The Bandon star was on target again yesterday, but it proved to be merely a late consolation, as Simon Todd and Michael Purcell had already done the damage for the Elks.

The Corkmen had a surprisingly easy route to the final, thumping a star-studded DCU outfit 5-0 thanks to goals from Roger Gray, Stephen Parker, Phil O’Driscoll, Smith and Erasmus student Geert Fromme.

In the other semi-final, UCD were stung by two late Ulster Elks goals.

Ben Grogan’s drag-flick put the Dubliners in the front at the break before the Elks levelled through Todd from a broken-down corner with 10 minutes to go, before Neil Hamilton won it late on.

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