Ireland women strike silver

Ireland’s women claimed Champions Challenge I silver for the first time, but gold eluded them as USA claimed a 3-1 final victory in Glasgow.

Darren Smith’s side far outperformed their world ranking and likely their own expectations in reaching the decider, knocking out World Cup-bound opposition in Korea and South Africa en route.

But a final win proved a step too far despite an ideal start which saw Emma Smyth bat down Megan Frazer’s high shot to the net for an early lead.

Despite another fine show from goalkeeper of the tournament Emma Gray — Shirley McCay, Cliodhna Sargent and Frazer were others to make team of the tournament — they couldn’tprevent the US hitting them with three unanswered goals.

Ireland’s men finished fourth at the Champions Challenge I as their experimental side fell 4-2 to hosts Malaysia in the bronze medal match in Kuantan.

Having got off to a tough start against Malaysia, goals from Paul Gleghorne and Chris Cargo got Ireland back level and in the ascendancy early in the second half at 2-2. But, while Ireland shaded the latter stages, Azlan Misron and Fitri Ashari struck counter-attack goals in the last four minutes to snatch the win.

Meanwhile, Ulster again did the double at the Junior Interpros in Cork.

Narrow wins over Leinster on Saturday proved key for both the men and the women.

Munster’s women put in their best show of recent years to finish second, two goals from Ann-Marie O’Connell giving them a 3-1 win over South East before Freda Buttimer rescued a 1-1 draw against Leinster.

A fine second-half by Munster’s men wasn’t enough to see them fall 4-3 to Leinster despite wonder goals from David Quinn and Brendan du Preez. They did beat Connacht 3-1 for third.

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