Winning end to Ireland’s Chilean camp

Ireland’s women finished on a high in Santiago with a 3-0 victory over their Chilean hosts in the final game of a four-match series.

Winning end to Ireland’s Chilean camp

Ireland’s women finished on a high in Santiago with a 3-0 victory over their Chilean hosts in the final game of a four-match series.

It meant a neatly squared series of two draws and one win apiece with both sides scoring five times.

After a scoreless first-half, Ireland’s opener came from Cork’s Yvonne O’Byrne who deflected past Claudia Schuler.

Anna O’Flanagan doubled the lead before Deirdre Duke put the game out of sight with seven minutes to go.

Results were of secondary importance for coach Graham Shaw who was working towards the year ahead with numerous double sessions during the fortnight in South America. He also got a good insight into the Barr twins, Serena and Bethany along with Sarah Hawkshaw and Gemma Frazer.

Hawkshaw nabbed her first international goal in game two while the Barrs looked hugely effective between the midfield and defensive lines.

Next on the schedule is a trip to Murcia to face Spain in a number of games. Options for other opponents, though, is limited by the introduction of the controversial FIH Pro League with an invitational list of nine nations playing home and away over the next six months. It means that chances to face high-quality sides in practice matches are hampered ahead of June’s Hockey Series finals, the next phase of the Olympic qualifying process.

Domestically, the women’s weekend sees the beginning of the Munster Senior Cup with Belvedere’s battle with Waterford the most evenly matched tie on paper. The Ballincollig hosts shaded their October meeting 3-2 with goals from Holly Leacy, Niamh O’Brien and a Judy Murphy stroke, suggesting this could be a thriller once again.

Joint-league leaders Ashton will be hot favourites against bottom side Limerick. Catholic Institute, meanwhile, welcome back Laura Foley to the fold for the trip to Bandon who are playing their first tie of 2019.

On the men’s side, Cork Harlequins go to bottom side UCC looking to continue their 100% record into the second half of the season.

Bandon are fifth in the rankings but look like the last realistic challenger with three games in hand to gnaw away at a 12-point deficit.

Ali Smith’s side start their pursuit with a home date against Ashton where they will look to summon their 2018 form.

Waterford, meanwhile, will hope to go second should they claim the points from the visit of Cork C of I B.

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