Irish coaches look on the bright side

IRELAND hockey coaches Gene Muller and Dave Passmore insist there are positives to be taken from the Setanta Sports Trophy despite seeing their sides finish bottom of the pile yesterday.

Muller watched his women’s side lose 2-1 to South Africa in the bronze medal playoff yesterday to complete a whitewash, after they went down 3-0 to eventual winners Great Britain on Saturday.

However, Muller insists he has taken some positives from a tournament which allowed his players to test themselves against some of the best sides on the planet.

“Overall, our progress has been good and we tried out a new way of playing,” he said. “We competed well between the two 25s, but in the circles we need to improve. But overall, I feel upbeat about this tournament.”

Muller blooded some new talent this week, with Christine Quinlan getting her first caps, but it was her UCD team-mate Lisa Jacob who gave Ireland the lead on the stroke of half-time against South Africans, before they were reined in with goals from Marsha Marescia and Tarryn Bright.

In yesterday’s final, Great Britain stunned reigning Olympic champions Germany by sailing into a four-goal lead by the 57th minute, before Anke Kuhn grabbed a late consolation.

Meanwhile, having been angered by Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Great Britain, Passmore professed himself far happier with the performance in yesterday’s bronze medal playoff against the same opposition, which Ireland lost 2-1.

Goals from Matt Daly and Stephen Dick inside eight minutes put GB 2-0 to the good in the second-half, before Stephen Butler pulled one back when he skilfully rounded visiting goalkeeper Ally McGregor 11 minutes from the hooter.

“This was a pleasing performance to finish with,” said Passmore. “We dominated long periods of the game but failed to convert the pressure into goals. Overall, this was a team who had little preparation together but they stuck to task and demonstrated the potential for the future.”

In the men’s final, Pakistan were pushed close by surprise finalists Canada before running out 3-2 winners.

Meanwhile, Ireland A coach Guy Garrett insists his side can make an impression at the upcoming Junior Celtic Cup in Edinburgh, despite missing a number of key players.

Armagh starlets Amy Stewart and Stephanie Quinn are both recovering from injury, while Hermes’ teen sensation Chloe Watkins is out due to the proximity of the U16 European championships in Holland.

Garrett is also hamstrung by the fact that only U21 players are eligible to play, but is confident of Ireland’s chances of toppling Scotland, Wales and France.

“This is our first competition of the year and we are very confident in the strength of the current squad,” he said.


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