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Irish to warm up with Chile trip

By Graham Hamilton

Published 24/09/2007

Harlequins' Julian Stevenson (right) moves in to stop Inst's Aaron Gill
Harlequins' Julian Stevenson (right) moves in to stop Inst's Aaron Gill

Ireland's international players could be heading to Chile before Christmas as part of their build-up to the Olympic Qualifier in New Zealand.

The Irish learned over the weekend that they're definitely going to Auckland in early February in their bid to reach the Beijing Olympics, and that their opposition will be Argentina, France, Cuba and Trinidad & Tobago as well as the hosts.

And head coach Dave Passmore is keen that his players get in some warm-weather training, and also opposition against nations who play a similar style to what they can expect at the Qualifier.

" We are planning an intensive block of training through December and January, which could potentially include a Four Nations tournament in Chile before Christmas," he says.

"It would be our hope that we would take on Chile and also the Argentinian team which we will be meeting in Auckland to give us good experience against the South American style of play. "

Meanwhile, Kirk Cup holders Cookstown have virtually booked their place in this season's semi-finals? with a game still to play in their pool.

Cookstown's seven goal drubbing of Civil Service means they've won both their games whereas main rivals Bangor slumped to a shock 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Portadown.

With the Tyrone men having beaten Portadown in the first game, it means neither can catch Geoff Hamilton and Michael Haycock's lads unless Cookstown slump badly in their final game next week.

With such a better goal difference - they have plus 12 over the Ports and plus five over the Seasiders - it's looking good for the Reds.

It was former international Ivan Steen who tortured the Civil Service defence on Saturday with a four goal haul and Johnny McMeekin chipped in with two and Thomas Hutchinson got the other.

The other seeds - Annadale, Instonians and Banbridge - are looking good to reach the semi-finals too, especially as they all have home advantage in their final games.

The Dale came from behind to beat Raphoe 4-1 at Jordanstown with goals from Neil Hamilton, Steven Redpath, Chris Jackson and Ian Hamilton, and they now go into their game against Kilkeel knowing a draw would suffice.

Andrew Graham scored twice for the Mournemen as they beat North Down 3-0.

Andrew Couins and Chris Barnes scored the two Instonians goals in a narrow win over Belfast Harlequins, but a draw will do them next week after opponents Mossley were held to a 1-1 draw by Queen's.

Banbridge and derby rivals Lisnagarvey both won 5-1 but going into their showdown next week, it's Bann who have the edge after Garvey had slipped up by drawing with Antrim the previous week.

Bruce McCandless bagged himself a hat-trick against Antrim but the goals were shared around at Garvey, with Jason Lynch, Jonathan Bell, Mark Daniel, Rory McCann and Cameron Black all on the mark.

Belfast Telegraph

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