Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Women's Hockey: Ireland look to head south for Olympic preparations

South Africa is looking the most likely destination in the New Year for the Ireland women's hockey squad as they prepare for their Olympic qualifying trip to Canada.

The panel will be heading for a warm weather training camp in January and several internationals are in the pipeline.

"It's one of our options for sure but nothing is confirmed yet as there are a number of other invitations on the table." explained coach Gene Muller.

Muller's training panel will assemble for a session in Dublin at the weekend, and that means they'll be unavailable for their clubs in the Premier League.

But Armagh aren't complaining as they are still cock-a-hoop after holding 10-in-a-row champions Pegasus to a scoreless draw on day one.

On Saturday, Armagh take on Ballymena in a game they should win in the light of that result.

New coach Neil Madeley was delighted with the result and the performance against mighty Pegasus and he's been happy with the season to date in general.

"One thing's for sure the intensity is just as much as it was when I was coaching a men's Premiership side," he enthused.

"The Pegasus game was a great advert for women's hockey and I was told that in the corresponding game last season we lost to three penalty corners."

Pegasus, meanwhile, will be hoping to get a more positive result when they tackle Knock in the late slot at UUJ.

Two of the sides expected to be among their main rivals, Randalstown and Ballymoney both opened with wins but both have tricky away trips to Ards and Lurgan respectively.

In the other top flight game Victorians entertain Harlequins.

SATURDAY'S FIXTURES: Premier League: Ards v Randalstown (Ards LC, 1pm), Armagh v Ballymena (Ardmore, 2.30pm), Pegasus v Knock (UUJ 4pm), Lurgan v Ballymoney (Craigavon LC, 2.30pm), Victorians v Harlequins (Valley LC, 2.30pm).

Senior One: Coleraine v Greenisland (UUC, 1pm), Cookstown v Civil service (Cookstown HS, 2.30pm), North Down v Portadown (Comber LC, 2.30pm), Omagh v Lisnagarvey (Omagh, 2.30pm), Priorians v Ballyclare (2pm).

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