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Chloe is a big loss to our Olympics bid: Dancer

 

Not available: Chloe Brown cannot commit to Irish camp
Not available: Chloe Brown cannot commit to Irish camp

By John Flack

Chloe Brown has pulled out of the Ireland women's hockey squad which is preparing for the European Championship and the final stage of the qualifying process for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The former Ards player, who now lines out for English Premiership side East Grinstead, is unable to commit to the Euros in Belgium next month and the intense build-up to the two-legged home Olympic eliminator, likely to be held in early November.

The Ireland squad will be going into a centralised training camp, for up to three or four days a week, ahead of the Tokyo qualifier - against opposition still to be determined - which will decide whether Sean Dancer's team can make it to a first Olympics.

The fact that Brown is working in England is thought to have been a crucial factor in her decision to make herself unavailable for selection.

The news comes as a disappointment for Ireland's new head coach Dancer and even more so for Brown, who has suffered many disappointments in the past, having narrowly missed the cut for several tournaments.

In fact, of her 58 caps to date, only seven of them have been awarded in official events with the rest coming in friendlies.

The 25-year-old played in the 2015 second-tier Euros in Prague and the remainder of her tournament caps came in the recent FIH Hockey Series event in Banbridge when she was called up to replace the injured Megan Frazer for the last two matches.

Dancer said: "Chloe just feels that, at this time, it's not quite right for her and I think it's tied in with her work and the fact that she's currently living in England.

"So she feels she just can't commit to the programme which is something different and, to me, it's one for everyone to adapt to - the girls and Hockey Ireland.

"Certainly, it's a loss to the group and it's important that the player makes the decision herself and this was Chloe's choice.

"We will support her as well as we can and the door is always open so, if things change in the future, she will be welcome back."

Ireland continue their preparations for the Euros and the Olympic qualifiers when they take on Scotland today at Stormont (11am), having won the first two matches in the series 2-0 and 1-0.

Meanwhile, Ireland's Under-21 women fell to a 5-1 defeat to the Netherlands at the European Championship in Valencia last night and now face a battle against relegation. Siofra O'Brien hit the consolation goal.

In the men's second-tier event, Ireland's young guns will be aiming to make it two wins from two when they take on hosts Czech Republic tonight.

Results: Women's European U21 Championship, Pool A: Netherlands 5 Ireland 1 (S O'Brien). Tomorrow: Spain v Ireland (7pm).

Six Nations (Eindhoven): Girls: Netherlands U16 4 Ireland U16 1 (L O'Shea); Netherlands U18 4 Ireland U18 0. Boys: Netherlands U16 3 Ireland U16 1 (E Rowe); Netherlands U18 5 Ireland U18 0.

Today: Men's European U21 Championship: Czech Republic v Ireland (5pm).

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