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Duke boosts Tokyo chances as Irish lose out

Spain 3 Ireland 2

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All of Ireland's opponents have had their preparations hit by the global pandemic

All of Ireland's opponents have had their preparations hit by the global pandemic

©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

All of Ireland's opponents have had their preparations hit by the global pandemic

Ireland's women fell to a 3-2 defeat against Spain in the second match of the five-game series in Murcia yesterday as their hosts drew level after losing Sunday's opener 4-1.

UCD's Niamh Carey, who was a late addition to the squad after being promoted from the development panel, and Deirdre Duke got the Irish goals in a close-fought contest.

Old Alex player Duke had scored twice in Ireland's opening win and will have done her chances of selection for the Tokyo Olympics no harm with another strike yesterday.

After a scoreless first quarter, Carey equalised after Spain's opener but the hosts regained their lead before half-time.

Bea Perez made it 3-1 before Duke hit a late consolation as the teams continued their Olympic preparations, with the third match scheduled for today (12pm).

Ireland, with eight Ulster players on the trip to Spain, will face reigning champions Great Britain, Rio 2016 silver and bronze medallists the Netherlands and Germany along with India and South Africa in the group stages in Tokyo.

Their target will be to finish,  at worst, fourth in the six-team pool in order to book a place in the quarter-finals, and to do so they will be aiming to beat both lower-ranked nations India and South Africa.

All of Ireland's opponents have had their preparations hit by the global pandemic, although India are currently in Argentina, playing a series against the world-ranked No.2 nation.

GB, the Dutch and Germany all compete in the elite PRO League which, virus permitting, will shortly resume to aid their preparations for Tokyo.

Belfast Telegraph


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