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Gene Muller's girls lose but they go down fighting


Irish boss Gene Muller

Irish boss Gene Muller

Irish boss Gene Muller

Ireland had to settle for sixth place at the Champions Challenge tournament in Dublin after a 2-1 defeat by South Africa yesterday.

Almost inevitably, it was women's hockey's world leading scorer Pietie Coetzee who grabbed the winner after the girls in green had drawn level.

"There is a bitter sweet feeling in the team, they are extremely disappointed in losing a close match but satisfied that we performed so well," said national coach Gene Muller after the defeat by his compatriots.

"The effort and application was of a very high standard and we will gain confidence from our performance over the course of this tournament".

Sulette Damons put the Springboks ahead in the 30th minute with a well-taken reverse stick effort.

Ireland got the equaliser 12 minutes after the restart when Michelle Harvey's pass was converted by Nikki Symmons.

Coetzee grabbed the winner near the end when she swept a penalty corner high into the net leaving Irish goalie Emma Gray with little chance of saving.

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Japan won the gold medals after coming from 2-1 down at to beat the USA 3-2, while Scotland defeated Spain on penalties to clinch third place.

Champions Challenge: 7th-8th place play-off: India 3 Azerbaijan 2, 5th-6th: South Africa 2 Ireland 1, 3rd-4th: Scotland 2 Spain 2 (Scotland won 4-3 on penalties), Final: Japan 3 USA 2.

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