Belfast Telegraph

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Injuries sour positives for Boyles

By John Flack

While the wintry weather forced the postponement of the entire domestic women's hockey programme on Saturday, Ireland had no such problems at a warm-weather training camp in Valencia.

But an impressive display in a 2-1 defeat by Spain in the second match of the four-test series was achieved at a cost with injury doubts for the remainder of the four-match series surrounding two Ulster Elks players.

Ireland captain Megan Frazer sustained damaged ribs in the game while Shirley McCay, who increased her record caps tally to 211 in the game, had to be assisted off the pitch in the second half with a leg injury.

Those injuries will be a source of concern for their club with a crucial EY Irish Hockey League game with Pembroke Wanderers coming up in Dublin on Saturday.

Assistant Ireland coach Arlene Boyles was delighted at the way the national team responded to a 3-0 defeat in the opening match of the series on Friday night, in which Ulster teen Zoe Wilson made her senior international debut.

"There were great improvements from the first game but we have to remember this is a training camp and these are training games," said the Belfast woman.

"It is a big learning experience for the younger players especially and, for some of them, they are really outside their comfort zone.

"The girls were disappointed with their performance in Friday night's game so there were real positives to be taken from the next match.

"We took a well-deserved lead in the first quarter which we held until the last 15 minutes of the game which was pleasing.

"Overall, we are steadily progressing which is what we are looking for in this camp to take us nicely into the rest of 2016."

Regarding the injury-victims, Boyles had a reasonably positive message for Elks coach Ricky Lee, who will be concerned at the possibility of being without Frazer and McCay for the Pembroke game on Saturday.

"Shirley fell badly but we are hoping she will be fit enough to play in the third game against Spain but we will know in the next 24 hours," she added.

"Megan took a bad knock on her ribs though and Yvonne O'Byrne on the knee, so the rest day has come at a good time for us."

Frazer had given Ireland the lead in the first-half with a well-struck penalty corner but Spain hit back with two goals in the last 11 minutes to seal the victory.

Today: Spain v Ireland (11.30am).

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