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Ireland bid for maiden trip into European semi-finals

Ireland men are hoping to reach the European semi-finals for the first time in their history this afternoon (1.15pm) when they take on Belgium, needing a draw or better to progress.

But skipper David Harte will have to pull off another outstanding performance, as he did in the narrow defeat against Germany on Sunday, if the Green Machine are to cause an upset against the World No.4 team.

Defeat will send Craig Fulton's lads, who are ranked sixth, into the fifth-eighth play-offs but they should avoid the two relegation places.

England also need a draw, against Spain (7.30pm), to make the last four along with Germany and Netherlands.

Meanwhile, the domestic season begins on Friday with the curtain-raiser Super Nines competition at Civil Service.

Once again backed by McCausland Light and Rankin, the men's series will feature 16 teams and the women's 10.

Two of the four men's groups will be staged on Friday evening and the others on Saturday, with the round-robin finals and Plate finals on Sunday. The two women's groups take place on Saturday with their finals on Sunday.

The 14 men's teams will be joined by two Ulster U18 teams, to give them a chance to prepare for the forthcoming UK School Games.

The Super Nines support the Charlene's Project charity and if you have any hockey equipment to donate, these will be transported to Africa in due course.

Men: Group A (Friday, Saturday): Annadale, Mossley, Newry, South Antrim. Group B: Banbridge, Kilkeel, Civil Service, Ulster U18 A. Group C: Cookstown, Instonians, North Down, Ulster U18 B. Group D: Lisnagarvey, Harlequins, Portadown, Queen's.

Women (Saturday): Group A: Ards, Harlequins, North Down, Queen's, Victorians. Group B: Ballymoney, Banbridge, Lurgan, Portadown, Randalstown.

Belfast Telegraph


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