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Ireland Olympic plans are hit as Canada pull out of warm-ups

 

Aim high: Katie Mullan will expect top-two finish despite setback
Aim high: Katie Mullan will expect top-two finish despite setback

By John Flack

Ireland's preparations for the first stage of the women's 2020 Olympic qualifying process have received a setback with news that Canada will now not be travelling for four internationals which were due to take place shortly before the tournament gets under way next month.

The Canadians have pulled out of the trip because of financial constraints and, as a consequence, Ireland will now have no senior internationals in the build-up to the Banbridge showpiece, scheduled for June 8-16.

Instead, the hosts will play India Under 21s in Dublin on May 28 along with games against boys and girls national under-age teams at Havelock Park.

Fortunately, by sheer coincidence, the Indians will be in Ireland preparing for a junior Four Nations tournament in Dublin.

However, the situation is far from ideal as Ireland have not played an official international since March when they played Spain three times in Murcia.

In total, the World Cup silver medallists have played just nine internationals since their unprecedented achievement in London last August.

Skipper Katie Mullan would still expect the Irish to hold down one of the top two finishing spots at the Banbridge tournament as they are up against lower ranked opposition.

Team manager Arlene Boyles said: "It's extremely disappointing that Canada have had to withdraw at such short notice.

"At least we have the India game, along with matches against Ulster and Ireland U18 boys and Ireland's U21 women which will allow the players to get used to the pitch," added Boyles.

Ireland also have a practice match against Korea, who are in the other group, at Banbridge on Wednesday, June 5 - three days before the tournament hits off.

Meanwhile Ireland's men, preparing for their Olympic qualifier in Le Touquet, will now play France at Lisnagarvey in build-up games on June 4 and 6 after they were switched from Dublin.

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