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Ireland stumble and face tests without Frazer

Ireland 2 Belgium 4

Fitness concern: Megan Frazer is likely to miss Ireland’s upcoming encounters with Canada
Fitness concern: Megan Frazer is likely to miss Ireland’s upcoming encounters with Canada

By John Flack

Anna O'Flanagan earned her 200th cap last night and Ulster's Shirley McCay moved to within two of a triple-century of international appearances but it wasn't the celebration they craved.

Although O'Flanagan marked the occasion with a goal, a 4-2 defeat by Belgium in Dublin provided a wake-up call ahead of the Olympic qualifiers against Canada next month.

Ireland had seven Ulster players in the squad last night but Megan Frazer remains on the casualty list with a knee injury and looks certain to miss the Olympic qualifiers on November 3-4.

The hosts made a disastrous start, conceding two goals in the opening three minutes before fighting back to draw level only for Belgium to add two more in the second-half.

Alix Gerniers and Jill Boon scored to make it 2-0 but Hannah Matthews and O'Flanagan replied before the break.

The Belgians added two more goals, both scored by Stephanie Vanden Borre, to run out comfortable winners and Ireland will be looking for an improved display when they face Korea tonight.

Meanwhile, the focus of attention at club level on Saturday will be on the Irish Senior Cup semi-finals with local hopes resting on Pegasus, who tackle Leinster Division One side Corinthian in Dublin.

The Belfast team have certainly had the luck of the draw in the competition this season, having faced two sides outside of the Irish Hockey League to date, in Ballymoney and UCC.

Realistically, they should have few problems disposing of Corinthian but EY Irish Hockey League rivals Loreto or UCD, who meet in the other semi-final, will provide a much stiffer test in the decider, assuming Pegasus progress.

FIXTURES: Tonight: international: Ireland v Korea (Abbotstown, 7pm); Saturday: Irish Senior Cup semi-finals: Corinthian v Pegasus (3pm); UCD v Loreto (2.50pm); Ulster Premier League: Ballymoney v Queen's (2.30pm); Dungannon v Banbridge (2.30pm); Lurgan v Randalstown (2.30pm); Mossley v Ulster Elks (4pm); Rainey v Lisnagarvey (4pm); Raphoe v Ards (1pm); Senior One: Armagh v Ballymena (2.30pm); Club KV v CI (2.30pm); Dromore v Portadown (2.30pm); Omagh v North Down (2.30pm); Priorians v Coleraine (2.30pm).

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