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Ireland women lose, while men mourn Koppelaar

Great Britain 4 Ireland 1

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On target: Sarah Torrans scored a consolation goal for Ireland

On target: Sarah Torrans scored a consolation goal for Ireland

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

On target: Sarah Torrans scored a consolation goal for Ireland

Ireland's women fell to a disappointing 4-1 defeat to Great Britain in the second of the four-match series at Bisham Abbey yesterday.

It was Katie Mullan's side's biggest loss in the five friendly meetings between the teams in recent weeks.

Ireland defeated the 2016 Olympic champions 2-1 in Belfast last month, losing by the same scoreline and drawing the other game 1-1.

Yesterday, GB were worthy winners as they displayed a more clinical touch in front of goal despite the best efforts of Hannah Matthews and Ulster's Lizzie Colvin, while Ireland were unable to convert their chances.

The exception was their consolation goal scored by Loreto's Sarah Torrans, one of several strikers hoping to make it on the plane for the Tokyo Olympics.

Ireland will be hoping for a better outcome when the teams meet again tomorrow in the penultimate game of the series (2pm).

Meanwhile, Ireland's male hockey players from a different generation are mourning the loss of their former head coach Cees Koppelaar, who passed away this week at the age of 81 after being at the helm from 1987-97.

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The Dutchman came from an athletics and footballing background, having been involved with Ajax Amsterdam where he worked with the legendary Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten among others as a technical coach.

He made a seamless transition to hockey and enjoyed his finest hour in 1990 when he steered Ireland to the World Cup finals in Pakistan.

Koppelaar's Ireland coaching career included a number of other notable achievements.

Jimmy Kirkwood and Stephen Martin, who went on to lift gold medals with GB at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, were then among the players in the national squad with captain Marty Sloan, Billy McConnell, brothers Kenny and Ivan Morris, Mark Burns, John McKee and Paul Cooke, making up the nine-strong Ulster contingent.

Martin said: "I was very sad to hear of Cees' passing. He was a top coach and trainer, a charismatic and inspirational leader and mentor. He was a father figure to many of us.

"He projected a positive and confident image that he wanted his team to aspire to and was highly regarded in both Dutch football and hockey circles.

"Qualifying for and competing in the 1990 World Cup were probably the highlight tournaments and he has left us with so many great memories."

Koppelaar was Ireland's first professional and longest-serving coach, and his career included many other fine achievements, notably a first ever win over his native Netherlands which has yet to be repeated.


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