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Ireland's six under-age teams draw blank on first day

By Graham Hamilton

Ireland's junior age groups have begun a busy week, with the Under 16, Under 18 and Under 23 boys and girls all involved in competitions ... but none managed a win on the first day.

The Under 18 boys - featuring eight players from Ulster - suffered a 6-0 defeat against a strong Dutch team in the European championships at Santander, but coach Elun Hack is more hopeful of a positive outcome today when they take on France (4.45pm).

The Under 16 boys, also with eight from Ulster, are hosting a Six Nations series in Cork and got off to a 5-2 defeat against Netherlands.

Craig Mackay and Luka Peters were on the scoresheet but Niall Denham's lads couldn't take advantage of three Dutch players being sin-binned at the one time. The Irish next take on England tomorrow (3pm).

Jonny Caren's Under 23 boys, with 13 from Ulster, have suffered two defeats, losing 5-0 to India on Saturday and 3-1 to the Netherlands in the Six Nations series in Belgium yesterday, although it must be said that they were unable to use their four senior internationals who are currently in the World Cup training panel.

Their next outing is against Great Britain on Wednesday (12.30pm).

Meanwhile, Ireland's senior women will go into the World Cup with a clean bill of health following their final build-up game with Italy which ended in a 2-2 draw in Dublin on Saturday.

Cork Harlequins defender and penalty corner expert Roisin Upton has passed a fitness test on a hamstring injury which ruled her out of the last five warm-up games.

And concerns over Megan Frazer's fitness have been eased after the influential Ulster woman was sidelined from international hockey for more than two years with a serious knee injury.

The 27-year-old made her comeback in the midweek win over Chile and again came off the bench to play 20 minutes of the game with Italy and she will travel to London with the rest of the squad tomorrow ahead of Saturday's World Cup opener with the United States.

Meanwhile, Gareth Grundie has quit as Ards coach after 13 successful years, due to his increased international commitments.

Grundie was recently appointed assistant Ireland coach and is also in charge of the national Under 18 girls team, who lost 2-1 to Germany in their European Championship opener in Santander yesterday.

All of the under-age teams drew a blank with the Irish Under 23s losing 5-0 to the Netherlands in Antwerp while the Under 16s went down 3-0 to their Dutch counterparts at the Six Nations in Cork.

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