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Irish juniors still on course to retain their European status


By Graham Hamilton

Ireland's Under-21 men are still in with a chance of retaining their top flight status after completing their pool programme at the EuroHockey Junior Championships in Valencia.

Jonny Caren's lads lost 3-1 to a strong Belgium team yesterday but finished third in their pool and go into the 5th-8th play-offs where they will face England tomorrow (10.15am) and Portugal on Sunday (9.30am).

A win against the weaker Portuguese would probably be enough to ensure the Irish stay up.

They trailed Belgium 3-0 before Geoff Cole pulled one back in the second half.

Meanwhile, Ireland's women need France to beat Spain tomorrow and then beat Spain themselves on Sunday if they are to avoid relegation.

Head coach Dave Passmore had mixed emotions after the 3-1 loss to Germany yesterday.

"There were lots of positives, our corner defence was really good and for phases we coped with their press and created good opportunities, particularly on the counter," he said.

"However, their first two goals were lapses in defence."

The Germans scored twice in the first half either side of a 19th minute equaliser from Pegasus player Ruth Maguire and added a third with two minutes left.

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