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Irish kids improve in narrow loss to Belgium

By Graham Hamilton

Ireland's Under-16 boys came within a whisker of getting their first point at the Six Nations tournament in Antwerp when they lost 3-2 to the hosts.

Niall Denham's lads, with seven from Ulster in the squad, showed a marked improvement from the previous day's 8-2 defeat at the hands of the Dutch.

But it doesn't seem to get any easier for Ireland, as next up after today's rest day is the strong German side who have already beaten Spain 5-1 and the Netherlands 2-1.

The boys will finish their programme with games against Spain and England when they will have a better chance of securing a positive result.

The girls also fell to their second defeat in a row, losing 4-1 to their hosts and they now have a battle on their hands to avoid a repeat of last year's wooden spoon finish.

However, it was an improved performance, following the opening 9-0 loss to a rampant Dutch side, with games against Germany, England and Spain to come.

Assistant coach Alex Speers said: "It was an entertaining game and the scoreline wasn't a true reflection of how the girls played, although Belgium had more possession.

"We worked hard to get back into the game after conceding two goals in quick succession but they exploited the gaps we left and there was no way back when we then went 4-0 down."

Belgium, who had beaten England in their opening match, went 2-0 up after scoring twice in as many minutes around the half-hour mark and added two more goals before Yasmin Pratt netted a late consolation.

TOMORROW: Girls: Ireland v Germany (12.30pm); Boys; Ireland v Germany (5pm)

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