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McMaster's quick reply earns draw

Ireland 1 Scotland 1

By John Flack

Ireland started their World Cup preparations in earnest last night when they fought out a 1-1 draw with Scotland at Stormont in the first of this week's three internationals.

Head coach Graham Shaw is using the series to assess his options ahead of trip to London as Ireland prepare to take part in the showpiece for the first time since 2002.

Earlier in the day, at the same venue, Ulster's U-18s had regained the inter-provincial title after a decisive 1-0 win over Leinster.

Many of the triumphant Ulster youngsters in the big crowd stayed on to watch Ireland in action against the Scots.

Queen's players Jessica McMaster, who scored the Irish goal, and Erin Getty, both of whom who played on the U-18 team that last won the title two years ago, were handed their second caps.

But it was Loreto striker Sarah Torrans who caught the eye with a superb performance on her debut as national coach Graham Shaw gave youth its fling and rested several regulars.

The Scots broke the deadlock in the eighth minute when, after Ireland had gifted them possession, Charlotte Watson slid the ball home after running on to a pass from Lucy Langan.

But Ireland were back on level terms within 30 seconds when McMaster touched home a cross from Ireland captain Katie Mullan for her second international goal

The hosts dominated the second quarter and Zoe Wilson had a penalty corner shot blocked by a defender in the 12th minute.

Then Ulster-born Scottish goalkeeper Lucy Camlin, who had been Wilson's team-mate on the Ballyclare High School side that won the Belfast Telegraph Senior Cup in 2012, saved well from Sinead Loughran.

Ireland had a let-off in the 25th minute when Laura Swanson's reverse stick effort crashed off the woodwork before eventually being cleared by Getty.

Play became scrappy in the third quarter with both teams unable to string their passes together but Ireland had the edge in the final 15 minutes.

Torrans continued to impress and, after stealing possession on one occasion, her shot went agonisingly wide.

The Ireland U-21 captain had another opportunity near the end but her effort was narrowly off target with Camlin beaten.

Scotland could have stolen a win in the dying minutes but Lena Tice prevented a goal when she took a penalty corner off the line.

The teams will meet again at Banbridge tomorrow night (7pm) before completing the series at Stormont on Wednesday (12.30pm).

Meanwhile, Ulster coach Robbie McMinn hailed his players after steering them to their third U-18 title in four years with that win over Leinster.

The hosts needed nothing short of victory to land the trophy and Rebecca McCullough's 36th minute penalty corner conversion separated the sides after an evenly-contested encounter.

"All the girls showed a superb team ethic over the course of the tournament and I think we deserved to win it," said McMinn.

"There was a bit of pressure on the girls going into the tournament because we were playing at home and after we won a medal at the UK School Games but they responded very well."

Ulster's U-16s finished on a high as Alex McNeill scored a hat-trick in a 6-0 win over Connacht yesterday but they had to settle for third place overall.

International: Ireland 1 (J McMaster) Scotland 1 (C Watson); Youth inter-provincials: yesterday: U18: Connacht 1 Munster 4; Ulster 1(R McCullough) Leinster 0; Munster 2 South East 1; Saturday: Ulster 2 (R Houston, A Burns) Munster 2; Friday: Ulster 1 (O Berry) Connacht 0; final placings: 1 Ulster 10pts; 2. Munster 7; 3. South East 6; 4. Leinster 6; 5. Connacht 0.

U16: yesterday: South East 0 Munster2; Connacht 0 Ulster 6 (J McCarlie 3, A McNeill 3, N McIvor, E Armstrong); Leinster 2 Minster1; Saturday: Ulster 0 Leinster 3; Friday: Ulster 0 South East 0; Ulster 1 (L McNeill) Munster 1; finals placings: 1. Leinster 12pts; 2. Munster 7; 3. Ulster 5; 4. South East 4; 5. Connacht 0.

Ulster Premier League: Dungannon 4 (K Elliott, J Elliott, R Bell, L White) Portadown 1 (L Cassells);

Senior One: Armagh 1 (A Dunne) Victorians 2 (D Curry, E Cutrona); Ballymena 4 (R Reynolds 3, E Clarke) Omagh 2 (A Nethery 2); CI 0 Priorians 1 (S Black).

Tonight: Denman Ulster Shield: Dungannon v Lurgan (8pm).

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