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Zoe battled broken bone to star for Ireland in qualifiers

 

Olympics bound: Zoe Wilson played through the pain barrier against Canada
Olympics bound: Zoe Wilson played through the pain barrier against Canada

By John Flack

Zoe Wilson has sensationally revealed that she played with a broken bone in her knee during Ireland's Olympic qualifying double-header at Donnybrook last month.

The Randalstown player-coach sustained the injury in a warm-up match before the mini-series, which Ireland won in a dramatic penalty shootout after two scoreless draws against Canada to book their tickets to a first-ever Olympics.

Wilson, who played a starring role at the heart of the Irish defence, was initially unaware of the extent of the damage after falling awkwardly in a game with Belgium in Dublin.

However, she says she was determined not to miss the qualifiers, despite being in considerable pain during the two games against Canada.

The 22-year-old said: "I was always going to do everything I could to try and play my first Olympic qualifiers and although I was sore throughout the two games, they were ones that I didn't want to miss.

"My knee was heavily taped up and, like other athletes carrying injuries in major tournaments, when the adrenaline kicks in, it is surprising what you can do.

"I found out the extent of the injury a week after the qualifier when we went for our routine medical screening," she added.

Wilson, who broke the 100-caps barrier shortly before the two-game series against Canada, wasn't the only Irish player to overcome adversity.

Roisin Upton, who scored the winning penalty run in the 4-3 sudden death shootout victory, played with a broken arm sustained during the game.

And Wilson's fellow Ulsterwoman, Beth Barr, has yet to play for Belfast Harlequins at domestic level after suffering a back injury in the second Canada match.

Ireland head to South Africa for a warm-weather training camp from January 16 to 30.

Six Ulster players are included in the 20-strong squad for South Africa where Ireland will play the host team and Germany.

Goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran is joined by Lizzie Colvin, the Barr twins Serena and Beth, captain Katie Mullan and Shirley McCay. Wilson's injury rules her out.

The games have taken on added significance as Ireland will face both their hosts and Germany in the group stages in Tokyo along with India, the Netherlands and Great Britain.

Ireland squad for South Africa: Ayeisha McFerran; Emma Buckley, Roisin Upton, Nikki Evans, Katie Mullan (capt.), Shirley McCay, Elena Tice, Emily Beatty, Beth Barr, Serena Barr, Chloe Watkins, Lizzie Colvin, Hannah Matthews, Sarah Hawkshaw, Anna O'Flanagan (vice-capt.), Deirdre Duke, Ellen Curran, Elizabeth Murphy, Hannah McLoughlin, Sarah Torrans.

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