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Ladies face a long wait for decision on European status


By John Flack

While the Ireland men's Under-21 relegation fate was sealed yesterday, the women face an agonising wait to see if they have avoided the drop into the second tier of the European Championship following an unprecedented set of circumstances in Valencia.

Ireland needed to beat Spain to avoid relegation but the game was cancelled when the host team was decimated due to a mystery illness which also affected the men's squad.

Eleven Spanish girls were taken to hospital on Saturday night with suspected food poisoning.

Both Spanish games were called off but the German men, who were due to face the hosts, were awarded a walkover and the bronze medals.

However, the European Hockey Federation have deferred a decision on the women's relegation group until an executive meeting in a month's time.

Understandably, Ireland coach Dave Passmore was not happy with what he saw as an inconsistent approach by the sport's European governing body.

He said: "It's a crazy situation when they've given the bronze to the German men - they are prepared to make one big decision and not another."

Meanwhile, Ulster's under-18s secured the bronze medal at the UK School Games in Loughborough yesterday after a decisive 5-1 win over Scotland.

Pegasus striker Katie McKee hit a hat-trick with the other goals coming from Mossley duo Sophie McDowell and Rebecca McCullough.

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