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Chloe thrilled with Ireland's Euro silver lining

 

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Chloe Brown

Chloe Brown

�INPHO/PressEye/Jonathan Porter

Chloe Brown

The Ireland indoor women's team celebrated their return to the international arena after a gap of 27 years by earning promotion to the second tier of the European Championship in Bratislava yesterday.

They did so in emphatic fashion with a crushing 15-0 win over Finland, and then got the result they needed to secure second place and the silver medals with a 9-2 victory over Slovenia.

Chloe Brown, one of four Ulster players in the 12-strong squad, finished as Ireland's top scorer with eight, hitting four in the game against Finland before adding a double in the decisive match.

The former Ards striker, now with East Grinstead, with whom she won the English national indoor title last season, was thrilled with Ireland's performance throughout the six-match series.

Brown said: "Our aim was to secure promotion and get us up to a new level in the next such event in two years' time and we are delighted to have achieved it.

"We started off with a good win over Portugal, who went on to finish one place behind us, and then performed creditably in losing to Spain, who were the best team here and deservedly won the gold medals.

"Going into Saturday's games, we always expected the one against Slovakia to be the most difficult and so it proved."

Brown's former Ards team-mate Amy Benson hit two of the goals as Ireland staged a dramatic comeback to win 4-3 after trailing by two goals in the first half.

"They had a big partisan crowd behind them and it was a difficult atmosphere to play in but the girls showed tremendous character to come back from 3-1 down," said Brown.

"That proved to be a crucial result for us going into the final day when we were up against the two weakest teams, in theory, but we still had to win both matches to go up."

Brown hopes that Ireland's promotion will act as a positive catalyst for indoor hockey in Ulster and Ireland.

She added: "We need to have a proper league structure in Ulster like they do in Leinster and not just a one-off event like we have now.

"It's a fantastic version of hockey, really spectator-friendly, with lots of goals and a welcoming warm environment for fans so let's hope this achievement raises indoor hockey's profile in Ireland."

Meanwhile, the Ireland outdoor team defeated South Africa 5-1 in Stellenbosch yesterday with goals from Emily Beatty, Lena Tice, Roisin Upton, Anna O'Flanagan and Sarah Hawkshaw as they continue their build-up for the Tokyo Olympics.

At domestic level, Queen's went to the top of the Ulster Premier League table after Jessica McMaster hit a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Randalstown.

Results: Yesterday: European Indoor Championship: Ireland 15 Finland 0; Ireland 9 Slovenia 2. International: South Africa 1 Ireland 5. Ulster Indoor Championship: North Down 1 Ards 4; Lisnagarvey 2 Queen's 3; Queen's 1 North Down 1; North Down 1 L'garvey 1; Queen's 3 Ards 2; (Ards qualify for All-Ireland Championship).

Saturday: European Indoor Championship: Slovakia 3 Ireland 4; Ireland 4 Denmark 0. International: Germany 4 Ireland 0. Ulster Premier League: Banbridge 1 Lisnagarvey 1; Mossley 1 Dungannon 3; Queen's 5 Randalstown 0; Raphoe 2 Ulster Elks 2. Senior One: Armagh 3 Portadown 2; Ballymena 1 Priorians 1; Coleraine 4 Dromore 0; North Down 3 CI 1. Belfast Telegraph Senior Cup: quarter-finals: BRA 3 Ballyclare High 1; Omagh Academy 2 Ballymena Academy 1.

Belfast Telegraph