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Dancer happy with start to Ireland's Games plans



Lena Tice

Lena Tice

�INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Lena Tice

The Ireland women's team started their preparations for the Olympic Games in Tokyo on a winning note yesterday when they defeated South Africa 1-0 in Stellenbosch.

It was the first of three test matches against their hosts with two more internationals to come against Germany later in the two-week warm-weather training camp.

However, the conditions were far from ideal yesterday, with gale-force winds making life difficult for both sides.

UCD's Lena Tice scored the only goal of the game in the second half against a South African side that is ranked 16th in the world, eight places below Sean Dancer's team.

The Ireland head coach was reasonably satisfied with the performance, although disappointed at the relative lack of chances created.

That was also a factor in November when Ireland failed to muster a shot on target during the second leg of the Olympic qualifier with Canada, which they won on penalties after neither side scored over the two games.

Dancer said: "The conditions certainly made it tough for both teams and the locals here say the weather we are experiencing is unprecedented with such strong winds which have led to trees being uprooted.

"It was a good exercise nonetheless and the game proved that we still have plenty to work on and we will be trying to address the issues that we face as the trip progresses."

Gradually, Ireland began to seize the initiative and after winning a series of penalty corners, Tice drove in the decisive goal from one of them, scoring with a low shot in the 33rd minute.

Meanwhile, Randalstown player-coach Zoe Wilson - who missed the trip to South Africa due to injury - supervised her team to a crucial 1-0 Ulster Premier League win over Dungannon at the Royal School.

Town are now six points clear of the bottom of the table and three ahead of the relegation play-off position.

Megan Cochrane hit the vital goal in the third quarter before the Tyrone side hit back, forcing a barrage of penalty corners without reward in the last 15 minutes.

Town held on for an important win, although Mossley closed the gap with a 1-0 win over basement side Rainey in the late slot at the Meadowbank Indoor Arena in Magherafelt.

Kathryn Lorimer grabbed the all-important goal in the third quarter when she converted a penalty corner switch after Jade Purdy had provided the opportunity.

All the other Premier games, including the top-of-the-table clash between Ards and Queen's, fell victim to frost.

Armagh progressed to the semi-finals of the Irish Hockey Trophy after Pippa Best scored in a 1-0 win over Avoca in Dublin.

Results: Yesterday: International: South Africa 0 Ireland 1 (L Tice). Saturday: Ulster Premier League: Dungannon 0 Randalstown 1 (M Cochrane); Rainey 0 Mossley 1 (K Lorimer). Irish Hockey Trophy quarter-final: Avoca 0 Armagh 1 (P Best).

Belfast Telegraph