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Ireland's hockey stars refusing to let coronavirus fears disrupt Olympic preparation


On course: Katie Mullan has no Olympic Games concerns

On course: Katie Mullan has no Olympic Games concerns

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

On course: Katie Mullan has no Olympic Games concerns

Ireland women's hockey captain Katie Mullan insists she and her team mates aren't even contemplating the possibility that their dream of competing at a first-ever Olympic Games might be shattered by growing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

The authorities have yet to publicly state that the staging of the Tokyo showpiece is in any doubt.

But the situation is constantly evolving with an increasing number of sporting events in affected areas and elsewhere having been cancelled due to the killer disease, which originated in China but quickly spread to Japan and other parts of the world.

Mullan is, however, confident that, with three months to go before the start of the Games, they will take place as planned.

"We've worked so hard to qualify that we are just trying to control what we can control, which is all of our training and preparations," said the Coleraine woman.

"It hasn't really rattled us and there's no point in wasting energy and sweating about it although obviously the outbreak in Italy is more concerning because it is a little bit closer to home, but we don't really get involved in talking about it.

"It's hard to know what to believe with the virus, you hear different things all the time but we still feel that the Olympics are far enough away for the coronavirus to be under control by then."

The squad will travel to Durban next month for a total of eight matches against their South African hosts, China and Japan.

Eight Ulster players are in the 21-strong panel, including Megan Frazer, who is back after for nine months out due to a series of injuries.

The Ireland squad for the trip to Durban contains 14 players who were at the 2018 World Cup, including all six Ulster women who lifted the silver medals in London.

Belfast Harlequins midfielder Bethany Barr, who made her senior international debut just last year, has also been included in the squad although her twin sister Serena misses out on selection.

Irish women's squad for training camp in Durban (March 16 to April 5)

Ayeisha McFerran (SV Kampong), Roisin Upton (Catholic Institute), Nikki Evans (Old Alex), Kathryn Mullan (Ballymoney), Shirley McCay (Pegasus), Megan Frazer (Ulster Elks), Lena Tice (UCD), Gillian Pinder (Pembroke), Beth Barr (Belfast Harlequins), Lizzie Colvin (Belfast Harlequins), Nicola Daly (Loreto), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Sarah Hawkshaw (Railway Union), Anna O'Flanagan (Muckross), Zoe Wilson (Randalstown), Ellen Curran (UCD), Alison Meeke (Loreto), Ellie McLoughlin (Muckross), Hannah McLoughlin (UCD), Sarah Torrans (Loreto), Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute).

Belfast Telegraph