Belfast Telegraph

Ireland fresh for Malaysia

Ireland's preparations for the Olympic qualifying tournament have been going according to plan after the squad arrived in Canada with a week to spare ahead of tomorrow morning's opener with Malaysia.

Earlier in the week, the girls in green played a practice match against the host team which ended in a 1-1 draw

"The training game went well and the match was very impressive - it was only a 40 minute game which saw us pull back from one down to level at one all" said national coach Gene Muller

"I am very happy with our preparations including the last week in camp out here which has all gone to plan.

"At this point with the first match just around the corner we are anxious to get the qualifiers under way and off to a good start."

Muller like most pundits realises that the clash with Korea is likely to be the big one for Ireland as they bid to win the tournament outright and book their tickets to Beijing but the other games are 'must win' as well.

So the opening encounter with Malaysia is vitally important in that respect as will be the game with the host country less than 24 hours later.

"We are taking this one game at a time but we need to get ourselves into a good position early on so we are in contention towards the end of the tournament." he added.

"In the first two games we really want to come out with at least four points.

"Ideally we don't want to drop more than two points and put ourselves up against a wall as we want to be in contention all the way through."

Ireland have certainly been busy in the build up which has included trips to South Africa, New Zealand and Spain in recent months coupled with their regular training matches and camps on home soil.

Seven Ulster players are included in the squad which boasts a mix of youth and experience with BelfastHarlequins striker Jenny McDonough, who has played 102 times for her country, the third most capped.

Ireland (14) are ranked second in this group behind Korea (9) and followed by Italy (19), host Canada (23), Malaysia (24) and Uruguay (27).

The top two from the pool stages go on to play in a final on Sunday 4th May in a winner takes all match to take that final Olympic spot.

Tomorrow: Ireland v Malaysia (00.30 BST); Monday: Ireland v Canada (10.30pm)

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph