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Ladies Hockey: Irish start against Germany

The Ireland women's hockey squad will face hosts Germany in their opening game at the Eurohockey Nations' Cup tournament in Moenchengladbach in August.

It's a daunting challenge for the girls in green who are also up against Belgium and England in the first phase.

After the Germany game on Saturday, August 20 (6pm local time), Ireland face the Belgians the next evening (8pm) followed by the English encounter on Tuesday (2pm) after a rest day.

The tournament doubles as an Olympic qualifier but only the top three teams will progress to London 2012.

Ireland would almost certainly need at least to avoid defeat against either England or Germany and beat Belgium to have a chance of finishing in the top two in their group.

They would then need to win their semi-final encounter or else face a ‘winner takes all’ separate qualifying tournament if they are to book their tickets to an Olympic games for the first time.

The Irish squad is three months into a centralised training programme which has seen the top players base themselves in Dublin.

Six Ulster players are in the squad and the girls concerned have mainly relocated to the Irish capital.

Former Ulster Elk and Randalstown player Shirley McCay is with Old Alex while ex-Pegasus striker Alex Speers has teamed up with Railway Union.

Meanwhile, Premier League champions Pegasus face Armagh in the top game on Saturday. League leaders Lurgan should continue their winning ways against Knock who have still to register a point.

Saturday's fixtures: ONE1918 Premier League: Armagh v Pegasus, Knock v Lurgan, Queen's v Ballymoney, Randalstown v Ards, Ulster Elks v Harlequins. Senior One: Ballymena v Victorians, Cookstown v Portadown, Greenisland v Omagh, Lisnagarvey v Dromore, North Down v Priorians.

Belfast Telegraph