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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 22 October, 2019
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London calling for Ireland's women hockey players?

The nation’s women’s team are just one win away from Olympic debut.

Ireland celebrate qualifying for the final.
Ireland celebrate qualifying for the final.
Image: ©INPHO/FFU/Stanislas Brochier

FOLLOWING AN IMPRESSIVE 3-2 victory over top seeds Spain, the Irish women’s hockey team is looking to go one step further than their male counterparts when they take on Belgium in the final of the Olympic qualifier tournament in Belgium this Sunday.

A win against the host nation would see an Irish hockey team qualify for the Olympics for the very first time and go some way to make up for the heartbreak suffered by the Irish men last weekend when a last minute goal by Korea dashed their Olympic dreams.

The result leaves Ireland and Belgium unbeaten on 12 points and renders their match-up this evening as virtually meaningless.

Commenting after the match Gene Muller was clearly pleased with the result: ”It was a fantastic win for us in a very high pressure match. The players put in a great performance and we got what we deserved. ”

The Women’s Hockey Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgium has seen Ireland record victories over France (5-1), Russia (3-0) and Mexico (5-0) before their defeat of the highest ranked team in the tournament, Spain. They face Belgium this evening in a game that has little releveance

So, what should you know about Irish women’s hockey?

Coach

Gene Muller is both Senior Women’s Coach and Director of Player Performance with the Irish Hockey Association. He joined Ireland following a successful stint as head coach of the the Canadian men’s team which saw Canada rise to 14th in the world rankings.

Players

Ireland’s most capped player, Nikki Symmons, has won an astonishing 173 caps since she made her début for the country against Wales in 2001. To celebrate her breaking the record against Mexico earlier in the tournament, Symmons was appointed captain for the game.

Other notable players include Audrey O’Flynn – a penalty corner specialist – who has scored seven goals in the tournament so far and regular captain Alex Speers who scored the winning goal against Spain.

Achievements

Before this tournament, the Irish team’s best result was a gold medal performance at the European Nations Qualifying Tournament in 2002 and fifth place in the 2005 Women’s European Nations Championship, both of which were held in Dublin.

Sunday’s Final

The final will take place in Belgium on Sunday at 3.30pm Irish time and will be shown live on Eurosport 2. At time of publication, RTE are also looking into showing the final live.

Watch: Garry Lyon’s incredibly emotional tribute to his friend Jim Stynes

One step closer: Ireland set up T20 shootout against Namibia

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About the author:

Steven O'Rourke

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