Sunday 26 February 2017

Olympic hopes get boost with Dublin event

HOCKEY

David Medcalf

Ireland's chances of qualifying for the Olympics were given a huge boost yesterday.

It was confirmed that Dublin will host a men's Olympic eliminator in the new year, with the winner-takes-all event at UCD in March (11-18) featuring Ireland, Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Chile and Ukraine.

And the women's side will not have too far to travel as they have been assigned to a qualifier in Belgium. They will be in action at Beerschot from March 17-25, seeded second behind their bogey side Spain. Gene Muller's girls also have every reason to respect Belgium, who took a top-four spot at the Europeans this year.

However, they are well capable of defeating Russia, France and Mexico who complete the line-up.

Meanwhile, last season's winners and runners-up departed from the competition as both Cookstown and Monkstown failed to make the last eight of the Irish Senior Cup.

Cookstown failed to cash in on home advantage at Coolnafranky against arch rivals Banbridge. They took an early lead through Greg Allen, but Ban went ahead thanks to Ross McCandless and Hugh McShane and it remained 2-1 to the end.

Monkstown succumbed to Pembroke in a penalty shoot-out. Cork C of I were dismissed by form side Lisnagarvey, but Cork Harlequins remain in contention after a 3-2 win over Annadale.

They have been granted another home draw in the next round, against Banbridge, while Railway Union (5-2 conquerors of Three Rock Rovers) must play Glenanne, who beat UCD 3-1.

Railway Union stormed past Lurgan by 8-2 and into the quarter-finals of the women's Irish Senior Cup. Railway will face Armagh in the next round.

UCD ended Munster interest in the competition as they beat Catholic Institute

4-2. Their dubious reward is a home draw against cup holders Pegasus, who saw off Ballymoney 3-0. The major upset of the day was the dismissal of Hermes by Old Alexandra.

Old Alex must now play Loreto after the Beaufort side made light of their trip to Belfast Harlequins. Queen's and Trinity came through against Portadown and Corinthians respectively.

Irish Independent

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