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Irish ladies in Olympic decider

THE Irish women's hockey team have matched the feat of the men’s team by earning a prized place in Sunday's final of the Olympic qualifying event in Belgium thanks to a 3-2 win over bogey side Spain.

The result, on the back of two goals from Audrey O'Flynn and the vital insurance score from Alex Speers, made today's joust with the host nation irrelevant.

However, this will not be the case on Sunday when the Irish women will again play Belgium, this time in the winner-takes-all decider.

The Belgians beat France 4-0 in their round-robin match yesterday to book their place in the final.

Coach Gene Muller's side were never in arrears throughout a match that proved to be very physical from start to finish.

“It was backs against the wall out there,” said a relieved and jubilant goalie Emma Gray afterwards. “But that was one of the strongest defensive performances we have had in my time in the side. They all helped me out.”

A draw at the Champions Challenge event in Dublin was as close as Ireland have come to defeating Spain in recent years until yesterday's exhilarating performance.

Muller felt his team got exactly what they deserved. “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,” he said.