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Leinster nine to take on belgians

A total of nine Leinster players have made the 17-strong Irish women's hockey squad scheduled to play practice matches in Belgium tomorrow, Friday and Saturday.

With the countdown to the World Cup qualifiers in Chile next April continuing, the matches will give players valuable experience against a nation that is an emerging force in European hockey.

After a week-long training camp in Spain, coach Gene Muller has decided to use the matches to give young players international match practice. Getting well-deserved call-ups are are Nicci Daly, one of five Loreto players selected, and Audrey O' Flynn of UCC. Back in the squad after a year's break is Julia O'Halloran, also UCC.

It means that squad veterans Eimear Cregan, Lauren Barr, Alex Speers, Megan Frazer, Emma Stewart and Niamh Atcheler will get the weekend off, although the squad still has a a few experienced players led by Loreto's Nikki Simmons.

Domestically, a 54th-minute goal from short-corner specialist Stephen Butler saw Glenanne ending Pembroke's two-year reign as Irish Senior Cup champions.

In a scrappy second round match, a determined Glenanne shut down the formidable Pembroke attack, with determined play from Graham Shaw, Mick McGuinness, Joe Brennan and keeper Steven Doran.

Corinthian booked their place in the quarter-finals when they beat Cork C of I 4-3 at Whitechurch Park.

Defending women's Leinster champions Railway Union must be reeling after losing to Hermes not once but twice over the weekend. In the league they suffered a 5-1 drubbing last Saturday, not helped by the absence of Emma Smyth and an injury to their keeper. Hermes took full advantage, with Anna O'Flanagan scoring two late goals for Hermes, after scores from Jenny Burke, Chloe Watkins and Aine Connery.

Hermes now top the league table by a single point, although both Railway and Loreto, who will contest the ESB Irish Senior Cup final in May, have a game in hand.

A day later, a single goal from Aine Connery was enough to see Hermes beat Railway Union a second time in the quarter-finals of the Jacqui Potter Leinster Cup. Also through to the semi-finals are Pembroke, Old Alex and Corinthian.

No Leinster League division 1 matches take place this weekend with the focus firmly on the inaugural National Indoor Trophy finals at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght.


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