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stern test for hockey squad

HOCKEY: With preparations already well under way for the World Hockey League 2 Olympic qualifiers in Dublin next March, the Irish women's team play eight matches against Spain and France starting next Wednesday at UCD (7pm).

Ireland plays France on Thursday evening and then Spain a day later. The matches are split into four series of three matches, with the final game on Sunday, August 25. The format will allow the team management to try out all members of the 24-strong squad.

Spain hosts the World Hockey League 3 in Valencia next June and, like the Irish, have had a busy summer.

Tickets and full schedule at hockey.ie.

TENNIS: Osgar Ó hOisín of Donnybrook Tennis Club is top M18 seed for next week's William Fry Centenary Irish Junior Tennis Championships with most matches taking place at Fitzwilliam LTC, Dublin.

Ó hOisín, who made the semi-finals of the Donnybrook International, is seeded to meet Shankill's Coilin MacNamara in the final.

Of the girls, Julie Byrne and her doubles partner Lauren Deegan are the top two W18 seeds. Qualifying rounds for M14 singles will take place from Friday at Lansdowne LTC and for M16 singles at Leinster Cricket Club Rathmines.

Finals take place on Saturday August 23 with former US international player Patrick McEnroe presenting the prizes.

Previous winners at the tournament include Conor Niland and Sammy Barry, who both progressed to the international stage, and Irish rugby players Rob and Dave Kearney.

MODERN PENTATHLON: An Irish squad is preparing for the World Championships in Poland after an encouraging display at the European Championships in Hungary a few weeks ago.

After a year battling injury, Arthur Lanigan O'Keeffe was competing in only his second competition of the year. He qualified for the final and finished a respectable 14th.

For the first time, four Irish lined out in the women's competition, but despite brave performances by Jenny McKeever, Sive Brassil and Kate Coleman Lenehan, only Natalya Coyle, in her first top level competition in nearly a year, made it through to the final. She finished 33rd.

Fancy trying your hand at modern pentathlon? Pentathlon Ireland is holding an open day on Sunday, August 31 at its HQ in Abbotstown. There's no fee but places are limited, so sign up now at 
01-6251134 or email: info@pentathlon.ie.

TRIATHLON: Irish duathlon champion Cathal O'Donovan finished a fighting second at the Powerman Belgium - a 10km run, 60km cycle, 10km run in Geel Belgium that had attracted a world class field.

O'Donovan's time of 2:37:16 put him just one second clear of third-placed Glen Laurens. Next up for O'Donovan is the European Championships in Austria.

Siobhan Horgan, the 2013 British Powerman duathlon champion, finished sixth.

At the London Triathlon, Aaron O'Brien and Neil Bolger both made the top 10. O'Brien was with the leaders on the swim and bike, but lost a few places on the run. He still finished sixth in 1:46.44. Bolger finished 9th in 1:48.19. Rory Sexton finished 20th and Bjorn Ludick 31st.

TUG O' WAR: Clonterm from Co Longford are proving the team of the season so far.

With the fifth round of the National Championships taking place in Donoughmore, Co Cork, tomorrow, they hope to add the 600kg title to the two they have won so far this season.

Early in July, they beat Lakehill to take the 680kg title. They followed that up two weeks ago with a stunning victory over Boley, who were going for their ninth consecutive 640gk title at New Ross.

Over 400 competitors from all over the country are expected in Donoughmore this weekend.