Ireland must be sharper in front of goal insists Smith

Ireland coach Darren Smith
Ireland coach Darren Smith

The Ireland women’s hockey team will be hoping to secure their first victory since their silver medal finish at the Champions Challenge over the next couple of days when they tackle hosts Italy and Wales in a Three Nations tournament.

There were signs of ring rustiness at the weekend, especially up front, when they returned home from Glasgow with a loss and a draw against Scotland in their first outings since the Challenge.

But national coach Darren Smith was parading several relatively inexperienced players in a largely experimental 21-strong squad.

Smith was happier with the drawn game, not surprisingly, and hopes that his side can continue to improve over the course of the weekend.

“The second Scottish match was very competitive and tightly contested.” he said.

“We created some opportunities but the quality of our play in the attacking end meant that we could not finish things off.”

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“Scotland looked far advanced in their preparations for the Commonwealth Games and they will go into that series with a lot of confidence.

“Coming off some down time from from our programme our progress was okay but we did lack in our finishing touches over the two matches.

“We travelled to Italy on Wednesday to a team that if it wasn’t for continental qualification would have played in the World Cup in The Hague last weekend.

“Playing them (Italy) in two tests and having a match against another Commonwealth Games Team against Wales in Italy will keep us building toward 2015.”

The games are all part of the early build up to the qualification process for the 2016 Rio Olympics and Ireland will face Italy in an extra test match on Sunday after the Three Nations tournament.

Tonight: Italy v Ireland (5.30pm); tomorrow: Wales v Italy (5.30pm)