Local pair on Ireland hockey duty this weekend

TWO local hockey players will be hoping to make their mark for Ireland in the coming days.
Tomorrow (Friday) Omagh Academy schoolgirl Lauren Armstrong will travel as captain of the Ireland under-17 team to Germany to compete in a four nations tournament which also involves international heavyweights Australia and the Netherlands.
While Lauren, a key member of the Omagh Ladies team which earlier this season won the Senior One League Cup for the first time in the club’s history, will be leading the next generation of Irish stars in Mannheim, Shirley McCay and the senior international team will begin their bid to qualify for next year’s Olympic Games.
Ireland is hosting an eight-team FIH qualification series at Banbridge Hockey Club with the top teams going forward to a play-off at the end the year, the winner of which will earn a ticket to Japan 2020.
Ireland, who against all the odds finished runners-up at last year’s World Cup in London, play Malaysia on Saturday, the Czech Republic on Sunday before facing Singapore on Tuesday.
The winner of the group will go straight through to the semi-finals which takes place the following weekend.
McCay, who celebrates her 31st birthday tomorrow (Friday), said Ireland were fully focused on the task at hand.
“Last summer we got a taste of what it can be like at the World Cup. The Olympics would be the pinnicale and we are desperate to achieve that. We need to keep pushing on,” she said.

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