Ireland’s young stars enjoyed a fine week as the U-18 girls and both U-16 groups had successful international series against Celtic rivals.
The U-16 boys claimed an intense three nation series in Paris, playing four games in quick succession against France and Wales, eventually taking the laurels on goal difference.
They began the competition with back-to-back wins over Wales, starting off with a 3-1 success. Two open play goals from Gareth Wilkinson and a penalty corner strike by James Lorimer secured a that opening win, one which could have been won by a greater margin.
That was proven in the second tie as they stormed past Wales on day two by a half-dozen. Lorimer added to his tally with two from corners, Wilkinson bagged another and there were first international goals for Mark Loughrey, Lee Cole and Jack Ryan.
That win came on day two of their trip, giving them just a few hours to rest before playing against the tournament hosts France.
The strain of two games in a day proved too much for the lads but there was enough in their 3-2 loss in a more physical match to suggest they could turn the tide on day three. Luke Madeley was on the mark while yet another from Wilkinson helped build the confident mood for the decider on a day where France would be the side to play twice in a day.
And it proved the case as the tie was a much different prospect as Ireland saved their best to last with an emphatic 7-2 victory.
Two more penalty corner goals from Lorimer, giving him a top scorer tally of five, along with two from Lee Cole and one a piece from Mark Loughrey and Luke Madeley were topped off by Michael Robson’s first to secure the series on goal difference.
The U-16 girls, meanwhile, hosted Wales and notched up three consecutive wins. Thirteen year-old Kathryn Edgar, Elaine Carey and Alex’s Millie O’Donnell was to the fore with a couple of goals over the course of the Belfield games which provided valuable match practice for the young side as they make tentative steps toward the 2012 Europeans.
They began with a 4-0 success, Claire Foley, Carey, Penny Joyce, and O’Donnell on target before netting three times in game two, O’Donnell; Edgar and Carey on the mark this time, to edge home 3-2. And they concluded with a 2-0 success, Edgar grabbing both, to close out the campaign.
Last weekend, the Irish U-18s ran up three big wins over France in Belfield. In game one, they came from a goal down to win the first of their three games with France this weekend. Emily Beatty made the game level in the first half before an excellent Rebecca Barry touch gave the girls in green the lead, deflecting high past the French goalkeeper.
Roisin Upton powered home a drag-flick for 3-1 before Katie Froeling slammed home from Beatty’s square ball after the Alex student nipped in to steal a loose free out. And the Dutch-based Froeling – who qualifies for Ireland through her mother’s Carlow roots – zipped home an excellent corner to complete the win.
Froeling was gain to the fore in game two, bringing her personal tally to four in two games with another double while Joanne Orr and Katie Mullan also weight in to secure a 4-0 success, all the goals coming from open play.
And the series ended as it had started, a 5-1 success with Leinster youngsters Beatty, Erika Hinkson and Lisa McCarthy providing four of the goals with multi-talented Galway girl Dora Gorman getting the other.
Ireland showed played some excellent passages of attacking play, conceding only a handful of corners throughout the weekend, leaving them in good stead for their European championships.
They depart for Utrecht on Saturday morning and play their first match on Tuesday against the Netherlands. Turloch O’Siochain’s U-18 boys play a challenge match on Sunday against England in their build-up to their equivalent competition.