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18/03/2014 13:00
Republic triumph in St. Patrick's weekend meeting with Northern Ireland
News from the National Federations

Dublin, Ireland, March 18, 2014. Up to 300 people packed into Trinity College Dublin on Sunday March 16 for the international women’s Volleyball friendly match between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, an event which has encapsulated the attention of everyone involved in Irish Volleyball.
Although it may be a minute figure in comparison to other sports, the approximate figure of 300 has been safely renowned as one of the highest attendances at a Volleyball event in Ireland for many years, fitting for Trinity College’s first time hosting the Irish team.

It was also the first public appearance by the new-look Irish women’s Volleyball team in Ireland this year, and under the new management of head coach Wim Roosenburg (Netherlands) and assistant coach Adam Wong (Canada). An Irish squad of 16 was confirmed last week and is likely to be the final pool of players in line for selection for the European Championship Qualifiers next summer, in which they happen to be playing Northern Ireland again, preceded by meetings with Malta, the favourites Cyprus and the hosts Scotland.

With an eccentric atmosphere boosting the Irish, they quickly took control of the opening exchanges and raced into an 11-2 lead, with Northern Ireland conceding too many points on serve-receive. With that lead extending to 19-7, coach Roosenburg decided to give some substitutes an early taste of the action; Northern Ireland however didn’t budge and began to find their way back, but proved too-little-too-late as the Republic held out for a 25-18 win.

The second set once again saw a strong start from the Republic although Northern Ireland did stem the tide much better on this occasion to prevent the same free-fall endured beforehand. There were much better exchanges between the teams in this set, with the Republic again showing their superiority and claiming a 3-point win.

The Republic maintained their momentum going into the third set, however suffered a lapse in concentration at the midpoint where Northern Ireland scored consecutively to go from 8 points down to lead 23-22 - their first notable lead in the match. They then picked of two further points with their main threats at the net, helping them to a 3-point win of their own and hope of forcing the game into a tie-break - no more than they deserved.

The Republic re-focused however and brought their A-game in the fourth set, and despite a number of gripping rallies in this set, the hosts made the most of the tight affairs to keep the edge on their opponents and claim a 4-point win and the match 3 sets to 1.

Next up for the Irish in the coming months are a number of other preparation matches before the Euro Qualifiers, including a pairing with the All-Stars of this season’s Irish Premier League.

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