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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Euro 2010: GB Women Take on World No 2

GREAT Britain Women’s trademark strong defence helped them battle well against World Championship finalists France in Lille on Sunday, but the hosts proved too good and ran out 34-15 winners.

Head Coach Jesper Holmris was pleased with his team’s performance against a side who have easily topped the qualifying group.

“France led 9-2 early in the game,” he said. “We looked nervous, but we soon got it together and played well for the rest of the half. We were only 16-8 behind at the break.

“We started the second half well too, but once France changed to a more defensive formation we struggled to get past them as they’re the most physical team in the world. We picked up towards the end of the match, but by then it was too late.

“We missed several shots where we could’ve scored on another day, but I’m really proud of the team. We defended well, and Sarah Hargreaves had another great game in goal.”

Left winger Holly Lam-Moores and left back Ewa Palies (pictured) both played well and scored four goals each, while Britt Goodwin, Nina Heglund and Lyn Byl both scored twice.

“It was a very strong French team,” added Holmris. “They are very good, and physically they are the best team in the world. They’re very tall, strong and agile, and they’ve got great potential, and I think they can win the Olympics.

“It’s been a great few weeks for us, we’ve had some great results and good camps, and the players are going back to their clubs highly motivated to work hard and improve more before our next camp.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Depleted GB Men Lose Out to Belgium

INJURY-hit Great Britain went down to hosts Belgium in their second clash in 24 hours, as their preparations for the 2012 European Championships continued.

With line player Chris McDermott, pictured, picking up an injury in Great Britain’s 26-24 victory over Belgium on Friday evening, GB were down to the bare bones in key positions.

Dan McMillan was GB’s only recognised pivot in the squad following McDermott’s withdrawal - and when McMillan was injured himself in the final 15 minutes, winger Seb Prieto had to cover.

Leading 19-12 at half time, Belgium were much improved from the previous day’s clash, and also won the second half by seven goals, eventually running out 36-22 winners.

But with several key players unavailable for this camp, GB expect to be back to their best in time for the Euro 2012 qualifiers from June 10-12 at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in London.

Merlin Braithwaite top-scored for GB with five, while Alex Girvan added three.

Friday, May 28, 2010

GB Men Beat Belgium as Euro 2012 Build-Up Continues

JUST two weeks before beginning their 2012 European Championship campaign, Great Britain Men sealed their first international victory in four years over European opposition when they overcame hosts Belgium 26-24 on Friday evening.

Trailing 14-10 at half time, GB hit back hard after the break and were rarely behind. They levelled at 14-14 within three minutes of the second half, and continued to control the match right up to the whistle.

With the regime put in place by Head Coach Dragan Djukic now taking shape, GB men battled for the full 60 minutes and fully deserved their victory.

Afterwards, captain Ciaran Williams (pictured) said: “I can’t tell you how amazing it feels, there were a few wet eyes after the game and rightly so. Our time is coming, and soon everyone will see it!”

GB Men will now return to the UK for more training in Loughborough and Crystal Palace, before they host the Euro 2012 qualification tournament From June 10-12 which sees Cyprus, Estonia and Bulgaria come to the UK.

Hundreds of tickets have already been snapped up for the tournament, which will be the team’s first chance to play on home soil.

Book your ticket now - go to www.amiando.com/britishhandball for details.

Coach: GB were Passionate, Dedicated and Motivated

BATTLING GB Women earned high praise from Head Coach Jesper Holmris after putting on a superb display in their penultimate Euro 2010 clash at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall this week.

Austria ran out 23-17 winners, but only after being forced onto the back foot by a Great Britain side who showed confidence, aggression and intelligence against a side which boasted several 2009 Champions League winners and a former World Player of the Year.

A near sell-out crowd at Kelvin Hall raised the roof in support of GB, and the team did not disappoint, prompting Holmris to say afterwards: “The GB squad are extremely passionate, dedicated and motivated about handball.

“We knew we had to be very aggressive because physically we cannot compete against Austria, so we have to work with speed and be very aggressive with both the defence and offence and I think we were very successful with this.

“We could have gone in at half time with a draw or maybe even with a lead but we had a few fast breaks we missed.

“Again Sarah Hargreaves had a fantastic goalkeeping performance and she played extremely well.

“Sometimes when you are too compact or aggressive in the middle then the opposition can have a chance from the wings, but I think we were very good with that tonight. At only 14-17 down with around 15 minutes to go I couldn’t believe it - it was amazing.

“We have a lot of players with good potential who are used to playing at a lower level, but they have to get used to playing against the very best players in the world which normally takes five or six years but we only have two years so we have to speed this process up.

“Our players are young and as they continue to work hard with their fitness we can be more together and improve more.

“Results like this will help us play friendly matches against other nations because now they know we are playing at a decent level – that is very positive.

“We just have to play more matches in Great Britain as it has been fantastic every time we have played here. It was phenomenal here tonight in Glasgow.

“France are one of the very best teams in the world and it will be very difficult on Sunday. However, we have had fantastic preparation – we were on the fitness camp in Norway and the tournament in Spain last week but we still have a long way to go and know we have to work hard.”

McCafferty: I'm Proud of the Team

GB’s Scottish captain Lynn McCafferty has spoken of her pride at leading the team out in front of so many of her family and friends.

“It was awesome coming out to the bagpipers,” she said. “But I had to be professional and treat tonight as any other match.

“I’m really happy with the result because its only six goals difference, but when you see the mistakes we’ve made and realise we’re developing there are things we can work on.

“We are really happy, most of all with the defence and Sarah Hargreaves in goal - without them it would have been a different scoreline, so I’m proud as punch, especially how hard everyone worked in defence.

“It was so physical out there so when you get to the other side of the court it’s sometimes hard to put so much into it, because the Austrian girls were so different physically to us - I think one of them was a belly button above me.

“The first half went really, really fast - it’s the fastest match I have ever played! Because we were playing so well in defence we weren’t fast-breaking as we usually do and we were thinking about that during the half.

“Our focus was defence, mainly because we didn’t want to score so many goals in the middle; we wanted our wing players to do more shooting.

“Austria were probably looking at Lyn and I in the middle at the beginning and they probably thought ‘this is going to be a walk in the park’, but we’re pretty tough, like everyone in the team, and we want to stop them scoring goals.

“I’ve got a good partnership with Lyn Byl in defence, but Simona Spiridon for Austria is so tall we couldn’t just let her stand there and wait for the ball. We had to move her all the time and also to make sure we were being aggressive to the girls who were going to pass to her.

“We are really happy with how we defended - one of their best players didn’t score any other goals and their other good players only scored 2-3 goals so it was perfect.

“You could see that they were frustrated and anxious because we were hitting them so hard, and a bit of it is their own fault when they under-estimated us.

“Without these European qualification games we wouldn’t have been able to learn as much as we have learned and that is what this process is about. We’re two years away from the Olympics and we are playing France - we have learnt so much about how they play and what they do and we then adapt our defence and adapt our attack.

“Our last match against Iceland when we played in London was a good match but when we played in Iceland it was really, really poor and we promised each other and the team that we would never have that dip again and when we have this spirit it is a massive positive for us.
“We’ve got our feet on the ground - we know what we have to do and are taking our small steps towards the Olympics.

“It was awesome coming out to the bagpipers, but I had to be professional and treat it as any other match. But when you walk out there and you see a few faces you haven’t seen for a while it’s an awesome feeling.

“They’ve come to support me and the team and it’s about showing them why they have supported me along the way. I had goose-bumps and I am proud of the team.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Battling Great Britain Go Down Against Austria

Great Britain 17
Austria 23

BATTLING Great Britain went down fighting 17-23 to Austria in their 2010 Women’s Handball European Championship qualifier in a tight game at the Kelvin Hall in Glasgow which represents the GB Women’s team best result to date.

Austrian right-back Katrin Engel top-scored with seven goals, followed by team-mate Isabel Plach, while Amondine Webb and Lyn Byl top scoring for GB with four apiece.

GB lost 30-20 to Austria in their opening Group 3 qualification match back in October and were out for revenge here, but faced Austria with a few injury concerns and were without left-back Kathryn Fudge (foot) and Laura Innes (back) whilst pivot Jeanett Andersen was also unavailable.

However, 21-year-old left-back Ewa Palies of southern French side SUNAL Bouillargues made her long-awaited debut after recovering from injury.

The first half was a combination of fantastic goalkeeping and defence by Great Britain coupled with aggressive forward play which saw seen the much-fancied Austrians, who boasted a number of players with EHF Champions League experience, struggle to get their game going.

Amondine Webb opened the scoring for GB halfway through the second minute, which was quickly answered by Stephanie Subke for Austria, before Lyn Byl restored the lead.

Austria then opened up a two goal lead before GB debutant Ewa Palies, who plays her club handball in France fed Webb to make it GB 3-4 Austria. GB then started to find gaps in the Austrian defence through their aggressive play, most notably through Palies and it was her strike on 17:45 to make the score 6-7 that led the Austrian coach Mihaly Godor to take the first time out of the match.

Austria wasted a number of golden opportunities on the fast break to score through a combination of excellent saves by Sarah Hargreaves and poor finishing. Lyn Byl and GB Captain Lynn McCafferty (pictured) successfully double-marked Austrian dangerwoman Simona Spiridon, who stands at 1.85 metres, to a mere spectator and who received a yellow card for her frustration with being marked out of the game.

Two missed penalties by the Austrians compounded their woes and GB finished the first half strongly and arguably could have gone in at the break with the scores even had they capitalised on some chances in the last few minutes.

The second half saw Austria quickly open up their largest lead of the match going clear by five goals at 14-9 thanks to Engel’s strikes both from open play and the penalty spot and also helped by GB captain’s Lynn McCafferty’s two minute suspension.

Engel plays her club handball alongside GB’s Lyn Byl at Bayer Leverkusen and scored nine goals in the first match in Feldkirchen and was a constant threat here tonight, giving the GB side a number of problems with her smooth attacking play.

GB, who worked fantastically well throughout the match, were spurred on by the partisan Glaswegian crowd as strikes by Holly Lam-Moores, Kelsi Fairbrother, Lyn Byl, Nina Heglund, Jessica Guy – who scored her first official goal for GB - and Marie Gerbron, who finished the scoring in the match, made for an exciting match and nailbiting time for the visitors.

However it was the quality of Engel, alongside Isabel Plach, whose consistent scoring ensured that the Austrians go into their weekend game against Iceland knowing that anything less than a win by five clear goals will see them fail to make the European Championships in Denmark and Norway in December.

The match will be remembered though for a fantastic display from the GB Women, following on from their win against Portugal at the weekend.

The whole squad will go into Sunday’s final qualifier against France in Lille with heads held high, knowing that they have kept one of the world’s best sides within touching distance and are now a force to be reckoned with.

Holmris: We're Giving it 100 Per Cent

GB Women’s Head Coach Jesper Holmris has promised 100 per cent from his team as they prepare for their penultimate European Championship qualifier against Austria in Glasgow tonight.

“The atmosphere around our camp is very good,” he said. “We have a stronger team then we have had before plus we have the additions of Marie Gerbron and Ewa Palies for the match tonight and then Yvonne Leuthold and Jane Mayes next year to look forward to. Sarah Hargreaves has had some small niggles but she is not a major problem and will be fit to play.

“Austria will be better prepared this time as they maybe underestimated us back in our match last October. One of their best players was injured for that match, but will be facing us tonight – Austria will be better prepared not just for tonight, but in general as they have to beat us and hope France beat Iceland tonight and then beat Iceland on Saturday to qualify - it will be a big disappointment for them if they don’t get through.

“They have a lot of players who have played in club tournaments until recently, so they are at peak fitness. The match tonight will be much tougher than the one in Austria, even though I am sure we will bring in a better performance.

“The position Austria find themselves in says more about Iceland as they were seeded as number three and are stronger than everyone expected. They have a lot of very young talented players coming through from their Under 21 squad and the older experienced players are very motivated because they have strength-in-depth now.

“It’s difficult to say if it would have been better for us to play against our target nations, but on the other hand we are playing against Austria and France who we would never of had the opportunity to play against if we weren’t in this tournament, so this is fantastic. It’s always good to measure how far we are against the very best teams like the ones we have been facing.

“The whole squad and backroom staff have all been looking forward to playing up here in Scotland for a long time, especially Lynn who is very excited! Of course, we are used to travelling a lot and we have been to so many countries in Europe over the past three years, but it’s a home match tonight in a place where no-one has played before and we are all looking forward to showing Scotland how good women’s handball is.

“People can expect 100% effort and a good fight against Austria tonight and it’s perfect that they will have a chance to see and experience the best level of women’s handball here in Glasgow.

“We are completely focussed on this match today, but playing France away on Sunday is very special for us as it will be interesting to see if we can put in a better performance than we did when we played them earlier on in the campaign.

“Looking back on the qualification campaign so far, the games have definitely helped us build up to getting the result against Portugal last week, which I think was our best so far as a team. It would be nice to have a chance to play Austria or Iceland in six months time with our full squad to see how big the difference is between us when we have our full squad and best team available.”

Tickets for tonight’s match (throw-off 7pm) are available from www.amiando.com/britishhandball or via the British Handball website at www.britishhandball.com

GB v Austria: Team News

Great Britain women face Austria in their penultimate European 2010 Championship qualifier tonight here in Glasgow knowing their opponents have to win their final two group matches and rely on other results to qualify for the finals in December.

GB lost 30-20 away to Austria in Feldkirchen in their opening Group Three qualification match back in October and face Austria tonight without left back Kathryn Fudge (foot), while goalkeeper Laura Innes (pictured) has a back injury and pivot Jeanett Andersen is unavailable.

But 21-year-old left-back Ewa Palies is expected to make her long-awaited debut after recovering from injury.

Austria boast a number of players with EHF Champions League experience, not least Gorica Aćimović who plays for Viborg HK in Denmark, current EHF Women's Champions League winners and who joint top-scored with nine against GB back in October.

Elsewhere on the court GB pivot Lyn Byl will face Bayer Leverkusen teammate Katrin Engel, who plays right-wing for the Austrians and who also scored nine goals in the match in Feldkirchen.

GB Women's Team Manager Melanie Chowns said of the game tonight: "We are delighted to be able to come to Scotland and play our last home game of this qualification group here because we know that the Scottish Handball Federation and the clubs here are working very hard to develop the sport and are very supportive of the national team."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Euro 2010: GB Ready for Austria Challenge

GREAT Britain Women take on Austria at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena on Wednesday evening, as their Euro 2010 campaign enters its final week.

The team arrived in Glasgow boosted by a good performance in a training tournament in Spain, and will be keen to keep that form going against Austria and then France in Lille on Sunday in their final match of the Euro 2010 group stages.

The GB squad - captained by Scotland’s Lynn McCafferty, pictured - will be out for revenge following the 30-20 defeat they suffered in Austria last year.

The match in Glasgow is a crucial one for Austria, who suffered a shock defeat to Iceland in their opening clash of the competition.

Anything less than a win for Austria will mean they cannot progress to the next stage of the European Championships.

Hailing from Cumbernauld, Lynn said: “The Austria match will be an extra special one for me, it is really exciting to be playing in Scotland.

“I know that the handball players in Scotland have been waiting a long time for this and it will be a great experience for them.

“It is hard not to get a buzz when you’re playing at home and the people coming to watch are just getting better and better, more enthusiastic and more of a motivation.

“Our head coach Jesper asked me if I will be more nervous at this match than any other, and I can honestly say no. I am more proud than anything and I just want our family, friends and the people who have come to watch to enjoy the match and see how much we have progressed.”

Following the Austria match, GB travel to Lille to play France, and Lynn added: “France will by far be the most difficult game of the qualifiers.

“We will play our own game and play for a better result than last time! What else can you say when you are going to play the silver medallists from the last world championships!”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Olympic Chief Gives Handball the Thumbs Up!

HANDBALL has been given the thumbs up by the man in charge of the London 2012 Olympics, after he visited a handball scheme in Warrington last week.

Paul Deighton, the Chief Executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), met with members of England Handball’s youth squad and found out for himself just how much fun the sport can be.

The youth squads have been set up as part of the explosion in popularity handball is experiencing, and the stars of tomorrow were on hand to help pupils from Culcheth High School learn the game.

After trying - and failing - to score a penalty against goalkeeper Alex Bradley, Mr Deighton took time out from his busy schedule to chat to the players about their passion for the sport and ambition to compete at the highest level.

“It’s impressive to see that the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity the 2012 Games provides has already inspired these young people to take up the Olympic sport of handball and try to achieve their personal best.”

Mr Deighton was visiting several Games-linked projects in the area, including the Warrington Wolves Handball Leadership Programme which was recently granted the London Inspire Mark.

While at Warrington Wolves’ Halliwell Jones Stadium he met the Culcheth High School students who were being put through their paces by young England players Alex Bradley, Leanne, Kindley, Beth Wilhabram, Jenny Gordon and Stephen Clarke.

Busy Time Ahead for GB Handball Teams

BOTH the GB Men’s and Women’s squads are heading for Galicia this week as they continue their preparations for a busy period of competition.

The GB Men’s team will play Galicia three times this weekend before returning to Crystal Palace next week. They then go to Belgium to take on their host nation twice on May 28 and 29, before returning to the UK for more training at Loughborough.

GB Women are playing in a five-team tournament in Galicia. After playing Cataluna on Friday, they play Portugal on Saturday and another team on Sunday, depending on results.

They will then travel to Glasgow to prepare for their Euro 2010 clash with Austria on May 26, and onwards to Lille to play France on Sunday, May 30.

GB Handball: Fudge Reports

Great Britain handball ace Kathryn Fudge is featured on top sports website, Sportsvibe, this week.

Click this link or go to www.sportsvibe.co.uk to see the report!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tough Fitness Tests for GB Women

WITH two weeks before they take on Austria in the 2010 European Championships, Great Britain women are on a training camp in Norway, where leading strength and conditioning coach Lee Ottey is putting them through their paces.

A mixture of training, testing and team-building, the camp in Lofoten in the North of Norway is their first camp for a number of months and will give head coach Jesper Holmris chance to see how the existing players have improved - as well as run the rule over two new additions to the squad.

Heidi Moller Jensen, who plays for Saeby IF in Denmark, and triallist Jane Mayes from Tarm Foersum in Denmark are with the team in Norway, with Moller Jensen included in the long-list for the France clash in Lille on May 30.

All players did well in the gruelling tests carried out by Ottey, and afterwards GB’s Louise Jukes said: “We have had a full day of testing with new strength and conditioning coach Lee Ottey. He looks to be a great addition to the support staff and hope that we can make real improvements under his watching eye.

“As well as the physical side we are also doing daily handball sessions working mostly on individual skills as well as our driving play, something we pin-pointed as an area to improve after the Icelandic match.

“At the end of this week we also have two matches against local teams here in Lofoten, so are all looking forward to seeing how we compare with them.

“We’re missing a few players due to other commitments but, it’s great to have Heidi and Jane in the team. We hope that the competitive team building of fishing and kayaking doesn't put them off too much!”

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

'Get Behind Us' Plea from GB Captain

GREAT Britain men’s captain Ciaran Williams has issued a rallying call to handball fans across the country to get behind the team as they prepare for the 2012 European Championship in London next month.

The squad will play their first international matches on home soil when the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre plays host to a four-team qualifying tournament from June 10-12.

Great Britain will take on Cyprus, Estonia and Bulgaria in a bid to progress to the next stage of the 2012 European Championship - and team captain Ciaran Williams (pictured) has vowed to give everything in search of glory.

“Having grown up in the UK and started my handball career here, it's going to be extra special for me to finally get the chance to play in front of my family and friends,” he said.

“It’s also going to be great for the handball viewing public who haven't seen myself or the squad compete on home soil before!

“It will help us massively to have a large number of people cheering us on, that ‘eighth man’ could be the difference, and so we hope everyone really gets behind us!

“We as players are going to give 100 per cent in every second of every game and play with all we have, we hope that we can put on a good show for all the supporters and fans and hope that you will be right behind us!”

The squad will play friendly fixtures against Luxembourg and Belgium prior to the Euro 2012 Tournament in London, as well as having preparation training camps in the UK and Spain.