By Brian Keogh

Tummy trouble floored star player Alison Coffey as Ireland's Ladies' Home International hopes went down in flames in Carlow yesterday.

Eavan Higgins' warriors were beaten 5 1/2 ­ 3 1/2 by champions England as Coffey was forced to pull out of the afternoon singles complaining of stomach cramps and nausea.

The 28 year-old Warrenpoint sensation had felt unwell in the morning but played on with partner Eileen Rose Power in the foursomes before losing at the 18th.

She was sick several times during the round, but couldn't go on in the afternoon and was sent back to the team hotel by her captain.

Higgins said : "Alison couldn't play to the best of her ability and the bug definitely affected her performance in the morning. There was no point in her going on and we hope she'll be fit for the match with Scotland tomorrow."

Tied at 1 1/2 ­ 1 1/2 after the foursomes, Ireland badly missed Curtis Cup and Vagliano Trophy player Coffey in the singles as they lost 4-2 to lost the match by two points overall.

Now England must be the favourites to take the title for the eighth time in nine years after Scotland and Wales drew 4 1/2 - 4 1/2 yesterday.

Ireland must beat Scotland today and hope that England lose comprehensively to Wales if they are to take the title for the first time since 1986.

But the girls in green played superbly in the morning foursomes with Hazel Kavanagh and Elaine Dowdall edging out English pair Emma Duggleby and Fame More at the last.

The match was all square before Kavanagh fired a 120-yard nine-iron to within six feet before Dowdall holed for a winning birdie.

Although Coffey and Power lost at the 18th, Martina Gillen and Claire Coughlan saved a half when Coughlan holed a 20 footer for par.

But in the afternoon it was all England and although Dowdall fired a hole in one at the 154 yard 13th on her way to a 4 and 3 win over Fiona Brown, there was precious little else for the home crowd to cheer about.

Dundalk's Yvonne Cassidy was the only other home winner when she closed out her match with Kirsty Fisher with a birdie four at the 16th. Cassidy was left out of the Leinster side for the Interprovincial Matches earlier this month, but did enough to convince the Irish selectors that she was worthy of a place.

But while Cassidy and Dowdall were winners, 19 year old Gillen fought bravely before going down by three and two to Rebecca Hudson as the English Curtis Cup star fired seven birdies in an immaculate round.

Budding superstar Fame More was approximately four under par as she beat Hazel Kavanagh by five and three while Power and Coughlan could do little as they lost by six and four to Kerry Smith and Kim Andrew respectively.

Ireland 3 1/2; England 5 1/2
Foursomes H. Kavanagh & E. Dowdall bt E. Duggleby & F. More 1 hole; A. Coffey & E. R. Power lost to K. Fisher & R. Hudson 2 holes; C. Coughlan & M. Gillen halved with K. Andrew & F. Brown. Ireland 1 1/2; England 1 1/2

Singles: M. Gillen lost to R. Hudson 3 & 2; H. Kavanagh lost to F. More 5 & 3; E. Dowdall bt F. Brown 4 & 3; Y. Cassidy bt K. Fisher 3 & 2; E. R. Power lost to K. Smith 6 & 4; C. Coughlan lost to K. Andrew 6 & 4. Ireland 2: England 4

Wales 4 1/2; Scotland 4 1/2
Foursomes: S. Jones & L. Davis lost to A. Laing & L. Morton 3 & 2; B. Brewerton & E. Pilgrim bt C. Hargan & S. Wood 4 & 3; S. Mountford & K. Phillips lost to L. Kenny & L. Mackay 3 & 2. Wales 1; Scotland 2.

Singles: B. Brewerton bt L. Morton 2 & 1; E. Pilgrim lost to L. Moffat 4 & 3; L. Davis bt H. Stirling 1 up; K. Evans lost to L. Kenny 4 & 3; S. Mountford bt A. Laing 1 up; S. Jones halved with L. Mackay. Wales 3 1/2; Scotland 2 1/2.
Overall ­ 1, England 2 pts; 2, Ireland 1 pt; 3, Scotland 1/2; 4, Wales 1/2 pt.