Burnley-born ace helps Britain reach the group stages

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BURNLEY-born Holly Lam-Moores helped Great Britain’s women’s handball team reach the group stages of the 2012 European Championship at the weekend.

Holly played as a second-successive victory over Finland at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre secured qualification.

On the back of Friday’s nine-goal win, GB made sure of their passage through to the next stage with a 27-20 win on Saturday evening.

They will now prepare to take on Russia, Montenegro and Poland home and away in six matches over the next year, and are under no illusions about the challenge ahead.

And leading the plaudits following an emphatic win was Sir Clive Woodward, the British Olympic Association’s Elite Performance Director, for whom the GB win was his first taste of live handball and prompted rave reviews afterwards.

“I thought it was fantastic,” he said afterwards.

“The athleticism and physicality was very impressive and it was a great game to watch.

“Success starts from the top and British Handball really have the leadership and the organisation right and that filters down into the rest of the team.”

Head Coach Jesper Holmris added: “The first half was fantastic – the best performance we have had so far.”

GB led 17-4 at half-time, and Holmris added: “Finland played much better than they did in the first leg, but our defence was just amazing and Sarah Hargreaves in goal was awesome in the first half.

“Both Lynn McCafferty and Lyn Byl also played really well, but the whole team played their part.”

McCafferty, pictured, left, celebrating with Lam-Moores, was joint top scorer with seven goals alongside Kelsi Fairbrother, while Byl added four goals to help reach the group stages which begin with a match against Russia in October.

“Russia and Montenegro are two of the top teams in the world,” added Holmris.

“It’s a tough group, but it’s just a great chance for us to play against those teams.”

Along with the European Championships, Holly, who has been polaying since 2004, is also hoping to feature in the London 2012 Olympic Games, with GB having secured a berth in the competition in January.

She said: “We know there will be a team of 14 players; I just have to make sure I am one of them!

“We have the chance to challenge the best nations in the world in front our own fans.”

Holly has already stated that “our aim is to finish in the top eight at the Olympics.”.

An Olympic discipline since 1972, handball was voted best sport at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.