Friday, September 28, 2007
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 5:12 PM
Trinity vs Greenisland
Pembroke Wanderers vs Portadown
Genesis vs Lisnagarvey
Three Rock vs Ards
Ballymena vs UCD
Lurgan vs Railway Union
North Down vs Corinthian
Omagh vs Belvedere
UCC vs UL
Ashton vs Priorians
Catholic Inst vs Belfast Harlequins
NICS vs Knock
Bandon vs Cookstown
In the men’s first round there are just two matches. In an all-Leinster match-up, Weston host Suttonians while North Down play Newry on November 3rd.
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 5:10 PM
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Something had to give and initial gossip had young O’Keefe on his way to Rovers before later that day Charlie rocked up to Grange road for training. Meanwhile, Stephen Doran went further along the M50 to perennial rivals Glenanne, to leave a more manageable three, with the older Henderson likely to continue building his coaching CV.
Corinthian subsequently bolstered their goalkeeping options, signing up Irish Development keeper, Ross Murray from YMCA. YM allowed Murray to go with their ‘blessing’, given the strength of their goalkeeping stock. Barring injury, Iain Walker will be pushing hard for a spot in the Olympic qualifiers squad and Graham Woods is a more than adequate deputy.
In the women’s league, Emma Grey made the step up from relegation battlers Trinity to Hermes while Jayne Coyne seems to have snaffled the top gig at Railway under Mick McKinnon after some outfield excursions last season.
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 11:28 AM
Click on the team name to see the full details:
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 12:14 AM
Monday, September 24, 2007
Last Season: 8th
Record: Won 4 Drew 0 Lost 14 Pts 12 Goals For 27 Goals Against 73
Coach: Stephen Kinsella
Captain: Phil Davies
Players In: Michael Fry (YMCA)
Players Out: Phil Marshall (Switzerland)
Summary: The loss of player of the year, Phil Marshall, will be keenly felt but may be partially soothed by the arrival of Mikey Fry from YM. A lot will rely on his link up with Cliff Bailey in midfield while the Wicklow side has also managed to hold onto Aussie duo Phil Davies and Brett Hinge. Bray’s success last year came from a happy knack of getting the best of the teams around them and this time out, they will hope to move into the middle area occupied by YM and Corinthian and avoid a relegation scrap. A tough early schedule, though, could see them playing catch-up early on. But Bray lack nothing for team spirit, with five of the team having been through three promotions together, dating back to when they were in Division 5: Johnny Egan, Grattan Evans, Ben Adams, Rob Pearson and Doug Keeley.
First three games: Monkstown (h); Glenanne (a); Fingal (a)
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 10:41 PM
Last Season: 6th
Record: Won 8 Drew 3 Lost 7 Pts 27 Goals For 44 Goals Against 45
Coach: Ivan Ovington & Miles Warren
Captain: Alan Blennerhassett
Players In: Ross Murray (YMCA)
Players Out: Charlie Henderson (TRR), Nils Timke (Germany)
Summary: Charlie Henderson’s move across Marlay Park precipitated a flurry of rumour and counter-rumour over which goalkeeper was going where. Irish development squad member Ross Murray, from YMCA, is a more than capable replacement though and youngsters Dave Carson and Jack Kirwan have also been added to the first team squad looking at All-Ireland qualification. Preseason results have been mixed, losing to the Glens and Cork C of I while beating Mossley, Weston and Bandon. Too good to be involved at the bottom; yet they need to improve significantly to challenge Fingal, Monkstown and Rovers, two of whom they play in the first two weeks. Their opening three matches will show what end of midtable it will be.
First three games: Fingal (h); Monkstown (a); YMCA (a)
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 10:29 PM
Last Season: 5th
Record: Won 9 Drew 3 Lost 6 Pts 30 Goals For 63 Goals Against 42
Coach: John McInerney and Gerry Wheeler
Captain: David Bane
Players In: none
Players Out: none
Summary: In their 10th year in division 1, with a bunch of players who have been together all the way through, Fingal have a settled squad set to push for an All-Ireland league berth. Given their form since Christmas and the impact of David Bane when he came back from his wrist injury, they may just nick fourth place. Derek O’Gorman could bolster the team in the New Year after his travels along with one or two promising youngsters from Sutton Park. Preseason has produced some good performances, beating Banbridge 3-2 and narrowly going down 2-1 to Lisnagarvey in Blaris before hammering Trinity. They'll need to continure that form for their opening two testers.
First three games: Corinthian (a); TRR (h); Bray (h)
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 10:21 PM
Last Season: 1st
Record: Won 16 Drew 2 Lost 0 Pts 50 Goals For 73 Goals Against 25
Coach: Jonathon Cole
Captain: Joe Brennan
Players In: Stephen Doran (Pembroke) Enda Tucker (Weston)
Players Out: Nasir Munir (Suttonians)
Summary: The upshot of Ireland’s involvement in the Olympic qualifier in New Zealand is that Pembroke and Glenanne’s squad management could be a key factor in the title race. Stephen Butler and Graham Shaw will definitely be missing for most of January and February as well as a possible December jaunt to Chile. The influential John Goulding will also be out until January but may be replaced around the goalmouth by Enda Tucker who has scored two in two Neville cup games. Last year, Eddie O’Malley and Gary Shaw stepped up for some key games and will need to become dominant players otherwise the quadruple winners will struggle to hold onto their silverware. Stephen Doran, though, is an excellent addition having long been one of the best keepers in Leinster and previous Club Championships Player of the Tournament.
First three games: UCD (a); Bray (h); Monkstown (a)
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 10:14 PM
Record: Won 14 Drew 3 Lost 1 Pts 45 Goals For 59 Goals Against 23
Captain: Hugh Kelly
Players In: Mark Weir (Naas), Brian Gray (Fingal)
Players Out: Eddie Dore (Cork Harlequins)
Summary: Success for Kilkenny this season is clear: avoid relegation. For the division 2 champions, the threat of losing players to Dublin clubs never materialised and they have added former Kilkenny schoolboys Brian Gray and speed merchant Mark Weir. Whilst they face arguably their toughest trip, to Pembroke, on day one, hosting UCD could provide a sign of how both sides will get on this year and home form could prove the decisive advantage if points are hard to come by at the bottom. A 3-0 preseason defeat to Cork Harlequins was respectable while they will be buoyed by a 3-2 win over Railway. Avoiding relegation, though, could well be beyond them.
First three games: Pembroke (a); UCD (h); TRR (h)
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 10:10 PM
Last Season: 3rd
Record: Won 11 Drew 2 Lost 5 Pts 35 Goals For 48 Goals Against 42
Coach: Richard Mason
Captain: David Fitzgerald
Players In: Filip Jaros (Railway Union)
Players Out: Richie O'Malley (work reasons)
Summary: When on form, Monkstown are probably the most attractive side to watch - the second half of their club championships encounter against Annadale was one of the highlights of last season. Their zippy running game is well suited to their young side. Indeed, nine of the side that started against Naas was under 25 and they definitely have time on their side. After a comprehensive preseason that has taken in Cookstown and Cork (drawing with C of I and losing 6-4 to Harlequins), as well as a visit from Mossley (1-1), they will be there or thereabouts in the mini-league with Rovers and Fingal for the All-Ireland places. Their defence needs a bit tightening, though, and if their passing goes awry it could see dropped points against more aggressive opponents. To that end, Rory O’Donoghue has been added to the coaching staff and for the squad’s conditioning.
First three games: Bray (a); Corinthian (h); Glenanne (h)
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 10:01 PM
Last Season: 2nd
Record: Won 14 Drew 2 Lost 2 Pts 44 Goals For 92 Goals Against 18
Coach: Craig Fulton
Captain: Paddy Conlon
Players In: None
Players Out: Tim Hill (TRR), Stephen Doran (Glenanne)
Summary: As with Glenanne, preparing for Ronan Gormley, Tim Lewis, David Harte and potentially Conor Harte’s globe-trotting will be an interesting sub-plot. The loss of Stephen Doran has been absorbed by the maturing Stephen O’Keefe but the squad has been further trimmed by back-up players Byron Dunne moving to France after Christmas and Stephen Smyth moving to Madrid. South Africans John McInroy and Ian Symons, though, need no time to bed in this season and results against YMCA (7-0) and Bray (3-0) suggest they are in the mood. Pembroke have been the best tournament squad for the past two years with back to back Club Championships titles but they won nothing domestically last year. With so much talent available, it is almost inconceivable they won’t win the league this year. They should make the early running. Can they hold onto it?
First three games: Kilkenny (h); YMCA (a); UCD (h)
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 9:57 PM
Last Season: 4th
Record: Won 10 Drew 3 Lost 5 Pts 44 Goals For 61 Goals Against 38
Coach: Turloch O’Siochain
Captain: Peter McConnell
Players In: Phelie Maguire (HGC), Maarten Sier (HIC), Andrew McConnell (Hurley), Tim Hill (Pembroke), Neil Lyons (VVV), Charlie Henderson (Corinthian), Pierre Quesnel (Fremantle)
Players Out: Niall Denham (Almere)
Summary: Losing their final three games to drop to fourth on the final day of the season stung Rovers badly and they expect not to make the same mistakes this time out. Their Dutch cultural exchange programme continues apace with Phelie Maguire and Andy McConnell likely to form one of the league’s best midfield pairings but it is in defence that Rovers need the most strengthening. They will hope Neil Lyons and Charlie Henderson will do just that while Maarten Sier, on preseason form, looks set to give Rovers an additional forward threat beyond Peter Blakeney. Fingal put eight past Rovers at the back end of last season. They meet each other in the second round of matches in an encounter that will say a lot about each side’s credentials this time out.
First three games: YMCA (h); Fingal (a); Kilkenny (a)
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 9:27 PM
Last Season: 2nd (Division 2) – Promoted via Playoff
Record: Won 11 Drew 5 Lost 2 Pts 44 Goals For 56 Goals Against 22
Coach: Brian Delaney
Captain: David Storey
Players In: Glenn Holmes (Italy), Neill Young (Italy)
Players Out: Simon Greene
Summary: Bizarrely for a college side, UCD have lost nobody, except the retired Simon Greene, from the side who won the playoff against Railway last year. They welcome back two Erasmus students, Neill Young and Glen Holmes. Indeed, Holmes’ pace and link-up play with Michael O’Connor could see them ruffle a few feathers. The reduced turnover of players, with a few graduates sticking around means the side has more division 1 experience than most promoted sides and they will be boosted by a 3-1 preseason win over Glenanne. They are hopeful of pushing-on this year but an extended tête-à-tête with Bray looks a more likely proposition.
First three games: Glenanne (h); Kilkenny (a); Pembroke (a)
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 9:16 PM
Record: Won 5 Drew 3 Lost 10 Pts 44 Goals For 32 Goals Against 56
Coach: Trevor Dagg
Captain: Andy Walker
Players In: None
Players Out: Mikey Fry (Bray), Ross Murray (Corinthians)
Summary: YM look an interesting proposition this season as they definitely have the most potential for the future. Richard Pedreschi, Shane O’Donnell and Geoff Walker have all been added to the squad from the youth section while Irish Development squad member David Robinson is becoming a force in midfield. Ross Murray left with YM’s ‘blessing’ given their embarrassment of riches in goal but Will Powderly’s aborted move to Glenanne will help nurture the youngsters up to division 1 standard. YM, though, are looking more at a three year plan rather than selling their souls for an All-Ireland position. Success this year would be steady improvement on last year and the laying of good foundations.
First three games: TRR (a); Pembroke (a); Corinthian (h)
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 9:07 PM
Thursday, September 20, 2007
In both cases, Ireland must win the tournament in order to claim one of the last three places available for the Olympic hockey tournament in Beijing. The women would appear better placed to qualify. The Irish are the second highest ranked in side in the group in fourteenth, five spots below Korea. Indeed, coach Gene Muller admitted before the European Championships that his main focus was Olympic qualification, saying “You have to think beyond the Europeans. We are unlikely to achieve a top 3 placing… I still view the Europeans as a dress rehearsal for the Olympic qualifiers - it’s the realist in me.”
The men will expect to beat Cuba and Trinidad but face two top-ten ranked sides in New Zealand (10th) and Argentina (7th). The French encounter also represents a grudge match especially after last month’s bad tempered 1-0 defeat at the Euro Championships. The men’s side were disappointed to be relegated to the B division as a result of that loss despite good outings against Spain (1-1) and the Netherlands (0-1). Men’s coach David Passmore said “We will take huge confidence from the performances against Spain and Holland towards the Qualifier. We know now we can mix it with the best and have a chance of qualification for Beijing.”
Think we are going to qualify for the Olympics? Looking forward to a trip half way around the world? Have your say...
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 5:43 PM
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The EHL is replacing the men’s European Club Championships, doing an impersonation of football’s Champions League with 24 of the continent’s finest club outfits taking part. They have rightly ditched the ‘champions’ tag, though, as only half the tournaments qualifiers have actually won their domestic competition. Irish Club Champions, Pembroke Wanderers are Ireland’s sole representatives.
The tournament promises to take the promotion of the game to a whole new level, with giant big-screens for the supporters in the stadiums, seating capacity for a minimum of 1,800 people, up to 15 camera angles including in-goal cameras and an elevated ‘flycam’. But most excitingly, though, if Pembroke get through to the second phase, David Harte will double as a cameraman. In-helmet cameras will be used to give goalkeeper’s perspectives.
No doubt this will be the highest standard tournament European clubs have ever seen but there are already a few concerns about the distribution of the cash windfalls that are available. In the football equivalent, the same teams, year on year, make the knockout stages and getting the big pay day. The wedge created between the haves and have-nots is clear in the English Premiership with the ‘big 4’ so far ahead of the rest. Will it lead to a concentration of talent at the big clubs likely to qualify, leaving the smaller clubs behind? Will any of the revenue created trickle back down to the grass roots of hockey?
Ireland, though, would seem more resilient to such pressures with only one qualifying spot and our three province system with players rarely moving province for the promise of European hockey. But for the Dutch, Spanish, German and English clubs, such problems are a real concern for those challenging to break into the upper echelons.
Pembroke, for their part, open their campaign on November 2nd in the first round, where they need to end up in the top two of their three team group which includes against Spanish runners-up Egara and Polish winners KS Pocztowiec Poznan. Egara are current Copa del Rey holders and come complete with five of the Spanish squad that reached the European final in August, including the Alegre brothers and Eduard Tubau. Poznan finished 7th in this year’s European championships. Piotr Mikula (31) is well-known to Spanish opposition, having scored one of the most outrageous hat-tricks in the 2000 Olympics in a 4-1 thrashing of Spain.
The European Cup Winner’s Cup has now been replaced by the less snappily titled Men’s Club Trophy. Glenanne are in a group with Grasshopper Zurich, SK Slavia Praha and Kolos Sekoia, who Cork Harlequins beat last year to claim one of the winner’s berths in the B division. The winners of this tournament, however, will not gain promotion to the Euro league but will gain ranking points which affect the amount of entrants receives.
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 5:13 PM
1) The original Youtube video, Shinty show off their skills not once but twice. Birmingham’s 18/13 club have a go as do some German kids. Dutch internationals Maartje Scheepstra and Ronald Brouwer give their more sedate, stylish version of ball-juggling.
2) Hockey played to perfection, Luciana Aymar scores, Maradona-style, against Korea, Ozzie Jamie Dwyer against Pakistan, Germany’s indoor side almost too quick for the cameraman at the 2003 World Cup and some of the best counterattacks.
3) Teun de Nooijer’s arrival on the world scene in the 1998 world cup final and then the best of the next ten years.
4) One of Times of India's recent ads. Quite a poignant Bollywood-like emotional story of one generation's dream fulfilled by another and then some classic images of the 8 times Olympic champions
5) Fancy yourself as an umpire? Think you know what’s a stick tackle and what isn’t? Here’s one interpretation.
Think you've seen a better clip, leave a comment or email me... Happy surfing
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 2:31 PM