Monday, October 29, 2007

UCC retain Chilean Cup

UCC overcame a spirited UCD to retain the Chilean Cup in Belfast, dealing the Dublin university their second Intervarsity defeat of the day.

In a repeat of last year’s final, Irish international Julia O’Halloran opened the scoring early in the first half, flicking powerfully into the top corner and Holly Moffett sealed the victory ten minutes from the end; beating three players before blasting home from the top of the circle.

UCD pulled one back with virtually the last touch of the game, Marie O’Connell firing home a short corner.

Final: UCC 2 (Julia O’Halloran, Holly Moffett) UCD 1 (Marie O’Connell)
Semi Finals: UCD 2 Queens 1 (after golden goal extra time), UCC 2 UUJ 0

UU claim Mauritius Cup

University of Ulster claimed the Mauritius Cup at the Intervarsities championship in Belfast today, beating UCD 1-0. In a game UU dominated, Neil Hamilton got the decisive goal. UCD were thankful to goalkeeper Herbie Bagnall for keeping them in the game and almost managed to nick a draw, gaining a series of penalty corners late on. Earlier, UU came from 3-1 down to beat defending champions Trinity on golden goal, while goals from Robbie McFarlane, Glenn Holmes and Michael O'Connor against CIT gained UCD their final berth. DCU, despite fielding internationals Phelie Maguire and the Harte twins could not make it beyond the group stages.

Results: Final: UU 1 (N Hamilton) UCD 0; Semi-finals: UCD 3-1 CIT, UU 4-3 DU (golden goal)

Women's Round Up

Pembroke took the outright lead at the top of division 1 with a rousing 4-0 away victory against Three Rock, moving them two points clear of Railway who drew with Leinster Senior Cup holders, Hermes. Hermes remain unbeaten but are four points off the pace, having drawn three matches so far. UCD's match with Loreto was postponed due to their efforts in reaching the final of the Intervarsities.

Results: Genesis 1 (Hughes) Corinthian 4 (Walker 2, Warren, Williams); Railway Union 1 (McDonnell) Hermes 1 (O'Flanagan); Three Rock 0 Pembroke 4 (Doyle, Hall, Collins, Clarke)

* The Hook is looking to increase its coverage of Women's division 1 hockey. Does your club have a contact who would like to supply information to the site? Email

Men's Round Up

Three Rock 1-4 Pembroke: A dominant opening half saw Pembroke power past Rovers in a high quality encounter. Three Rock enjoyed large periods of possession and won the corner-count ten to five but when Peter McConnell hit the inside of the post early in the second half, they sensed it wasn't their day. The ease of Sheriff's clinical rebounds was in marked contrast to Gary Ringwood's superb goal, a model of intricacy, and was ultimately the difference.

Scoring Sequence - 6mn 0-1 Sheriff (fg); 11mn 0-2 Symons (pc); 29mn 0-3 Symons (ps); 34mn 1-3 Ringwood (fg); 60mn 1-4 Sheriff (fg)

Glenanne 6-5 Fingal: Normally you would be surprised at this kind of scoreline; for these two sides its becoming the norm. Glenanne recovered from an early setback to lead for most of the match but Fingal always felt in with a chance, and forced two corners in the closing minutes that could have levelled. An absolute cracker, look forward to the return fixture in the New Year!

Scoring Sequence - 0-1 D Bane (pc); 1-1 Butler (pc); 2-1 Butler (pc); 3-1 Butler (pc); 3-2 D Bane (fg); 4-2 Browne (fg); 4-3 Gahon (fg); 5-3 Butler (fg); 6-3 Butler (pc); 6-4 D Bane (fg); 6-5 McGuinness (pc)

Bray 2-4 YMCA: After dominating the first half, YM picked up their first win of the season, albeit with two goals in the last seven minutes. David Robinson's excellent steal from a full press and Will Powderly's deflection from a short corner put YM in command before Bray stormed back to level with 14 minutes left and they could have snatched it were it not for an outstanding Ian Walker save.

Scoring sequence: 10mn 0-1 Robinson (fg); 37mn 0-2 W Powderly (pc); 50mn 1-2 Hinge (pc); 56mn 2-2 Cox (pc); 63mn 2-3 Barry (pc); 67mn 2-4 Robinson (pc)

Kilkenny 1-5 Corinthian: A hat-trick of penalty corners from Venezulan Lucas Piccioli eased Corinthian past Kilkenny in a one-sided affair. The result moves the reds into fourth place and well in contention for the All-Ireland league spots.

Scoring sequence: 0-1 Piccioli (pc); 0-2 Williams (fg); 0-3 Micks (pc); 1-3 Manning (fg); 1-4 Piccioli (pc); 1-5 Piccioli (pc)

How did you see the weekend's action? Should your side have got a result? Have your say...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

News in Brief

* Cookstown High School bag their first boys All-Ireland schools title. They beat defending champions Banbridge Academy in the final 4-2.

* Australian legend Ric Charlesworth will head up the coaching side of the annual 'Hooked!' conference to take place on January 5th and 6th.

* Ireland is guaranteed three representatives in the second round of the EHL, as HGC trio John Jermyn, Eugene Magee and Iain Lewers help the Dutch club to victory over Germany's Club an der Alster and a draw with Belgium's Waterloo Ducks.

Excited about Charlesworth? Impressed by the Irish trio? Have your say...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Leinster Men’s Weekend Results

The division between All-Ireland challengers and those at the bottom was ruthlessly exposed this weekend, with Pembroke, Fingal, with hat-tricks from Adrian Sweeney (pictured) and Mick McGuinness, and Rovers hammering UCD, Bray and Kilkenny respectively. Glenanne’s impressive 5-1 win over Monkstown, though, will have the most long-term impact. The Town’s impressive start to the season was brought to an abrupt halt by the title holders, in a match expected to have been closer Corinthian’s first win of the season moves them clear of the bottom three: Bray, UCD and YMCA who all remain pointless.

Results: Fingal 9-0 Bray; Kilkenny 2-6 TRR; Monkstown 1-5 Glenanne; Pembroke 8-1 UCD; YMCA 2-4 Corinthian

ISC Results and Draws

Mixed fortunes for Leinster sides as UCD, Pembroke, Trinity and Railway beat Ulster-based opposition in the ESB Irish Senior Cup but Genesis, Corinthian and Three Rock Ladies bowed out. Trinity and Pembroke were both drawn at home against Munster sides (Ashton and Bandon respectively) while Railway and UCD will again travel up North.

In the men’s section, Suttonians continued their good start to the season, beating Weston 4-1 in an all Leinster tie, Richie Wormold scoring twice with David Quinn and Nasir Munir also on the score sheet. They have been rewarded with a trip to Navan in round 2. North Down beat Newry in the other first round tie.

ESB Irish Senior Cup Results round 1: Ballymena 1-3 UCD; Pembroke Wanderers 3-0 Portadown; Omagh (walkover to Omagh) Belvedere; Dublin University 2-0 Greenisland; UCC 0-2 UL; Genesis 1-3 Lisnagarvey; Ashton (walkover to Ashton ) Priorians; Catholic Institute 0-3 Belfast Harlequins; North Down 1-0 Corinthian; NI Civil Service 0-5 Knock ; Three Rock 1-4 Ards; Bandon (walkover to Bandon ) Cookstown; Lurgan 0-6 Railway

Draw for round 2: Dublin University v Ashton; North Down v Railway Union; Armagh v Knock; Belfast Harlequins v UL; Ards v Ballyclare; Pembroke Wanderers v Bandon; Victorians v UCD; Lisnagarvey V Omagh

Byes to Round 3 (17th Nov) Pegasus ; Ballymoney; Randalstown; Hermes; Loreto; Old Alex; Cork Harlequins; Cork C of I

Men’s Irish Senior Cup Results round 1: North Down 2-1 Newry; Weston 1-4 Suttonians

Draw for Round 2: Dublin University v Portadown; Cliftonville v Down; NI Civil Service v Queens University; PSBPP v South Antrim; Ballynahinch V Skerries; Raphoe v Belfast Harlequins; Navan v Suttonians; Clontarf v Antrim; Avoca v Catholic Institute; North Down v Railway Union

Byes to round 3 (17th Nov) Annadale; Banbridge; Bandon; Bangor; Belvedere; Bray; Cookstown; Corinthian; Cork C of I; Cork Harlequins; Fingal; Glenanne; Instonians; Kilkeel; Kilkenny; Lisnagarvey; Monkstown; Mossley; Pembroke Wanderers; Three Rock Rovers; UCD; YMCA

Pembroke's 18 Man European Squad Announced

Nigel Henderson
David Harte

Paddy Conlon (C)
Gordon Elliot
Ronan Flannery
Craig Fulton
Patrick Good
Ronan Gormley
Alan Giles
Connor Harte
Colin Kelly
Tim Lewis
John McInroy
Peter Priestly
Alan Sothern
Justin Sheriff
Ian Symons
Craig Wilson

Games to be played over the weekend of the 2-4 November, Antwerp, Belgium. Pembroke play 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.

How do you think they'll do? Should they target the Polish match or look to get a result against both teams? Post your comments....

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Best Foreign XI (part two)

The Leinster senior league has seen many foreign players come and go in the past ten years. Some have been good, some not so. Some came and went, others have been instrumental in Leinster hockey. Here’s my opinion on the best attackers to have graced on local soil…

Right Midfield – James Benson (Australia) – Corinthian – Unlike Trapper’s departure, JB has proved harder to replace. Brilliant at bringing players into the game and impossible to take the ball off, Benson was a fantastic in the engine room during Corinthian’s best recent performances, especially in qualifying for the All-Ireland championships.

Left Midfield – Michael Trounce (Australia) – Monkstown – Completing an all-Australian midfield, Trounce edges out Bray’s Phil Marshall for the left-mid berth. His hard running combined with fast stick work was perfectly matched to the side’s attacking intentions and was regularly electrifying. Whilst his impact on the side’s fortunes wasn’t massive, he had a sharp eye for goal and the ability to zip past many a flat-stick tackle.

Right Wing – Nasir Munir (Pakistan) – Glenanne – Whilst his coaching and injury-proneness have got in the way of a huge amount of pitch-time for Nas, there is true magic in his hands. On his game, Nas can be unplayable, both for opponents and probably his team-mates and his typically Pakistani performance in last season’s ISC final against Annadale, coming off the bench was nothing short of inspirational, scoring without doubt the goal of the day. Oh, and he’s bagged a heap of titles as coach of Glenanne!

Centre Forward – Colin Stewart (Australia) – Corinthian - In the modern era, Bacchus has probably scored more field goals than anyone. His sharpness around the circle is unequalled, with his trademark shortened grip and lightning back swing, Stewart was the aggressive end of Corinthian’s full press, sniffing for the slightest defensive lapse. His influence on Leinster hockey is still being felt, transforming Sutton Park into one of the top three schools in Dublin.

Left Wing – John McInroy (South Africa) – Pembroke Wanderers – Much like Stewart, McInroy’s opening three months with Pembroke have been characterized by his ‘shoot-from-anywhere’ attitude. Toward the back end of 2006/7, Pembroke were irresistible and scoring goals for fun - McInroy cashed in on numerous occasions. Whether he can break back into the South African squad from Ireland in Olympic year is another matter.

Coach: Bert Vreeken (Holland) - Three Rock Rovers – Winning the title is some achievement; doing it with a Rovers side that were threatened with their first ever relegation the season before was nothing short of a miracle. Other foreign coaches have won titles but few have completed such a monumental turnaround.

Subs: Ian Symons (South Africa) – Pembroke Wanderers – Another Olympian, Symons’ has fired in some drag-flicks but has not been the goal machine expected.

Phil Marshall (Australia) – Bray – Bray’s outstanding player in 2006/7, Russell was a massive part of the club’s success.

Ulli Moessel (Germany) – Three Rock Rovers – An outstanding German international who featured just a few times for Rovers.

Dan Williams (Australia) – Corinthian – Williams has been a steady heartbeat for a number of years, kept out of this team by his illustrious compatriots.

Graham Berry (South Africa) – Railway Union – Began with a flurry of goals before petering away, along with Railway’s good, South-African influenced early form.

Dave Staniforth (South Africa) - Railway Union – Another of Railway’s South African troupe, Staniforth was a lot more than competent between the sticks.

Disagree? Who do you think are the best foreign imports? Avoca’s Kiwi contingent? Naas’ Jurgen van der Poort? Trinity’s JPP van der Elfinhausen? Have your say…

Saturday, October 20, 2007

News in Brief...

* The EHF confirmed that Pembroke Wanderers Ladies have been drawn in Pool A along with SK Slavia Praha (CZE), HC Moscow Region (RUS) & Penarth LHC (WAL) for next years European Cup Winners Trophy. The tournament will be hosted by ARA La Gantoise, in Ghent, Belgium from 21st - 24th March, 2008.

Pool B contains the hosts along with CUS Cantania (ITA), HC Olten (SUI), HC SW Maximal Wels (AUT)

* The IHA announced the coaches for for Irish junior age group hockey squads this week. Trinity and Old Alex coach Arul Anthoni added the under 18 boys job to his portfolio while former Irish international Mary Logue makes the step up from assistant to the head job of the under 18 girls. Andy Smyth and Una McCarthy retain their posts as Under 16 boys and girls coaches respectively.

The full list of appointments can be found here...

* The FIH has confirmed the dates and match schedule for this year's rearranged Champions Trophy. The Samsung Champions Trophy was originally planned as a six team event. However, after the FIH made the decision to shift the tournament from Lahore, Pakistan to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (on the 29th of November to the 9th of December), the FIH decided to add two more teams. This gave Pakistan the opportunity to participate. Details can be found here...

Men's international programme announced

Irish coach, Dave Passmore has announced his squad's plans in the build up to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in New Zealand next February.

The senior squad start with a series in Scotland from the 23rd – 25th November as both Irish men and women travel to Stirling. Passmore is bringing a large squad in Scotland and using the games to assess players who could form the basis of the squad that head to Chile to play against South Africa and Argentina in from the 11th to 23rd December.

This four nations tournament “will provide the perfect climate and setting through which we will try to replicate the match pattern of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, whilst training daily also” commented Passmore.

The squad travels to Chile, though, without several key players including Glenanne's Stephen Butler and Graham Shaw due to work commitments.

The players return from Chile on December 23rd in time to spend Christmas at home before they head out to prepare and then compete in the Olympic Qualifiers. The squad will most likely spend up to two weeks in Australia on their way to New Zealand.

Match Times:

Ireland V Scotland (away in Stirling, Scotland)

20.00 Friday 23rd November Ireland V Scotland
17.00 Saturday 24th November Ireland V Scotland
13.00 / 14.00 (tbc) Sunday 25th Ireland V Scotland

Four Nations, Santiago Chile
Warm up matches will be played on the 14th and 15th against Chile and South Africa. Details not confirmed yet.

17.00 Monday 17th December Ireland V South Africa
19.00 Tuesday 18th December Ireland V Chile
17.00 Thursday 20th December Ireland V Argentina
Friday 21st 3 V 4 and 1 v 2 playoffs.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Best Foreign XI (Part One)

The Leinster senior league has seen many foreign players come and go in the past ten years. Some have been good, some not so. Some came and went, others have been instrumental in Leinster hockey. Here’s my opinion on the best team line-up to have played on local soil…

Goalkeeper – Marc Carrera (Spain) – Three Rock Rovers – A former Spanish under 21 international, Marc seemed to be in Ireland more for the lifestyle than furthering his hockey career in 2005/6. His performance in the ISC quarterfinal win over Instonians was truly inspired, however, and showed what he could do after a good night’s sleep. Much loved around Rovers, Jameson also lamented the Carrera’s departure from Leinster hockey.

Right Back – Craig Fulton (South Africa) – Pembroke Wanderers – The South African was hardly of veteran status when he joined Pembroke’s ranks and so the hiring of an Olympian (the first to play in Leinster since David Judge) with nigh on 200 caps raised a number of eyebrows for the 2006/7 season. His poise on the ball and experience on the training ground has been a key instigator in Pembroke’s back-to-back All-Ireland titles.

Centre Back – Matthias Bechmann (Germany) – Three Rock Rovers – The less illustrious brother of floppy haired German legend, Christoph, player-coach Matthias was nonetheless a serious grafter at the back. Bechmann was instrumental in Rovers first indoor cup title for 20 years; signing up a few of his German cronies including 63 time international Ulli Moessel, for the competition.

Sweeper – Eric Geerts (Belgium) – YMCA – Although ‘the waffle’s’ play never truly matched his talk, Eric still packed a serious punch at the short corner and despite his fairly flaky exterior, he could nail a tackle or two. Given little credit, his time with YM coincided with two of their best recent league finishes in 2000 and 2001.

Left Back – Aaron Clauson (Australia) – Corinthian – The first of Corinthian’s Aussies to make the list, Clauson’s rampaging from full back was perfectly suited to the Whitechurch Park side’s 100 mile an hour brand of hockey that saw the side nab third spot on numerous occasions.

Centre Midfield – Paul Armitage (Australia) – Corinthian – Before my first senior match, I was warned about Trapper, with rumours of a couple of international caps for Australia. Ten year’s later the Western Australian is still the best I’ve played against. Strange to think he joined Corinthian when they were languishing in division 2. Within a few short years, Trapper had clocked up enough Leinster time to make the provincial squad and his club was contenders – a position they maintained after his departure.

Part two to come soon...

Disagree? Who do you think are the best foreign imports? Avoca’s Kiwi contingent? Naas’ Jurgen van der Poort? Trinity’s JPP van der Elfinhausen? Have your say…

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

ISC times and venues announced

The times for this weekend's ISC matches were announced this morning, as well as the walkovers that have been awarded. They are as follows:

ESB Irish Senior Cup (Women) – ROUND One

14.30 Ballymena v UCD (Showgrounds); 14.00 Pembroke Wanderers v Portadown (Serpentine Ave); 14.45 Dublin University v GreenIsland; 13.00 UCC V UL (Mardyke); 14.30 Genesis v Lisnagarvey (Belfield); 14.30 Catholic Institute v Belfast Harlequins (Rosbrien Limerick ); 13.00 North Down v Corinthian (Comber); 14.30 NI Civil Service v Knock (Stormont); 13.00 Three Rock v Ards (Grange Road); 14.30 Lurgan v Railway (Craigavon)

Walkovers: Omagh v Belvedere (walkover to Omagh ); Ashton v Priorians (walkover to Ashton ); Bandon v Cookstown (walk over to Bandon ).

Men’s Irish Senior Cup – ROUND One
14.30 North Down v Newry (Comber); 14.45 Weston V Suttonians ( Griffeen Valley Park ).

Weekend Results

Ladies: Four sides have separated themselves from the chasing pack, with Railway and Pembroke two points clear of Loreto and Hermes at the top. Railway breezed past Genesis and will be confident going into their match against Hermes, who could only manage a draw with Trinity, on October 27th in a top of the table tussle. Trinity, for their part, have had their best start to a season in a long while, beating arch rivals UCD on Monday night.

Results: (Sat) Pembroke 1-0 Old Alex, Hermes 0-0 Trinity, Loreto 2-1 Corinthian, UCD 0-0 TRL, Genesis 0-5 Railway Union; (Mon) Trinity 1-0 UCD

Men: Glenanne, Pembroke, TRR and Monkstown all maintained their 100% records and are confirming their preseason tags as favourites to make the All-Ireland league. Rovers win over Fingal, thanks to two goals from Maarten Sier, was the most notable win, overturning their 8-3 loss at the same venue last season. Kilkenny, meanwhile, took the early initiative in the relegation battle, beating fellow promoted side UCD.

Results: (Sat) Fingal 0-2 TRR, Glenanne 6-3 Bray, Kilkenny 2-1 UCD, Monkstown 4-1 Corinthian, YMCA 1-4 Pembroke Wanderers

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

International Squads announced

Irish Coach Gene Muller includes 5 uncapped players in his 27 woman squad to play Australia later this month: Holly Moffett, Christine Quinlan (both UCD), Ali O’Connor (UCC) Niamh Small (Lorteo) and Stephanie Quinn (Armagh). This series is part of the build-up for next April’s Olympic Qualifiying tournament.

Match 1: Wednesday 24th October 19.15
Match 2: Thursday 25th October 19.15
Match 3: Saturday 27th October 15.00
Match 4: Sunday 28th October 15.00

Irish Squad – 27 Players - Number of Caps in brackets
Emma Clarke Randalstown (31) Eimear Cregan Cork Harlequins (116) Aine Connery UCC (12)Shauna Frey Old Alex (3) Roisin Flinn UCD (25) Lisa Jacob UCD (10) Mary Goode Pembroke Wanderers (31) Emer Harte Pembroke Wanderers (27) Louisa Healy Loreto (22) Shirley McCay Randalstown (25) Jenny McDonough Belfast Harlequins (88) Cathy McKean Loreto (81)Bridget McKeever Ballymoney (93) Holly Moffet UCD (0) Rachel Mulligan Armagh (14) Ciara O’Brien Chelmsford (129) Ali O’Connor UCC (0) Julia O’Halloran UCC (17) Clare Parkhill Randalstown (47) Cliodhna Sargent Cork Harlequins (14) Niamh Small Loreto (0) Alex Speers Pegasus (33) Amy Stewart Armagh (5) Emma Stewart Armagh (34) Nikki Symmons Loreto (79) Christine Quinlan UCD (0) Stephaine Quinn Armagh (0)

The series will not count as capped matches.

The men's squad for their training camp and macthes against Scotland on 23rd to 25th of November is as follows:

Andy Barbour (Cookstown) Jason Black (Cork Harlequins) Mark Black (Cork Harlequins) Paddy Brown (Instonians) Karl Burns (Cork C of I) Stephen Butler (Glenanne) Timothy Cockram (Lisnagarvey) Mark Gleghorne (Instonians) Ronan Gormley (Pembroke Wanderers) David Harte (GK - Cork Harlequins) David Hobbs (Cork C of I) Mark Irwin (Instonians) John Jermyn (HGC, Holland) Gareth Lennox (GK - Banbridge) Iain Lewers (HGC, Holland) Tim Lewis (Pembroke Wanderers) Eugene Magee (Banbridge) Phelie Maguire (HGC, Holland) Geoff McCabe (Banbridge) Mark Ruddle (GK - Cork C of I) Graham Shaw (Glenanne) Ian Walker (GK - YMCA) Michael Watt (Grange, Scotland)

In Senior Training Squad but not in consideration for selection at this stage:
Mitch Darling (Three Rock Rovers) Conor Harte (Pembroke Wanderers) Andrew McConnell (Three Rock Rovers)

Monday, October 8, 2007

International player's availability known...

The availability of Irish international players for local competition was laid out last week by coaches Gene Muller and David Passmore. It is as follows:

Women: Players are only allowed to train once per week with their clubs until March 2008. Home based national squad athletes can only compete in the Provincial league until the 20th of December and the Irish Senior Cup until they return from the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Men: Players can only club-train once per week until December 2007. Tuesday and Fridays are rest days which will include active recovery and flexibility work. After the Olympic qualifying tournament players can return to full club commitments until the Club Championships (March and April). Players can only take part in their provincial leagues until the 8th December, the Irish Senior Cup and European competitions.

In order to curb unscrupulous clubs from sneaking their players onto the pitch, in contravention of the above, players risk exclusion from the squad as part of a clause in the player's Aspire contract.

Will this affect your club? Have your say...

Caulfield and Orbinson retire

Irish Captain, Linda Caulfield, has decided to draw a line under her international hockey career after amassing 151 caps and wearing the green shirt for nine years.

Caulfield cited work reasons as the deciding factor, saying “there is a huge demand on players to increase their time on the pitch and the intensity of their training as we compete at the highest level against semi-pro teams. However, it is very difficult to commit to the training schedule along with the demands of work. I have reached a point where I can no longer manage to do both at 100% so unfortunately something has to give”.

After gaining caps at all under-age levels, Linda earned her first under Coach Riet Kuper aged 20 against Russia in 1999. She was a regular from then on, clocking up her 100th Cap against China in 2005. Caulfield was also the first hockey player to be honoured with The Irish Times Sportswoman of the Month Award in 2004.

Linda took over the Irish captaincy in 2005 following Lynsey McVicker’s retirement. Since then, she led Ireland through numerous internationals including the world cup qualifiers in Rome, the Setanta Sports Trophy and the EuroHockey Nations Championship where she earned her 150th Cap against the Ukraine on 23rd August 2007.

Caulfield will continue her hockey career at club level playing for Dublin team Hermes with whom she has experienced great success in the past.

Sweeper, Jill Orbinson, also retired this week. She earned her first cap against Scotland in 1998 and has been a staple in the Irish set up. Orbinson amassed 139 caps and said "I have been thinking about giving up since the Europeans. Now is the right time for me, however I would have liked to have had a bit longer to work with our coach Gene Muller."

Much like Captain Caulfield, the commitment that is required by these players is often a huge contributing factor to retirement "The amount of commitment required to play for Ireland is huge and after nine years I felt that I was unable to give that commitment any longer."

Orbinson will continue playing hockey for her club Pegasus, with whom last year she did the double, winning the ESB Irish Senior Cup and the ESB All Ireland Club Championships.

Weekend Results and new site additions...

Railway Union continued their impressive start to the Leinster Ladies league, scoring 75% of the goals in the five women’s games played on Saturday. They outplayed Three Rock to record a comfortable 3-0 win, Jean McDonnell scoring twice. Barbara Fitzgerald scored the only other goal of the weekend as Alex beat Corinthian.

In the men’s section, last season’s top 4 sides all got off to winning starts in the race for All-Ireland league spots. Pembroke make the early running after a 6-0 hammering of new boys Kilkenny and are followed on goal difference by Glenanne, who were made to work for their 5-2 win over UCD.

Ladies: Genesis 0-0 Trinity, Three Rock 0-3 Railway Union, Hermes 0-0 Loreto, Corinthian 0-1 Old Alex, UCD 0-0 Pembroke

Mens: Corinthian 2-2 Fingal, UCD 2-5 Glenanne, TRR 2-0 YMCA,Pembroke 6-0 Kilkenny, Bray 0-2 Monkstown

In the coming weeks, the site is going to expand and will be introducing more detailed match reports for the league starting in November. There will also be a ‘mid-term’ report on each Ladies division 1 side and a feature on the Best eleven foreign players to have played in the men’s division 1. If you, have anything you would like to add to the site, email me at or leave a comment…

News in Brief

Stephen Kinsella has resigned as Bray coach while Mikey Fry has decided against his move to Bray.

Glenanne’s Club President and Club secretary both say the German players said to be joining the club, mentioned in a comment on this site, are wholly fictitious.

Ray O’Connor has been appointed Umpire’s Manager for the Beijing Olympics
Do you have any news about your club? Leave a comment or send me an email...

Friday, October 5, 2007

Azerbaijan: "Transformation to a Natonal Idea"

Azerbaijan’s rise to fifth place in the recent European Championships, beating Ireland into sixth, may have raised a few eyebrows but was a disappointment for a ruthlessly ambitious country. Even more surprising was that their team included five newly ‘nationalised’ Korean teenagers.

So, what exactly is going on in Azerbaijan? Well, first up, President Ilham Aliyev is determined to get the Olympics to Baku in 2016, describing it as a place where “you can make a country famous”. As such, money is being pumped into sports across the board to raise the country’s sporting profile. Hockey is no exception and Minister for Tax, Fazil Mamedov, is overseeing its growth.

This influx had led to the first fully professional hockey league in Europe. National coach of Azerbaijan, as well as leading club Atasports, Tahir Zaman was given a brief to bring in talented hockey players from around the world to promote the level of competition in the national league. Atasports signed up five Indian youth players last April on five-month contracts, 3 from the Shahbad district, one from Chandigarrh and one from Delhi.

Atasports finished fifth in the Eurohockey club championships in May, hosted in the capital Baku. This was one of three tournaments to be held in the city in a 12-month period, having already seen the Champions Challenge competition and next year’s Olympic qualifier. Hosting three top tournaments is a result of Ataholdings, an Azeri government holding company, agreeing to sponsor the FIH.

The Korean issue, though, was big enough to be the only story of the Manchester Championships to make it onto Sky Sports News. Six Korean born players were initially signed on 10-month contracts. They soon married Azerbaijani men in consecutive wedding ceremonies on the same day and then obtained their passports with consecutive passport numbers. Five of the players were the included in the national squad. Asked if the Koreans had married in order to play, Tahir said “That’s a personal matter in their private lives and not an issue for the coach”.

The haste in which the player’s passports were rushed through led to the British Home Office delaying the production of visas. The Korean players, who gained their first caps in the tournament, passed IOC and FIH rules on nationality and Azeri Field Hockey Secretary General Adil Pashayev saw this as a deliberate attempt to hamper their campaign. “There was no illegality… I think these problems were created by English team leadership. It was the provocation of the English.” The players subsequently lost their opening match to Germany 7-1, after arriving late to the tournament and effectively knocking them out of a potential top 3 spot.

When questioned about mass nationalisation, vice-president of the Azeri National Olympic Committee Chingiz Huseynzade said this is a characteristic not only in his country but also all over the world. “Half of the French national team are Negroes. Nationalised sportsmen are participating in the composition of the teams of Arabian countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Turkey, England, even US team. We should participate in this process if we want to succeed in sport.”

It is an interesting take on representing your country. A Government article entitle “Sport: Transformation to a national idea” states that when Azerbaijani athletes compete, they dream of standing on a pedestal and “hearing his national anthem and making his country famous all over the world”. Whether their players will have heard their national anthem ever before, though, is a moot point.

Think Ireland should start hiring some international help? Ireland have drawn Korea in their Olympic qualifying group, could our chances be improved if Azerbaijan snaffle a few more of their players? Have your say, leave a comment…