Thursday, January 31, 2008

Team Leinster - what do you think?

With 17,000 regularly turning up for Heineken Cup matches in the RDS where barely 700 turned out 15 years ago for the Leinster rugby team, it is tempting to envisage what life would be like for an equivalent hockey “Team Leinster” for European competition.

The amount of comments about Noel Keogh’s recent squad selection for what was expected to be a low-key Interpro tournament given the absence of the internationals has shown people really care about the provinces’ team.

Indeed, there are a couple of people involved at high levels in the game who believe this is a definite way forward if we are to improve the national team and give ourselves a better chance on the world stage.

Also, how would you feel about Leinster, Ulster or Munster taking up the country’s spot in the Euro Hockey league?

But would it really be so great for hockey in Ireland? Below I’ve laid out a few quick ideas of pros and cons.

*Top players playing more regular competitive fixtures against each other

*Easier for the national coach to assess top players
*More likely the club side would do well in Europe
*Greater sponsorship potential

*Reduction in the importance of club hockey
*Clubs gain little benefit from the time and money that goes into producing top players
*National selection focus only on Interpro teams
*Less sponsorship potential for clubs

These are just a couple of ideas. There are numerous other arguments that can be made for and against. What are your thoughts? What kind of set-up would you like to see?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Leinster Squad announced - more on this later...

Leinster Squad:
1 Henderson, Charlie Three Rock Rovers
2 Walker Iain YMCA
3 Browne Alan Glenanne
4 McConnell Andy Three Rock Rovers
5 Brennan Joe Glenanne
6 Shaw Richie Glenanne
7 Bane Eamon Fingal
8 Bane David Fingal
9 Lyons Neil Three Rock Rovers
10 Elliott Gordon Pembroke Wanderers
11 Robinson David YMCA
12 Watkins Gareth Monkstown
13 Darling Mitch Three Rock Rovers
14 Shaw Gary Glenanne
15 Sothern Alan Pembroke Wanderers
16 Parsons Brendan Glenanne
Coach Keogh Noel
Manager Walsh Ronan

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Leinster Indoor League Preview

The Leinster Indoor league returns this weekend to the National Basketball Arena following its rejuvenation in 2007 with Pembroke looking to retain the title they won for the first time last season.

They will have a major job to keep the title as last year’s cup winners Three Rock Rovers, last year’s defeated finalists Corinthian and past masters Railway Union and Avoca

The winner of the league will represent Ireland in the European Club Championships in 2009.

Pembroke Wanderers will look to retain the title, which they won last year in a pulsating final defeating Corinthians with a golden goal scored in extra time.

They will be without their international quartet and will also miss South African Ian Symons – all of whom are away preparing for the Olympic qualifiers

Three Rock have bolstered their indoor squad considerably, bringing in indoor specialist Ezra Handelman, Irish international Andy McConnell and Dutch striker Maarten Sier.

Of the other contenders, Monkstown’s style of play outdoors has hit top form and is well-suited to the indoor game while Corinthian – inspired by Lucas Piccioli – were a surprise package last season.

Glenanne return to the competition after a few seasons out.

Past masters of the event – Railway Union and Avoca – will hope to improve on last year when neither made it out of the group stages.

In the past, they have been the standard bearers but the increased competitiveness in the competition last season meant that their dominance was broken.
The action gets under way on Friday night in one of the most open events in Irish hockey.

Tuesday round-up

Monkstown 4 (Fran Lee, Alan Lewis, Ian Allen, Simon Groves) Corinthian 0
The Town scored their second big win in three days on a pivotal night for the All-Ireland race. All the goals came in the first half before Richard Mason gave his squad a work out in the second. Other results went Monkstown's way as they look to secure a minimum of fourth but could soon put the Glens under pressure. As with the second half of the 2006/7 season, they are the current form side of the chasing pack. It seems to leave Corinthian and Fingal in a straight scrap for the All-Ireland play-off spot

TRR 4 (Maarten Sier 2, Tim Hill, Michael Maguire) Fingal 0
Rovers produced another fine win in a good hockey playing performance from both sides and an open match at Grange Road tonight. Three Rock, though, scored their chances while Fingal, as has been their problem at stages this term, created but could not convert. It was 3-0 at half-time before Fingal enjoyed a purple patch when Rovers were down to 10 men. There was, though, the rare sight of Mikey Maguire scoring a goal from play - diving full length to get on the end of Andy McConnell's pass.

Pembroke 2 (Alan Sothern 2) YMCA 0
A goal in each half for Sothern kept Wanderers 100pc record going as YM defended well but were unable to create a huge amount. His first came from a reverse shot, his second a drag-flick.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mills Cup UCD 2-1 Naas

UCD are through to the last eight of the Mills Cup after a 2-1 win over division 2 side Naas. They face a tough quarter final, though, next Sunday against Glenanne.

Irish Junior Cup

So, after the weekend's IJC fixtures, the clear-up job has been laid out for the next few rounds following the fall-out from TRR and Clontarf's dismissal. Pembroke's impressive 3-0 win sees them into the quarter-finals. Railway and Monkstown are the other Leinster sides remaining but face exceptionally tough trips to Banbridge and Cookstown respectively.

They could, in time, be joined in the final 8 by Weston and Corinthian.

In the women's competition, Leinster sides make up half of the quarter-final berths with Hermes, Glenanne, Railway and Pembroke still vying for the title.

Men’s Irish Junior Cup -
3rd Round Matches
‘A’ Corinthian II / Bandon II –v- Instonians II
‘B’ Annadale –v- Portadown / Weston

Quarter Finals – To be played February 9th
Banbridge II –v- Railway Union II
Cookstown II –v- Monkstown II

Quarter Finals – To be played February 23rd
Winner ‘A’ –v- Pembroke Wanderers II
Armagh –v- Winner ‘B’

Men’s Third Round Irish Junior Cup: Banbridge II 4-1 Campbellians; Galway 2-2 (Extra time)Railway Union II (3-5 on strokes); Cookstown II 5-2 Glenanne II; Pembroke II 3-0 Cork C of I II; Monkstown II 3-1 North Down II; Belfast H’Q 1-2 Armagh

ESB Irish Junior Cup Round Three
Loreto II 0-1 Hermes II; Belfast H’Q II 2-1 Waterford; Glenanne 4-2 Our Lady’s; Galway 1-0 Wexford; Pembroke II 1-0 Armagh; Randalstown 1-0 Clontarf; Suttonians 0-4 Pegasus II; Railway Union 1-0 Bray

ESB Irish Junior Cup Quarter Finals Draw
TO be played 9th February
Belfast Harlequins II–v- Randalstown II
Pembroke II –v- Hermes II
Railway II –v- Pegasus II
Galway –v- Glenanne

Men's weekend round-up

Glenanne 1 (Joe Brennan) Monkstown 5 (Ian Allen 2, Filip Jaros, Gareth Watkins, Simon Groves)

All of Monkstown's potential came to bear this afternoon as they put in a five-star performance against Glenanne. Filip Jaros and Gareth Watkins built up a 2-0 half-time lead before Ian Allen and Simon Groves made put four between the sides as everything clicked into gear for Town.
Joe Brennan pulled one back before Allen got the fifth - all of which in typical Monkstown style came from play. They were also bolstered by the return of skipper David Fitzgerald from injury whose broken toe held up well enough to take his place between the sticks on a day where they perfectly executed their tactical game-plan.

The win sees Glenanne almost completely out of the title chase while Monkstown can look forward to another strong second half of the season, similar to their late run last year which saw them nab an All-Ireland spot.

Corinthian 2 (Miles Warren, Dan Williams) YMCA 1 (David Robinson)

In the battle of the young guns, Corinthian keep pace with Fingal and Monkstown in the race for the fourth All-Ireland league place bt while their main rivals picked up emphatic wins, they were made to work hard by YM. David Robinson continued his goal-scoring form but it wasn't enough to get any points.

Bray 0-10 Fingal
TRR 6-0 Kilkenny
UCD 1-8 Pembroke
Fingal, TRR and Pembroke all picked up comprehensive, facile wins this weekend as they overcame three sides in the lower reaches of the league.

More news in brief...

* Trinidad and Tobago, opponents of Ireland in New Zealand will be without coaches for the tournament. Rob Haantjes and Eric Verboom have decided not to travel to New Zealand because they are very disappointed with the (lack of) arrangements and the support for the team by the Trinidad and Tobago authorities.

* Also, you may be seeing some fantastic pictures from league matches appearing on the site. These are all thanks to Adrian Boehm who has been a excellent help to the site.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Garrett names first A squad

Ireland’s ‘A’ coach, Guy Garrett, today announced his squad subsequent to the U-21 Women’s Inter-Provincial tournament in Lisnagarvey last weekend. His selection of twenty athletes sees players of various age groups being called into the squad.

Guy Garrett, current Loreto 1XI coach, said “I am very excited to be involved with what is a key squad in terms of the development of future senior players. Having seen such promising moves forward with the women's senior squad, it is a great honour to now be so closely involved.”

The objective of the Ireland ‘A’ squad (previously called the Development Squad) is to provide a continuum in preparing players for the senior squad. All players will attend one senior squad regional session per week where they will have the opportunity to work with the Senior athletes they aim to join.

Garrett is already putting in plans to keep his Women’s Ireland ‘A’ squad busy “We plan to have several camps and competitions during 2008 and the Ireland A players will be working closely with the senior squad in their regional sessions. We are also pleased to include several of the players whose performance at last weekend’s U-21 interprovincial tournament showed great potential.”

Ireland ‘A’ Squad:
Vicki Green (GK) (Victorians/BRA), Helen Stevenson (GK) (Belfast Harlequins), Hannah Bowe (Armagh), Rosie Carrigan (UCD), Lizzie Colvin (Armagh/Portadown College), Kym Daly (Catholic Institute), Zara Delany (Loreto, Loreto Beaufort), Katherine Elkin (Randalstown), Nicola Evans (Hermes, Alexandra College), Orla Fox (Pembroke Wanderers/Mount Sackville), Megan Frazer (Ballymoney/Foyle College), Michelle Harvey (Victorians), Hannah Matthews (Loreto/Loreto Beaufort), Kate McConnell (Pegasus), Elizabeth McInerney (Hermes), Katherine Steenson (Armagh, Royal School Armagh), Amy Stewart (Armagh, Royal School Armagh), Emma Thornbury (Armagh/Sourthern RC), Chloe Watkins (Hermes/St. Andrews College), Grace Watters (Randalstown)

Several more players will be invited to the regional senior squad sessions for an agreed period on a trial basis. They will then be invited to remain in the Ireland ‘A’ squad dependant upon their performance.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Irish Junior Cup weekend

Glenanne's rivalry with Cookstown renews this weekend, this time in the Junior Cup after high profile battles at Coolnafranky in Co Tyrone in the Senior Cup in the past few years. Pembroke will need to be on their guard against CI to keep their incredible winning run. This game features two potential competition winners, especially after the Cork second team came so close in the Peard Cup final to toppling Harlequins A line-up.

Three Rock have been ejected from the competition - the last side to actually beat Pembroke back in September 2006 - along with Clontarf seconds.

From my understanding, Bandon and Portadown have been reinstated and will face Corinthian and Weston respectively for the right to play against Inst and Annadale for places in the round of 16, probably next weekend.

In the women's competition, Loreto and Hermes is the biggest local clash with two of Leinster's premier clubs face off. Glenanne have another local derby against Our Ladys while last year's finalists Bray face a tricky encounter away to Railway.

Men’s Irish Junior Cup Saturday 26th
Banbridge II v Campbellians (Havelock Park, 2.30)
Galway v Railway Union II (Dangan, 2.00)
Cookstown II v Glenanne II (Coolnafranky, 2.30)
Pembroke II v Cork C of I II (Serpentine Avenue, 1.00)
Monkstown II v North Down II (Rathdown, 1.30)
Belfast H’Q v Armagh (Deramore, 2.30)

ESB Irish Junior Cup Saturday 26th
Loreto II v Hermes II (Beaufort, 2.15)
Belfast H’Q II v Waterford (Deramore, 1.00)
Glenanne v Our Ladys (Glenanne Park, 1.15)
Galway v Wexford (Dangan, 12.00)
Pembroke II v Armagh (Serpentine Avenue, 3.00)
Randalstown v Clontarf (Antrim, 2.30)
Suttonians v Pegasus II (Sutton Park, 2.30)
Railway Union II v Bray (Park Avenue, 1.00)

Muller names squad for Spain

After an intense ten day trip to South Africa the Irish women continue their training programme in pursuit of qualification for Beijing through the Olympic Qualifying Tournament next April 26 - May 4.

Between now and the Tournament in Canada Ireland will play matches against Spain, New Zealand, China, Great Britain and France. Ireland's next camp will take the squad to Terrassa, Spain for a five day tour, 2nd - 6th February.

Muller announced his selected eighteen for this Spanish trip today said "The Spanish are a in a similar position to us, they are also playing for Olympic Qualification, and they will be keen to play well and build towards success later in the year."

Muller's selection for this tour sees the re-inclusion of UCC's Hollie Moffett, who competed for Ireland against the Australian Institute of Sport but has yet to earn her first cap.

Irish Squad Selection for Spain: Emma Clarke (Randalstown, 37), Eimear Cregan (Cork Harlequins, 122), Roisin Flinn (UCD, 31), Mary Goode (Pembroke Wanderers, 35), Louisa Healy (Loreto, 24), Lisa Jacob (UCD, 16), Shirley McCay (Randalstown, 31), Jenny McDonough, Belfast Harlequins, 94), Cathy McKean (Loreto, 87), Hollie Moffett (UCC, 0), Louisa Moore (Pembroke Wanderers, 2), Ciara O'Brien (Chelmsford, 135), Julia O'Halloran (UCC, 22), Clare Parkhill (Randalstown, 53), Stephanie Quinn (Armagh, 2), Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins, 19), Emma Stewart (Armagh, 40), Nikki Symmons (Loreto, 85),

It starts a series of journeys to get the possible training in against top international competition, made possible by the increased funding from ESB. Here's the programme for the next few weeks:

2nd - 6th February: Tour To Terrassa, Spain
5th February: Ireland V Spain
6th February: Ireland V Spain

22nd February - March 2nd: Tour to Wellington, New Zealand
26th February: Ireland V China 18.30
27th February: Ireland V New Zealand 18.30
29th February: Ireland V China 18.30
1st March Ireland V New Zealand 14.30

28th - 30th March: Series V GB; UCD, Dublin, Ireland
28th March: Ireland V Great Britain TBC
29th March: Ireland V Great Britain TBC
30th March: Ireland V Great Britain TBC

4th - 6th April: Series V France; UCD, Dublin, Ireland.
4th April: Ireland V France TBC
5th April: Ireland V France TBC
6th April: Ireland V France TBC

April 26th - 4th May Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Canada.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Metchette to represent Ireland at Olympics

Continuing the strong tradition of Irish umpiring, Carole Metchette was today notified of her appointment to the Beijing Olympics, 2008. This is the first time Ireland has ever had a female hockey umpire appointed to the Olympics.

Dublin born Metchette had a good introduction to hockey when she attended Wesley College where she won the school treble, the ESB Kate Russell All Ireland Schools Championship, Leinster Schools League and Leinster Schools Cup.

Metchette, primarily a left back, represented her province Leinster at all levels and played her club hockey with Old Alexandra where she won two ESB Irish Senior Cups, 1988 and 1991.

Metchette started umpiring in a rather casual manner “If the club was stuck I would just go out and help them by umpiring on a Saturday after my own game” she commented. When she retired as a player in 2002 Metchette started to umpire on a more regular basis and was appointed at a domestic level to umpire at numerous cup finals.

Her first international appointment came in 2002 when she was appointed to the U18 Europeans in Rotterdam where she really got a taste for umpiring “it was such a fantastic tournament, it really was enjoyable”.

Since then Metchette has been appointed by the EuroHockey Federation and International Hockey Federation to numerous tournaments all over the world while continuing to umpire at a domestic level. Among numerous high profile events these included the 2005 Junior World Cup in Chile and the recent EuroHockey Nations Championship in Manchester.

Commenting on her appointment she was obviously thrilled, “I was speechless when I got the notification it is such a huge honour to be appointed to umpire at the Olympics and I am both thrilled and proud”.

The next few months look set to be busy for this married mother of two. In March she is off to Paris to umpire at the EuroHockey Cup Winners Cup and then in April she is heading out to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Baku, all before what will no doubt be a busy summer.

Last year Carole Metchette was also recognised for her excellent umpiring skills when she received the Umpire of the Year Award at the ESB Dawson Travel Irish Hockey Awards. Ireland’s Ray O’Connor who was Ireland’s first male umpire to be appointed to the Olympics will also travel to Beijing as the Men’s Umpires’ Manager.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Best All Time Irish Players

A thread has recently started about Ireland's greatest ever players. It comes at an interesting time as I recently was told about a guy who is writing a book about Ireland's greatest sportsmen.

He has been asking well respected people in the hockey fraternity to try and come up with the top 30 of all time are. With that in mind, I thought it would be good to centralise all your opinions in one thread. Anyway, whack your best 11 into a comment and we'll see what we come up with.
I'll put together a list in a week or so, or when the comments start drying up, with the results.

Canniffe in the papers...

Leinster umpire Martin Canniffe gets his second mention of the week, this time appearing in today's (Tuesday) Evening Herald. He appears on page 83 along with Brian Shelley, the PFAI Premier Division Player of the Year and Conor Gethins, the PFAI First Division Player of the year. He was appearing in his capacity as a Regional Manager for Ford, who sponsor the awards and gave the two players a Ford Focus as part of the prize package.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mills Cup - Monkstown 3 Fingal 4

Monkstown will wonder how they did not pick up a result after having a mass of chances and possession. Fingal appeared to score with every break they had as Monkstown may rue attacking with too many numbers. Fingal led throughout, taking a 3-1 advantage into the break. Town equalised with about 15 minutes to go before were sucker punched a minute later for the decisive seventh goal of the game. Fingal now travel to Kilkenny for the quarter-final.

Monkstown 3 (Gareth Walkins, Ian Allen, Simon Groves) Fingal 4 (David Bane 2, Glen Shekleton, Paddy Gahon)

Ulster claim Men's Interpros

Ulster claimed the men’s under 21 Interprovincial title back from Leinster over the weekend in Hillsborough with a 4-1 win over Munster.

They were made to work a lot harder than expected by a Munster side that appeared to be galvanised after Saturday’s 5-1 thrashing from Leinster.

The Southerners dominated the opening half hour of the decisive encounter but when Annadale’s Peter Caruth netted the opener on the stroke of half time it seemed that Munster’s defence lost its belief.

Ulster fired in another three in the second period through Neil Hamilton, Dane Ward and Simon Todd second with just a Dan Hobbs goal in response.

As a result, the Northern province claimed back the Interpro title they conceded to Leinster last year. The key game of the series turned out to be Friday’s match between Leinster and Ulster.

Alan Sothern’s drag-flick gave the Blues the lead after 22 minutes completely against the run of play, as Ulster had already seen 11 short corners go by without reward – mainly due to the outstanding Ian Walker between the posts.

Another Annadale man, Neil Hamilton, did equalise eventually before the break before the game turned early in the second half.

Leinster were enjoying their best period of possession, creating a number of chances before a torrential downpour led to umpire Andrew Groves calling proceedings to a halt while the rain blew over.

They could not regain the momentum and it was left to Hamilton to fire in the game’s third penalty corner to snatch the win late on.

Leinster did give themselves an outside chance of retaining the title on Saturday as they hammered Munster, Mitch Darling scoring two tidy goals before Pembroke’s Sothern banged in a stunning reverse stick shot – the goal of the game.

Ulster, though, with a core of Ulster’s top three sides – Cookstown, Banbridge and Annadale – proved the strongest outfit.

Friday: Ulster 2 (Neil Hamilton 2) Leinster 1 (Alan Sothern);
Saturday: Leinster 5 (Mitch Darling 2, Alan Sothern 2, David Robinson) Munster 1 (Jason Lynch);
Sunday: Ulster 4 (Peter Caruth, Dane Ward, Simon Todd, Neil Hamilton) Munster 1 (Dan Hobbs

News in Brief

* To confirm something mentioned in comments on this site. TRR and Clontarf 2nds have both been disqualified from the Irish Junior Cup for fielding ineligible players.

* Umpire Martin Caniffe has been announced as part of the official team at the European Cup Winner's Cup in March where Glenanne will be representing Ireland.

* The Irish women return home briefly this week after their training week in South Africa. They showed a marked improvement over the course of the visit, picking up a draw in their final match.

* The IHA hosted its second Youth Leader programme in St Andrews today. The programme sees youth leaders ideas and advice on how to get involved in Umpiring, Team Management, Coaching and Press Relations with a view to improving the voice given to Youth hockey in Ireland.

* Iain Lewers and John Jermyn have been making headlines in Dutch hockey magazines in recent weeks. They were recently featured in the well-regarded Hockey Magazine. Here's a sample piece:

TWEE HGC'ERS IN IERSE HERENSELECTIEHet nationale herenteam van Ierland doet in februari mee aan het olympisch kwalificatietoernooi in Nieuw Zeeland. Bondscoach Dave Passmore selecteerde voor dit belangrijke toernooi twee spelers die uitkomen voor HGC. Het gaat om Iain Lewers en John Jermyn. Klik hier voor het volledige bericht

* Not really news but I found out this week, the Irish hockey team was the first Irish team of any sport to take part in a World Cup of any description when they visited Argentina in 1978!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Women's U21 Interpros

Ulster totally dominated the women's U21 Interpros scoring a massive 32 goals without conceding in their four games. They comfortably won the deciding encounter with Leinster 7-0 on Sunday afternoon to claim the title. Megan Frazer banged in the goals over the weekend, scoring a massive nine goals while Irish international Alex Speers was on target seven times. Leinster came in second, winning their first three games in impressive style before coming up against a far superior northern side.

Friday: Ulster 11 Connacht 0
Leinster 2 (Liane Costello, Rachel Bourke) South East 0

Saturday: Munster 3 Connacht 2
Ulster 7 South East 0
Ulster 7 Munster 0
Leinster 5 Connacht 0

Sunday: Munster 0 Leinster 2
Connacht 0 South East 2
Leinster 0 Ulster 7
Munster 3 South East 1

Final Table:
1 Ulster - 12pts
2 Leinster - 9pts
3 Munster - 6pts
4 South East - 3pts
5 Connacht - 0pts

Men's U21 Championships

Leinster finished their series of matches with a 5-1 win over Munster. It means they have a chance of retaining their U21 crown if Munster do the improbable and beat Ulster.

More details when I receive them...

Results so far
Ulster 2 (Neil Hamilton 2) Leinster 1 (Alan Sothern)
Leinster 5 (Mitch Darling 2, Alan Sothern 2, David Robinson) Munster 1 (Jason Lynch)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

ESB Women's U-21 interpros

In Lisnagarvey this weekend the women's side of the U-21 interpros, sponsored by ESB, also take place. The tournament has been largely dominated by Ulster and Leinster, with either side winning it 23 times out of the last 24 years. The tournament sees 9 UCD players across the five entrants with a number of Leinster based players playing for each province.

ESB U21's Match Time Table
Friday 18th
Ulster V Connacht 18.00
South East V Leinster 20.00

Saturday 19th
Munster V Connacht 10.30
Ulster V South East 10.30 (pitch 2)
Munster V Ulster 15.00
Leinster V Connacht 15.00 (pitch 2)

Sunday 20th
Munster V Leinster 10.00
Connacht V South East 10.00 (pitch 2)
Ulster V Leinster 14.30
Munster V South East 14.30 (pitch 2)

For more details on the squad lists, click here

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mens Under 21 Interpros

The Leinster under 21 squad has reported a full bill of health ahead of their interprovincial tournament this weekend with Stu Loughrey available to play despite few stitches. To see the full squad, click here.

The tournament is expected to be a high quality one, with Leinster having three full internationals in the squad while Ulster draw a large contingent from Ulster’s top three sides: Cookstown, Banbridge and Annadale.

Munster include Lisnagarvey player Jason Lynch as well as former Kilkenny player Eddie Dore and another of the Hobbs clan, Dan.

For more details on the whole tournament, click here

Ulster: Alex McRoberts (Mossley), Christopher Boyce (Grange), Colin Donaldson (Cookstown), Neil Hamilton (Annadale), Jonny Bell (Lisnagarvey), Simon Todd (Mossley), David Ames (Cookstown), Dearmaid Rea (Banbridge), Bruce McCandless (Banbridge), Dane Ward (Banbridge), Peter Caruth (Annadale), Frazer Mills (Annadale), Andy Coulter (Mossley), Mark Moreland (Mossley), David Best (Cookstown), Stephen Forbes (Banbridge), Aaron Appleton (Banbridge)

Munster: Harry Fleming, Stuart O’Grady, David Harvey, Dan Hobbs, Lee Dalton, Roger Gray, Andrew Daunt, Paul O’Leary, Stephen Sweetnam, John Bruton, Jason Lynch, Darren Farrell, Adam Pritchard, David Mills, Eddie Dore, Davy Herbert

Irish team meet Bertie

The Senior Women’s Irish hockey team had a welcome break from their gruelling ten day South African camp when they met with An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at Mandela Rhodes Place on Sunday afternoon.

One of Irish Hockey’s key sponsors, Howard Eurocape, headed by Frank Gormley, and is credited with pioneering the regeneration of Cape Towns city centre with its flagship development Mandela Rhodes Place, took the opportunity to introduce An Taoiseach to the Irish team as they continue their preparation in a bid to qualify for the Beijing Olympics 2008.

The Irish team is taking part in a ten day training camp including international matches against the Dutch U21’s and South Africa. The twenty two strong squad also made a presentation of hockey sticks to the pupils of Quinqa Mntwana School in conjunction with Amawele.

Commenting on the Occasion was Manager Sally Ann Fanagan, “Meeting An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, was a very memorable day for all of the squad. The girls have been training extremely hard sometimes twice a day as well as a number of matches, meeting An Taoiseach was an experience which the squad thoroughly enjoyed.”

Monday, January 14, 2008

Women's Round-up

Old Alex 0 Railway Union 2 (Cathy Kenefick, Jean McDonnell)
In a frantic encounter, Railway Union took a step closer to ensuring All-Ireland league status next season while keeping the pressure on leaders Pembroke. Railway coach Mick McKinnon said he was pleased with the result more than the performance. The result sees Alex drop to eight points off fourth place.

Genesis 0 Loreto 1 (Zara Delaney)
For the second time this season, Guy Garrett’s former club Genesis ran Loreto close losing by just a second half Zara Delaney goal. Loreto stay within two points of Pembroke while Genesis remain bottom despite their impressive performance.

UCD 1 (Christine Quinlan) Trinity 0
UCD overturned their Jacqui Potter cup defeat to their student rivals Trinity last Wednesday with Christine Quinlan scoring the decisive goal to leap-frog both Trinity and Alex into fifth place.

Pembroke 3 (H Maguire, S Collins, S Doyle) Corinthian 1 (A Williams)
Pembroke stay just ahead of the leading pack with their win over Corinthian; staying in pole position for the league title. Corinthian, for their part, remain three clear of Genesis and ahead of Three Rock on goal difference.

Hermes 5 (Nikki Evans 3, Anna O’Flanagan 2) TRL 0

Leading by a single goal at half-time, Hermes made the most of their second half chances to ease past Three Rock at a drenched St Andrews. Hermes may well prove a dark horse in the second half of the season as they only lose Emma Grey with international commitments.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Saturday round-up

Kilkenny 0 Pembroke 3 (Patrick Good 2, John McInroy)
Pre-match this match looked cut and dried; with twenty minutes remaining Pembroke looked decidedly shaky as Kilkenny put in a strong performance with just a goal between the sides. The eleven that travelled did run out comprehensive three goal winners in the end to avoid a potential banana-skin and keep their one hundred percent record in tact.

Fingal 3 (David Bane, Glen Shekleton, Trevor Parsons) Corinthian 0
Fingal made a significant step to gaining an All-Ireland league spot with a comprehensive win over Corinthian. The Whitechurch side's corners didn't click on the day while Fingal will feel they could have won by more, having let a number of chances slip through their grasp.

YMCA 2 (David Robinson 2) TRR 4 (Gary Ringwood 2, Mitch Darling, Tim Hill)
Rovers went into cruise control after taking a 4-0 lead early on. Robinson scored two brilliant corners, one on the stroke of half-time, to bring YM vaguely back into the game and also forced Neil Lyons to take one off the line. Rovers second half performance wasn't great but was enough.
Glenanne 5 (Alan Golding 2, Brendan Parsons, Joe Brennan ps, Mark Lambe) UCD 0
The Glens produced a strong performance, holding posession for long periods. Leading 1-0 at the break, the students got tired chasing the ball, allowing Glenanne to exploit the gaps on Eddie O'Malley's return to Leinster action.

Monkstown 5 (Alec Barrett, Ian Allen 2, Gavin O'Halloran, Simon Groves) Bray 0
A four goal burst in the first period ended the game as a contest despite Monkstown being slightly understrength - Alan Lewis, Eoin O'Connor and Zack Dutton missing. They cruised in the second half without being unduly pressured.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Passmore announces Squad for New Zealand

Dave Passmore revealed his squad for the Olympic Qualifying tournament which will take place in Auckland, New Zealand next month. This tournament will provide Ireland with their final chance to earn a coveted spot in the Beijing Olympics later this year.

“The lads who have missed out can consider themselves very unlucky as the quality of individual performance is higher than at any stage of our preparation last year. There were no players out of form and each has put in many hours of physical and technical preparation. The margins for not being selected were very fine and often came down to ability at set pieces and versatility” commented Passmore.

Although Ireland can only utilise eighteen athletes throughout the course of the tournament they will travel with an extra player in case of injury which will allow the reserve to easily join the squad given that it will take about a week to get over jet lag and acclimatise.

Passmore’s non travelling reserves will continue to train back home through to the start of the tournament to cover any injuries, a wise move when you consider Passmore lost three players just before the start of the Europeans last August.

Ireland’s campaign in Auckland runs from the 2nd – 10th of February and the demands, intensity and matches, of which there are six, will be tough although one that the Irish team have fully prepared for, "it is 17 years since the Ireland men last competed in an Olympic qualifier back in 1991 co-incidentally in Auckland also. This represents a fantastic opportunity for this squad to realise a lifetime ambition to qualify for the Olympic Games in Beijing.”

Ireland’s men leaving on January 19 to continue with their preparations

Mark Ruddle (Cork C of I, 21), Patrick Brown (C) (Instonians, 143), Jason Black (Cork Harlequins, 114), Karl Burns (Cork C of I, 83), Ronan Gormley (Pembroke Wanderers, 52), Michael Watt (Grange HC, 28), Stephen Butler (Glenanne, 125), Mark Gleghorne (Instonians, 73), John Jermyn (HGC (Holland)/Cof I, 71), Eugene Magee (Banbridge, 57), Graham Shaw (Glenanne, 109), David Hobbs (Cork C of I, 105), Andy Barbour (Cookstown, 78), Mark Black (Cork Harlequins, 101), Phelie Maguire (Three Rock Rovers, 58), Iain Lewers (HGC, (Holland)/Annadale, 77), Tim Lewis (Pembroke Wanderers, 19), David Harte (GK) (Pembroke Wanderers, 14),

Travelling Reserve: Timothy Cockram (Lisnagarvey, 62)

Non Travelling Reserves:
Mark Irwin (Instonians, 130), Geoff McCabe (Banbridge, 27), Gareth Lennox (GK) (Banbridge, 12)

Match Schedule.
Local Time Auckland Irish Time
Saturday 2nd February 12.00 01.00am Ireland V France
Sunday 3rd February 13.15 02.15am Ireland V New Zealand
Tuesday 5th February 14.00 03.00am Ireland V Trinidad & Tobago
Wednesday 6th February 18.00 07.00am Ireland V USA
Saturday 9th February 12.15 01.15am Ireland V Argentina
Sunday 10th February Classification Matches.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Preseason predictions revisited - part 3

With the mid-season break ending this week, The Hook is revisiting its preseason predictions to see what's changed for the Men's sides and what we can expect for the New Year. The top sides will be missing their players for five games but will this affect their title charge? Here's my assessment of how its all going to go down:

Three Rock Rovers
Rovers have added quite a bit of grit to their side this year and have dealt well with Peter Blakeney’s departure well so far, with Maarten Sier among the goals. Beating Monkstown was a sign of the change in the side’s make-up, coming from two goals down against the side who cost them an All-Ireland berth last year. Keeping Andy McConnell and Mitch Darling is another boost. The title may be beyond the capabilities but a top three finish should be assured.
Current: 3rd Pre-season prediction: 3rd

The students are in pretty much the same boat as Bray, with two win or bust encounters to decide their fate. UCD have shown more ability to score and to threaten picking up points and will fancy their chances against Kilkenny at home. At this point, they seem the likely side to be in the promotion/relegation playoff.
Current: 9th Pre-season prediction: 9th

Such is the gap between the top six and the bottom four, while there is only one place separating my prediction and their actual position, the prediction for YM was quite ambitious. Again, they have a young side bedding in the likes of Josh Purcell, Rob Whelan and Richard Pedreschi but YM have not got a single home point so far. Beating Kilkenny away before Christmas was a big step. They will miss Stephen Barry’s mentoring skills, though, as he departs for the guts of three months on Irish duty.
Current: 7th Pre-season prediction: 6th

How do you think these sides will get on? Have your say...

Preseason predictions revisited - part 2

With the mid-season break ending this week, The Hook is revisiting its preseason predictions to see what's changed for the Men's sides and what we can expect for the New Year. The top sides will be missing their players for five games but will this affect their title charge? Here's my assessment of how its all going to go down:

For a side who had reservations about taking their place in division 1, Kilkenny have defied all expectations so far and are unlucky not to have picked up a few more points thus far. Viewed as a home banker, their draw in ALSAA blew that theory out of the water. Wins over UCD and Bray should see them to safety.
Current: 8th Pre-season prediction: 10th

If ever a side has suffered from the lack of a front-line drag-flicker its Monkstown. Impressive from play, they were unable to score against Pembroke despite lots of possession and let a two goal lead slip against Rovers when they could have killed the game. Their key match will be against Corinthian in two weekend’s time.
Current: 6th Pre-season prediction: 5th

Pembroke Wanderers
A perfect record so far and this should definitely be their year. They will miss the most players but they have the best squad to absorb Lewis, Gormley and David Harte heading to New Zealand and Symons back in South Africa. UCD, YMCA and Kilkenny are their first three opponents with a reduced squad before a crucial fixture against Rovers. Win that and the league should be theirs
Current: 1st Pre-season prediction: 1st
How do you think these sides will get on? Have your say...

Preseason predictions revisited - part 1

With the mid-season break ending this week, The Hook is revisiting its preseason predictions to see what's changed for the Men's sides and what we can expect for the New Year. The top sides will be missing their players for five games but will this affect their title charge? Here's my assessment of how its all going to go down:

Bray have really struggled this season, suffering massively from the loss of Phil Marshall. Reaching eighth may already be beyond them but the two encounters against UCD will decide who is relegated and who gets the playoff spot. Lose those and they're down.
Current: 10th Pre-season prediction: 8th

The most wildly wrong of my predictions, Corinthian currently lie fifth but could break the top 4 if they snatch a win in hand against Pembroke or Rovers. Lukas Piccioli is the catalyst along with their brigade of youngsters – Brian Doherty, Davy Carson, Jack Kirwan and Karl Smith – have come on leaps and bounds. An effective side who showed in their cup match against Rovers they are definitely a force this season.
Current: 5th Pre-season prediction: 7th

Another steady season from Fingal, the side has been together a long time, they look set to be in a dog-fight for the fourth All-Ireland league spot with Corinthian and Monkstown. On their day, they can beat anyone at home – their match with Corinthian at ALSAA on January 12 will be key.
Current: 4th Pre-season prediction: 4th

The Tallaght side are lucky they have easier matches while Shaw and Butler are away, facing UCD, Bray, YMCA and Kilkenny between now and February 23. The one tough game will be in Fingal in early February which could kill off their title challenge altogether if they don’t take the points. Rovers may leap-frog them if they win their game in hand and these two will have quite a tussle back at Grange Road.
Current: 2nd Pre-season prediction: 2nd

How do you think these sides will get on? Have your say...

Women's ESB ISC semi-final draw

Judging by the reactions of the players present at the draw last night at the Stillorgan Park Hotel, Loreto got the bum draw of the Leinster sides, having to travel to tournament favourites Pegasus.

Railway will be pleased with their home draw to face the winner of either Ballymoney or Hermes whose match was postponed due to bad weather before Christmas. That tie will now take place in February.

The draw was made by Padraig McManus, Chief Exceutive of ESB, at a ceremony honouring Linda Caulfield and Jill Orbinson's contribution to Irish hockey, following their retirement from the national squad.

ESB Irish Senior Cup (March 8)
Railway Union V Ballymoney/Hermes
Pegasus V Loreto

ESB announce increased funding for Women's team

ESB, the National Sponsor of Women's and Girls Hockey in Ireland, has announced further support for the senior squad in their bid to qualify for the Olympic Games in Beijing next August.

The announcement, by ESB Chief Executive, Padraig McManus, means a major boost for the Irish Hockey Women's team as they prepare to tour the Southern Hemisphere next month. The additional funding will be used for match practice against higher world-ranked countries that will pave the way for the qualifying tournament in April.

Speaking at the announcement, Mr McManus said the company was determined to offer as much support as possible to the Irish Hockey squad in its efforts to reach the Olympic Games.

"Success only comes with adequate preparation and ESB is very glad of the opportunity to do as much as it can to assist these very ambitious players to reach the highest possible standard in the run-up to the Games", he added.

The team coach, Gene Muller, said the ESB support was invaluable.

“We are extremely grateful for the huge contribution to our programme. Without it, we would not be able to optimise our preparations for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in April", he said.

The announcement was made at a reception, hosted by the Irish Hockey Association, which also acknowledged the contribution of Linda Caulfield and Jill Orbinson who recently retired from the international game.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Irish Cup draws

Where to start? All four ties are simply mouthwatering in the ISC quarterfinals. Pembroke will be pleased with home advantage but will play fellow table-toppers Cookstown. Again, home advantage for Harlequins could prove decisive as they face a resurgent Lisnagarvey side. The all-Leinster affair between TRR and Monkstown is usually a lively affair.

MENS IRISH SENIOR CUP - QUARTER-FINAL (ties to be played on Saturday March 15th 2008)
Cork Harlequins v Lisnagarvey; Pembroke Wanderers v Cookstown; Instonians v Annadale; Three Rock v Monkstown.

MENS IRISH JUNIOR CUP - THIRD ROUND (ties to be played Saturday 26th January 2008)
Banbridge II v Campbellians; Three Rock II v Instonians II; Galway v Railway Union II; Cookstown II v Glenanne II; Annadale II v Clontarf II; Monkstown II v North Down II; Pembroke Wanderers II v Cork Church of Ireland II; Belfast Harlequins II v Armagh.

ESB WOMENS IRISH JUNIOR CUP - THIRD ROUND (ties to be played Saturday 26th January 2008)Loreto II v Hermes II; Belfast Harlequins II v Waterford; Glenanne v Our Ladys; Galway v Wexford; Pembroke Wanderers II v Armagh II; Randalstown II v Clontarf; Suttonians v Pegasus II; Railway Union II v Bray.