Monday, June 30, 2008

Junior Celtic Cup round-up

Thanks to Alan Good for the information. Also, check out the Irish Examiner for what is definitely the best coverage in the national newspapers on Irish international hockey.

Ireland’s U-21s went unbeaten in both the men's and women's Junior Celtic Cups but failed to come home with any silverware as both sides drew with hosts Scotland in Edinburgh, and thus finishing second to the host nation.

The women were particularly unlucky losing out on goal-difference with a 1-1 draw in their final encounter with the Scots – adding the result to 2-1 wins over France and Wales. UCC’s Aine Connery made her case for a recall to the full women’s squad with three goals in the tournament and got the side off to the best possible start in the decider. She drove home a penalty corner in just the third minute.

But the side were unable to stay in front and once Nikki Kidd had equalised they looked the more likely to win but the irish defence, marshaled by Megan Frazer and Katie Saunderson, ensured the honours were shared.

Frazer had scored the winner against Wales – who had taken an early lead on Saturday. Connery provided the equalizer on the stroke of half-time. Goals from Connery and Michelle Harvey were enough to sneak by France.

On the men’s side, six full internationals took the field over the weekend including four of the recent Setanta Trophy squad. Alan Sothern continued his red-hot form, banging in two in three but draws against France and Scotland meant the Irish had to settle for second place.

Sothern’s goal looked to have been enough for Ireland in the opener, only for Victor Condemine to grab France’s leveler with six minutes remaining. Sothern and his Pembroke team mate Conor Harte scored the goals in the 2-1 win over Wales – Harte returning to competitive hockey for the first time since his ugly injury against Fingal in the Leinster senior cup semi against Fingal.

It meant Ireland needed to beat the Scots to claim the title. In a fractious game, littered with cards, the Irish produced a spirited fightback but gave themselves too big a mountain to climb.
Ireland were reeling early on when Kenny Bain and Ross Stott netted twice in a minute. Adam Pritchard pulled one back but Philip Rae made it 3-1 with four minutes left to the interval.

However, Ireland dominated proceedings after the break, and were back in the game on 55 minutes when Scotland keeper Jamie Cachia floored Mitch Darling in the circle.
Paul Gleghorne converted the resultant stroke, and they were level two minutes later when Jason Lynch scored from play to earn a draw.

Tournament info

Ireland 1 (A Sothern) France 1 (V Condemine);
Scotland 3 (K Bain, Y Adams, C Grassick) Wales 0.
Ireland 2 (A Sothern, C Harte) Wales 1 (D Berry);
France 5 (F Magner 2, F Scheefer, O Sanchez, A Bergamo) Wales 1 (D Berry)
Scotland 5 (C Milne, M Christie, K Bain, N Parkes, I Scholfield) France 1 (F Magner)
Ireland 3 (A Pritchard, P Gleghorne, J Lynch)
Scotland 3 (K Bain, R Stott, P Rae).
Final standings: 1 Scotland 7pts; 2 Ireland 5 pts; 3 France 4pts; 4 Wales 0 pts.

I Walker (GK) (YMCA), S O'Keeffe (GK) (Pembroke Wanderers), A Pritchard ( Cork C of I), C Boyce (Grange), C Harte (Pembroke Wanderers), R Shaw (Glenanne), P Gleghorne (Loughborough Students), S Todd (Mossley), J Lynch (Lisnagarvey), D Ames (Cookstown), S Smyth (Cookstown), M Watt (Grange), M Darling (Three Rock), A Sothern (Pembroke Wanderers), J Bruton (Cork C of I), B McCandless (Banbridge), P Caruth (Annadale).

Ireland 2 (A Connery, M Harvey) France 1 (A Perrocheau);
Scotland 4 (N Kidd 2, A Rowan, K Marshall) Wales 1 (E Batten)
Ireland 2 (A Connery, M Frazer) Wales 1 (B Slater);
Scotland 1 (A Rowan) France 0;
Ireland 1 (A Connery) Scotland 1 (N Kidd);
France 1 (L Poulenc) Wales 2 (S Robinson 2).
Final standings: 1 Scotland 7 pts; 2 Ireland 7 pts; 3 Wales 3 pts; 4 France 0 pts.

V Green (GK) (Victorians), H Stevenson (GK) (Belfast Harlequins), A Connery (UCC), L Colvin (Armagh), R Dallas (Randalstown), K Daly (Catholic Institute), N Evans (Hermes), M Frazer (Ballymoney), M Harvey (Victorians), J Kennedy (Randalstown), E Lucey (Railway Union), K McConnell (Pegasus), E McInerney (Hermes), A O'Flanagan (Hermes), K Saunderson (Randalstown), K Steenson (Armagh), G Watters (Randalstown).

Piccioli moves to Three Rock

Former Venezualan international Lucas Piccioli has made the short journey across Marlay Park to join Three Rock Rovers from Corinthian for the 2008/09 season.

Piccioli, who also works for the IHA as the Eastern RDO, joins the club as a player coach and work with head-coach Turloch O'Siochain as the club looks to build ahead of the EHL and the inaugural AIL.

Speaking of the new arrival, O'Siochain said:

"I am delighted to announce that Lucas Piccioli has joined Three RockRovers HC. We have pulled off a major coup in getting Lucas to comedown the hill from Corinthians, a club he has served to his maximum during his time spent there.

"He brings a wealth of experience and will have a major impact for the club, on and off the pitch. Lucas joins us as a player coach, I am greatly looking forward to working with him and seeing him score for us rather than against, for a change.

"The return of Shane Davey to the hockey fold, after a two year stint of playing rugby for Old Wesley, is another addition to our panel for next season. His commitment and qualities will help us greatly as we strive to achieve our goals for the coming campaigns."

U-18 girls announced for Scotland series

The Irish U18 Girls squad has been announced for a three test series in Cork against Scotland to run in conjunction with the Celtic Cup at Garryduff from July 4-6. Loreto defender Hannah Matthews - who starred in the recent Club Championships - is included along with Corinthian first-teamer Alison Meeke while Development coach Guy Garrett will also be present in his capacity as Assistant Coach.

The full squad is as follows:
Stella Davis (GK), Emile Molloy (GK), Aine Curran, Brenda Flannery, Orla Fox, Irene Gorman, Jennifer Lyttle, Hannah Matthews, Sarah McClure, Jessica McNickan, Alison Meeke, Sarah Melvin, Ruth Millar, Olivia Roycroft, Claire Warnock, Jenna Watt.

Coach: Mary Logue
Manager: Sinead McDonnell
Assistant Coach: Guy Garrett
Physio: Sarah McGloughlin Match Schedule

Match Schedule:
Friday 4 16.00 (Garryduff)
Saturday 5 19.00 (Garryduff)
Sunday 6 11.00 (UCC)

Ireland U-15 training squad named

A 34 player U-15 Boys Development squad has been announced and will get together for a one day session at Three Rock Rovers on Sunday, July 6 from 10am-3pm.

They are: lvaro Garcia, Andrew Brown, Andrew Ramsay, Chris Norris, Colin Neville, Conor Montgomery, David McCracken, Gary Wilkinson, Haddyn Cartmill, Ian Stewart, Jack Ryan, Jack Walsh, James Lorimer, Joel Cathcart, John Semple, Joshua Moffet, Kirk Shimmins, Mark Campbell, Mark Ryan, Matthew Bell, Michael Duggan, Neil Pelow, Owen Magee, Peter Brown, Peter McCrory, Philip Douglas, Richard Kingston, Richard Lynch, Richard Sweetnam, Shane Dempsey, Simon Wolfe, Stuart Miller, Tim Lennon and Tom Donnan

Australia win ninth Champion's Trophy

Australia claimed the 2008 WorldHockey Champions trophy in Rotterdam yesterday against Spain, with WorldHockey player of the Year Jamie Dwyer the key player. They prevailed 4-1 to claim their ninth ever Champions Trophy title, tying Germany for most titles won.

Australia started in great fashion, scoring in the fifth minute through Desmond Abbott who batted home a rebound off the crossbar. Xavi Ribas equalized for Spain soon after with a powerful dragflick that Stephen Lambert got his stick to but could not keep out. It stayed that way until the break despite a fast-paced game with plenty of opportunities.

Australia tipped the balance in their favour with a Dwyer penalty stroke in the 52nd minute. As Spain sought an equalizer, they left themselves open at the back in the final ten minutes.

Eddie Ockenden finished a Kiel Brown - who plays with Peter Blakeney in Perth - cross of with a hard hit into the backboard and Eli Matheson sunk a reverse in the final minute.

Earlier in the day, Argentina had taken third place from the hosts, the Netherlands, on penalty strokes after a 2-2 draw and Germany had defeated Korea 3-1 to take fifth place.

Individual awards were handed to Juan Manuel Vivaldi of Argentina as Best Goalkeeper, Florian Keller of Germany as Top Scorer, Eddie Ockenden of Australia as Most Promising Young Player and Jamie Dwyer, also of Australia, as Best Player of the Tournament. The Fair Play Trophy was awarded to Spain .

WorldHockey available on You Tube

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) launches its You Tube service Viewers can watch full length coverage of all matches of the WorldHockey Champions Trophy, currently taking place in Rotterdam .

FIH's You Tube site complements its live, free of charge streaming on Following the Champions Trophy additional FIH content will be available on the site, such as highlights, player interviews and FIH's monthly magazine show, "ABN AMRO WorldHockey".

FIH President Els van Breda Vriesman said of the initiative, "I'm delighted that You Tube will bring hockey to a wider audience, especially the younger demographic of the majority of viewers on You Tube."

Ireland U-16 Boys vs Scotland

Ireland's U-16 boys produced a mixed-bag of performances in their recent three match series against Scotland. They opened with a stellar second half performance at Jordanstown, winning 5-1 despite a scoreless first half.

Ireland came to life in the 50th minute, Stephen Dowds won a penalty stroke which he duly converted for a 1-0 lead. Within minutes Ireland doubled their lead when Shane O'Donoghue pounced on a defensive error and reverse sticked the ball into the roof of the net before they ran in three further goals.

The score was reversed in the second game with Scotland bouncing back to win 2-1. It took Ireland 20 minutes to get into the game when they went ahead through a Stephen Dowd's drag flick.

Scotland equalised five minutes before half time when Ken Patterson, dribbled from a short corner to slip the ball into the middle of the goal. Ireland missed several easy goal scoring opportunities in a physically contested second half and paid the price ten minutes from full time when Scotland scored their winner from broken set piece play for Alan Forsythe to slot home.

Ireland claimed overall honours in the third match, though, with a 4-3 win. They opened the scoring in the third minute when Dowd rounded the Scottish goalkeeper and squared to Ian Sloan to slot the ball firmly home.

Scotland responded in the 12th minute when from a corner and shot from close range. The Irish regained the lead when Darren Sweetnam picked up a cross from open play and dragged the ball under the goalkeeper to make it 2-1.

Captain Richard Sykes increased his teams advantage just before half time when he scored with a miss hit penalty corner strike and Shane Madeley pounced on a defensive mistake and drilled the ball in at the back post to make it 4-1 in the second half.

Scotland responded through Alan Forsythe who scored twice to complete his hat-trick but it was all in vain as Ireland held on.

Ireland U-16 Girls vs Scotland

Last week, Ireland U-16 girls produced three emphatic wins over Scotland in a three match series. They won the first 4-0, thanks to two penalty corner goals from Chloe Watkins and Dora Gorman and two from play through Vanessa Surgeneor and Naomi Carroll secured Ireland victory.

They repeated the trick in the second game with all the goals coming in the second half through penalty corner strikes from Watkins and Gillian Pinder and two goals from play by Alexandra College's Deirdre Duke and Katie Codyre.

In the final game, Ireland won 6-1 to complete a clean sweep of victories. Goals were scored by Naomi Carroll (two), Anna Mae Morton, Deirdre Duke, Kaite Codyre and Lucy McKee.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I'm currently on annual leave so will not be able to update the website until next Sunday. Please call back then or if you have a story in the meantime, mail me on


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Rose to recieve MBE

Dixon Rose – who has just stepped down as President of the Irish Hockey Association – is to be honoured with an MBE for his services to sport in Northern Ireland. Rose has also served as President of the Irish Cricket Union.

First Minister Peter Robinson paid tribute to those on the list, saying they had been singled out because of the selfless service they had given to their community.

"The people who have been honoured by Her Majesty The Queen today have all shown a determination to make a difference to the society in which they live. It is fitting that their outstanding service, often at considerable personal expense, has been recognised today with the award of an honour.

"I offer my congratulations to all those who received an award and thank them for their considerable efforts."

Stephen Butler becomes All-time top scorer

When Stephen Butler rounded Ali McGregor last weekend in the 58th minute of Ireland's final match of the Setanta Trophy, he became Ireland's leadin all-time goalscorer, netting his 71st in Irish colours.

And while the majority of Butler's goals have come from his lethal drag-flicks, his control at the top of the D and composure to go past the GB keeper showed Ireland's new found ability to score stylish goals from open play.

The Glenanne player acheived the feat in 137 caps and will hope to extend that record in the upcoming Celtic Cup in Garryduff, Cork.

Champions Trophy: Setanta to show live matches

Setanta is setting itself up as the home of hockey on Irish television with another new addition to their line-up.

Setanta Ireland will show a number of matches from this week's Champions Trophy in Rotterdam with six of the world's best testing their squads ahead of the Olympics. Here's the schedule for the coming week:

(All on Setanta Ireland)

Sun 22nd 15:00 Live The Netherlands vs Germany
Tues 24th 12:00 Live Germany vs Korea
14:00 Australia vs Spain.
Fri 27th 16:30 Korea vs Argentina
Sat 28th 17:20 Germany vs Spain

Also to see where you can get live streaming of the event, take a look at this post

In the opening game, Australia beat Korea 5-3 about 30 seconds ago.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Men's Setanta Trophy: final

Ireland completed their series of matches with a 2-1 defeat against Great Britain. Timmy Cockram came closest to breaking the deadlock in a scoreless first-half when his drag-flick was touched onto the post by Ali McGregor.

The second period was a livelier affair and it was the British side that took the lead with a slick right-wing move. Niall Stott slipped the ball to Simon Mantell on the end-line and his crash-ball found Matt Daly’s stick as he gambled at the near-post to deflect home.

Stephen Dick made it two-nil soon after, when he stole the ball off Karl Burns and buried from the top of the circle.

Ireland set up a lively finish when Stephen Butler finished off a full-pitch move which began with Ronan Gormley picking Ashley Jackson’s goal-bound drag-flick off the line.

But it was too late to force a result and meant the Irish ended fourth. The tournament, though, did provide a showcase for the prodigious goal-scoring talent of Mitch Darling, with two crackers in four games. Playing in tandem with Eugene Magee now have a very significant goal-threat from play though a return of one goal in four games from penalty corners is a cause for concern.

Pakistan deservedly took the honours for the attacking flair in front of legions of supporters in UCD. They beat Canada 3-2 with Rehan Butt scoring the winner three minutes from time.
The involvement of Pakistan has been a master-stroke for this tournament from their noisy fans to the cavalier style of play and their high-scoring matches, they definitely provided most of the tournament highlights.

They began well, Muhammad Imran breaking the deadlock in the third minute with a tidy corner after Canada made a hash of playing the ball around the back. They looked more dangerous throughout the half but Canada are tight and compact and gave up few clear-cut chances.
And the Canadians were rewarded for their stolid defence when Paul Wetlaufer's deflection tied up matters after half-time. Wayne Fernandes scored a fortuitous corner to give them the lead.

But a second defensive howler saw Shabbir Khan steal the ball from the last defender before rounding the superb Michael Mahood and slicing in a reverse.

It set up a fraught end, with corners being awarded at both ends. Rehan Butt took the chance with just 200 seconds left, as Imran drag was aimed wide of the post for the winger to dive onto and slide home to claim the spoils.
3rd/4th playoff: Ireland 1 (Stephen Butler) Great Britain 2 (Matt Daly, Stephen Dick) Final: Canada 2 (Paul Wetlaufer, Wayne Fernandes) Pakistan 3 (Muhammad Imran, Shabbhir Khan, Rehan Butt)

Women's Setanta Sports: Finals

With Ireland’s training schedules at completely opposite ends of the spectrum to their visiting opponents coming fourth in both the men’s and women’s Setanta Trophy was probably not unexpected.
Competing against three highly-ranked and Beijing-bound nations apiece, Ireland’s focus was completely different as they look to reassess and rebuild their squads ahead of the 2009 European Championships.

Ireland’s women finished with a 2-1 defeat to South Africa where they competed well between the 25s but, once again, were unable to make the most of chances created.

UCD’s Lisa Jacob opened the scoring with a delightful deflection from Cliodhna Sargent’s long corner. But Marsha Marescia leveled the game from the South African’s first corner of the second half before Tarryn Bright scored from play.

It left Ireland with four defeats from four, though national coach Gene Muller felt the tournament was more abut developing for the future than being results based.

“Overall, I’m happy; especially coming up against GB and Germany we played particularly well. Against the world number 10 and number 3, we were in those games and had more chances than we probably ever had.

“Some of our young players performed way above our expectation, Shirley McCay, Roisin Flinn, Emma Clarke, Emma Stewart most of them are under 22 so they really surprised me. “

He did, though, sound a note of caution of what he hoped to work on over the summer “With our style of play, we became a little bit more expansive this tournament. We created chances on goal but didn’t capitalise on those and I felt that teams scored too easily on us at times.”

Great Britain won the overall competition with an impressive 4-1 over one of the favourites for the Olympic crown, Germany. The British team were in dominant form throughout the final, overturning their defeat at German hands earlier in the week.

Indeed, as an interesting aside, the Brits lasted the pace better and looked in better shape than I have seen them before. In a brief chat with their Director of Hockey, Dave Falconer said that the GB side's have now moved massively away from heavy weights training and as a result their players look a lot more athletic.

They were 2-0 up at half-time and 4-0 ahead before Anke Kuhn scored a late consolation as Germany relinquished their Setanta crown.

3rd/4th playoff: Ireland 1 (Lisa Jacob) South Africa 2 (Marsha Marescia,; Tarryn Bright); Final Great Britain 4 (Sarah Thomas, Charlotte Craddock, Rachel Walker, Crista Cullen) Germany 1 (Anke Kuhn)

Garrett announces Celtic Cup squad

Ireland A coach Guy Garrett announced his squad of 17 for the Junior Celtic Cup which takes place in Edinburgh from June 27 to 29. The tournament is restricted to under-21’s, maing a number of Ireland's development panel ineligible but there is space in the squad for Hermes trio Anna O'Flanagan, Nicola Evans and Liz McInerney

“This is our first competition of the year and we are very confident in the strength of the current squad. It is an added bonus to be travelling with the Ireland ‘A’ Men’s squad as this enables us to view the future senior athletes of Irish Hockey in one tournament” commented Garrett.

Ireland ‘A’ Squad: Lizzie Colvin (Armagh), Áine Connery (UCC), Rebecca Dallas (Randalstown), Kym Daly (Catholic Institute), Nicola Evans (Hermes), Megan Frazer (Ballymoney), Victoria Green (Victorians), Michelle Harvey (Victorians), Jill Kennedy (Randalstown), Emer Lucey (Railway Union), Kate McConnell (Pegasus), Elizabeth McInerney (Hermes), Anna O'Flanagan (Hermes), Katie Saunderson (Randalstown), Katherine Steenson (Armagh), Helen Stevenson (Belfast Harlequins), Grace Watters (Randalstown)

Players Unavailable for Selection: Hannah Bowe (Armagh), Zara Delaney (Loreto), Katherine Elkin (Randalstown), Rachel Mulligan (Armagh), Ciara Murphy (Dublin University), Stephanie Quinn (Armagh), Emma Thornbury (Armagh)

Junior Celtic Cup (Men & Women)

Edinburgh (SCO) 27-29 June 2008
Women: France - Ireland - Scotland – Wales
Friday 27th June 2008 11.00 Ireland V France15.00 Scotland V Wales
Saturday 28th June10.00 Wales v Ireland2.00 Scotland v France
Sunday 29th June10.00 France v Wales2.00 Scotland v Ireland

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Men's Setanta Trophy: Ireland v Great Britain

Ireland pushed Great Britain close but could not force a late equaliser at Belfield. The pair will cross sticks again tomorrow afternoon, as this match was effectively turned into a dead-rubber when Canada and Pakistan drew 2-2 to seal their final places.

The Irish once again went into the lead with a brilliant goal. It was all down to Eugene Magee's individual brilliance, spinning beautifully on the 25 before driving through three tackles. He fired a reverse across the goal into the path of the sliding Michael Watt for a stunning 1-0 lead.
But GB hit the front with seven minutes of that 15th minute opener, Glenn Kirkham sweeping in a rebound and Barry Middleton deflecting in a drag-flick.

They could have gone further ahead soon after from the penalty spot but, for a third successive Irish game, it went unconverted. But they only had to wait until the 27th minute for Richie Mantell to score, via an Irish defender's stick for a 3-1 half-time lead, despite two good Mitch Darling shots.

The second half proved a tighter affair with Magee proving his worth with excellent 3D skills while Simon Mantell was proving a prominent force in the GB attack. The British kept possession for long periods and were unlucky when Ashley Jackson hit the bar.

Darling snapped up a sharp chance for 3-2 with six minutes left but Ireland could not create another real threat to equalise but will get another chance tomorrow at 2pm.

Dave Passmore, though, will hope performance improves saying “This was a sloppy performance, we couldn’t keep possession of the ball and the scoreline did not reflect the superiority of Great Britain ’s performance.”

Pakistan and their delightfully rowdy set of supporters will take on Canada in the final at 4.30pm, hoping to change the result from today. All the games came in a 15 minute period in the second half, Rehan Butt opening the scoring before Mark Pearson equalised. Butt made it 2-1 before Rob Short made the final score 2-2.

Women's Setanta Trophy: Ireland v Great Britain

Ireland hoped to turn the performance against Germany into a positive result against Great Britain today at Belfield and continued on where they left off when Roisin Flinn crossed for McKean.

Her deflection, though, just found the wrong side of the post. They, indeed, made a number of other chances but could not convert.

And they were punished when GB broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute with their first corner, Chloe Rogers knocking in a rebound. They followed up with four corners in two minutes. Christa Cullen converted one to make it 2-0 at half time.

Ireland started the second half better, winning three corners and Alex Speers run weaving through the defence, dragging the keeper wide but could not apply the finish. And GB copper-fastened the victory with two minutes to go with a shot from Charlotte Craddock.

Commenting after the game was Coach Muller “The difference between the sides today was in both circles. We created a lot of chances against GB I was happy with our work rate and the chances we created but their (GB’s) finishing was better. It was a very good team performance I am really happy with our progress over the tournament, we have been dynamic and creative it’s been a step up for us”

In the earlier game, Germany completed their third victory with a late burst against South Africa. Goals from Maike Stockel in the 58th minute and Kerstin Hoyer in the 67th saw them run out 2-0 winners.

It means Ireland will play South Africa Tomorrow in the 3rd/4th playoff at 9.00am while the Germany will hope to retain the Setanta title with a win over Great Britain at 11.25am.

Friday, June 13, 2008

FIH to stream Champions Trophy Online for Free

Loving the hockey on Setanta from the past couple of weeks? Well, this Sunday doesn't have to be the end of your hockey viewing

The WorldHockey Champions Trophy, taking place in Rotterdam from June 21-29, will be streamed online by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

Starting with the opening match between Australia and Korea at 1035 on Saturday 21 June, key matches from the event will be made available free of charge to viewers on FIH’s streaming site and will be powered by FIH’s streaming partner, Vienna-based unas media productions (

FIH is re-launching on an experimental basis for the WorldHockey Champions Trophy and for the first time the site will offer live streaming on a free-of-charge basis. After the WorldHockey Champions Trophy, the FIH aims to develop the site in future months to also offer on-demand content.

Men's Setanta Sports: Ireland v Canada

In a strained and tetchy affair, Ireland let a two goal lead slip for the second time in two games but may well be more concerned with the less polished performance against Canada than they produced the previous evening.

In a controversial game, though, Ireland produced moments of sheer inspiration and scored three sublime goals. Their beauty was in marked contrast to Canada’s efforts, all of which were soft goals, coming from free-hits in the 25.

Canada began in a whirlwind, winning the first penalty corner inside 100 seconds when Ravi Kahlon went through one-on-one. A shot from the left caught Ronan Gormley on the body but appeared well wide but was deemed worthy of a stroke.

Wayne Fernandes, though, was unable to put his first touch of the ball home as David Harte guessed right and was correct.

Timmy Cockram started the game for the Irish and almost played in Phelie Maguire before providing a perfectly weighted reverse stick cross in the 14th minute for the on-rushing Eugene Magee to dive onto for the game’s opener.

Barely two minutes later and it was two. Mitch Darling fought through three tackles before pulling on the ball. His snap-shot was going well wide but Alan Sothern’s instinctive touch proved unstoppable for Michael Mahood.

But, from there, Ireland attempted to right the wrongs of the previous day and close up shop somewhat, moving into a half-court press. It invited the Canadians forward leading to a stagnant 15 minutes with little action, the ball stuck in Irish territory.

With half-time looming, a bizarre three-time taken free-hit – once after play had developed for 30 seconds – was crashed in by Rob Short. Harte stopped it but no one cleared the pads and Mark Pearson squeezed the ball home to give Canada a fighting chance.

During the break, something appeared to rile the Canadians leading to nasty scenes with goalkeeper Mahood and a couple of his teammates surround and berate the umpires, claiming a second penalty stroke. It set the tone for a scrappy second half, though its opening salvo was pure drama.

Short was awarded a goal only for his short corner effort deemed to have been a slap-hit rather than a deflection over the backboard after a lengthy consultation between an increasingly nervous pair of umpires.

Ireland marched up the pitch and restored the two-goal lead when Darling aerially guided John Jermyn’s lofted cross spectacularly into the goal’s stanchion – another to score his first Ireland goal.

But Canada needed only 20 seconds to pull one back. Short banged in a free-hit, Ireland could not stop the ball and Bindi Kullar’s scuffed effort dribbled in to compound a defensive howler.

Short repeated the trick a few minutes later, finding his brother Peter’s stick amid some fairly static defence and it moved to 3-3.

As the game’s physicality increased, cards became inevitable. Sothern and Pearson ended spending the guts of 13 minutes on the sidelines for yellow card tackles within 20 seconds of each other and while Canada won a few corners – Ireland won none all game – the match petered out.

It sees Canada on four points, level with Pakistan while Ireland face Great Britain with both side on a point.

Women's Setanta Sports: Ireland v Germany

The Irish women put in a vastly improved performance against Germany – one of world hockey’s major powers at the Setanta Trophy – but were unable to force home late pressure and pick off a famous draw.

Germany started in the ascendancy and took the lead 14 minutes in when Anke Kuhn fired in a drag-flick, assisted by Natascha Keller. But solid base at the back saw the young Irish side grew into the game and began to create chances of their own, winning three penalty corners before the break and Eimear Cregan going close.

Shirley McCay and Emma Clarke were in top form in midfield, the former producing a performance by which to remember her 50th cap.

Indeed, Ireland were nothing short of tremendous in the second period, with Cregan leading the line supported by the buzzing Cathy McKean and Jenny McDonough. Louisa Healy had precious little to do as Ireland dominated. Fiona Flinn almost equalised from a one-on-one but slipped her shot just by the post and there were calls for a penalty stroke.

The last five minutes was spent camped in the German half and the Irish almost snatched a draw in the final moments with a penalty corner on the final hooter.

The performance will have heartened coach Gene Muller but the result sees the women unlikely to reach Sunday’s final and a second bite at Germany. The Irish will need to beat Great Britain by a large margin to have any chance.

Men's Setanta Sports: Pakistan v GB

Pakistan went one better in terms of comebacks of goal deficits today as they gave themselves a three goal disadvantage by half-time before pulling out an improbable turnaround.

Great Britain prouduced a polished first half performance against the free-running Pakistanis with Richie Mantell zipping in a drag-flick, followed up by goals from Richard Alexander and Ashley Jackson for a 3-0 lead.

But, as in their match against Ireland, Pakistan delighted the crowd with goals from Haider Abbas, Muhammad Saqlain and Muhammad Zubair to draw 3-3.

It leaves the Asian side topping the group on four points, one clear of Canada who play later against Ireland while Great Britain have just a point.

Once again, the Pakistan crowd were immense and created a real atmosphere at the game, adding to the tournament as a whole.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Women's Result: Setanta Trophy

Great Britain eased to a 3-0 win over South Africa to get their tournament back on course after an opening day defeat to Germany. Mel Clewlow scored one while sharp shooter Alex Danson scored twice to move the side level on points with Germany ahead of their match with Ireland at 6pm.

What the coaches had to say...

Two contrasting matches, here's the coaches take on how they saw the opening day of the Setanta Sports Trophy:

Women's coach Gene Muller “I was not happy with our first 35 minutes of play I felt we were too reactive to the play. However, I felt there was improvement with our second half which saw us compete more. We played a young mid and back field tonight who are a little inexperienced as we were missing Ciara O’Brien and we moved McCay up front.”

Men's coach David Passmore “I was reasonably pleased with 60 minutes. We said we would play a more open and aggressive style of hockey, but we need to realise when Pakistan are on a roll, to close up shop and retain possession until we regain the initiative once again.”


Just a quick note to say that I am in the process of giving the site a slight re-design. As such, I've opened up comments again so that if there is anything different or new you would like to see on the site, place a message.

Also, I'm putting together "The Hooks" for the week after the Setanta Trophy, my take on the season with aome highlights and awards for the season. Anyone you think deserves a mention, let me know...

Setanta Sports men: Day One

While Ireland will ultimately not be pleased with the result, in the bigger Irish hockey picture, this match with Pakistan is the perfect showcase for Setanta Sports to help promote the game.
The Irish and Pakistani’s served up an exhilarating feast in front of a packed and rowdy stand at Belfield.

Rehan Butt had the first circle penetration of the game after just 12 seconds. The Irish, though, got the first strike on goal when Iain Lewers superb overhead found Eugene Magee, in the 25, who drove goalwards before fizzing a reverse just over.

A minute after, Magee’s deflection stung the goalie’s hand. Centre-back Tim Lewis followed up out of nowhere to score at the second attempt, blasting a volleyed rebound from three yards.
Timmy Cockram doubled the lead in the ninth minute after a superbly executed double-switch left and Ireland were in dreamland and playing beautifully. Alan Sothern almost scored with his first touch before the visitors got their running game up and flowing.

But when they got going, boy was it impressive. The forward trio of Shakeel Abbassi, Rehan Butt and Muhammad Waqas ball-control at speed was mesmerizing and it was Abbassi who pinged in their first as the pace upped to an almost frantic level, one which suited the Asians much more than Ireland. A second came in the 22nd minute when Abbassi shot just wide for Waqas to tap in at the back post to bring the game back level.

Butt fired a reverse wide, Magee had a second flash over and Jermyn skimmed the post from a penalty corner before Tim Lewis instigated the move of the half. His interception began a superb one-touch move between Geoff McCabe and Phelie Maguire down the left wing, the latter’s shot just drifting past the post to conclude a whirlwind first-half.

David Harte was drawn into action soon after the break, sliding out perfectly with his stick as an epic personal battle developed between the goalkeeper and Abbassi.

Harte produced an excellent double save from Pakistan’s first penalty corner as they got well on top early in the second half. But the goalkeeper was monumental between the posts, saving over 20 times according to my notes.

Ireland had their moments too with Alan Sothern almost unwittingly getting the perfect touch to Stephen Butler’s re-directed free-hit.

The amazing speed at which the Pakistani’s broke almost saw a truly marvelous goal accrue. A passing move advanced 70 metres, finding Salman Akbar on the right wing at a devastating canter, squaring for Abbassi whose full length slide could not get a firm-enough touch. It came soon after another break from an Irish attack, saw Karl Burns have no option but concede a stroke. Muhammad Saqlain flung the stroke over.

But Ireland could not hold out and from the visitors fourth corner of the half, a seemingly aimless corner ended with a hit across goal was popped in by Akbar to make it 3-2.

Ireland had two corners to equalize but the Pakistanis showed their commitment to attack. With 30 seconds left, most sides would play down the clock, but three quick passes from the half-way led gave the chance for Muhammad Saqlain at the top of the circle to add a gloss on the scoreline.

Results: Ireland 2 (Tim Lewis, Timmy Cockram) Pakistan 4 (Shakeel Abbassi, Muhammad Waqas, Salman Akbar, Muhammad Saqlain); Great Britain 0 Canada 1 (Peter Short)

Women's Setanta Sports: Day One

The Irish women were given a tough time in the first half of their opening Setanta Sports fixture against a lively South African side.

It gave Gene Muller’s side a taste of the quality they will encounter this week as they fell 3-1 against a side who looked faster and sharper, probably understandable given both sides are at opposite ends of the training spectrum. This week represents Ireland’s last outing of the season while the Springboks are now looking to hit top gear with under 60 days to go to the Olympics.

The Springboks bossed the game for long periods and built up a 2-0 lead by half-time thanks to two penalty corners from Kate Hector and Henriette de Buisson (pictured above). Ireland’s fortunes improved after the break as Cathy McKean won a couple of short corners and spent longer periods in the African half.

But they were stung 10 minutes after the break by a stunning counter-attack, de Buisson crashing home after Shelley Russell’s flying dash down the right bye-line – an effort that stretched enough sinews to cause cramp.

Mary Goode was drawn into a number of high quality saves too, as the South Africans high ball
speed and stylish midfield – led by Vidette Ryan and Lesley-Ann George proved the right combination.

Good defending by Bridget McKeever and Louisa Moore – playing against her country of birth – shored things up and captain Eimear Cregan pulled one back with three minutes remaining – bundling in a penalty corner rebound.

Ireland next face a formidable opponent in Germany who won their first game against Great Britain 2-1. Natasha Keller and Marion Rodewald scored the goals in the tournament’s opener.

Results (All at Belfield):
Women: Ireland 1 (Eimear Cregan) South Africa 3 (Henriette de Buisson 2, Kate Hector); Germany 2 (Natascha Keller, Marion Rodewold) Great Britain 1 (Susie Gilbert)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Setanta Sports Trophy

This week’s Setanta Sports Trophy gives Irish coaches Dave Passmore and Gene Muller the perfect opportunity to reassess their squads after two unsuccessful attempts at Olympic qualification.

Both teams will face top international competition at Belfield this week, receiving visiting teams all with a ticket booked for the Games in August.

The men will face Canada, Pakistan and Great Britain while the women welcome South Africa, Germany and the British squad.

For the Irish men, they enter a tournament for the first time in eight years without inspirational captain Paddy Brown – recently voted the Irish player of the Year at the IHA Awards. – as well as the highly experienced trio of Mark Irwin, Andy Barbour and Jason Black.

As such, there is six changes to the squad that missed out on Beijing. Timmy Cockram and Geoff McCabe step up from that tournament’s reserve list but the quartet of Iain Walker, Mitch Darling, Alan Sothern and Johnny Jackson show a definite eye being cast to the future.

Even at the tender age of 20, some of have been surprised at how long it has taken for Darling to nail down a full squad berth. This season, though, has seen him convert from a creative forward struggling for goals into one of the finest poachers in the country. His five in the Club Championships semi-finals added to an extremely fruitful run throughout the league campaign.

Likewise, Jackson has had a great season, developing at top British university, Loughborough and picking up invaluable experience in the EuroHockey League.

YMCA’s Walker is set to resume his tussle with David Harte for the number one jersey. The pair, both 20, have long been regarded as two for the future and have been part fighting each other for starting berths at under-16 and under-18 national level in the past.

Commenting on his selection Passmore is very much aware of the quality of the countries involved in this tournament “This tournament marks the start of a new cycle, an era for this particular group. The quality of opposition provides the perfect scenario to assess where we are at against some in form teams preparing for the Olympics."

Ireland’s opponents, meanwhile, will be raring to go as they must complete their Olympic selections in the weeks following this tournament.

Pakistan is the most exciting team on offer, with the delightful skills of Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbassi visiting Irish shores for the first time since the early 1990s. The last time the pair met – in World Cup qualification in China – though, Ireland produced a battling 1-1 draw and a physical approach could produce dividends. Pakistan come into the tournament off the back of a 4-2 loss to Belgium.

Great Britain, on the other hand, are in good form having drawn with Olympic contenders Spain twice in the last week while Canada are much improved from the side Ireland beat twice last year in the inaugural tournament – qualifying ahead of Argentina from the Pan-American games.

On the women’s side, Gene Muller will call on the bulk of the same side used in the Olympic qualifiers in Vancouver in April, given the proximity of the two events.

Roisin Flinn is reintroduced in place of the unavailable Ciara O’Brien while UCD clubmate Christine Quinlan could make her international debut. She is in the squad in place of the recently retired Claire Parkhill.

Speaking about the impending tournament Muller is aware that his opponents will all be at their peak as they continued to prepare for the Olympics “It gives us an opportunity to play against three Olympic bound teams at home. Germany, Great Britain and South Africa are teams that are approaching their peak, and will therefore be formidable opponents. We are looking to perform well against these teams before the end of our international season.”

Germany won the trophy last year while GB and South Africa will be grappling for something near their best form as they put the look to get somewhere close to Olympic form. With both Irish sides now in a transitional phase, looking to the 2009 European Championships, the stern tests provided could give Muller and Passmore some excellent insights into what players will be in the squad for the long haul.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sothern replaces Gleghorne in Setanta squad

Pembroke's Alan Sothern has come into Ireland's Setanta Sports Trophy side in place of the recently elected co-captain Mark Gleghorne who withdrew from the tournament for personal reasons.

Sothern ended the Leinster senior league as top scorer and previously earned one international cap, coming through the Ireland 'A' system.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Passmore finalises Setanta squad

David Passmore announced his selected eighteen to compete in the Setanta Sports Trophy at UCD in Dublin, June 11 to 15.

Iain Walker and Mitch Darling have a chance to nail down a squad position as does Loughborough's Johnny Jackson from the original panel of 35. Passmore has also taken this chance to select two co captains, Ronan Gormley and Mark Gleghorne who will take charge for at least the next two tournaments, The Setanta Sports Trophy and Celtic Cup.

Commenting on his selection Passmore is very much aware of the quality of the countries involved in this tournament “This tournament marks the start of a new cycle, an era for this particular group. The quality of opposition provides the perfect scenario to assess where we are at against some in form teams preparing for the Olympics.”

Passmore has two minor injury worries in the camp with Watt and Burns both suffering from slight foot injuries but at this stage is hopefully on full recoveries as they remain in the selected eighteen.

Men’s Senior Squad: Karl Burns, Ronan Gormley (Co-C), Michael Watt, Stephen Butler, Mark Gleghorne, John Jermyn, Eugene Magee, Graham Shaw, David Hobbs, Mitch Darling, Timothy Cockram, Phelie Maguire, Iain Lewers, Geoff McCabe, Tim Lewis, Iain Walker (GK), David Harte (GK), John Jackson

Friday, June 6, 2008

Spain threatened with Olympic expulsion

Spain's women's hockey team could be banned from the Olympics after two squad members gave positive drugs tests at a qualifying tournament. The players must now plead their cases to an International Hockey Federation commission before the end of June.

According to FIH rules, if more than one member of a team tests positive, the whole team can be thrown out. Spain claim their food at the event in Azerbaijan was sabotaged. If they are barred, Azerbaijan would replace them in Beijing.

The Spanish hockey authorities says there is evidence the positive tests are part of a deliberate attempt to unsettle the team during the Olympic qualifying tournament. They have levelled a number of accusations at the organisers, including claims a number of their players fell ill after drinking water given to them by the organisers during matches.

Spanish Hockey Federation (RFEH) president Marti Colomer told Spanish sports daily AS last month that he was convinced his players were not drug cheats. "We believe the positives were for a powerful stimulant, an amphetamine or something like that," said Colomer. "We are absolutely positive that the two girls had nothing to do with this. I would bet my life on it."

The Azerbaijan Hockey Federation has not commented on the Spanish allegations. In accordance with the provisions in the FIH Anti-Doping Policy, which is in line with the World Anti-Doping Code, both players requested a hearing before the FIH Judicial Commission.

These hearings, which will take place before the end of June 2008, will determine whether or not an anti-doping rule violation has been committed and, if so, what the sanction should be.

News in brief

* Iain Lewers has confirmed he will stay with Dutch side HGC for the 2008/09 season, where he was part of the team that reached the inaugural EuroHockey League finals. John Jermyn, meanwhile, will return to his native Cork to begin his legal apprenticeship.

* St Andrew's College in Booterstown will host a tournament on Saturday, June 7 from 10:30am for all the Church of Ireland churches put in a team and play. The tournament should prove a fun day out and could possibly unearth some new talent!

* The IHA is looking for volunteers to fulfill a variety of roles for the Setanta Sports Trophy which takes place from June 11-15 in UCD. The tournament is set to be an exciting event, featuring some of the world's top side. The IHA would love to get some more of the hockey public involved.

So if you are interested in helping out over any of the days during the tournament please email For more information! go to

Passmore names squad

It's all change in David Passmore's squad as Ireland begin a new cycle in their development following thier third place finish in the OQT. As the side now turns it's eyes to the 2009 Europeans, Passmore has to plan without the services of a quartet of experienced internationals - Mark Irwin, Jason Black, Andy Barbour and captain Paddy Brown.

A 25 man squad has been named for a training weekend ahead of the Setanta Sports tournament with uncapped players Cookstown's David Ames (pictured with this year's Irish Schools trophy), Loughborough's Johnny Jackson and Annadale's Jonny Quigley.

The prolific Timmy Cockram is back in while there is also call-ups for Three Rock duo Andy McConnell and Mitch Darling following their Club Championship exploits. Geoff McCabe, Conor Harte, Gareth Lennox, Steven Redpath, Alan Sothern and Iain Walker are also in the training panel with a view to playing some part in the Setanta Sports Trophy next week against Pakistan, Great Britain and Canada.

Ireland Squad (Club/Caps): David Ames (Cookstown, 0), Karl Burns (Cork C of I, 88), Stephen Butler (Glenanne, 133), Timothy Cockram (Lisnagarvey, 24), Mich Darling (Three Rock Rovers, 7), Mark Gleghorne (Instonians, 80), Ronan Gormley (Pembroke Wanderers, 60), Conor Harte (Pembroke Wanderers, 7), David Harte (Pembroke Wanderers, 21), David Hobbs (Cork C of I, 113), John Jackson (Loughborough Students, 0), John Jermyn (HGC, Holland, 79), Gareth Lennox (GK - Banbridge, 12), Iain Lewers (HGC, Holland, 85), Tim Lewis (Pembroke Wanderers, 24), Eugene Magee (Banbridge, 65), Phelie Maguire (Three Rock Rovers, 66), Geoff McCabe (Banbridge, 27), Andy McConnell (Three Rock Rovers, 2), Jonny Quigley (Annadale, 0), Steven Redpath (Annadale, 10), Graham Shaw (Glenanne, 116), Alan Sothern (Pembroke Wanderers, 2), Iain Walker (GK – YMCA, 10), Michael Watt (Grange, Scotland, 36)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Muller announces Setanta Squad

Gene Muller has reintroduced UCD ’s Roisin Flinn and Christine Quinlan to his 18 woman squad for the Setanta Sports Trophy, after they sat out the OQT in Canada. The latter looks set to earn her first senior cap. Ciara O'Brien is unavailable for selection and Claire Parkhill has retired.

The tournament sees Ireland’s women up against Germany, Great Britain and South Africa and gives Ireland a chance to end the long season on a high, facing three Olympic-bound sides using the competition as part of their build-up.

SENIOR IRISH WOMEN SQUAD (club/caps): Emma Clarke (Randalstown, 53), Eimear Cregan(capt.) (Cork Harlequins, 139), Roisin Flinn (UCD, 40), Mary Goode (Pembroke Wanderers, 49), Louisa Healy (Loreto, 30), Lisa Jacob (UCD, 31), Jenny McDonough (Belfast H’Q, 110), Shirley McCay (Randalstown, 48), Cathy McKean (Loreto, 104), Bridget McKeever (Ballymoney, 111), Hollie Moffett (UCC, 14), Louisa Moore (Pembroke Wanderers, 18), Julia O’Halloran (UCC, 39), Christine Quinlan (UCD, 0), Cliodhna Sargent (Cork H’Quins, 29), Alex Speers (Pegasus, 42), Emma Stewart (Armagh, 56), Nikki Symmons (Loreto, 101)