Friday, October 31, 2008

Three Rock Rover 0 ONO Atletic Terrasa 0

Three Rock produced an excellent performance to pick up one of Irish club’s best results in top European competition for years, drawing with Spanish giants, Atletic Terrassa.

In a game short on goals but high on drama, Rovers produced some great hockey in the first three quarters before surviving an onslaught in the final 17 and a half minutes – including a penalty stroke after the final whistle.

A win over Leuven tomorrow (11.30am) will see the Irish side into the second round.

Rovers began the game brilliantly, winning a corner within eight seconds but Michael Maguire’s deflection went just wide. They won another corner moments later before Matthias Witthaus had the quarter’s clearest chance. He was unmarked in the circle but blazed over Charlie Henderson’s goal.

The second quarter opened with Lucas Piccioli going close after a brilliant turn. Roc Oliva showed some sharp skills, flashing dangerously across the goal but no one could get a touch.

At the end of both quarters, Rovers conceded penalty corners only for Alan Bothwell to call for the video umpire and have the decision overturned.

Half-time saw coach Turloch O’Siochain geeing up the team, telling the players the game was there for the taking. Oliva cracked another shot wide but Rovers pressed again with Michael Maguire going close. His brother, Phelie used all his high level experience in a superb personal performance. Jan Castello was yellow-carded but during his time off, Ribas fired a corner over.

But while Rovers probably took the three quarters on points, the last quarter was all Terrassa. They thought they had taken the lead in the 61st minute when Ignasi Guerrero smashed in a reverse. Again the video umpire intervened and the goal was chalked off for the technical offence of a free-in being taken from the wrong spot.

Ribas drew another save from Henderson before firing a penalty stroke wide as Rovers held on for a famous point.

* Just to provide an update on the Live Streaming situation:


I can only apologise for the problem - it was a massive technical issue that would have hindered the BBC, let alone EHL! However, we have just paid a small fortune to ensure that the rest of the games Rovers game will be fine. I sincerely hope so, anyway. The highlights will be on later, but realise that this is no consolation.

We want as many people to see the live feed as possible, and it is just so unfortunate that you missed the game. They played so well - what a result!

Again, I apologise.Richard

Women's weekend preview

When three players made the move from Pembroke to the end of the DART line in Bray, many words predicted the Serpentine Avenue would struggle this season. A Jacqui Potter loss to Glenanne added to the opinion but, since then, the ‘Broke have shown they are still a tough nut to crack.

The loss of Elaine Brommel, Stephanie Hall and international keeper Mary Goode have been largely assuaged by the promotion from within of the quartet of youngsters Hayley O’Donnell, Alice Walsh, Orla Fox and Noelle Farrell.

The main difference, though, is having full usage of Louisa Moore. The South-African born Irish international has taken time out from the national setup as she aims to get more settled in her new surrounds.

Moore arrived in Dublin last December but was given little time to acclimatise given the hectic training schedule in preparation for the Olympic qualifiers. Her goals have been a big factor and coach Natalie Fulton feels that the focus on club hockey has been a definite boost to help Moore feel more at home.

As for the start to the season, Fulton adds “It been a great start. Everyone who is playing is really enjoying it and that’s half the battle but we’re just taking it step by step and focus on each game.

Jane Coyne has stepped in between the posts and was excellent in the IHL game against Armagh and the keeper is one of three ex-Railway players – along with Aoife O’Gorman and Shona Doyle – to take the field on Saturday.

Fulton’s adds “Jane has been great, it’s good to have her down. She’s a good personality to have around.”
The Sandymount derby this weekend with Railway is another early-season six-pointer as the Park Avenue outfit enjoys home advantage for the first time this season.

Mick McKinnon’s side have a 100pc record thus far and look the team to beat, with Emma Smith back in form after her travels.

Elsewhere, UCD hope they do not suffer a post varsities hangover against Corinthian – who will hope Sarah Walker has recovered from the niggle that kept her out of the Loreto game. Plenty of former Trinity players will meet their alma mater at the new pitches in Milltown. Loreto take on former colleague Sarah Scott as Bray visit Belfield.

Women’s Division One
Corinthian v UCD, 12.45pm, St. Columba’s College; Hermes v Glenanne, 12pm, St Andrews; Loreto v Bray, 2pm, Beaufort; Old Alex v Trinity, TBC, Alexandra College; Railway Union v Pembroke, 3pm, Park Avenue

Men's weekend preview: Fulton vs Anthoni

Not many fixtures in Leinster hockey capture the imagination like the recent series between Glenanne and Pembroke and, while Three Rock have got involved in the mix at the top of the table, nothing stirs the emotions like this tie.

This Saturday sees the first meeting of good friends Arul Anthoni and Craig Fulton in a coaching capacity, having worked together in South Africa.

The pair have been in opposition once before, the 1997 World Cup qualifier in Kuala Lumpur when Anthoni scored the winner in a 4-3 victory over South Africa for Malaysia. And while Fulton does not want to make a lot of that issue, saying his side will “play the game not the occasion”, Anthoni jokes that result is “always on Craig’s mind”.

Pembroke have no new injury concerns with Ronan Gormley and Tim Lewis both playing full parts in the international series this week.

Anthoni, meanwhile, is pleased with the shape his squad is taking on. “I’m happy because there are so many players I can move around and can play in different positions, there’s a lot of mobility in the team.” John Goulding returned to Ireland earlier this week but is unlikely to figure.

As for the game itself, the Glenanne coach is relishing the big game. “All the teams that come up against Glenanne will come extra hard and extra cautious so every game is hard especially between the top three or four teams.

"I know Craig well. We can use that to our advantage as he is playing and coaching as it’s especially difficult when you play against a strong team so we can use that.”

Elsewhere, Corinthian have a tricky home assignment against Kilkenny, Monkstown face old boy Dave ‘Shabhaz’ Jenkins for the first time and UCD will look to bounce back from their varsities semi-final defeat against Fingal.

YMCA are left kicking their heals for a second successive week due to Three Rock's involvement in Europe but play their back match on Tuesday against UCD.

Men's Divison One fixtures
Corinthian v Kilkenny, 2.15pm, Whitechurch; Monkstown v Railway Union, 1pm, Rathdown; Pembroke W v Glenanne, 2pm, Serpentine Ave; UCD v Fingal, 1pm, Belfield

Irish Hockey Trophy gets underway

Saturday sees the brand new Irish Hockey Trophy get under way around the country. The competition – which also acts as a qualifier for the Irish Senior Cup – sees the first elevens from the second tier in Ulster, Munster and Leinster compete with the women’s competition also including sides from Connacht and South East leagues.

In a tough draw for Leinster sides, the men’s competition sees three local derbies with Avoca against Suttonians the highlight. Bray will hope to conquer Naas while Weston and Navan will hope to put their difficult starts to the season behind them at Griffeen.

The other three Leinster sides face tricky ties in Ulster with Harald de Jong’s Clontarf’s trip to Kilkeel, who lead the way in Ulster’s Senior One league, Skerries travelling to Deramore Park to face Belfast Harlequins and Dublin University hoping to shake off their varsities disappointment at struggling Armagh.

Unbeaten Three Rock ladies have a tough tie at Grange Road against Kilkenny who have welcomed former Irish international Catriona Carey into the fold. Genesis will hope to continue their good start to the season under Coen van Putten as they welcome Ulster Senior 2 side, Banbridge, to Belfield.

In the second part of an IHT double-header at Newpark, Avoca host North Down where former Trinity team-mates Lynn Beck and Adrienne da Costa will be on opposing sides. Clontarf travel to NUIG.

Weston v Navan, 2.30pm, Griffeen; Armagh v Dublin Uni, 1pm, Ardmore Sports; NICS v Newry, TBC; Kilkeel v Clontarf, 2.30pm, Kilkeel HS; Belfast HQ v Skerries, 2.30pm; Deramore; Bray v Naas, 1.15pm, Loreto Bray; Avoca v Suttonians, 1.15pm, Newpark

Catholic Inst v Galway 1.30, Rosbrien; Queens Uni v Greenisland, 1pm, The Dub; Wexford v Yeats County, 11am, Enniscorthy, Priorians v Parkview, 2.30, St Columb’s Park; Carrickfergus v NICS, 1pm, Carrickfergus; Three Rock Ladies v Kilkenny, 3pm, Grange Rd; Genesis v Banbridge, 2.30pm, Belfield, NUI Galway v Clontarf, TBC; Dromore v Weston, 2.30pm, Ferns; Ballyclare v Kilkeel, 2.30pm, Ballyclare HS; Avoca v North Down, 2.45pm, Newpark

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Passmore's reign comes to spirited end

Dave Passmore’s reign as Irish coach came to a rather low-key end today at Serpentine Avenue as a spirited Irish performance earned a draw against Argentina this afternoon.

During his tenure, he has overseen a huge increase in the requirements of what it takes to be an international player and boosted Ireland's world ranking to 19th.

Passmore now completes his move upstairs to take on solely the role of IHA High Performance Director with the appointment of his successor set to be announced next week.

Looking back on his time in the role after the game today, he admitted he felt "a bit emotional" but is proud of the strides that have been made in his time, especially with the pathway from the development side into the senior squad.

The side this afternoon included a number of recent additions to the full squad who have made their way through the development panel. Players like David Ames, Jason Lynch, Keith Black, Peter Caruth, Johnny Jackson and Alan Sothern have all made the step up in the last few months.

“It’s great to see a lot of the lads that you have seen progress and develop from the age of 16 and 17 that you thought would get to this level.

“It probably comes from four years of work. We played without ten of our senior players. What we have tried to do is develop the base [of players] through our development group so all those guys who have come in have been training on a regional basis for a good while.

“They’ve been in the gym with the senior guys and they were able to come and step in. The way the senior team have been playing, the way the development group play, the way the Under-18s play is similar so that they can step up.”

Asked whether the fact that Irish teams have developed a certain style from Under-16 up to the national level was a problem for the incoming coach, Passmore felt that the foundations in place will be a useful jump-off point for the new person.

“Having been through the interview process, most of the applicants see we have a foundation in place and they can extend upon that. It’s their license then to move things tactically and technically but I don’t see anyone that is going to come in with massive differences. I think they’ll come in and build on what we have built. It’s taken a long while to get to where we’re at."

Speaking to The Hook about the new post, Passmore confirmed that a decision has been already been made and, though the names of the candidates must remain confidential, the interview process saw some high quality applicants.

“Trust me, there were some really top people in there.

“I had hoped we would have had someone in place before these games but all I can say is that we have had an exceptional standard of applications with coaching Olympic coaching experience which demonstrates the perception of the Irish team now compared to three or four years ago.”

As for stepping away from the day-to-day running of the national team, Passmore admitted the day was “a bit emotional” but admits he had already stepped down a few months ago.

“To be honest with you, I was going straight after the Celtic Cup. I knew on the last day when we won the Celtic Cup so that was the emotional day for me.

“Its not just about working with the players, it’s about working with your management team and Ned [Craig Fulton] and I are a strong partnership – and we are a team. I would never take all the credit because he has done a great job, too, over these past few years.”

Fulton took on a lot more responsibility over the two games this week, patrolling the dug-out, with Passmore providing feedback and analysis from the opposite side of the pitch. They oversaw a marked improvement over the two days, as the young players got used to the pace of the game.

As for the future, Passmore adds that what is needed to progress is a bit more self-confidence and Ireland can make that step up to the major world events:

“I think the critical thing for me moving forwards is that we have to, and I’ve said this to the players, lose the small Ireland mentality.

“We’ve got to get more expressive and dynamic in our attack because we have a good defensive base and we’re hard to beat, I think that’s going to be their main focus and that has got to start with the junior groups.

“We have ability, that’s why teams like Argentina want to come and play us but the players lose sight of that sometimes and we need to get a better belief inside us that we are good and we can compete.”

Ireland 2 Argentina 2

An inexperienced Irish team gave Dave Passmore a decent send-off as they put in a spirited performance to claim a draw against Argentina today at Serpentine Avenue.

Passmore’s reign as Irish coach officially ended today and he can be proud of the way the young squad fought back from 2-1 down to level late on through John Jermyn.

The game appeared to be following a similar pattern to Wednesday night as Ireland produced an excellent move to break the deadlock. Eugene Magee received a long pass on the 25 and turned nicely to feed a flying Ronan Gormley. Gormley measured his pass from the backline to perfection to the diving Alan Sothern to slam home from five yards.

The Irish conceded a lot of ground thereafter; giving up a three corners while David Harte needed to be alert to smother Lucas Vila’s reverse after a long-corner went straight through the defence.

Vila and his brother Matias then combined well with the last action of the half but Johnny Jackson did brilliantly to clear. Two Diego Tanuscio goals, though, in the seventh minute of the second half turned the score on its head – the first from a rebound off Harte, the second knocked in from Juan Lopez’ pull-back.

The game raised in temperature somewhat as Ibarra and Gormley faced off before Jermyn dragged Ireland level with seven minutes to go.

In a lively finish, Matias Paredes missed a decent chance, Harte saved well from a corner before an end-to-end last 60 seconds saw Peter Caruth gallop down the left wing only to be foiled by Juan Vivaldi. The subsequent break saw Conor Harte on hand to make a great cover tackle.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ireland 1 Argentina 4

Ireland's men showed some pretty severe ring-rust tonight at Belfield as they struggled to keep pace with a lively young Argentina outfit in the second half.

In front of a decent crowd - given the rain - the game was a bit low-key with little of the needle that characterised Ireland's 1-0 win in the Olympic qualifier against the same opposition.

Welcoming back Ronan Gormley - who has played just 15 minutes with Pembroke this season - and Mark Black after an eight month break, Ireland had the best of a low-key first half. Gormley started well while Black was probably the best midfielder on show, despite starting on the bench.
Johnny Jackson started in lively fashion at left-back creating a couple of openings and Timmy Cockram won a corner which John Jermyn fired wide. It was Cockram who broke the stalemate in the 23rd minute with Ireland's only shot in anger in the half, zinging in a beautiful reverse from the top of the circle, fed the ball by Keith Black.

Tomas Argento nearly levelled after Karl Burns' howler, hitting the sideboard to close out the half. The visitors, though, turned on the style in the second half. The warning signs were there three minutes into the half as Rodrigo Saliva just missed a rebound.

The equaliser came when Pedro Ibarra nabbed the ball off Gormley on the right sideline and he zipped into the circle. His square pass went behind Lucas Vila but he managed to pull the bouncing ball into the goal neatly.

Up until this point, the Argentineans were existing solely off Irish mistakes but they grew in confidence and started to show some beautiful touches. Lucas' brother Matias put his side in front, bashing a half-volley in from the top of the D, under pressure from three defenders, clipping the inside of David Harte's post.

Facundo Callioni's run along the backline created the third, the goal accredited to Agustin Corradini, after the former's pull-back bobbled off a defenders leg.

John Jermyn flashed wide from Ireland's one chance of the half, aided by an excellent Michael Watt run. Within a minute, though, Ibarra scored the fourth, capitalising on another mistake at left-back, easing into the circle and burying the finish.

On the whole, it is difficult to be too critical of a side with just one training weekend together since the Celtic Cup. A decent first-half was matched by a second that was disjointed at best with the number of balls around the back four intercepted was frustrating to watch.

Dave Passmore admitted his side had unravelled in the second period: “Having dominated the first half so brightly, it was disappointing not to be ahead by more at half time. In the second half we showed our youth and inexperience as we made too many individual errors that Argentina punished.”

*My thanks to Deryck Vincent for the pictures and Martina Gonzalez Del Solar for identifying the Argentinean players as they brought a set of jersies with no numbers.

Three Rock ready for international challenge

Three Rock Rovers take on Europe’s finest this weekend with one of the toughest draws in the Euro Hockey League, facing the Belgian champions KHC Leuven and Spanish league leaders ONO Atletic Terrassa.

Both opponents have brought in a number of players from home and abroad to strengthen their squads this year; something which Rovers’ coach Turloch O’Siochain believes may need to be done for Irish clubs if they hope to challenge the continents best.

The introduction of the EHL and the prize money on offer has raised the stakes for club hockey in the continent with many clubs hoping to get on the gravy train, especially when you see that the entire Argentinean squad that visits this week is European-based.

Terrassa – Rovers’ opponent on Friday afternoon – have made one of the most eye-catching signings, bringing in German Olympic gold-medalist Matthias Witthaus from Crefelder. He is joined by compatriot, Jonas Furste, who won the inaugural EHL title with Uhlenhorster last season.

Their inclusion has seen the side fly to the top of the national rankings, scoring 25 goals in their opening four league games in Spain.

Leuven, meanwhile, were Belgian champions last season for the first time in their 90-year history. They include two players on the fringes of the Spanish national squad – Pau Quemada and Jordi Fabregas as well as Belgian internationals Patrice Houssein and Thierry Renaer.

The club is coached by Dutchman Norbert Nederlof, no stranger to Irish shores having conducted a number of coaching clinics around Leinster.

Last season, Three Rock were the direct beneficiary of Dutch import Maarten Sier and his goals. He scored the golden goal that helped Rovers beat Pembroke in the Club Championships final to gain their first European place since 1999. Sier, though, has since returned to Amsterdam leaving Rovers with a mostly Irish selection bar Venezuelan Lucas Piccioli.

O’Siochain says of their cosmpolitan opponents: “It’s do or die at this stage. It shows how much the clubs are trying to reach the top.

“That’s what we are up against in Ireland. I’ve always supported bringing in international players, and I supported Pembroke when they brought the [South African] lads in, so long as they improve the standard of Irish hockey.”

It’s an attitude which will upset a few people locally who believe that the foreign influence may reduce the chances of young Irish players to make the breakthrough but O’Siochain believes a more positive attitude needs to be taken.

“Basically, we have to take a more holistic approach and work together, rather than an ‘us against them’ attitude. That doesn’t just mean with international players but between clubs as well, to get us to the highest level.”

Realistically, Three Rock will have a greater chance of a result against Leuven but Pembroke showed Spanish opposition is not to be overly feared, pushing Egara – the eventual finalists – all the way.

Rovers can also draw on the experience of Alan Bothwell, Garry Ringwood, Stephen Bredin and Shane Davey, four surviviors from the squad that played in the club's last European foray. In Amsterdam in 1999, the club managed to retain 'A' division status - the last Irish club to do so - in the now defunct European Cup Winner's Cup. They stayed up thanks to a 3-0 win against Dinamo Minsk and finishing above the disqualified Ekaterinaburg.

Rovers take the field this weekend almost at full strength. Long-term injury victim Andy McConnell sits out while Michael Maguire has a slight calf strain but should recover in time.

Match Schedule (All times GMT)

EHL Group H
Friday: TRR vs Ono Atletic Terrassa (3.30pm)
Saturday: TRR vs KHC Leuven (11:30am)
Sunday: Ono Atletic Terrassa vs KHC Leuven (11.30am)

* Three Rock's match with Leuven will be televised on Eurosport 2 live on Saturday, as will the match between Terrassa and Leuven. It follows the screening of East Grinstead against the Waterloo Ducks. You can also see all of the matches live on the internet at in the live streaming menu. Finally, Sky Sports will be showing hour-long round-ups of the tournament - more details when get them.

** Pictures courtesy of John Keogh and Ramon Gilbert

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

UCD and UU claim varsities titles

UCD exacted revenge for last year’s Chilean Cup final defeat to UCC, as a Rosie Carrigan golden goal secured a 1-0 win and denied the Cork girls a prestigious three-in-a-row.

The sides had played out a 0-0 stalemate in the group stages on Monday, and the final proved to be an equally tight affair, with chances at a premium.

UCC weren’t happy with the awarding of a short corner to their Dublin rivals in extra-time, and there was to be further heartbreak as the Dubliners bagged the crucial strike, Carrigan getting the final in a goalmouth scramble.

In the Mauritius Cup, Ulster Elks retained their title thanks to a 2-1 win over CIT. The Bishopstown college had defeated the Elks 2-1 in the pool stages, thanks to two Alastair Smith strikes.

The Bandon striker was on target again yesterday, but it proved to be merely a late consolation, as Simon Todd and Michael Purcell had already done the damage for the Elks.
CIT’s luck certainly wasn’t in, as player-coach Andy Gray missed a penalty stroke and also saw a flick cleared off the line.
Men’s Mauritius Cup
Final: CIT 1 (A Smith) Ulster Elks 2 (S Todd, M Purcell)

Women’s Chilean Cup
Final: UCC 0 UCD 1 (Rosie Carrigan)(aet, golden goal)

Intervarsities Update

CIT and UU Elks will contest the Mauritius Cup final this afternoon as they beat DCU and UCD respectively. CIT were rampant in their win, cruising to a 5-0 score with goals from Roger Gray, Stephen Parker, Phil O'Driscoll, Ali Smith and Erasmus student Geert Fromme.

UCD, meanwhile, were stung by two late UU goals. Ben Grogan's drag-flick put UCD in front at the break. The Elks, though, were well on top and forced Stephen O'Keefe into a number of fine saves. As it was, Luke McSharry had a clear-cut chance to seal the deal with 15 minutes to go but his deflection Neil Yong's pass went over.

Simon Todd - who was immense all game - levelled from a broken-down corner with ten to go and Neil Hamilton won it with a straight hit.

In the Chilean Cup, UCC beat UU 3-2 on golden goal in a battle containing a number of full international players. Three-in-a-row is still a possibility but they face the tournament's other outstanding team, UCD.

They beat Trinity 4-0 and will hope they can break the stalemate that occurred in the group stages.

Passmore names squad for Argie Bargie

Ireland’s senior men's line-ups for this week's matches with Argentina were announced earlier today.

The first date sees a more established line-up with Stephen Butler, Graham Shaw, Karl Burns and Timmy Cockram all involved. That quartet make way on Thursday for Conor Harte, Joe Brennan, Geoff McCabe, David Ames and Annadale's Peter Caruth - possibly making his international bow.

Ronan Gormley and Mark Black are included as co-captains, though both are carrying injuries. Argentina finished third in this year’s champion trophy, beating the likes of Australia, Holland and Olympic Champions Germany to secure the bronze.

Commenting on the squad, High Perfromance Director, David Passmore said “This is a great opportunity for some of the younger players to come in and compete against a top side such as Argentina. These games will be tough, fast paced and the Argentinean’s will be out to settle a score after Ireland defeated them in the Olympic Qualifiers earlier this year so these matches will provide challenging and entertaining hockey.”

Match 1: Wednesday, 7.30pm (UCD)

David Harte (GK), Keith Black, Karl Burns, Tim Lewis, Ronan Gormley (capt), John Jackson, Mark Black, (co-capt), Graham Shaw, Stephen Butler, John Jermyn, David Hobbs, Eugene Magee, Timmy Cockram, Michael Watt, Alan Sothern, Jason Lynch
Reserves: Iain Walker (GK), David Ames

Match 2:Thursday, 12pm (Serpentine Avenue)

David Harte (GK), Iain Walker (GK), Keith Black, Joe Brennan, Tim Lewis, Ronan Gormley, Conor Harte, John Jackson, Mark Black, John Jermyn, David Hobbs, Geoff McCabe, David Ames, Eugene Magee, Peter Caruth, Michael Watt, Alan Sothern
Reserve: Jason Lynch
Injured: Mark Gleghorne, Andy McConnell, Mark Ruddle.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Argentina name European-based selection

Argentina have announced a completely European-based squad for their pair of fixtures with Ireland this week, with players plying their trade with clubs from Holland, Belgium and Spain.

Among them, it is interesting to see Matias Cammareri (pictured) included, given his club side Rotterdam (click here to see them in action last Sunday) are set to play in the EHL in Lille next weekend, though he may only play a limited role. His brother Lucas - who plays his hockey for current Dutch fourth-place side Kampong - is also invloved.

Two of the three Vila boys who play in Holland are there too, but Rodrigo is ommitted, despite being on the mark for Den Bosch on Sunday.

The full squad is:

Lucas Cammareri (Kampong, NL), Matías Cammareri (Rotterdam, NL), Juan Martín López (Den Bosch, NL), Matías Paredes (SCHC, NL), Lucas Rey (SCHC, NL), Diego Tanuscio (HDM, NL), Lucas Vila (Tilburg, NL), Matías Vila (Tilburg, NL), Juan Manuel Vivaldi (GK)(Den Bosch, NL). Facundo Callioni (Orée, Bel), Juan Gilardi (Beerschot, Bel), Pedro Ibarra (Dragons, Bel), Lucas Rossi (Orée, Bel), Rodrigo Saliva (Victory HC, Bel), Lucas Argento (Kraft Atletico San Sebastian, Esp), Tomás Argento (Kraft Atletico San Sebastian, Esp), Ignacio Bergner (Club de Campo de Madrid, Esp), Matías Rey (Princess R.C. Polo, Esp)

Double Tops for UCD

UCD men's and women's sides topped their respective groups at the Intervarsity Championships in Kilkenny today as the preliminary stage of the competition reached its conclusion.

The Belfield outfit will take particular satisfaction from their men's result, comprehensively outplaying Trinity to knock them out of the competition. Robbie McFarlane's hat-trick and one from Rob Lloyd did the damage with just Stu Cinnamond's strike in response.

DCU will join them in the semi-finals, sneaking by UCC - despite trailing twice - thanks to Alan Sothern's double and one from Gareth Watkins, adding a 2-2 draw with Trinity. McFarlane scored two in the group-concluding dead-rubber between DCU and UCD - making it ten for the tournament.

In the other pool, CIT made it three wins from three, completing their pool with a 2-0 win over UL this morning thanks to goals from Philip O’Driscoll and Chris Scanlon. UU join them thanks to a 4-0 win over city rivals, Queens. CIT have drawn DCU in the semis while UU play UCD.

On the women's side, UCD have the chance to match their men's acheivements, as they have qualified to play Trinity in the last four. They qualified top of their group on goal difference, ahead of UCC after the pair tied 0-0.
Trinity progressed, also on goal difference, at the expense of Queens. The pair drew earlier today but 8-0 thumpings of DCU and RCSI gave them their semi-final spot. UU qualified easily at the top of the group.

UU will next play UCC, whose title ambitions took a major dent today depsite remaining unbeaten. They picked up a host of injuries in their derby match with CIT. Vicky O'Sullivan was forced to visit A&E with a suspected broken ankle while skipper Jean Long, Emma Crowley and Emma Peters all picked up knocks.

Mauritius Cup (Men)
Pool A:
RCSI 0 Trinity 8; UCC 1 UCD 5; DCU 11 RSCI 1; Trinity 1 UCC 1; UCD 12 RSCI 0; DCU 2 Trinity 2; RCSI 0 UCC 8; Trinity 1 UCD 4; DCU 3 UCC 2; DCU 0 UCD 2.
Standings: 1. UCD 4-12pts (+21) 2. DCU 4-7pts (+11) 3. Trinity 4-5pts (+5) 4. UCC 4-4pts (+3) 5. RCSI 4-0pts (-38)

Pool B: Queens 2 CIT 5; UL 1 Ulster Elks 7; CIT 2 Ulster Elks 1; CIT 2 UL 0; UL 0 Queens 8; Ulster Elks 4 Queens 0.
Standings 1. CIT 3-9pts (+6) 2. Ulster Elks 3-6pts (+9) 3. Queens 3-3pts (+1) 4. UL 3-0pts (-16)

Semi-finals: Ulster Elks vs UCD; DCU vs CIT

Chilean Cup (Women)
Pool A: Ulster Elks 2 Queens 1; DCU 1 RCSI 0; Trinity 0 Ulster Elks 1; Trinity 8 RCSI 0; DCU 0 Queens 4; Trinity 0 Queens 0; DCU 0 Ulster Elks 1; RCSI 0 Ulster Elks 8; DCU 0 Trinity 8; RCSI 0 Queens 4.
Standings: 1. Ulster Elks 4-12pts (+11) 2. Trinity 4-7pts (+15) 3. Queens 4-7pts (+7) 4. DCU 4-3pts (-12) 5. RCSI 4-0pts (-21)

Pool B: CIT 0 UL 3; CIT 0 UCD 9; CIT 1 NUIG 2; UCC 2 NUIG 0; UCC 3 UL 0; NUIG 0 UCD 7; CIT 0 UCC 3; NUIG 4 UL 0; UCD 0 UCC 0; UCD 2 UL 0.
Standings 1. UCD 4-10pts (+18) 2. UCC 4-10pts (+8) 3. NUIG 4-6pts (-4) 4. UL 4-3pts (-6) 5. CIT 4-0pts (-16)
Semi-finals: UCC vs Ulster Elks; Trinity vs UCD

Sunday, October 26, 2008

UCD look on course for semi-finals

After a busy opening day at the Intervarsities, UCD have put themselves in pole-position to go through from the 'Blue' group in Mauritius Cup with two impressive wins.
The side - which features potential new signings Rob Lynch and Karl Smith guesting for the club - racked up 17 goals in their games against RCSI (12-0) and UCC (5-1). Robbie McFarlane scored five on the day while Luke McSharry hit four against Surgeons.

The blue group also features Dublin University and DCU. Trinity ran up eight goals against RCSI, thanks to Andy Gray's four, but a 1-1 draw with UCC means they will have a fight on their hands to qualify. Henry Butler scored for Trinity, levelled by Varsities veteran Richard Barrett.

Hosts DCU could prove an interesting package. They got underway with an 11-1 win over RCSI with just Gareth Watkins available from their quartet of stars. The other three, Alan Sothern, David Harte and Conor Harte will arrive at the tournament this evening in time to play in their three group games tomorrow.

The 'Green' group sees Ulster universities UU and Queen's, CIT and UL lock horns. UU have a formidable line-up on paper with internationals Eugene Magee and Geoff McCabe on their roster, along with Dane Ward and Chris Gregg. The former two may not be allowed play, though, in the tournament's latter stages givent the proximity to the Irish game with Argentina.

As it is, CIT look the team to beat. John Hobbs is again organiser in chief with a smattering of Harlequins, C of I and Bandon players at his service. They beat UU 2-1 and survived a Queens' scare. Leading 3-0, CIT rotated the bench and found themselves in a game at 3-2 before easing away to win 5-2.

In the Chilean Cup, UCC's hopes for three-in-a-row got off to a great start as they scored a goal in each half to beat NUIG 2-0. Aine Connery - on the recovery road since breaking a finger three weeks ago - got the first, Fiona O'Connell getting the second. In the 'Pink' group, UCC's main rivals once again sees them face last year's beaten finalists UCD, a side riding high in Leinster Division One.

UCD beat CIT 9-0, despite the inclusion of Cliodhna Sargent in the Munster-side's squad. NUIG got back in contention with a 2-1 win over CIT but will have to go some to outdo the Belfielders.

The 'Red' groups favourites are UU Elks - complete with Shirley McCay and Emma Clarke, who have made the move from Randalstown, Phillippine Berly from Stade Francais and Frances Kreft who has arrived from New Zealand. They snuck home with a 1-0 win over Trinity to add to a 2-1 win over Queen's.

The Elks look sure to progress as they face what look the two weaker sides, RCSI and DCU, tomorrow, leaving a fight for second between Trinity and Queens.


Mauritius Cup
Pool A (Blue Group)
UCC 1 UCD 5; DU 8 RCSI 0; DU 1 UCC 1; RCSI 0 UCD 8; DCU 11 RCSI 1
Standings Games played/points (goal difference): 1. UCD 2-6pts (+16) 2. DU 2-4pts (+8) 3. DCU 1-3pts (+10) 4. UCC 2-1pt (-4) 5. RCSI 3-0pts (-30)

Pool B (Green Group)
CIT 2 UU 1; UL 1 UU 7; CIT 5 Queens 2
Standings: 1. CIT 2-6pts (+4) 2. UU 2-3pts (+5) 3. Queens 1-0pts (-3) 4. UL 1-0pts (-6)

Chilean Cup
Pool A (Red Group)
UU 2 QUB 1; DCU 1 RCSI 0; DU 0 UU 1; DU 8 RCSI 0; DCU 0 Queens 4
Standings: 1. UU 2-6pts (+2) 2. DU 2-3pts (+7), 3. Queens 2-3pts (+3), 4. DCU 2-3pts (-3) 5. RCSI 2-0pts (-9)

Pool B (Pink Group)
CIT 0 UCD 9; NUIG 0 UCC 2; UL 0 UCC 3; CIT 1 NUIG 2
Standings: 1. UCC 2-6pts (+5) 2. UCD 1-3pts (+9), 3. NUIG 2-3pts (-1), 4. UL 2-0pts (-3) 5. CIT 2-0pts (-10)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Women's Division One: Week Four results

Loreto 8 (Cathy McKean 3, Nikki Keegan, Catriona Tipping, Nikki Symmons, Claire O'Meara, Lizzie Colvin) Corinthian 0

Loreto eased to victory against Corinthian, who struggled majorly in the second half without the influential Sarah Walker. The sides looked reasonably even in the first half in terms of chances but the hosts sharper touches in either circle left them 3-0 up by the break. Cathy McKean got a cracker from Sinead McGirr's pass.

The second half, though, was one-way traffic. Five goals spread - the pick of which was a peach finished off by Nikki Symmons, guiding the ball in after stunning interplay between Catriona Tipping and Niamh Small - gave the score an emphatic edge.

Pembroke 3 (Shona Doyle, Aoife O'Gorman, Louisa Moore) Hermes 3 (Linda Caulfield, Nicola Evans, Aoife Harte)
In a cracker of a game, both sides may well come away disappointed having both held the lead. The real winners, though, are Railway as they see two title contenders drop a pair of points each.
Shona Doyle and Aoife O'Gorman had the hosts in front before Linda Caulfield pulled one back before half-time. Nikki Evans and Aoife Harte got Hermes into the lead for the first time before Louisa Moore tied up the game with eight minutes to go. Railway stay clear of both sides on top and now have a game in hand over their rivals ahead of the Sandymount derby next Saturday.

Men's Division One: Week Four results

Glenanne 1 (Stephen Butler) Monkstown 1 (Gareth Watkins)
On a fascinating day of Leinster League action, Glenanne-Monkstown take the honours for most controversial game of the day. The bare facts are that Gareth Watkins' second half goal cancelled out Stephen Butler's drag-flick for a share of the spoils.

The main talking point was the bizarre situation following Ian Horsfield's yellow card. His return to the pitch led to a major mix-up as Monkstown attempted a series of susbstitutions, the upshot of which saw two Town players onto the pitch with just one going off - leaving 12 players on the pitch.

The mistake was noticed after a couple of minutes, leading to captain Gareth Watkins having to serve a team yellow for the offence. Richie Beere was also binned, as the sky-blues finished the game with nine. Glenanne piled on the pressure in the closing stages with five corners but Dave Fitzgerald stood firm.

Other than that, the game saw chances at both ends, Monkstown's mainly from play, the Glens predominantly from the set-piece. The visitors had some impressive spells of possession, especially early in the second half. Ian Allen hit the post from a penalty stroke on a memorable day.

Fingal 1 (Adrian Sweeney) Pembroke 1 (Alan Sothern)
Adrian Sweeney's fifth in his last five games grabbed a point for Fingal with eight minutes to go in ALSAA. Sothern - with his fourth league goal - opened the scoring in the first half. He reacted fastest when his drag-flick was blocked down, striking in a reverse.
Fingal enjoyed some decent possession in the second half, in spite of Conor Connolly's sin-binning, and finally got the reward from David Bane's cross to Sweeney. Pembroke had a couple of late corners, though, to take the points but to no avail.

Railway Union 1 (Jeffrey Spillane) Corinthian 0
Railway defended stoutly to hold on for their first win of the season, withstanding several penalty corners at Park Avenue against Corinthian. Jeffrey Spillane (pictured) - currently involved with the Leinster U-16 panel - took a well-executed goal, latching onto Kenny Carroll's long pass outside the 25, beat a man before steadying well before crashing in a shot for his first division one goal.

It proved the difference as Corinthian missed Brian Doherty - out with a bruised bone - at the set piece. Alan McKibbin was the first keeper to halt Corinthian's progress before going off with a slight head injury. Patrick Jackman stepped in and kept the sheet clean.

Three Rock Rovers 2 (Phelie Maguire, Lucas Piccioli) Kilkenny 0
Rovers got top on their own this evening despite a poor performance, creating little against a compat and hard-working Kilkenny. Phelie Maguire got a touch to Peter McConnell's drag-flick in the first half and Lucas Piccioli slid in for a second.

Around that, 16-year-old Gareth Smith was in great form between the posts as he stepped in place of Mark Sandall and Stephen Thompson was solid in centre-defence. Rovers will need to step up next week, facing Terrassa in Europe.

Friday, October 24, 2008

St Andrews claim All-Ireland Schools' title

St Andrews claimed their second All-Ireland schoolboy’s title in dramatic style as Stephen Cole reacted quickest to a loose ball, to calmly slide home a winner against Wesley with just six minutes remaining.

Cole pounced as both sides dazed, expecting a penalty corner to be awarded. The advantage was well-played and the midfielder duly obliged.

That broke a 60-minute deadlock after an opening flurry saw both sides on the board inside five minutes. Jamie Haughton touched in Davy Carson’s reverse shot to give Andrews’ the lead but Carl Eggert leveled within two minutes from a penalty corner – incredibly his 12th goal in five games.

Wesley enjoyed the majority of the possession thereafter, with Kyle Good on the right and Rob Whelan and Rob Anderson down the left producing some stylish play.

Chances were few and far between, though, as both sides had four games in three days already in their legs. Eggert provided a constant threat. The best move of the game was all his own creation – a scintillating burst from the halfway saw three defenders left in his wake but his reverse just missed Stephen West’s goal.

But Andrews stood firm, prompted by Richard Sykes at the back and the midfield style merchants, Stu Loughrey and Stephen Cole. When the one gilt-edged chance presented itself, Cole pounced and sealed the title.

It completed a memorable week for the Booterstown-school. Pitted in the ‘group of death’ with the reigning champions, Cookstown, they were given little hope of progressing. Their 3-2 win over the Tyrone side was followed by an impressive comeback against Ashton this morning.

Dan Hobbs gave the Corkonians the lead with his ninth goal of the tournament but Cian Speers, Sam O’Leary and a sliding Rob McKenna set up a final spot.

Wesley had a simpler route through the group stages before knocking out Bandon in the last four.
Eggert was the hero, scoring twice in their 2-1 win. In the end, he racked up 12 goals in five games to complete an incredible personal performance.

Wesley College: Kristian Fitzgerald (Capt, GK), Neal Megarity, Peter English, Scott Wilkie, Conor Motyer, Kyle Good, Carl Eggert, Jamie Tobin, Robert Whelan, David McCrea, Tom Samuel; Subs: Laurenz von Eickstedt, Robert Anderson, Luke Chadwick, Stuart Malcolm, Daniel Gribben

St Andrews: Stephen West (GK), Keith Kenning, Ben Murphy, Richard Sykes, Stuart Loughrey, Stephen Cole, David Cole, Sam O’Leary, Cian Speers, David Carson, Jamie Haughton
Subs: Shane O’Halloran, Jake Beirne, Robert McKenna, Alex Fox, Theo Kirwan

Semi-final results:
Ashton 1 (Dan Hobbs) St Andrews (Sam O’Leary, Cian Speers, Rob McKenna);
Bandon 1 (Sam McElroy) Wesley 2 (Carl Eggert 2)

St Andrews 2 (Jamie Haughton, Stephen Cole) Wesley 1 (Carl Eggert)
* More pictures here

Weekend preview: Men's and Women's Division One

In a quiet weekend of hockey around Leinster, only men's division one and three see much action this weekend while there are only two ladies matches, all told.

On the men's side, there are two high profile matches with Glenanne hosting Monkstown and Fingal welcoming Pembroke to ALSAA - all four coming off the back of IHL experiences last time out.

The corresponding fixture last season saw an understrength Glens - due to the international players enforced rest period - lose to an inspired Town effort. The loss effectively ended their title bid so a modicum of revenge may be on their minds. Since then, the sides have met in the Neville Cup. That one went Glenanne's way in Rathdown 3-2 while a preseason friendly saw the Town go 3-0 up before losing 4-3. Basically, expect a tight and exciting match.

Both sides can pick their international stars for the game as the Irish Super Camp gets underway on Saturday evening.

Fingal, meanwhile, host Pembroke at the airport. Both are unbeaten locally this season with Pembroke seemingly warming up to the season after a serious lack of fixtures. Their win over Harlequins has them in decent shape and Alan Sothern has scored in every game so far. For Fingal, Adrian Sweeney has acheived the same feat.

YMCA's tie with UCD - after a bit of debate over its rearrangement - have had their game postponed due to the intervarsities and the students potentially playing seven games in four days. Varsities gets underway in Kilkenny on Sunday.

Both teams initially agreed to postpone the fixture but the date offered in its place fell outside the Leinster Branch's 15-day rule for refixes. As a result, the date has been set at November 4.

Railway will look to get off the mark against Corinthian, though both clubs may be slightly affected by the involvement of junior players in the All-Ireland schools. Corinthian have shown some good improvements of late. Railway, for their part, have fought well against Three Rock and Glenanne for little reward and will need to summon that energy to pick up points this weekend.

On the women's side, the big match is at Serpentine Avenue with two of last season's title contenders go head-to-head. Just a point separates the two sides currently and both were IHL winners last weekend. Loreto host Scott Crombie's Corinthian side at Beaufort.

Men's Division One:
Three Rock Rovers vs Kilkenny, 2pm, Grange Road
Railway Union vs Corinthian, 1pm, Park Avenue
Glenanne vs Monkstown, 1.30pm, Glenanne Park
Fingal vs Pembroke Wanderers, 1.30pm, ALSAA

Ladies Division One:
Loreto v Corinthian, 12pm, Beaufort School
Pembroke Wanderers v Hermes, 1.30pm, Serpentine Avenue

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Irish Schoolboys: St Andrew's stun Cookstown

St Andrew's stunned Cookstown 3-2, knocking out the title holders in the process, to claim top spot in group A. It means that no Ulster side will make it through to the semi-final stages of the competition this year as Banbridge and Wallace both missed out on goal difference.

Ashton nabbed their group in the most dramatic of fashions, Dan Hobbs scoring with their last touch of the match to draw 4-4 with last year's beaten finalists Banbridge. Hobbs and Bann's Stephen Dowds both netted drag-flick hat-tricks. The draw meant Ashton went through on goal difference.

Wesley got the better of RBAI 3-1 while Bandon picked up their first comfortable win of the competition, beating Raphoe 5-1.

The semi-final draw has kept the Leinster rivals apart with Wesley facing Bandon and Ashton up against St Andrew's. Both games get underway at 9.30am tomorrow morning.

Final group results:
Group A
Cookstown 2 St Andrew's 3; Villiers 0 Kilkenny 5
Placings (Goal difference): St Andrews 9pts (+12), Cookstown 6pts (+16), Kilkenny 3pts (-4), Villers 0pts (-24)

Group B
Wesley 3 RBAI 1; Kilkeel 1 Midleton 2
Placings: Wesley 9pts (+14), RBAI 6pts (+3), Midleton 3pts (-9) Kilkeel 0pts (-8)

Group C
Sutton Park 0 Wallace 2; Raphoe 1 Bandon 5
Placings: Bandon 7pts (+7), Wallace 7pts (+3), Sutton Pk 1pt (-3), Raphoe 1pt (-5)

Group D
Banbridge 4 Ashton 4; High School 2 Regent House 1
Placings: Ashton 7pts (+9), Banbridge 7pts (+8), High School 3pts (-7), Regent House 0pts (-10)

All-Ireland Schoolboys: Day Two

Following the second round of matches, not one team is assured of qualification for the semi-final stages of the All-Ireland schoolboys competition as most of the big guns keep firing.

The one exception, though, is Bandon GS who are no in a dogfight to claim the one available semi-final spot in Group C. They drew earlier 1-1 with Wallace and, while the Munster side remains top of the group, both Sutton and Raphoe (1-1) can still technically advance. Goal difference could well play a part in separating the two later this afternoon.

In the third round of games to be played this afternoon, Cookstown and St Andrew's have a staright battle, both strolling through their first two games. Similarly, Ashton and Banbridge go head to head in group D.

Two-time winners Wesley face RBAI in group C in what has proved to be one of the most open groups. Wesley won 8-0 while Kilkeel threatened Inst, socring their fourth and fifth of the tournament but have yet to gain a point for their efforts.

Group A
Cookstown 5 Kilkenny 0; St Andrew's 8 Villiers 1
Placings (Goal difference): Cookstown 6pts (+17), St Andrew's 6pts (+11), Kilkenny 0pts (-9), Villers 0pts (-19)

Group B
Wesley 8 Midleton 0; Kilkeel 2 RBAI 5
Placings: Wesley 6pts (+12), RBAI 6pts (+5), Kilkeel 0pts (-7), Midleton 0pts (-10)

Group C
Sutton Park 2 Raphoe 2; Wallace 1 Bandon 1
Placings: Bandon 4pts (+3), Wallace 4pts (+1), Raphoe 1pt (-1), Sutton Pk 1pt (-1)

Group D
Banbridge 5 Regent 0; Ashton 5 High School 0
Placings: Ashton 6pts (+9), Banbridge 6pts (+8), High School 0pts (-8), Regent House 0pts (-9)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Irish Schoolboys: Day One results

Results went pretty much to pre-tournament form with most of the favourites coming through unscathed. Bandon suffered the biggest fright, trailing 2-0 to Sutton Park after 18 minutes. They were still behind at half-time, 2-1, but, inspired by 15-year-old Darren Sweetnam, they fought back brilliantly to win 5-2.

Elsewhere in group C, Wallace caused a minor upset overturning their recent loss to Raphoe in the McCullough Cup to win 3-2.

In group A, Cookstown, missing just one player from last season's winning side, were in imperious form against the hosts and remain on course for a showdown with St Andrews.

Banbridge look to be Group B's strongest side with Ashton their main rivals while Wesley had a lively 7-3 win over Kilkeel. The Ballinteer-school looks impressive up front but will hope to keep it tighter at the back when they meet seven-time winners RBAI tomorrow.

Group A
Cookstown 12 Villiers 0; St Andrews 4 Kilkenny 0

Group B
Banbridge 3 High School 0; Ashton 4 Regent House 0

Group C
Sutton Park 2 Bandon 5; Raphoe 2 Wallace 3

Group D
Midleton 2 RBAI 4; Wesley 7 Kilkeel 3

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ladies Division One and Men's Division Two...

Ladies Division One

Trinity 1 (Danielle Costigan) Bray 2 (C O'Toole, Linda O'Neill)
In a reduced first division programme due to the IHL, Bray made history with their first ever division one victory, condemning Trinity to a fourth straight defeat. They are firmly rooted on the bottom of the table with Corinthian with Bray now given some breathing space at the bottom.

Old Alex 1 (Sylvia O'Mahony) Glenanne 1 (Dearbhla Kieran)
Just above the bottom pair, Old Alex continued their up and down start to the season, drawing with Glenanne. The Glens continue their confident start to the season with just one loss in five outing, finding themselves tied with Loreto for fifth place, albeit with a game extra played.

Men's Division Two

Dublin University 4 (Andrew Beverland 2, Daire Coady, Jonathon Orr) Skerries 7 (Ali McMahon 4, Alan Earley 2, Felix Mackin) Dublin Uni and Skerries played out a cracker at Santry with 11 goals and a penalty missed. Trinity skipper got a goal on his return to the side but the real star of the day was Ali McMahon, bacing up his double from last week. He and Alan Earley both now have six in two games while Felix Mackin has two in two. The game was well poised at 4-4 before Skerries pulled away in the second half.

Avoca 1 (Scott Wilkie) Clontarf 4 (Rob Abbott 2, Luke Hayden, Ross McMullen) Clontarf picked up a second comfortable win of the season to continue their confident start to the season. They were 3-0 up by the break with Rob Abbott and Luke Hayden deflecting in one apiece and Ross McMullen also on the scoresheet in spite on new French arrival Antoine Tachoires yellow-card.

Scott Wilkie pulled one back from a penalty corner but Abbott emphatically finished to seal the win.

Navan 1 (Eamon Lynskey) Bray 4 (Simon Cox, Xavier van Grive, Phil Davis, Stephen Jones) Another side to have started in decent fashion, Bray are the third side left with a 100pc record, beating a game Navan side at Sportslink. Simon Cox cracked in the opener before Emmet O'Mordha had a chance to set himself. Xavier van Grive got the second on the half-time whistle with a reverse, ending some good Navan fightback.

Further goals from Phil Davis from a corner and Stephen Jones made the game safe. Eamon Lynskey got one back, deflecting in Simon Clarke's crash ball for a consolation goal - the Badgers' first of the season.

Suttonians 5 (Mukhtar Ahmed, Richie Wormold, David Quinn, Ed Hipwell, Marc Guerin) Weston 0 Suttonians bounced back from their defeat to Bray with a good win over the Lucan side who, while they improved from their opening day result, will be concerned not to have got on the scoreboard yet this season.

Mukhtar Ahmed latched onto an overhead and slotted home to set the ball rolling. A break saw Wormold get the second. Weston had some decent chances early in the second half but Sutton were more decisive in front of goal, with David Quinn, Ed Hipwell and Marc Guerin weighing in.

Ladies IHL: Round One

Pool A
Loreto 5 (Zara Delaney 3, Cathy McKean 2) Belfast Harlequins 2 (Kelli Thornton, Sarah Wilkinson)
A dream start for Loreto. They had to wait just 35 seconds before Zara Delaney broke the deadlock. By eight minutes, she has completed her hat-trick and the game effectively over.

Her combination work with Nikki Keegan unlocked the door in the first minute. Keegan - in a stunning personal display - was again the provider pulling the ball back from the left touch-line to leave Delaney to slam in a second before the youngster netted a third time from a short corner rebound.

Cathy McKean made it 4-0 driving home Keegan's square-pass, this time from the right flank before the first quarter was out. Harlequins rallied, Kelli Thornton finished off a one-on-one to pull one back while her clever runs to the baseline caused a few problems.

The wily nous of Clodagh Grealy and good keeping from Louisa Healy meant the Belfast side had little chance of getting back into the game and McKean made it 5-1 with a reverse to end the half with a comfortable margin.

Harlequins probably shaded the second half, Jenny McDonagh to the fore, winning six penalty corners and getting a goal through Sarah Wilkinson.

Pegasus 2 (Suzanne Beaney, Kristy McCollum) Railway Union 1 (Kate McKenna)
Pegasus broke Railway's hearts with the last strike of the match, taking the three points in this highly anticipated clash. Kate McKenna gave the Sandymount-side the lead after just two minutes, pouncing on some weak Pegasus defending and hammering the ball into the goal.

Pegasus could have been on terms in the first half but Claire McMahon's penalty stroke effort was brilliantly saved by Helen Stevenson. It meant Pegs' had to wait until the second half, before Suzanne Beaney turned quickly on the ball and roofed it.

Both keepers were called into action to make good saves before McCollum's final breathtaking finish. Railway take a point from the encounter.

Cork C of I 1 (Melanie Ryan) Randalstown 0
Cork C of I spurned a number of chances but the one that Mel Ryan netted in the 51st minute was the only one they needed to score to claim victory in their opening IHL match.

Earlier, Cork's Julie O'Sullivan should have put the hosts ahead when she dragged the ball wide from point-blank range on 27 minutes.

But it was Randalstown who had the best chance of the first half when Vanessa Surgeoner sent Rebecca Winnington one-on-one with Zoe Cremin, but the C of I keeper forced her wide, and Eimear Connery was able to clear her shot off the line to keep both scoreless at half time.

C of I had spurned a number of chances before Ryan finally broke the deadlock from a short corner strike, finding the bottom left corner after the ball was switched left.

Randalstown, for whom Ireland A international Rebecca Dallas was particularly impressive, forced a couple of late short corners but couldn't find an equaliser for her side. Zoe Cremin put in a superb performance in the Cork C of I goal in plac eof regular keeper Orla McCarthy who was unavailable.

Pool B
Ballymoney 1 (Bridget McKeever) Cork Harlequins 1 (Cliodhna Sargent)
A goal apiece from internationals Bridget McKeever and Cliodhna Sargent meant the honours were shared as Harlequins made the longest journey of the day.

McKeever fired in a great reverse as Ballymoney dominated the first half but could not find a way passed keeper Amy O'Neill again.

Harlequins stepped up their game in the third quarter and were rewarded with Sargent's short corner goal. Again, Ballymoney had the majority of chances, including seven penalty corners and had to be content with splitting the points.

UCD 2 (Lisa Jacob, Fiona Braddish) Hermes 3 (Linda Caulfield 2, Christine Quinlan)
Linda Caulfield's brace set Hermes up for comfortable 3-2 win over UCD, though the students did nick a late bonus point when Fiona Braddish netted in the closing seconds.

Caulfield opened the deadlock in the 24th minute with the simplest of goals from Aoife Harte's pass and doubled the advantage in the third quarter with an impressive reverse. UCD got back into the game when Lisa Jacob added a delighful touch to a right-wing cross but the challenge was snuffed out when Christine Quinlan drilled in a corner against her old club to seal the deal.

Pembroke 2 (Karen Hales, Louisa Moore) Armagh 1 (Emma Stewart)
A quiet opening half was countered by a thrilling second as Pembroke continue their impressive start to the season, overcoming a youthful Armagh side.

The visitors - shorn of international duo Steph Quinn and Amy Stewart - started the first half well, Emma Stewart using the 'self-pass' rule to great effect, leading to Armagh’s first shot at goal, forcing an impressive save from Jane Coyne.

Pembroke, though, took the initiative in the second half with Louise Moore and Karen Hales to the fore. The latter scored from a deflected short corner to make it 1-0 before Stewart hit the top corner in the 63rd minute with a great effort.

But level terms lasted but one minute as Katherine Duff's one-two with Moore gave the latter the impetous to net the winner with just six minutes left. Pembroke had a third ruled out as the smell from the barbeque got stronger but were more than happy to take the three points on offer.

Men's IHL: Round One

Group One:
Pembroke 2 (Tim Lewis, Alan Sothern) Cork Harlequins 1 (Dan Hobbs)
Pembroke Wanderers edged out Harlequins in a hard-hitting, fast paced game. Gordy Elliott and Alan Sothern had early chances before Paddy Conlon picked up the first of four green cards handed out on the day in the 14th minute.

Dan Hobbs drew two good saves out of David Harte from set-pieces before Tim Lewis rocked the visitors, toouching in Sothern's low drag in the 30th minute. The Harlequins' response was instant, Hobbs drag-flicking the leveller.

Soon into the second half, Maurice Elliott got the game's only yellow for breaking down play, and with his brother Gordon also on the bench with a green card, the team were down to 9 players.

Quins won a short corner but could not capitalise and when back to full strength, Pembroke punished them. In the 45th minute, Sothern’s drag flick gave his side the win while the Cork side claim a bonus point.

Annadale 1 (Chris Jackson) Glenanne 1 (Mark Lambe)
It may not have had the goals and drama of their previosu meeting, but the Glens' visit to Jordanstown served up an absorbing battle for the 400-strong crowd. Defences dominated with few clear cut chances being created.

Chris Jackson cracked home a penalty corner to open the scoring in the seventh minute before the Leinster side equalised in the 24th minute through Mark Lambe. He was picked out by Stephen Butler's cross following Johnny Kane's long break upfield.

Jackson shaved the Glennane post with a powerful shot soon after. Stephen Butler returned the favour in the second half, grazing the post with a drag flick as play went from end to end in the third and fourth quarters but with neither team able to break the deadlock.

Instonians 1 (Chris Barnes) Cookstown 1 (David Ames)
Not many people gave Inst much of a chance in the build-up to their match with Ulster champions Cookstown, especially without star trio Paddy Brown, Mark Gleghorne and Steven Redpath - recently arrived from Annadale.

Nigel Skillen in Instonian's goal had a particularly fine game as did Julian Lewis in the back four on day where Cookstown will feel they should have picked up all three points. David Ames opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a disputed opener - the hosts claimed the ball hit the young international's body.

Chris Barnes equlaised with yet another corner conversion. The game was end to end from then on, with both sides having chance to nick the win in the closing stages. Cookstown won two corners in the last five minutes well saved by Skillen again to ensure that each side picked up two points for the draw.

Group Two:
Three Rock Rovers 4 (Peter Blakeney 2, Phelie Maguire, Tim Hill) Monkstown 2 (Alec Barrett, Stephen Cole)
The new rules create a bit of a paradox - this was a scrappy enough game but still managed to feel free-flowing thanks to the new rules and some fairly decent umpiring from Messrs Caulwell and Schute.
Rovers went one up despite soaking up a lot of pressure with an excellent goal from Tim Hill, sliding in at the near post to touch in Mitch Darling's bullet cross/shot.

Brian Groves and Gareth Watkins created much down the right wing but got little in the way of clear-cut chances until a well-worked corner - the same move that did for Rovers in the ISC last season - was smothered by Charlie Henderson.

The second half was much more open. Peter Blakeney batted in a second after Dave Fitzgerald's spectacular save. Alec Barrett pulled on back from Ian Allen's pullback and Stephen Cole levelled with an outstanding touch, deflecting the ball behind his back from a hit-in.

But Rovers nabbed the points in the last seven minutes, Phelie Maguire was played into the circle by Peter Blakeney and his attempted pass found a defender's stick for a lucky goal, though if the defender missed surely Darling would have been on hand.

Blakeney made the game safe late on, rounding off a superb team goal involving Maguire and Darling again.

Banbridge 2 (Ross McCandless, Simon Magowan) Lisnagarvey 0
In a typical Bann-Garvey battle, both sides served up a committed and exhausting match under the Havelock Park lights. Ross McCandless drew first blood with a drag-flick in an open first quarter, Mark Daniel and Jason Lynch going close.

The second period was tighter with only Eugene Magee's flashing reverse in terms of goalmouth action. The final period of the match saw two Garvey players on temporary suspensions and during this period Magowan extended Bann's lead, pouncing on a rebound after Kevin Lunn saved well from Geoff McCabe.

Restored to full strength Garvey forced five short corners in a four minute spell but were unable to capitalise but Bann finished the stronger when Magowan and Magee both pressurised the Garvey defence both winning penalty corners.

Cork C of I 6 (John Jermyn 3, Andy Herbert, David Hobbs, Roger Gray) Fingal 2 (Adrian Sweeney, Paddy Gahan)
Cork C of I made hard work of their home tie against Fingal, but their superior fitness told in the second half as they cruised to a 6-2 win.

Adrian Sweeney tapped home Eamonn Bane’s cross to give Fingal a shock lead on seven minutes, but CI were level within five minutes thanks to a stunning strike from Andy Herbert, who directed a diving reverse home from the edge of the circle.

John Jermyn roofed a drag-flick from a short corner on 24 minutes to give the hosts the lead, but the Airport side weren’t lying down, and they grabbed an equaliser three minutes later in scrappy fashion.

There appeared to be little danger when David Bane was closed down by Adam Pritchard and Andy Chambers close to the goal on the endline. But Bane found a path past ‘keeper Billy Lynch at the near post, and Paddy Gahan was on hand to tap home after the shot rebounded off the upright.

But C of I simply owned the second half, with the visitors clearly out on their feet after their exertions in the first period. David Hobbs scored on 47 minutes after his short-corner push-out was returned to him in a well-worked move, his shot creeping over the line after a deflection off Fingal netminder Nigel Grother.

Jermyn rifled home a second drag on 50 minutes to push his side out to 4-2, before Roger Gray’s neat reverse five minutes later made the game safe.

Former HGC hitman Jermyn put the icing on the cake nine minutes from time by completing his hat-trick with a carbon copy of his first two. C of I had another effort from Alec Moffett ruled out for use of the foot, though Fingal captain Brian Scully earned his second yellow card of the game for protesting the initial decision.