Friday, February 29, 2008

Senior Cup Semi: Wesley 2 St Andrews 1

Wesley made it through to the Schools Senior Cup final this afternoon, beating arch rivals St Andrews 2-1. Mark English opened the scoring, latching onto a loose cross on the left-hand side of the circle to bury his shot.

Andrews equalised early in the second half from a short corner before Wesley retook the lead. James Dalrymple forced the error, as part of a full press before latching onto the ball and, while his effort was foiled, Karl Eggert was on hand to score the winner.

Andrews piled on the pressure in the closing stages but were unable to force extra time.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I have been asked by a number of people whether anything has been changed regarding promotion and relegation in relation to the men's division one and two. As it stands, I have been told by the Branch nothing has changed. Tenth place will be relegated while ninth will go into a play-off with division two's second placed side. Top place in division two will go up.

Monkstown 2 Fingal 1

Monkstown moved back into the top four, following the disappointment of losing that spot to tonight's opponents, Fingal, last Saturday. Unlike last the match against YM, the 'Town made the most of their early pressure, with Alec Barrett scoring in the fourth minute, beating four would-be tacklers in a breath-taking run; deserving the bit of luck he got, to scramble home.

Fingal, indeed, had little of the play in the first half with Filip Jaros controlling the game from just in front of the back four - the visitors limited to one corner. Gareth Watkins doubled the lead early in the second half from a short corner and could have made the game safe when Brian Groves found him all alone in the circle with a 70 metre pass.

His lob, though, could only find the top of Nigel Grothier's net.

But, after being in almost total control, Monsktown invited Fingal back into the game in the final quarter. Aidan Sweeney pulled a goal back with 15 minutes left, tapping in after Eamonn Bane's initial shot was saved at point-blank range by David Fitzgerald.

Monkstown's attacking instincts were not to be held in check. Rather than hold on for a 2-1 win, they played high up the pitch leaving themselves open to the counter-attacks. And Fingal carved out a number of clear-cut chances to equalise, especially after Simon Groves was sin-binned.

Glen Shekleton and Sweeney both fresh-aired to an inviting Paddy Gahan cross and in the final minute, Shekleton was inches wide. Monkstown scraped through, thanks mainly to Ian Horsfield who pulled off a number of huge tackles and interceptions. They will hope to move on from here with Kilkenny on Saturday and a game in hand against UCD.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Irish Junior Cups

In the Men’s IJC, Cookstown II host Annadale II in an all-Ulster clash at Coolnafrankey at 2.30pm hrs whilst last year’s semi-finalists, Banbridge II, take on the only remaining Leinster side and cup holders, Pembroke Wanderers II, at Havelock Park, also at 2.30pm.

In the ESB IJC, none of this year’s semi-finalists featured at this stage last year. Glenanne will take on Pembroke Wanderers II in Glenanne Park, at 3pm whilst Railway Union II play host to the only remaining Ulster side Randalstown II in Park Avenue at 2.30pm.

This year's Irish Junior Cup Finals will be played on March 29 in UCD.

Ireland 2 New Zealand 1

A refreshed Ireland team tore into New Zealand from the start creating chances right from the start. A brilliant run by Loreto ’s Cathy McKean picking up in her own half driving into the New Zealand circle and winning Ireland first and only penalty corner of the game.

From the resulting corner a fine strike from Louisa Moore was superbly saved by the NZ keeper. With five minutes to the break Niamh Small created an attack down the right was supported by O’Brien who drove into the circle and released a great ball to Moore who made no mistake to put Ireland 1-0 at half time.

New Zealand took control after the break, forcing Healy into regular action and equalising from open play in the 40th minute.

Ireland continued to counter attack using the aerial ball to great effect down both flanks. McDonough and Flinn both had chances but were thwarted by an alert New Zealand defence.

But in the 54th minute, after great work by McDonough, Julia O’Halloran gave the keeper no chance with a wonderful strike to put Ireland 2-1 up.

Irish Coach Muller commented afterwards “This was very satisfying win for the team we have worked hard this year and to win against the World’s 7th ranked team is a great boost.”

Team: Louisa Healy, Clare Parkhill, Bridget McKeever, Ciara O’Brien, Shirley McCay, Eimear Cregan, Emma Stewart, Nikki Symmons, Cathy McKean, Lisa Jacob Louisa Moore.
Subs: Roisin Flinn, Jenny McDonough, Julia O’Halloran, Niamh Small, Hollie Moffett.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ireland 0 China 4

Bridget McKeever captained the Irish side as she won her 100th cap against world fifth ranked side China but was not able to celebrate a victory. The Chinese dominated the match with Goode making some excellent saves and O’Brien showing great composure in defence and Clarke outstanding in midfield.

The pressure paid off, though, with a goal in the first half scored in the 25th minute from play after Goode had made the initial save but the defence failed to clear. In the second half Ireland conceded two quick goals from play in a five minute spell between the 43 and 48 minutes.

Ireland forced some chances of their own through good work by McDonough, O’Halloran and Flinn but as the game went on China finished the stronger and scored on the counter attack in the 62nd minute. Ireland conceded only one penalty corner in the second half which was well defended by first runner McDonough.

Afterwards Coach Muller commented “ It was a very difficult match for us seeing as we had only landed twenty four hours earlier due to delay in our flight from London - we were physically better that we have been in previous matches this year and this is very good news. We wanted this level of opponent and am very satisfied with our progress”

Team: Mary Goode, Clare Parkhill, Bridget McKeever, Ciara O’Brien, Shirley McCay, Eimear Cregan, Emma Clarke, Nikki Symmons, Cathy McKean, Jenny McDonough, Louisa Moore.
Subs: Roisin Flinn, Julia O’Halloran, Niamh Small, Hollie Moffett and Emma Stewart.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Unfortunately, I have had to take the step of only allowing comments from registered users. Basically, I have received complaints that comments are being submitted under false names or under false pretenses. In order to reduce the amount of incorrect information, I will be trialling using registered users to see if the situation improves.

Jacqui Potter Cup Round-up

Hermes dominated the opening half of their encounter with Loreto, scoring the decisive goal and will now fancy their chances of retaining their Leinster Senior Cup title. They will face the unlikely finalists of Trinity who overcame Railway Union 2nds thanks to goals from Danielle Costigan and a cracker from Rebecca Murphy.

Trinity 2 Railway Union 2nds 1
Loreto 0 Hermes 1

Mills Cup semi-finals

Pembroke 2 (Alan Sothern 2) Fingal 0
Alan Sothern scored his sixth and seventh goals of the weekend but this game will be remembered mainly for the nasty injury to Conor Harte. In an inoccuous incident with Adrian Sweeney, Harte was laid out for fully 25 minutes with a suspected broken collar bone with doctors confirming at the very least a fracture.

Sothern's first came from a drag-flick and his second from a spectacular diving effort, knocking past Nigel Grothier one handed, both coming in the second half.

Glenanne 4 (Stephen Butler 2, Gary Shaw, Joe Brennan) Three Rock 3 (Andy McConnell, Peter McConnell 2) aet on golden goal
The Mills Cup final will have a familiar look as Glenanne came from behind twice to win on golden goal with just two minutes remaining before penalty strokes. Rovers led 2-0 at half-time for the second day in a row, with Andy and Peter McConnell on target.

Glenanne, though, started the second half in more determined mood and were in the ascendency, pulling one back through Stephen Butler. When Andy McConnell was forced off with a nasty foot injury, the Glens began to fully dominate the game, Joe Brennan equalising from a corner moments after Maarten Sier was sin-binned.

Peter McConnell restored the lead against the run of play before Gary Shaw tapped in to force extra time. Strokes looked ineviatble before Three Rock failed to clear their lines in the left corner before conceding a soft short corner.

Butler stepped up to fire home and keep the Glens hopes of retaining the Mills Cup alive.

IJC Semi-finals

Instonians 1 Pembroke 5
Pembroke's mammoth winning streak continued with a comfortable victory over Inst with Morris Elliott in top form, scoring twice, along with Dougie Good also netting a brace and Patrick Good also on the score-sheet. They now travel to Banbridge for the semi-final next weekend. Annadale are also into the final four after their 6-0 win over Armagh.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Women's Round-Up

Hermes 2 Railway Union 1
Hermes have emerged as the main contenders to catch Pembroke in the title race as they beat second placed Railway. The Sandymount side have struggled since the turn of the year having lost the services of Emma Smith, Kate Dillon and the Joyce twins and are now five points off the pace, along with Hermes who have a game in hand.

Loreto 2 UCD 2
Loreto finish the trio of sides on 29 points but would have expected a better return from the visit of UCD. They drop further off the pace and will now have to hope Pembroke drop points in the closing four matches if they are to retain the league title.

Corinthian 4 Genesis 1
Corinthian dished out a second 4-1 defeat this season over Genesis to move level with Alex in sixth place and raise their chances of a potential All-Ireland league shot.

Pembroke 3 TRL 0
Pembroke profited from the dropped points by second and third placed sides Railway and Loreto. They overcame Three Rock with a comfortable 3-0 win.

Men's Round-up

Three Rock 2 (Peter McConnell ps, Mitch Darling) Corinthian 2 (Lucas Piccioli, Miles Warren)
Miles Warren's close-range effort two minutes from time gave Corinthian a share of the spoils, depsite trailing 2-0 after goals from Peter McConnell and a reverse from Mitch Darling. Lucas Piccioli got his side back into the game with a reverse stick shot of his own from a short corner to get the Reds back into the game. Phelie Maguire was sin-binned with four minutes to go and Corinthian took full advantage.

YMCA 1 Monkstown 0
In a game of six yellow cards, YM produced the shock of the weekend. They now move to 10 points, well clear of the bottom pair while the result probably has greater implications for the Town in their All-Ireland chase.

Kilkenny 1 Glenanne 3 (Gary Shaw, Graham Shaw, Jonathon Kane)
The dropped points by Rovers see Glenanne back in the hunt for second place, closing the gap to four points ahead of their showdown in the Mills Cup on Sunday. Kilkenny again defended gainfully against a full-strength visiting side.

Pembroke 14 (Alan Sothern 5, Justin Sheriff 3, Stuart Loughrey 2, John McInroy 2, Craig Fulton) Bray 0
Fingal 12 (Paddy Gahan 4, Chris Neville 2, Glen Shekleton 2, Adrian Sweeney 2, Dave Bane, Mick McGuinness) UCD 1 (Robbie McFarlane)
Two results showing the chasm between top and bottom which show why the reorganisation of the leagues cannot come soon enough.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Weekend preview

After last week’s Interpros and the International player’s return to domestic action, its making for a massive weekend of hockey in Leinster. Sunday sees the Mills Cup double-header at Whitechurch Park with Fingal against Pembroke and Glenanne with the chance to gain revenge for their 3-2 reverse before Christmas against Rovers. Graham Shaw, Stephen Butler and Phelie Maguire are all available for selection again.

It follows a full programme on Saturday with Rovers versus Corinthian the plum tie.

On the women’s side of things, Hermes could keep themselves in with a chance of the double – something which looked unlikely a few weeks back. They have a massive weekend, facing second placed Railway on Saturday before a repeat of last year’s Jacqui Potter Cup final against Loreto. Trinity, meanwhile, will hope to overcome Railway 2nds to reach their first final for many a year.

Lower down the leagues, while we are still in the midst of February, this weekend could see the first league winners confirmed. Three Rock Men’s 4ths can claim division 5 if they win their match with YM and Pembroke lose.

Leinster Men’s Division One: Fingal v UCD, 1.00,ALSAA, YMCA v Monkstown, 1.00, Claremont Road, Kilkenny v Glenanne, 1.00, Kilkenny College, Pembroke v Bray, Serpentine Avenue, Three Rock v Corinthians, Grange Road

Men's Mills Cup Semi Finals: Fingal v Pembroke Wanderers, 12.30, Whitechurch Park, Three Rock v Glenanne, 2.30, Whitechurch Park

Leinster Ladies Division One: Hermes v Railway, 1.45, Booterstown, Corinthian v Genesis, 2.15, Whitechurch, UCD v Loreto, 2.30, Belfield, Pembroke v Three Rock, 3.30, Ballsbridge

Jacqui Potter Semi Finals Cup: Trinity v Railway II, 16.00, Santry, Loreto v Hermes, 2.30, Beaufort

Avoca U21 Cup - YMCA 1 Monkstown 0

A late Jamie Tobin deflection nicked the win for YM in a battle of two of Leinster hockey's best nurseries for underage talent.

Tobin got on the end of Darryl Walker's hard pass in a match that pitted a whole host of underage provincial players against each other, though YM were without Leinster Senior team's David Robinson who picked up a dislocated shoulder last weekend.

Monkstown started stronger, with Nick Dee and Zac Dutton creating lots of chances only to be denied by some outstanding saves from Iain Walker, and also benefitted from the involvement of Cian Speers - returning after injury.

The game evened out, thereafter with the teams even on the short corner count and looked to be heading to extra time before Tobin's late strike.

The result could be key in determining the title, both sides packed with division 1 talent.

Schools Update

Wesley managed to scrape through to the Senior Cup semi-final as they snuck past King's Hospital. They trailed 3-1 after goals from Conor Treacy, Nick Foster and Richie Bagnall before a late fight-back saw them pull through 4-3 - Kyle Goode scoring a stunning reverse-stick shot as the game looked set to go to strokes. They will now face perennial rivals St Andrews in the last four.

The winner of this tie will go on to play High School who beat Dundalk Grammar yesterday afternoon.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Muller announces squad for NZ

Gene Muller announced his selected eighteen for the Irish tour to New Zealand. The women travel to Wellington, New Zealand, on February 22 returning home on March 2, competing in four matches, two against China and two against New Zealand.

Muller said of the selection “This tour is probably the most important element of our preparation for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament because of the nature of the opponents we are playing. New Zealand and China are both top ten teams and have both already qualified for the Beijing Olympics, we have two Asian teams to play in the Qualifiers so it is very important to get play against these skilful and fast paced teams.”

Gene Muller’s selection sees the re-inclusion of Niamh Small after South Africa and Hollie Moffett retains her position. Bridget McKeever also makes her way back into the squad after missing out on the recent trip to Spain due to work commitments.

Squad: Mary Goode, Louisa Healy (GK), Roisin Flinn, Eimear Cregan, Emma Clarke, Emma Stewart, Bridget McKeever, Shirley McCay, Jenny McDonagh,Cathy McKean, Julia O’Halloran, Ciara O’Brien, Nikki Symmons, Lisa Jacob, Niamh Small, Clare Parkhill, Hollie Moffett, Louisa Moore

Match Schedule: Feb 26 (18.30) Ireland V China, Feb 27 (18.30) Ireland V New Zealand, Feb 29 (18.30) Ireland V China, March 1 (14.30) Ireland V New Zealand

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pembroke finish sixth in Serbia

Pembroke finished their Indoor Club Champions Challenge I in Vrsac, Serbia in sixth place of seven teams, managing a win and a draw in the third tier of European Indoor hockey over the weekend.

Leinster v Munster photo gallery

Pictures courtesy of Adrian Boehm of Leinster's fantastic Interpro win at the weekend.

Click on the pictures to enlarge them

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Three in three wins Interpros for Leinster

Three goals in three second half minutes gave Leinster the all-important five goal cushion to win the Senior Interprovincial title on goal difference at Grange Road.

Alan Sothern scored the only goal of the first half as the Blues sought to outdo Ulster’s 5-1 win over Munster.

And it was the Pembroke starlet who was on the mark again just after the break when he doubled the lead from a penalty corner.

5-0 looked remote with 11 minutes left but Sothern first set up Mitch Darling before completing his hat-trick seconds later.

And the rout was complete in the 61st minute when Rovers’ Darling got the fifth to give the Blues their first Interpro title since 2001.

Ulster win Ladies Interpros.

Ulster won the Ladies Interpros off the back of their wins against Munster and Connacht before falling to a late Leinster strike in the tournament’s final match.

Leinster drew both their previous matches to end just a point behind the Northern side the match was, as such, a dead rubber.

Suzanne Beaney opened the scoring early in the second half before Alex’s Aoife Budd equalized before Lorna Hill set up Sinead Dooley to bag the winner with three minutes to go.

Leinster drew with Connacht on Saturday 2-2, with tournament debutantes Danielle Costigan and Sarah Walker both scoring.

IJC Draws

ESB Irish Junior Cup Semi Final Draw - MARCH 1st
Glenanne -v- Pembroke Wanderers II
Railway Union II -v- Randalstown II

Men's Irish Junior Cup Semi Final Draw - MARCH 1st
Cookstown II -v- Armagh / Annadale II
Banbridge II -v- Instonians II / Pembroke Wanderers II

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Men: Ulster 5 Munster 1

Leinster now know the task ahead of them, as they must better Ulster's 5-1 win over Munster in the decider tomorrow afternoon.

Ulster brought all their experience to bear with a squad with roughly 300 caps among their players compared to barely 20 for their Southern counterparts.

Two goals from Simon Todd gave the Northerners a 2-0 half-time lead before Munster fought back in the second half with Philly Smith pulling one back. But the floodgates opened in the final ten minutes as first Colin Donaldson and then two from Keith Black gave the score-line an emphatic look.

UCD 3 Bray 2

UCD took a huge stride today to make sure they avoid the bottom spot. They made it hard for themselves, though, as they let a 3-0 half-time lead slip. Glenn Holmes fired in two drag flicks and Robbie McFarlane got a tap-in to give the students a commanding lead. But Bray, knowing their season depended on this game, fought back to 3-2 with Cliff Bailey instrumental. They could not get an equaliser and are now four points adrift at the bottom of Division 1.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Women: Munster 1 Leinster 1

Leinster were forced to share the spoils in a tepid tournament opener at the Interpros in Grange Road tonight. In a game of few chances, the Southern side had the more clear-cut opportunities in the closing stages and claim the win.

The sides went in at the break at one each after penalty corner strikes from Pembroke's Elaine Brommell for Munster and Jean McDonnell for the Eastern province.

The second half saw Linda O'Neill driving the Blues forward from midfield in a game with high technical skills level but little overall team cohesion.

Munster's two best chances fell to Jennifer O'Leary down the left wing but she was unable to get a convincing shot on Emma Grey or take the option to set up Cathy Kenefick in the centre. As it was, neither side did enough to claim the win.

Other result: Ulster 2 (Nicky McCaughren, Susie Martin) Connacht 0

Men: Leinster 3 Ulster 3

Leinster will be wondering how they did not start the Interpros with a win after Keith Black's 69th minute goal gave the Northerners a share of the spoils.

Ulster did start the game in the ascendancy but a scintillating 20 minutes in the second half should have put Leinster into a commanding lead. The game's crucial moment came when Andy McConnell put through Gordy Elliott to score into an open goal but he inexplicably pushed wide from a tight angle.

With Leinster leading 3-2, the Munster man next to me said straight away "this is a nailed on 3-3 now". And he was proved right by Black's late show.

Ulster's potency up front was almost proven in the second minute when Timmy Cockram burned past Neil Lyons before his shot drifted wide.

They did not have long to wait, though, as Mark Irwin showed what Ireland were potentially missing in New Zealand, as he tore down the right wing and then flipped the ball over Ian Walker from the end-line.

He doubled the lead when Cockram intercepted to give Irwin the simplest of chances for 2-0 in the 23rd minute. It could have been worse for Leinster when Eamonn Bane appeared to take down Irwin on the 25. Umpire McCully looked set to sin-bin the player before David Smyth classily intervened to calm the situation.

And the Blues got their lifeline just before the break, when Andy McConnell - one of the game's outstanding players - stole the ball before setting up Alan Sothern for a smart finish, chippng the ball to himself before burying past Gareth Lennox.

Sothern then created the equaliser, banging the ball at Mitch Darling who seemed to know little about the finish but got enough of a deflection for 2-2.

Leinster were now playing superb hockey, David Robinson flying down the flank from right back on his debut and Dave Bane influential after recovering from a first half head injury with suitably Donnacha O'Callaghan-esque head-dress. Ulster were becoming increasingly ragged with Irwin and Johnny Jackson green carded before Geoff McCabe was sent to the bin for a trip on Alan Browne.

Robinson won the penalty corner for Sothern to take the lead with 20 minutes left. The Blues continued to dominate but could not press home the advantage but as the game closed out they began to sit further and further back.

Elliott missed his chance before Robinson was forced off with a suspected dislocated shoulder as Leinster let their superiority slip. Joe Brennan was twice caught dithering in possession before a penalty corner was conceded with three minutes remaining. Ian Walker made an initial save before Dave Bane took a shot off the line.

But they were not to hold on, as Black got the tie with just 40 seconds left.

Blakeney in West Australia squad

Peter Blakeney’s sojourn in Australia has seen him selected to the Western Australia squad to play in the Inter-state tournament in Canberra. In recent weeks, his Western Australia side has beaten Ireland’s nemesis France twice as well as winning 4-2 against India and drawing with China 2-2.

Blakeney, though not a primary short corner striker, has bagged three goals in these games but said “if I was honest I could definitely play better. I feel like I’ve improved but still playing within myself. Typical Peter Blakeney hockey!”

The tournament is a two week affair consisting of a round robin of the eight Australian states. This is followed by semis and a final. And the former Trinity and Rovers man was in bullish mood about his side’s chances.

“There isn’t any reason why we cant win, they [West Australia] lost in the final last year and by all accounts the set-up is much better this year. It has been an incredible experience, it’s fantastic consistently playing with the likes of Bevan George, Aaron Hopkins, Fergus Kavanagh and Kiel Brown among others.”

Youth Internationals - Days 2&3

The under 18 boys completed their three match with England honours even with a win, draw and a loss. On Thursday they nabbed a 5-4 win with Corinthian duo Davy Carson and Brian Doherty nabbing two goals apiece. Earlier today, they had another thriller at Belfield, drawing 3-3, Doherty scoring his fourth and fifth goals for the week.

The U-16 boys produced a similar series of results, Three Rock's Shane Madeley scored in the 2-0 win on Thursday before losing 4-2 on Friday.

Results: U16 Boys (Thurs): Ireland 2 (Stephen Dowds 9; Shane Madeley 20) England 0
U18 Boys (Thurs): Ireland 5 (David Carson 11, 18, Brian Doherty 17, 38, William Robinson 19) min) England 4 (Alex Boxhall 12, Simon Faulkner 21, Henry Weir 59, Martin Scanlon 64)
U16 Boys (Fri) Ireland 2 (Nicholas Burns 20, Stephen Dowds 60) England 4 (Josh Godfrey 4, Ben Littlejohns 19, Ross Gilham-Jones 28, 48)
U18 Boys (Fri) Ireland 3 (Brian Doherty 20, 22; William Robinson 28) England 3 (Martin Scanlon 2; Johnnie Kinder 25; Martin Scanlon 55)

The under 18 girls finished their programme in England drawing two of their three fixtures while the under 16s lost their matches.

U16 Girls (Fri) Ireland 1 (Chloe Watkins) England 3 (Katie Maxie; Holly Shipman; Chloe Hannibal)
U18 Girls Ireland 0 England 7

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Youth Internationals

Boys U-16: Ireland 4 England 4
The U-16s came back from a 4-1 deficit to draw their opening encounter with England at Belfield. They took the initial lead in the fourth minute through Philip Doyle's penalty corner. England, though, responded three minutes later to equalise before building commanding lead.

But Ireland were not content to sit back and responded with 15 minutes remaining through Stephen Dowds to pull back to 4-2.

And they continued attacking when Richard Sykes' excellent goal from play and Stephen Dowds strike on the hooter gave the Irish the draw.

Boys U-18: Ireland 2 England 5
Ireland's U-18 boys lost the first of their three match series against England U18's at Belfield.

England dominated the first half putting home five goals before the half time whistle. Ireland managed to regroup at half time and looked more controlled in the second half of the match.

In the 50th minute the Irish's more confident play paid off when an excellent reverse stick shot by Three Rock's Kyle Goode found the roof of the net to give Ireland their first goal. Eight minutes later Ireland were awarded a penalty stroke, which Dan Hobbs made no mistake about to close the match out 5-2.

IHA hosts Youth Hockey festival

The IHA will hold its first mini-hockey festival this weekend with almost 300 girls playing hockey up in St Andrews on Sunday

This Festival will give the chance for the girls to interact and play on a fun and safe environment. Children from Alex, Genesis, Loreto , Glenanne , Hermes , Muckross , Our Lady’s, Pembroke, Railway Union , Mount Anville, Naas and Portrane to name but a few will be in attendance.

The full details
U-12 Leinster mini-hockey Festival.
Venue: Saint Andrew’s College, Booterstown Avenue , Blackrock
Time: 12:00 to 17:15
Date: Sunday 17th February
Numbers expected: 29 teams from 13 clubs(10 players per team)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Geoff Conn part of EHF's UDP

This week, the EHF announced the umpires for their Umpire Development Programme 2008/2010, with Geoff Conn among 'Group 1'.

Umpires Committee Chairman, Jorge Alcover said, “Year one has been a huge success with the umpires well on their way to achieving the Grade 1 target. The commitment of this group has been a fantastic launch pad and we were delighted to receive more than 28 applications for the 2008/2010 Programme.

"Once again we are fortunate to have the mentors Margaret Hunnaball, Ermanno Silvano and Ray O’Connor to continue giving of their free time to Group 1 and in addition Louise Knipe, Philip Schellekens and Henrik Ehlers have volunteered to act as mentors for the Group 2 umpires.”

So far more than €20,000 has been invested by the EHF and participating Member Associations in the first group of umpires, an essential investment in ensuring that European umpiring and umpires are keeping pace with the ever increasing development and ability of the players.

Jorge also “wished the first group of umpires well for their continuing development and welcomed the second group to this dedicated programme for the continuing development of quality umpires in Europe.”

KPMG to sponsor Irish set-up

The IHA today announced a new sponsorship deal with KPMG which sees them sign up as a Corporate Champion as part of the Athlete Support Program (ASPIRE) to directly support both the men's and women's Irish senior hockey teams.

KPMG will directly fund the two teams enabling them to commit to the national training programs and hopefully extend their international careers.

Commenting on the sponsorship, KPMG Managing Partner, Terence O'Rourke, said, "We are excited that our involvement will assist world class athletes reach their potential and sustain the commitment to excellence and dedication required to compete at an exceptionally high international level."

John Dennis, Chairman of the Irish Hockey Association said, "We are delighted that KPMG have come on board as one of our Corporate Champion sponsors, directly channelling their support into our athlete support programme, ASPIRE. We are very proud to be associated with a company that displays such strong commitment to excellence, quality and professionalism - values that are extremely important to both the Irish Hockey Association and its athletes."

A rant about Umpiring

A growing number of comments are being submitted about umpiring and so on. I've written before that I will not allow comments on this topic and so I think I should outline my reasons for this decision.

Basically, as Leinster hockey as a whole, we are responsible for the vicious circle that exists around umpiring. Players, including many of our internationals, spend their time on the pitch being abusive toward umpires thus making the job more unattractive. As such, people who may be quite talented are less likely to take up the role. One top umpire in Leinster has given up in recent years due to the thankless nature of the job.

Furthermore, it is our responsibility as club members to help improve the game if we want it to flourish. This includes umpiring. The IHA is running a number of youth leaders workshops that include an umpiring module. The only male club to send a representative along? Glenanne...

The fact that they produce top umpires who regularly officiate at top international tournaments shows what can be done if a club takes responsibility.

Not only is there nothing more boring in the bar afterwards than a moan about a decision, complaining only accentuates the problem. If you feel passionately about it, do something positive. Buy a rulebook, learn the rules, volunteer down at your club or get in contact with Leinster Umpires Association.

The benefits can be seen in the fact that Ray O'Connor is one of Ireland's most celebrated Olympians, Martin Caniffe is off to Europe at Easter with Glenanne as a judge while Tom Good regularly does top indoor hockey tournaments where they get to see top hockey from the closest possible vantage point.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Leinster based players dominate Interpros

Over half of the players set to play in this weekend's Women's interpros ply their trade in the Leinster leagues with Pembroke and Railway having huge representations in the home side as well as the Connacht and Munster side.

Here is the full run down of players playing with Leinster clubs:

Connacht: Jane Coyne (GK) (Railway Union), Kate Brannelly (GK) (Hermes), Orla Canavan (Pembroke Wanderers), Sarah Clarke (Pembroke Wanderers), Caitlin Friel (Railway Union), Rosie Carrigan (UCD), Barbara Fitzgerald (Old Alex), Sarah McDonald (Railway Union), Shona Doyle (Pembroke Wanderers), Emily McNicholas (Pembroke Wanderers), Ciara Murphy (Trinity), Aoife Harte (Hermes), Orla Ryan Orla (Capt) (Loreto), Sinead Walsh (Railway Union), Sarah Scott (Loreto), Susan Ryan (Pembroke Wanderers), Hilda Maguire (Pembroke Wanderers)

Munster: Karen Hales (Pembroke Wanderers), Aoife McCarthy (Capt) (Hermes), Elaine Brommell (Pembroke Wanderers), Stephanie Hall (Pembroke Wanderers), Cathy Kenefick (Railway Union) Jenny Kenefick (Railway Union), Emer Dillion (Railway Union)

Leinster Ladies Squad

1 Gray Emma (GK) Hermes
2 Fitzsimons Eimear (GK) Three Rock
3 Budd Aoife Genesis
4 Costello Liane Hermes
5 Costigan Danielle Trinity
6 Deacon Jeamie Michigan State Univ
7 Dolan Eimear Railway Union
8 Dooley Sinead Railway Union
9 Flinn Fyona UCD
10 Hill Lorna Pembroke Wanderers
11 Keegan Nikki Loreto
12 Keegan Rachel Loreto
13 Lucey Emer Railway Union
14 McDonnell Jean Railway Union
15 McGowan Carol Corinthian
16 O'Neill Linda Bray
17 Quinlan Christine UCD
18 Walker Sarah Corinthian

Coach: Rudi Wortmann
Asst Coach Stephanie Murphy
Manager: Olga Pigott

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mills Cup - Quarter Finals

It is a case of the usual suspects in the semi-finals with Glenanne, Rovers and Pembroke enjoying comfortable wins in the Mills Cup. Last year's finalists Fingal join them but were made to work by Kilkenny - as they were in their 4-4 league encounter earlier this year.

The Cats took the lead early in the second half from a penalty corner rebound before Chris Neville brought the Airport side level. They created a number of opportunities before Glen Shekleton got the winner five minutes from the end.

Glenanne 8 UCD 0
Kilkenny 1 Fingal 2
Weston 1 TRR 6
Avoca 0 Pembroke 8

Irish Junior Cup

In contrasting fortunes for Leinster sides, three women's sides make up the last four of the Junior Cup with Railway II and Glenanne beating Pegasus II and Galway respectively. On the men's side, reigning champs Pembroke are the only remaining Leinster side as Corinthian, Weston, Railway and Monkstown all fell by the wayside.

ESB Irish Junior Cup Quarter Finals Results
Belfast Harlequins II 0-4 Randalstown II;
Railway Union II 1-0 Pegasus;
Galway 0-1 Glenanne;
(SUNDAY 10th) Pembroke Wanderers II V Hermes II

Men’s Irish Junior Cup Quarter Final Results
Banbridge II 6-1 Railway Union II;
Cookstown II 3-2 Monkstown II

Men’s Irish Junior Cup Third Round Results
Annadale II 5-0 Weston II
Corinthian II 0-1 (GG) Instonians II

Men's Remaining Quarter Finals to be played February 23.
Armagh V Annadale II
Instonians II V Pembroke II

DRAWS for Both SEMI FINALS will be made on February 11

Ireland 1 France 2

After the emotional roller-coaster of Ireland's match against Argentina and the subsequent hope for France to do Ireland a favour, the Irish could be forgiven one bad result.

But the gut-wrenching manner in which Ireland were pushed into fourth place for the tournament has added the sour feeling that the good results have barely been converted into any world ranking point gains over sides ahead of them.

They led 1-0 thanks to Andy Barbour's delightful lob with 24 minutes remaining but let the lead slip, conceding twice in the final six minutes through Mattieu Durchon and Antoine Gouedard.

Indeed, Ireland were disappointed not to be further ahead. They looked more likely to double the lead with Mark Gleghorne seeing a drag-flick, John jermyn hitting a post saved and Eugene Magee going close before France's late show.

Ireland coach David Passmore said “this was a disappointing end to the tournament. We completely controlled the game created many chances but we lost it by not being clinical at the right times”

New Zealand went on to claim the Olympic spot, beating Argentina 3-2 after extra time.

Argentine Captain cleared

The Argentine team made a successful appeal against the sanction to captain Mario Almada, who was suspended for the next two world level event matches played by Argentina.

The suspension arose from an incident where he allegedly spat at Ronan Gormley in Argentina’s match against Ireland on Saturday 9 February.

The FIH Appeal Jury decided that there was insufficient evidence to uphold the two match suspension and therefore the player was eligible to take the field in the final match of the WorldHockey Olympic Qualifier against New Zealand on Sunday.

Women's Round-up

Old Alex 2 (Fitzgerald, Ryan) Pembroke 2 (McNicholas, Clarke)

Last weekend saw the first significant gap open up in the title race. Just seven days later those gaps have shrunk once again with Pembroke's draw with Alex with Railway, Loreto and Hermes all back in the fray. It was probably Alex's best result in what has been a tough season as they wait for the completion of their new pitch.

Corinthian 0 Loreto 3 (Orla Ryan, Rachel Keegan, Katie Grehan)
Loreto bounced back from last week's loss to Hermes with a comfortable win over Corinthian, themselves coming off the back of a good win last week. Loreto moved up to third while the Whitechurch side dropped below Trinity

Railway Union 8 (McDonnell 4, Dooley 2, Daly 2) Genesis 2 (Larkin, Orton)
Genesis were in the game at 1-1 but capitulated once they lost the lead for a second time, only getting their second goal in the closing stages. Railway, meanwhile, are now within two points of Pembroke at the top.

Three Rock 0 UCD 2 (Quinlan, Carrigan)
UCD dominated possession for long periods with Three Rock struggling to create chances with the students moving into fifth and a chance at All-Ireland qualification.

Men's weekend round-up

Corinthian 2 (Garth Ancher, Robbie Byrnes) Pembroke 2 (Alan Sothern 2)
In Pembroke's first major test without their international quartet, they came up against a rejuvenated Corinthian side who were unlucky not to win the game in the end. Pembroke dropped their first points of the season and, at times, looked overly complacent. They led twice before being pegged back.

UCD 1 (Glenn Holmes) TRR 3 (Kyle Good, Colin Huet, Gary Ringwood ps)
Rovers maintained their winning run to move within a point of Pembroke against a UCD side that defended compactly, limiting Three Rock to scarce clear-cut chances but they had enough in the tank to win out.

Bray 3 (Phil Davis, Grattan Evans, Simon Cox) Kilkenny 7 (Tom Manning 2, Hugh Kelly, Gary Sharman, John Lazenby, Richie Dore, Richie O'Malley)
Kilkenny banged in another seven goals to make it 11 in two away trips which, if was not clear after last week's win over UCD, guarantees their division 1 status - not bad for a team who were not sure they would be able to compete at this level when they won Division 2 last season. Tom Mannin banged in another pair while the members of Kilkenny College's Irish Schools win in 1999, Hugh Kelly and Gary Sharman, have been massivey influential all season.

Glenanne 2 (Paul Fitzpatrick, Eddie O'Malley) YMCA 1 (Mikey Fry)
The Glens will probably be the most excited side to get by the impending return of their international duo as they followed up defeat to Monkstown by sneaking by YM. Pembroke's draw gives them a vague sniff of retaining the title as they lie seven points back.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ireland 1 Argentina 0

Ireland produced one of their best tournament performances ever to overcome world number 7s Argentina 1-0 but it was all in vain.

Ronan Gormley scored the goal from a short corner rebound, his third this week after breaking his duck against Trinidad, in the tightest game of the tournament so far.

The win, though, left Ireland on tenterhooks hoping France could take points off New Zealand to give them a final two spot to playoff for the Olympic place.

And New Zealand won 2-0 to go through to Sunday’s final along with Argentina with Ireland third in the group, losing out on goal difference.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Schools Update

The schools cups are reaching the business end right about now with St Andrews fighting for the four major titles - the boys and girls junior and senior cups.

The big match sees Wesley face St Andrews in the Senior semi-final after the half-term break while Andrews juniors were in action today against Sutton Park in the quarters.

On the girls side, Alex play Mount Anville in the semis while earlier this week, Andrews beat High School 2-0 to earn their place in the last four against Loreto, Beaufort.

In the Juniors, Andrews won the League last week with a 3-0 win over Beaufort, Chloe Watkins, Gillian Pinder and Harriet Kinson with the goals. They followed this up with a win over Muckross in the quarter finals while Beaufort looked set to be there too - they were 2-0 up against Our Lady's abaout half an hour ago.

Weekend Preview

At the top, Pembroke will hope to keep Rovers at arms length against Corinthian who welcome back Lucas Piccioli while Rovers will fancy their chances in Belfield on Saturday after their impressive indoor win.

Monkstown against Fingal has been postponed until March as result of Monkstown's seconds involvement in the Irish Junior Cup

On the Leinster Ladies side, Genesis will be keen to register their first win of the season when they play Trinity on Friday night to close the gap on their closest rivals Three Rock and avoid relegation.

Table toppers Pembroke take on Old Alex who surprisingly conceded three points against Corinthians last weekend who this weekend take on Loreto. The Hermes Trinity clash has been postponed as Hermes have an appointment up North in the quarter finals of the ESB Irish Senior Cup against Ballymoney.

Leinster Squad Update

Glenanne's Stephen Doran has been brought into the Leinster Senior Squad for the interprovincials in place of Charlie Henderson.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Women's International

Ireland 0 Spain 2

Ireland lost the second of their two preparatory matches against Spain following yesterday's draw in Terassa

The hosts started the game looking to make a point and restore some pride scoring in only the fifth minute of play, when Ireland's defence were left stranded from a quick free which Comerma latched onto to fired past Mary Goode.

Spain opened the second phase of the game at a high tempo and it took Ireland a few minutes to adjust and find their feet once again. Once they did, they found themselves with a number of opportunities to find the equaliser with some excellent build-up work from Quinn and McKean. Three penalty corners also just missed a finishing touch.

Spain held firm and the final nail in the coffin came ten minutes from end when another quick free found its way across the circle to an attacker to fire home from close-range.

Despite the loss today, Ireland were pleased with the progress on this tour; a draw and loss against the world number eights with Coach Muller saying "We conceded goal off organisational errors, both matches have been very close and we have improved over the past two months playing against higher ranked opponents."

UCD claim hockey colours...

UCD won back hockey colours beating Dublin University after a two year gap as they won comprehensively 7 points to Trinity's two at Belfield on Tuesday. In the ladies firsts match, UCD raced into a 4-0 lead before being pegged back to 4-3 but managed to keep the visitors at bay.

In the men's match, UCD scored an incredibly rare win. They came from 1-0 down to win 3-2.

Ireland 8 USA 0

Despite trouncing the USA 8-0, Ireland’s Olympic hopes hang by a thread at the qualification tournament in New Zealand.

Mark Gleghorne struck four times to become the competition’s top scorer with eight goals from his four games.

Andy Barbour, John Jermyn, Ronan Gormley and Eugene Magee were also on the score-sheet but the side may rue not scoring more as they were 7 up with over 25 minutes remaining and a chance to gain a goal-difference advantage.

Indeed, it may well come down to such a margin as Argentina beat the hosts New Zealand 3-1. It means Ireland must now beat the South Americans on Saturday and hope France can take points of the Black Sticks to reach the final.

If both win, then the playoff places for the sole Olympic spot available will be decided on goal difference.

A satisfied coach Passmore said after the game "given the distractions of the game before, this was a big performance and we played some excellent hockey. We can take real confidence into the final group game, which I am confident we can wn by the margins needed."

The day marked a significant landmark for skipper Paddy Brown who reached his 149th cap, equalling the record of Marty Sloan as Ireland’s most capped player.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Women's International: Ireland vs Spain

Ireland 1 (Cathy McKean) Spain 1

Holly Moffet made her senior international debut as Ireland's build-up to the Olympic Qualification tournament continues in Terassa, Spain.

After the game Coach Muller was a little disappointed not to secure the victory "We played well as a team today, and I felt we deserved more than the tie. We have been creating quality chances in our last few matches, so getting something out of the game was satisfying."

Spain started at a high tempo put Ireland under pressure and were first to score when a controversially awarded penalty corner was deflected at close range passed Goode by Spain's number 16 Sanchez.

The second half saw Ireland shift the gears upwards and created several good scoring opportunities, the best coming from excellent midfield work from Symmons and Cregan who linked up well with the forward line.

Ireland's attacking play eventually paid off when they equalised in the 45th minute, when McKean stole a ball on the left hand side, beat her defender with skill and class before planting the ball passed a stranded keeper into the back of the net.

A spate of injuries in a four minute period upset Ireland's rhythm, Jacob with ankle ligament damage, Symmons with a suspected broken finger and O'Brien who received a facial injury.

Ireland held on for the win but will be concerned about the extent of the injuries.

Ireland 7 Trinidad and Tobago 2

Ireland kept on course for a possible place in the playoff match for the sole Olympic place at the qualification tournament in Auckland, New Zealand with a 7-2 win over Trinidad and Tobago.

Three Rock’s Phelie Maguire opened the scoring in just the eighth minute as he reacted first to a rebound off the keeper’s pads.

A penalty corner goal from Mark Gleghorne and a stylish finish from Eugene Magee put the Irish three clear against the tournament minnows.

But two defensive lapses a minute before and a minute after half-time saw the boys in green in danger of an embarrassing upset before Gleghorne settled the side’s nerves with his second goal.

The prolific John Jermyn banged in another corner before David Hobbs and Ronan Gormley scored rare goals to wrap up the win as their Caribbean opponents flagged late in the game.

The result got Ireland back on track after Sunday’s defeat to New Zealand against a side rocked by the loss of their coaches.

Rob Haantjes and Eric Verboom decided not to travel to the tournament in a row over a lack of arrangements and the support for the team by the Trinidad and Tobago authorities. Next up is the USA before the potentially crucial encounter with Argentina.

Women's Round-up

Two goals in each half announced Hermes intentions in the title chase. They remain the only unbeaten side apart from leaders Pembroke and are probably the least affected team by the loss of international players. The difference between the sides was their close finishing, taking their half-chances. They are four points off the pace

Pembroke took advantage of Loreto's loss to move four points clear of the chasing trio. They remain unbeaten with hopes they can complete a men's and women's division 1 double. Alex's difficult season continued as they lost to Corinthian while Railway keep in the title hunt with their 2-0 win over Three Rock.

The frost got the better of Trinity's early morning encounter with Genesis.

Loreto 0 Hermes 4, Pembroke 3 UCD 1, Old Alex 2 Corinthian 4, Railway 2 TRL 0

Jacqui Potter Cup:
Hermes strong weekend continued as Jenny Burke's double sank Railway Union 2-0. They will now face a familiar foe - Loreto in two weekend's time after they overcame table-toppers Pembroke after extra-time.

There will be an unfamiliar name in the final, though, as Trinity beat Glenanne and Railway 2nds got past Loreto 2nds

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Indoor League - Finals

TRR 2 (Alan Bothwell, Mitch Darling) Railway Union 1 (Paul O'Brien)
Three Rock, the only surviving semi-finalists from last year, put out Railway in a tight, low-scoring affair. Rovers led through a switch left to Bothwell and Darling added to the lead before Paul O'Brien pulled one back with a penalty stroke

Monsktown 6 (Gareth Watkins, Ian Horsfield 2, Fran Lee, Zac Dutton, Alec Barrett) Glenanne 5 (Eddie O'Malley, Paul Fitzpatrick 2, Joe Brennan 2)
Monkstown squeezed by tournament returnees Glenanne with a flurry of goals in the closing stages, Franny Lee scoring the decisive goal in the final minute.

TRR 5 (Liam Canning, Gary Ringwood, Ezra Handelman, Peter McConnell, Andy McConnell) Monkstown 4 (Filip Jaros 2, Gareth Watkins 2)
Three Rock claimed the indoor league title for the first time in over ten years with captain and coach Liam Canning picking up the umpteenth time (he first took the title in 1983 with Avoca). Monkstown took the lead initially before Rovers took the lead in the 18th minute and held onto it throughout. Monkstown got back into the game at 4-3 and took off their keeper Craig Ellis in an attempt to equalise. Rovers, though, capitalised with Andy McConnell scoring the decisive goal.

Indoor League - Day 3 Group Stages

Group 2
Corinthian 3 Railway Union 6
Fingal 5 Glenanne 9
Y.M.C.A. 3 Railway Union 3

Railway secured their place in the semis with their win over last season's finalists Corinthian before ending YM's tournament chances in their 3-3 draw. After YM's good start to the group stages, they narrowly lost out to Glenanne.

Group 1
Pembroke Wanderers 7 Avoca 4
Three Rock Rovers 2 Dublin University 2 - TRR awarded walkover for Trinity using unregistered player
Monkstown 9 Avoca 0

Holders Pembroke were knocked out of the competition as they trailed Monkstown and Three Rock. It came in odd circumstances as, despite Rovers drawing with Trinity, Three Rock picked up the three points they needed as they agreed beforehand with Pembroke and the students to a walkover as Iain Walker filled in in goal for Trnity.

Ireland 1 New Zealand 3

Irish coach David Passmore was left seething over the unavailability of video technology for the group games at hockey’s Olympic qualification tournament in New Zealand.

They lost 3-1 to the hosts, the Black Sticks, after leading 1-0 through a Mark Gleghorne drag-flick early on.
The games pivotal moment, though, came in the 25th minute when David Kasoof appeared to chest home past David Harte rather than use his stick for the equaliser. Kasoof barely celebrated but umpire Robert Ten Cate awarded the goal.
And despite Irish protestations, the official was not allowed to go to the video umpire, a facility reserved only for the play-off games in this competition.

Passmore said afterwards” it is pointless having a video umpire for only the final game especially when critical mistakes happen like today.

“All the sides have invested so much time, effort and financial investment and to only have it available for the play off match defies logic."

Clearly rocked by the decision, the Irish fell behind within 60 seconds when Ben Collier netted to trail 2-1 at the break.

He got his second early in the second half before Ireland missed several gilt-edged chances to get back into the game; John Jermyn, Mark Black and Andy Barbour all going close.

On the performance, Passmore added “That aside there were some pleasing aspects of our play and we created enough chances, but were too frantic in front of goal particularly in the second half.”

Following Ireland’s excellent win against France, Ireland will now need to win their final three games to reach the tournament final.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

UCD 0 Kilkenny 4

Kilkenny scored four of their six chances against UCD to ram home their advantage over the bottom two and all but ensure safety. Bray and UCD remain locked in a straight battle and their two matches against each other will decide the relegation issue.

Indoor League - Day Two Round-up

Group 1:
Monkstown 4 (Gareth Watkins 2, Filip Jaros, Zac Dutton) Trinity 2 (Conor O'Sullivan 2);
TRR 5 (Colin Huet, Ezra Handelman, Liam Canning, Mitch Darling, Alan Bothwell) Pembroke 5 (Thomas Neuman 2, John McInroy, Craig Wilson, Paddy Conlon);
Avoca 2 (Stephen Day, Scott Wilkie) Trinity 5 (Jason Bryan, Conor O'Sullivan, Nick Odlum, Andrew Beverland, Dan Needham);
Pembroke 2 (John McInroy, Craig Wilson) Monkstown 4 (Eoin O'Connor, Zac Dutton, Alec Barrett, Gavin O'Halloran);
TRR 6 (Alan Bothwell 2, Andy McConnell 2, Mitch Darling, Gary Ringwood) Monkstown 6 (Gareth Watkins 3, Gavin O'Halloran 2, Zac Dutton)

Pembroke's grip on the indoor league looks decidedly shaky as they are on the verge of exiting the competition in the group stages. They picked up just one point from their two games today to need favours from Trinity and Avoca to keep them in the tournament.

They came back to snatch a point against Rovers on the final hooter, scoring a penalty corner to level in a game they trailed five times. They also equalised at half-time with a corner after the hooter.

Monkstown dominated their tie with the holders to win 4-2 and provided a near miracle to draw with Rovers after trailing 6-4 with 85 seconds remaining. Czech player Filip Jaros, who played in last year's Indoor World Cup was one of the star performers.

It means Town need a point from their match with Avoca while Three Rock will qualify for the semis with a win over Trinity.

Group 2
YMCA 3 (Rob Whelan 2, Richie Pedreschi) Corinthian 2 (Chris Pelow 2);
Fingal 3 (Ben Chillingworth, Paddy Gahan, Glen Shekleton) YMCA 5 (David Robinson 4, Trevor Dagg);
Railway Union 5 Glenanne 3;
Fingal 1 Corinthian 4
YMCA 4 Glenanne 6

YM made a strong start to their indoor campaign winning two out of two - David Robinson putting on a master class in finishing against Fingal. He turned a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 lead before setting up indoor legend Trevor Dagg to seal the win.

Ireland 4 - 0 France

Michael Watt justified his selection in the Irish squad in stunning fashion as Ireland broke their French hoodoo in spectacular fashion at hockey’s Olympic Qualifying tournament in New Zealand.

Watt was on the scoresheet twice as Ireland won 4-0 following his surprise inclusion at the expense of former vice-captain Mark Irwin

Tempers frayed as Irish skipper Paddy Brown and France’s Martin Genestet were sin-binned, bringing back memories of the sides previous encounter where France were reduced to eight men.

But Irleland were dominant throughout with Mark Gleghorne opened the scoring after just eight minutes with a drag-flick. Dutch-based John Jermyn doubled the lead early in the second half with a delightful shot over the keeper to make it 2-0.

Watt added the third, diving full length to deflect Iain Lewers long ball home before completing the scoring with a tap-in after the ball rebounded off the post.

It is the perfect possible start for the Irish in their quest for Olympic qualification - something they have not acheived since 1908 in London when they won silver - beating one of the three sides with a higher world ranking.

Ireland Coach Dave Passmore said “I was pleased with many aspects of our performance but we needed to hold possession for longer at key moments but a good start none the less”