Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Docherty Bullish about Clontarf indoor debut

Laurence Docherty admitted he knew ‘nothing’ about Clontarf prior to his eye-catching arrival in Dublin – his first time in the country – ahead of the club’s debut indoor outing nine days ago.

When first team skipper Ciaran McNamara fell injured at short notice, the Bull’s indoor coach Johnny Smith took a cheeky punt to fill the void, dropping an email to his former team mate from stints in Scotland and Germany.

Docherty had previously represented Scotland indoors, competing in the European championships, before his famous decision to switch allegiance to the Netherlands, who he represented outdoors at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

It’s a far cry from DCU in mid-Winter but Docherty was pleased with Clontarf’s day’s work – qualification for the play-off stages in February – in which he nabbed two goals while displaying a casual simplicity in his play which was a joy to behold.

He told the Hook: “I thought we played quite well through the day; especially in the last game. We had one disappointing result but we played really well.”

Asked how much he knew about the club before he came over, he laughs and says: “Nothing! It was quite funny, I hadn’t spoken to Johnny in a while; I got an email and thought: ‘Yeah, why not?’ I think he saw it as an opportunity to get a little bit of indoor promotion into the club. I hadn’t played indoor in a while but I love the sport so that was how I got on board.”

He likened the style to the Scottish method and his outside impression compared it favourably with the current Dutch attitude to the game. “A couple of teams, you could see they are really busy with indoor. The standard in Holland in indoor isn’t that great, I feel. The players are maybe a bit better but it wasn’t taken very seriously at KZ while Bloemendaal didn’t do it at all until this year.”

Docherty is probably the highest profile player to grace the Irish indoor circuit and definitely brought one of the more interesting back stories to the country.

Scottish by birth, he was frustrated not to make the Great Britain squad for the 2000 Olympics and opted to pursue a career with the Dutch national team, where he was based for several seasons with Klein Zwitserland following spells in England and Germany.

After a number of hiccups, Docherty has since become an integral part of the Dutch setup in the past two years. Issues with qualifying criteria and subsequent selection issues meant, after 48 caps with Scotland, he spent four years in the international wilderness.

But, having earned his spot in the Dutch setup, he says he has no regrets about the long lay-off from the international scene.

“It’s been brilliant. As you say there were a few hiccups. I worked really hard to get it all sorted out – missed the World Cup, missed the European Cup but was lucky enough to go to the Olympics and, now I’ve got a secure place, it’s time to start winning medals, rather than coming fourth!”

The relevance of his move has particular resonance for the Irish hockey public with Iain Lewers and Mark Gleghorne currently midway through the necessary three years out of international action in order to re-qualify for another country - in their case, one of the constituent nations of Great Britain for the purposes of the 2012 Olympic Games.

But Docherty says his move in the opposite direction was a much less confusing affair from a rules perspective. “I did the same but I think the rules aren’t good. It’s Great Britain and they’re from Northern Ireland so I don’t see why there was this problem. It’s a shame that they had to give up playing for Ireland. They’re always going to be Irish, no matter what, they’re just playing hockey for another country. But, good luck to them. They’re both decent hockey players. Lewers is a bloody good player, really calm, good range of skills.”

Now in his third year at EHL champions, Bloemendaal, Docherty’s side trails Lewers’ HGC club by five points over the Winter break in the Dutch ‘Hoofdklasse’. He was part of their EHL-winning campaign last time out, playing a key role in freeing the likes of Teun de Nooijer and Jamie Dwyer from midfield.

Repeating that feat, though, will be no mean feat with potential for three knock-out ties against German opposition in succession. A win over An der Alster would likely lead to a tie with 2008 champions Uhlenhorst from Hamburg. Though a long way off, Christopher Zeller’s Rott-Weiss Koln are the possible semi-final opposition.

“Bloody hell! If you’re gonna become champions you’ve got to win from everyone. We knew at one time, we were either going to get Uhlenhorst or Rott-Weiss Koln. But you get them one after the other, i’ve seen easier draws!”

It’s a hectic time for the Edinburgh native but, amid a busy spring, Docherty has not yet ruled out a return to Dublin in early February for Clontarf’s maiden National Indoor Trophy charge.

“They’re a good bunch of guys and I think we played well and have grown mentally because, I believe, YMCA were finalists last year and the other team [Corinthian] we beat were semi-finalists. If I’m free I’d love to play.”

Malone names Irish U-18 training panel

Richard Malone has reduced his Irish U-18 panel down to 28 players for the upcoming year with the Irish U-18 girls, with six Leinster players getting the nod for the 2009/10 season.

Speaking of the selection, head coach Malone said: "I'm delighted with the final squad chosen it brings to an end a very tough and rigorous selections processes where by we have gathered together the cream of Irish talent.

"Since it's a non European year, it affords us an opportunity to look at players in greater depth. In having a large training squad it means competition across all positions will be high, there by allowing us to create a unique training environment."

Deirdre Duke retains her place in the squad while Emily Beatty, Lisa McCarthy and Aisling Naughton move up from the Irish U-16 selection with Holy Faith, Clontarf goalkeeper Rachel Barnett up for one of the spots between the posts. Railway sharp-shooter Patricia O'Dwyer is also included.

The highlight of the year for this group will be a four-nations tournament in Cork in July. Due to senior international and exam commitments, some players were not considered for selection.

Irish U-18 girls panel:
Leah Ewart (Armagh/Royal School Armagh); Jenna Holmes (GK, Randalstown/Carrick Grammar); Kerri McDonald (Lurgan/Banbridge Academy); Joanne Orr (Armagh/Royal School Armagh); Natalie Barr (Lurgan/Lurgan College); Hannah Clarke (Pegasus/Belfast Royal Academy); SammyJo Greer (GK, Ballymoney/Coleraine High); Vanessa Surgenor (Randalstown/Ballyclare High); Rachel Barnett (GK, Railway Union/ Holy Faith, Clontarf); Emily Beatty (Old Alex/Alexandra College); Lisa McCarthy (Railway Union/Mount Anville); Aisling Naughton (Corinthian/Mount Anville); Deirdre Duke (Hermes/Alexandra College); Patricia O'Dwyer (Railway Union/Loreto Beaufort); Amy Kate Trevor (C of I/Scoil Mhuire); Nicole Laarhoven (Almeerse); Naomi Carroll Catholic Institute/St Patricks, Shannon); Rebecca Barry (Catholic Institute/Laurel Hill); Yvonne O'Byrne (Harlequins/Mount Mercy); Louise Fahy (Galway/Yeats College); Freddie Timmins (Salerno/Galway); Dora Gorman (Greenfields/Talyors Hill); Michelle Carey (Galway/Colaiste Iognaid); Tara Melvin (Galway/Colaiste Iognaid); Lynsey Trainor (Galway/Colaiste Iognaid); Katie Codyre (Greenfields/Colaiste Iognaid); Hilary Griffin (Wexford/St Leos, Carlow); Jean Devoy (Wexford/Loreto, Wexford)

Leinster hockey community raises €3,800

Over €3,800 was raised over the festive period by the hockey community for St Vincent de Paul at the traditional Glenanne Christmas Morning Married V Singles match (€3,171) on Christmas morning and the Neville Cup Final in Pembroke Wanderers on St. Stephen’s Day (€675).

Brian Hogan, on behalf of the Conference of St. James, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, said "I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Hockey Community for its very generous donation at the two venues.

"These were wonderful collections during a recession and I am very thankful to everyone who contributed."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Butler hat-trick earns Neville crown for Glens

Neville Cup final:
Glenanne 3 (Stephen Butler 3) Corinthian 0
Stephen Butler’s second half hat-trick gift-wrapped Glenanne’s tenth Neville Cup title as the Tallaght club showed the greater know-how against a Corinthian competing for the first time in a St Stephen’s Day decider a Serpentine Avenue.

Butler struck from a corner, stroke and play after a cagey first half to give the Glens their first senior trophy of 2009, ending a calendar year with silverware after twice being pipped for honours at the final hurdle in the spring.

For the reds, the absence of five senior players – Andre w Cronje, Lucas Piccioli, Miles Warren, Dan Williams and Darren Kimfley – opened the door for their younger element to shine.

And they showed few nerves as they edged the opening half on chances. Butler was forced to take a Brian Doherty drag off the line while Alan Blennerhassett found the backboard from the third phase of a scrappy corner, though the whistle had long since gone for a free out.

Gareth Davis went close, too, with a deflection to Ben Murphy’s crash-ball but Stephen Doran – as he did all game – blocked well, though Davy Carson might have hoped for better contact to the ballooning rebound.

Carson was proving a menace at the sharp end of a triangular forward line, using his pace to race onto through-balls and a barrage of diagonal overheads while Henry Micks fought for control in the middle of the park.

The battle was one of intrigue rather than raw excitement, though, as neither side truly convinced in a scoreless first half.

Glenanne were slightly subdued as an attacking force; Butler’s corner drag – dealt with comfortably by Ross Murray – and Brendan Parsons’ searching ball to Alan Lewis their best openings.

Had Glen Holmes netted an inviting chance with an upright reverse in the first minute of the second half, the outcome may have been different. A measured defensive performance thereafter, with Joe Brennan and Butler patrolling the centrefield, squeezed out the red hordes.

But it was Graham Shaw who truly began to turn the screw in midfield as Glenanne became the side most likely to grab the game by the scruff of its neck. His spin and pull-back was well defended by Doherty but the second wave fell to Johnny Goulding in a position he normally revels in. Six yards out, though, Murphy got a vital stick in to block Goulding’s short-arm hit.

But the Tallaght club kept up the aggression and netted their second corner in the 42nd minute after Micks was adjudged to have scythed down Mick McGuinness inside the 25.

It seemed a harsh decision with the midfielder taking more than his fair share of ball but Butler showed no signs of a guilt complex and ripped in a brilliant flick past Murray’s stick-side.

Graham Shaw’s runs were cutting deeper into red territory while Alan Lewis’ flashing runs down the right channel opened a couple of inviting opportunities, one which Eddie O’Malley touched just wide.

But the tie was eventually sealed from the flick spot. Shaw and Shane O’Donoghue combined with the former barged over in the circle; Butler’s stroke made it 2-0.

And the dynamic sweeper completed the scoring with gaps opening all over the pitch, set up by Brendan Parsons neat pass in the circle for Butler to bang in a reverse from all of six yards.

The goal copper-fastened the Neville cup’s retention, leaving Alan Lewis and Mick McGuinness – as the Glens only players without a senior winner’s medal to date – to raise the trophy aloft.

Elsewhere, Munster’s Peard Cup final between Catholic Institute and Cork C of I was postponed due to frost while Ulster’s Kirk Cup final encounter between Banbridge and Cookstown was also laid up until the New Year.

Corinthian: Ross Murray, Alan Blennerhassett, Rowland Rixon-Fuller, Brian Doherty, Andrew Sutton (c), Henry Micks, David Carson, Chris Pelow, Ben Murphy, Barry Glavey, Glen Holmes
Subs: Gareth Davis, Rob Burke, Conor Motyer, Andrew Malcolm, Dan Gribben

Glenanne: Stephen Doran, David Shaw, Richie Shaw, Joe Brennan (c), Mick McGuinness, Stephen Butler, Graham Shaw, Jonathan Kane, Shane O’Donoghue, Paul Fitzpatrick, John Goulding
Subs: Brendan Parsons, Gary Shaw, Eddie O’Malley, Alan Lewis, Clinton Murphy

* For more photos from Glenanne vs Corinthian, click here

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Hook

The Hook would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers and those in the extended hockey family in Leinster and beyond a merry christmas and a peaceful New Year. 2009 has been a really enjoyable year for the blog, expanding the readerships by well over 300pc on 2008. So much of this is down to the contributions of many people who supply results, fixtures, news, advertisements and comments who make it such a rewarding experience.

By way of a small Christmas present to the readers, over the holidays, the Hook will be publishing an interview Graham Shaw on reaching his 150th cap along with a few words with Dutch Olympian Laurence Docherty on his link-up with Clontarf in last week's National Indoor Trophy.

Furthermore, a round-up of all men's, women's and schools leagues to date is currently being compiled. For these, if you have any interesting tit-bits of information about your team or league and how they are getting on to date, please drop an email to stevie_findlats@yahoo.com.

Merry Christmas and will hopefully see you around the grounds in the New Year.

Understrength Reds battle Glens in festive final

Corinthian's hopes of ending a memorable 2009, the Whitechurch club's 75th anniversary, with a second men's senior trophy look set to be an uphill battle on St Stephen's Day as the club's cosmopolitan line-up has left the reds shy of a couple of key performers.

The Neville Cup always throws up its fair share of selection dilemmas, given its timing in the calender year, notably in 2007 when Pembroke were without 11 key performers.

Corinthian's plight is not quite as severe but if they are to prise the title away from Glenanne, they will have to do so without inspirational player-coach Andrew Cronje and his compatriot Darren Kimfley who have both returned to South Africa for Christmas.

Lucas Piccioli and Dan Williams could both be absent, too, for the Yuletide decider, making it necessary for Peter Darley to ring the changes to the panel which has won nine matches on the spin. Their last loss came in October - their conquerors being Saturday's opponents and the Glens' boss Arul Anthoni has reported a full bill of health for the tussle.

The Malaysian had offered certain players time off from training in the past weeks following busy recent schedules but said that the offer was turned down as the battle for places in the final squad intensified with the "family" nature of the occasion a bonding factor.

A draw and two losses in December suggest a side slightly out of form but the Glens have a habit of finding a way to win against the odds, none more so than the previous running of this event when they were reduced to nine men at one point against YMCA but still record a 3-1 final win.

That spirit and a full panel makes them favourites but the upbeat nature around Whitechurch Park these days means it will be by no means a foregone conclusion when they pair lock horns at Serpentine Avenue.

Elsewhere, Catholic Institute will hope to cause a huge shock and bring home their first title in 25 years when they face Cork C of I in Munster's Peard Cup final. Institute's last title came in their 75th anniversary year and will hope home advantage will aid them on the occasion of their centenary against formidable opposition.

In Ulster, Banbridge are aiming to add the Kirk Cup to the Anderson crown they earned in November. The Co Down club face Cookstown who are contesting their third Boxing Day showdown in four years.

Neville Cup final (St Stephen's Day):
Glenanne vs Corinthian, 3pm, Serpentine Avenue

Peard Cup final:
Catholic Institute vs Cork Church of Ireland, 1pm, Rosbrien

Kirk Cup final:
Cookstown vs Banbridge, 2.30pm, Lisnagarvey

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Glenanne cotinue fine Christmas tradition

December 25 sees another year of Glenanne tradition continue as the club holds their annual Christmas morning 'Married Vs Singles' charity match at 11am. It started in the 1940's and has continued uninterrupted since.

It has taken place in a few locations since the 40's, originally starting in the old grounds of the KCR. In 1973, the event moved to the LBIHU grounds at Templeogue and, later, it was played at Grange Road and spent ten years at Corinthian's grounds in St Columba's College. Four years ago, it was decided to play it in Glenanne Park and here it is to be played again this year.

Umpiring legend Ray O'Connor lines out for his 31st match on the trot while this year will also be Jimmy Leonard's 54th Married V Singles attendance.

The late Glenanne member Benny O'Farrell was a regular player/spectator, and was part of the Glenanne family for well over fifty years. Before his illness he did the collection every Christmas morning. His hat was passed around and the St Vincent de Paul was the beneficiary of the charity collection. Brian Hogan has taken over from his good friend Benny and the hat is still getting passed around.

Last Christmas morning the Married's won the match in Penalty strokes after a 2-2 draw. €3140 was raised after the match - probably the most successful hockey charity collection in Ireland.

During and after the match helpers provide mince pies, sausage rolls, tea, coffee and hot toddies for the enthusiastic players and spectators. Those players lucky enough, time it just so that the arrive home as the Turkey is being carved!

This is a tradition that will continue for as long as the club is still up and running and the regular highlight in the Glenanne calendar. So if you happen to be in the area drop in for a mince pie, sausage roll and a sneaky one before dinner.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Clontarf enjoy dream indoor debut

Clontarf and YMCA emerged from an ultra-competitive Group Two, requiring goal difference to advance on the first day of the National Indoor Trophy in DCU. It meant the Bulls ousted 2009 semi-finalists Corinthian to reach the play-off stages at the first time of asking, inspired by guesting indoor expert Kevin King and Dutch outdoor international Laurence Docherty.

Docherty - originally from Scotland - was the star name but it was those with connections to south of Hadrian's Wall who did the early damage in an 8-0 win over UCD as Rob Abbott's hat-trick and Andrew Poynter's double set the Northside club on their way with Nathaniel Franks also scoring twice.

Corinthian and YMCA played out a tense classic with the reds drawing first blood, overcoming a 3-2 half-time deficit to win 4-3 with Andrew Cronje scoring the key goal while David Robinson let a last-minute chance to earn a point slip from the penalty spot.

But the Y were back on course when Jacob Webber's double nicked a 3-2 win over Clontarf. Corinthian's earlier 8-2 win over UCD now left their tie with Clontarf was a group decider as goal difference would put the northsiders through should they win. Anything less and the reds would be in the last eight.

And Docherty showed his class to artfully score twice from play. Chris Pelow flicked in two corners but Kevin King restored the lead, 3-2 at the break, and he and Poynter extended the margin in the second period.

Goal difference was still a factor but Corinthian failed to find the target again, leaving their hopes in the hands of UCD. YM needed to beat the students by five goal to eliminate Corinthian - whom they beat in last season's semi-finals - and got off to a shaky start as former member Jamie Tobin cancelled out Jacob Webber's early goal. Andy Walker made it 2-1 at half-time but four goals were still required.

But Webber stepped up to the mark to crash in that total on his own while four others were on the mark to build up an 11-1 margin and progression to the February finals weekend.

Group One proved a simpler affair as reigning champions Three Rock Rovers ran up three comfortable victories. Peter Blakeney bagged the day's highest individual total with six against newcomers Galway while Pierre de Voux impressed with a hat-trick against 2007 champions Pembroke in a 6-0 triumph.

Father and son duo Liam and Ross Canning both scored in each of their three games. Pembroke took second spot following big wins over Dublin Uni and Galway - Alan Giles scoring five times while Paddy Conlon and Mick O'Connor netted four each.

Group three gets underway in Tallaght on January 24 while group four returns to DCU on January 31.

National Indoor Trophy
Group One results:
Dublin Uni 3 (Freddie Hill 2, Doug Montgomery) TRR 10 (Pierre de Voux 2, Peter McConnell 2, Mick Maguire 2, Ross Canning 2, Peter Blakeney, Liam Canning); Dublin Uni 9 (Freddie Hille 2, Keith Crawford 2, Sean Flynn, Chris Tyrell, Craig Moore, Stu Cinnamond, Doug Montgomery) Galway 2 (Barnaby Gaughan, Andrew Kinsella); Dublin Uni 3 (Keith Crawford 2, Sean Flynn) Pembroke 9 (Craig Wilson 3, Alan Giles 2, Paddy Conlon 2, Mairtin Cronin); TRR 6 (Pierre de Voux 3, Ross Canning, Liam Canning, Peter Blakeney) Pembroke 0; Galway 1 (Stephen Barrins) Pembroke 11 (Mick O'Connor 4, Alan Giles 3, Paddy Conlon 2, Craig Fulton, Antoine Bruneau); Galway 2 (Fergal Keaveney, Mike Tighe) TRR 11 (Peter Blakeney 6, Liam Canning 2, Ross Canning, Mick Maguire, Pierre de Voux)

Final Standings (points/goal difference):
1. TRR 9pts (+22) 2. Pembroke 6pts (+9) 3. Dublin Uni 3pts (-5) 4. Galway 0pts (-26)

Group Two results:
Corinthian 8 (Ben Murphy 3, Rowland Rixon-Fuller 2, Andrew Cronje, Brian Doherty, Lucas Piccioli) UCD 2 (Rob Anderson, Shane O'Donnell); Corinthian 4 (Brian Doherty, Chris Pelow, Lucas Piccioli, Andrew Cronje) YMCA 3 (Jacob Webber 2, Andrew Walker); Clontarf 8 (Andrew Poynter 2, Rob Abbott 3, Nathan Franks 2, Kevin King) UCD 0; Clontarf 2 (Rob Abbott, Richard Forrest) YMCA 3 (Jacob Webber 2, Todd Gill); Corinthian 2 (Chris Pelow 2) Clontarf 5 (Laurence Docherty 2, Kevin King 2, Andrew Poynter); UCD 1 (Jamie Tobin) YMCA 11 (Jacob Webber 5, Andrew Walker 2, Stephen Walker, Will Powderly, David Robinson, Trevor Dagg)

Final standings:
1. YMCA 6pts (+10) 2. Clontarf 6pts (+10) 3. Corinthian 6pts (+4) 4. UCD 0pts (-24)

Railway claim honours in Loreto clash

Women's Division One:
Railway Union 3 (Nikki Evans 2, Kate Dillon) Loreto 2 (Cathy McKean, Nicci Daly)
Railway bagged the odd goal in five to end Loreto's 100pc record while keeping their own perfect run in all competitions with an entertaining win at Park Avenue this afternoon. The Beaufort side attacked for long periods but Railway had the inspiration in front of goal to take the Christmas bonus on offer in division one.

Jean McDonnell inspired the first Nikki Evans' goal, dinking the ball down the left wing before playing in the former Hermes player who flicked into the goal midway through the first half. But after an early period of dominance, Railway were placed under the kosh by Loreto for the last 15 minutes and eventually Cathy McKean came up trumps with a smart corner move for a 1-1 half-time scoreline.

But the hosts raced back into the lead after the turnaround when Kate Dillon finished off a fine team move, a typically swift break-out move, before Evans rebounded a corner to make it 3-1 in jig-time. Nicci Daly pulled one back with seven minutes to go as Loreto attempted to fight back, aided by Emma Smyth and Dillon's sin-binnings.

Old Alex 0 Hermes 1 (Jenny Burke)
Jenny Burke's 50th minute goal proved the only strike of the day as Hermes enjoyed the majority of possession and territory but found Alex a tough nut to crack at Milltown. They won the corner count by nine to one, hitting the post on one occasion but Burke's finish was all they had to show for their endeavour. Meanwhile, Fiona Connery impressed in defence to keep the goal's against column empty.

Pembroke 3 (Natalie Fulton, Shona Doyle, Karen Hales) Trinity 0
Pembroke moved up to places in the Christmas charts as they picked up a comfortable win at Serpentine Avenue. Natalie Fulton began the goal-rush with a corner before Shona Doyle made it 2-0 at half-time from play. Karen Hales scored another corner goal in the second half. The students end 2009 in fifth place but Pembroke and Old Alex have games in hand and will push hard for the IHL play-off place.

Jacqui Potter Cup (Sunday):
Hilda Maguire's goal was the sole strike to count in the Jacqui Potter Cup on Sunday as Pembroke were taken to extra-time by Trinity in the only match to survive the weather. Pembroke won 1-0 and join Hermes in the quarter-finals after the Booterstown club received a walkover from Skerries. Old Alex II against Genesis was the only other tie to tip off but was abandoned midway through the second half as the frost returned. The Milltown club were leading 2-0 at the time.

* For Deryck Vincent's photos of Old Alex ve Hermes, click here

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Corinthian spirit earns four-point lead

Men's Division One:
Corinthian 5 (Darren Kimfley 2, Dan Williams, Chris Pelow, Davy Carson) Monkstown 3 (Andy Ewington, Brian Groves, Matt Fairweather)
In Pembroke's absence, Corinthian built up a four point lead at the top of division one over the Christmas break as they came from a 2-1 deficit to zip past Monkstown in the second half at Whitechurch today. Darren Kimfley's reverse-stick belter opened the scoring but Andy Ewington's drag-flick and Brian Groves' impressive drive after intercepting on halfway swapped the lead in Town's favour.

Dan Williams' touched in to level at 2-2 from what looked a dangerously raised ball in. The goal stood, though, and when Chris Pelow dragged in a corner following a Brian Doherty swivel. A corner switch fell Davy Carson's way to extend the lead to 4-2 with the first goal of the second half.

Kimfley added his second after a bout of pinball between the striker and Dave Fitzgerald but Matt Fairweather scored corner on the final whistle for 5-3.

Three Rock Rovers 0 Fingal 2 (Gary Sharman, Paddy Gahan)
Two second half goals saw Fingal pick up their biggest win of the season as Three Rock's IHL hopes took a dent while the northside club moved clear of the relegation zone. Tom Manning was in inspired form in the first period, creating two clear chances for Paddy Gahan which went unfinished. Mick Maguire hit the inside of both posts with one shot midway through the first half but it was the extent of their major chances. A defensive howler gifted Gary Sharman a chance at the top of the circle to bang in the opener. And Gahan rolled in the second goal when set free from Derek O'Gorman to seal the three points.

YMCA 3 (Andy Walker, Jacob Webber, Rob Whelan) Glenanne 3 (Shane O'Donoghue, Mick McGuinness, Stephen Butler)
YM led twice but eventually fought back to earn a vital point in the last ten minutes against Glenanne which may be crucial in the race for IHL placings. Andy Walker scored the only goal of the first half following a good move which transferred the ball through Richie Pedreschi and David Robinson down the right flank before Walker finished well.

Shane O'Donoghue's corner switch levelled in the second period but Jacob Webber's penalty stroke restored the YM lead only for Mick McGuinness' brilliant strike made it equal for a second time when he cracked into the top left corner. Stephen Butler's stroke gave the Glens the lead for the first time when Johnyn Goulding was pushed at close range. But, seven minutes from time, Rob Whelan finished off another fine right-wing move, flicking to the net to grab the draw.

Clontarf 1 (Richard Forrest) Railway Union 2 (Mark English, Paul O'Brien)
Railway picked up a crucial win over Clontarf to leave the Bulls isolated at the bottom of the table as they built a 2-0 lead and kept the Mount Temple hosts at bay despite a concerted second half fight-back. Mark English lashed in a half-volley after Peter English whipped up a storm with a long overhead. Kevin O'Brien set up the second forging his way into the 25 before finding Dave McCarthy. His shot from the right wing might have been missing the goal but Paul O'Brien was on hand to tap in. Clontarf pulled one back early in the second half from a corner switch which Richie Forrest finished off. Stephen O'Keeffe pulled off a couple of saves and five Clontarf corners went a begging as Railway stayed clear.

* For more of Adrian Boehm's photos from Three Rock Rovers vs Fingal, click here. For Deryck Vincent's photos of YMCA II vs Glenanne II, click here

Friday, December 18, 2009

Field wide open for National Indoor Trophy

Sunday sees the first eight hopefuls begin the inaugural National Indoor Trophy getting underway, taking over the reins from the Tony Byrne Leinster league, with an increase to 16 teams from around the country taking part.

Reigning champions Three Rock Rovers hit the boards at DCU at 9am on Sunday morning against Dublin Uni but, as in the outdoor game, have a much changed side. Indoor expert Graeme Dowling will line out with Avoca where he learned his trade when the Blackrock side were national kingpins.

Lucas Piccioli will play with Corinthian while forward Andy McConnell could be in opposition on Sunday in game six for Pembroke. The base of the team is still in tact with Alan Bothwell, Liam Canning, Neil Lyons and Peter McConnell rotating the back two places while Colin Huet will probably hold the pivot role.

Pembroke – from whom Rovers took the title two years ago – look set to be a strong outfit. Antoine Bruneau is likely to fill in for David Harte again while Paddy Conlon has the most know-how of this format.

Galway provide an unknown quantity while ever-present Dublin Uni make up the group of four from which two sides will progress. Group II features two sides keen to breakthrough as YMCA and Corinthian have come close in recent years to nicking the title.

YM, marshalled by indoor maestro Trevor Dagg, came with a hair’s breadth of the title in 2009 and suggestions are they are a more organised outfit this time out.

Corinthian, meanwhile, were unfortunate to have Andrew Cronje injured in the preliminary stages last year. His powerful, low-to-the-ground style could be key and, once again, the influence of the 90’s Avoca team is a factor. Like Rovers and YM, one of that team’s number, Peter Darley, is working the clipboard.

Clontarf could be the surprise package, though, with Kevin King (below, left) guesting this year. The Englishman has been a regular in Dublin for the tournament, previously coaching Railway ladies and playing for the Park Avenue club’s men.

He helps the Bulls and, if rumours are to be believed, a high profile arrival could also be linking up with the team on Sunday. UCD make their debut in the competition with John McInroy hoping to use his experience from Pembroke’s win in 2007 to good effect.

Groups three and four will take place in late January to decide the second set of four teams to advance.

Match Schedule (all in DCU, Sunday):
Dublin University vs Three Rock Rovers, 9am; Corinthian vs UCD, 9.50am; Dublin Uni vs Pembroke, 10.40am; Corinthian vs YMCA, 11.30am; Pembroke vs Galway, 12.20pm; Pembroke vs TRR, 1.10pm; Clontarf vs UCD, 2pm; Galway vs Pembroke, 2.50pm; Clontarf vs YMCA, 3.40pm; Galway vs TRR, 4.30pm; Clontarf vs Corinthian, 5.20pm; UCD vs YMCA, 6.10pm

Park Avenue set for Christmas cracker

As top of the table clashes go, few could be set up better than Railway Union’s tie with Loreto for what could be the league season’s highest quality game.

Two 100pc records, two impeccable defensive records and the two most exciting attacking forces in Leinster showdown with the head seat at the Christmas table up for grabs.

Gene Muller’s Irish squad announcement served as a reminder that numerous players will be unavailable post-Christmas. No restrictions have been imposed to take players out of the domestic leagues as in previous years but the volume of training camps and World Cup Qualifier build-up fixtures means that it will be rare that both sides will have a full deck to pick from in the New Year.

A week-long training camp in Spain, a test series against Belgium and, most significantly, the Celtic Cup in Nice from March 5 to 7, 2010 will all affect player availability. The latter date clashes directly with the return fixture between the two sides.

With Nicci Daly replacing Cathy McKean, Loreto continue to have five players involved. Railway will be less affected with Emma Smyth the sole Irish regular but Helen Stevenson’s inclusion means goalkeeper cover may be needed from time to time. Jill Whelan has returned from her travels and may contest the spot with Leinster U-18 Rachel Barnett should any opportunities arise.

As for this Saturday, Loreto will hope to welcome Lizzie Colvin - formerly coached by Mick McKinnon (right) at Armagh - back to the fold having missed the midweek tie with Glenanne.

She could rejoin a front six which has been firing in recent weeks, led by Nikki Symmons (above, left) who battered in a trio on Wednesday night. Her midfield dealings with Sinead Walsh, Kate Dillon and Emma Smyth will be fascinating to behold.

Elsewhere, Hermes swap out Chrsitine Quinlan with Aoife McCarthy coming back into the back four after a week’s absence – the former attending a wedding – for the trip to Old Alex. Anna O'Flanagan (below, left) has been their totem up front, scoring seven times in recent weeks while playing a role in numerous others.

Alex are playing catch-up on the leading quartet with games to spare but need to start registering to keep pace as a substantial eight-point margin already exists to fourth placed UCD.

Pembroke are in a similar boat with just four points and would be bottom on goal difference but for Bray’s one point deduction. Their IHL results show there is enough quality but will have to nullify the threat of former player Rachel Scott on Saturday against Trinity to avoid the 1-1 draw when the sides met in February.

The pair battle twice within two days as the pre-Christmas programme comes to an end on Sunday as the Jacqui Potter quarter-final places are up for grabs.

Serpentine Avenue is the venue on both occasions. Elsewhere, the eye-catching tie of the round is UCD’s hosting of Railway Union with Holly Jenkinson facing her old club for the second time since making an off-season move.

The Belfielders are the only Leinster side to breach Helen Stevenson’s goal to date this term. Glenanne play Bray in the other all-division one tie while Hermes have the day off as Skerries have scratched.

Women's Leinster Division One (Saturday):
Pembroke vs Trinity, 12.45pm, Serpentine Avenue; Railway Union vs Loreto, 3pm, Park Avenue; Old Alex vs Hermes, 3.15pm, Milltown

Jacqui Potter Cup, second round (Sunday):
Corinthian II vs Old Alex, 12.30pm, Whitechurch; Hermes vs Skerries, 2pm, St Andrew's; Pembroke vs Trinity, 2pm, Serpentine Avenue; Corinthian vs Pembroke II, 2.30pm, Whitechurch; Glenanne vs Bray, 2.30pm, St Mark's; North Kildare vs Loreto, 3pm, Griffeen Valley Park; Old Alex II vs Genesis, 3pm, Milltown; UCD vs Railway Union, 2pm, Belfield

Reds need to push on following big win

The value of Corinthian’s midweek win over Pembroke will become more apparent on Saturday for both the reds and Glenanne tomorrow as both face testers.

Pembroke have a day off due to UCD exams meaning Corinthian can move four points clear at the top but, in Monkstown, face a key fixture if they are to make a concerted charge to the title.

Brian Doherty exited the Whitechurch stage early on Wednesday night with the remnants of a chest infection meaning Ben Murphy stepped admirably into the back four for 40 minutes. Doherty, though, should be fit to play a greater part in the action.

David Carson stole the headlines against his former club but will find Cian Speers and Stephen Cole motivated opponents; along with Murphy the quartet formed part of the St Andrews’ All-Ireland schools winners in October 2008.

The Town will hope to have some goals left in the tank from last week’s defeat of Avoca and need the points to approach the summit of what looks a three-way battle for two potential IHL spots with Three Rock and YMCA. Andy Ewington is a doubt with a neck injury while Andrew Ward has a wrist injury to contend with. How Matt Fairweather (right) deals with compatriot Darren Kimfley could be a crucial factor.

The Y, meanwhile, have Todd Gill back in the fold, marking his comeback from injury at left-back last weekend with a stunning strike against Navan. David Robinson was absent that day but they could do with his guile as Glenanne are the visitors to Milltown.

It’s been an up and down week for the Tallaght side, losing to Pembroke before getting a reprieve of sorts on Wednesday. Six league games between now and January 17 will define their domestic season as they catch up on a spate of back matches.

As Pembroke found, such runs are tricky to negotiate especially with battles against Corinthian, Three Rock, Monkstown and a trip to Fingal coming thick and fast.

At the bottom end, it’s now or never time for Clontarf. Defeat at Grange Road last week was not critical but the manner certainly could prove demoralising for Harrold de Jong’s men.

By contrast, the Park Avenue youngster’s ability to compete with league leaders Corinthian will provide a lift as teenagers Kevin Wong and David McCarthy both netted first senior goals last weekend.

Nonetheless, the game offers an intriguing clash of styles as by virtue of differing methods of counter-attack – the Bulls quick over the ground, Railway via aerial bombardment. A series of injuries, though, mean Clontarf are in a far from ideal position. New signing Brian McMahon misses out on a division one debut through injury.

He joined the club from Skerries at the start of the month after returning from his work at sea but, after a couple of seconds games, is now on a list of unavailable players with Brendan Dempsey, Ciaran McNamara, Stephen Ludgate and Dan Treacy. Rob Abbott is a doubt and Rob Kelly has work commitments.

The final game sees Three Rock already play their 13th league game of the season – barring an increase in the light coating of snow currently at Grange Road – against Fingal. The injury list is going the opposite ways in both clubs with the absentee list at Rovers reducing while Fingal’s is on the rise.

Dave Bane played through the pain barrier last week as cover was in short supply as a series of niggles affect Gerry Wheeler’s men. For Rovers, Gavin Bourke and Kyle Good are long-term misses but the rest of the panel is in tact.

Bray and Weston's Mills Cup tie has been postponed until the New Year.

Men's Leinster Division One (Saturday):
TRR vs Fingal, 1pm, Grange Road; Corinthian vs Monkstown, 2.30pm, Whitechurch; YMCA vs Glenanne, 1pm, Milltown; Clontarf vs Railway Union, 3pm, Mount Temple

Mills Cup second round:
Bray vs Weston - postponed

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Four uncapped players in Muller's latest squad

Gene Muller has named four uncapped players, including three based in Leinster, in his Ireland panel of 24 that he will work with in the build-up to the Women’s World Cup Qualifiers in Chile in late April.

St Andrew’s and Hermes’ schoolgirl Niamh Atcheler (right) has been brought into the panel along with Loreto’s Nicci Daly and Railway Union goalkeeper Helen Stevenson. UCC's Audrey O'Flynn is also in line for an international debut. They are among eight additions to the Irish panel that took part in the European championships in August.

Louisa Healy, Rachel Mulligan and Niamh Small are all back in contention as is Julia O’Halloran (left) after a year out from the national panel due to study commitments. Cathy McKean is one of two players not involved from the Amsterdam panel. She has since retired while Emma Gray is unavailable.

The squad also features a number of players currently enjoying hockey experiences outside Ireland. Megan Frazer (pictured, below right) is included following an impressive start to her career with the University of Maryland Terrapins with whom she netted a hat-trick against Penn State in just her third game for the club.

The Foyle woman - who is a cousin of Manchester United and Ireland midfielder Darron Gibson - moved to the states on a sports scholarship immediately after the Europeans.

Emma Clarke has helped Leicester to the top of the English hockey league where they maintain a perfect record of ten wins from ten games to date. Alex Speers and Shirley McCay have been part of the Dragons run to third in the Belgian national league.

The selection comes following a series of training days – most recently last Sunday – and will now see Muller and his team work with the panel over a series of training camps both at home and abroad over the coming months.

Speaking about the line-up, Muller believes there will be a serious battle among the players to pin down one of the final 18 places for Chile.

He said “I am delighted with the quality and depth of the squad we have selected to prepare for the World Cup Qualifier in late April 2010. We will have our work cut out for us to perform well against Australia , Chile , Scotland , Malaysia and Mexico.

“The competition in the squad to make the tournament 18 will be fierce and this bodes well for us.”

Ireland (15th) ranked second in their group will compete against Australia (5th), Chile (16th), Scotland (23rd), Malaysia (22nd) and Mexico (36th). Only the winner of which will secure a spot in the 2010 Hockey World Cup.

Ireland panel:
Niamh Atcheler (Hermes), Lauren Barr (Ballymoney), Emma Clarke (Leicester), Bridget Cleland (Ballymoney), Eimear Cregan ( Cork Harlequins), Lizzie Colvin (Loreto), Nicci Daly (Loreto), Roisin Flinn (Old Alex), Megan Frazer (University of Maryland Terrapins), Mary Goode (Bray), Michelle Harvey (Pegasus), Louisa Healy (Loreto), Lisa Jacob (UCD), Shirley McCay (Dragons), Rachel Mulligan (Armagh), Audrey O’Flynn (UCC), Julia O’Halloran (UCC), Cliodhna Sargent ( Cork Harlequins), Niamh Small (Loreto), Emma Smyth (Railway Union), Alex Speers (Dragons), Helen Stevenson (Railway Union), Emma Stewart (Armagh), Nikki Symmons (Loreto)

Wesley take senior initiative; Boy's cup draws released

Wesley moved into a rock-solid position at the top of the Leinster Senior A schoolboy league as they proved too strong for Mount Temple and Kilkenny this week. Tom Samuel fired in twice against Temple last week while there were goals for Alan White, Shane Madeley, Andrew Malcolm, Andy Roberts and a first senior strike for Kirk Shimmins.

They followed up with a 9-2 success over the Cats yesterday afternoon. Conor Motyer and Andy Roberts whipped the Wesley into an early lead but a fine Eamon Walshe break-out goal had Kilkenny back in the hunt.

But the all-round quality of the Ballinteer school soon took its toll as Shane Madeley finished off a well-judged move with Roberts and Rob Burke combining to leave the Irish U-18 trialist with an easy finish. Eoin Finnegan cracked a decent chance just wide of the Wesley goal but when Neal Megarity popped up a rare double - the first via Dave McCrea's reverse cross and the second finishing off Matthew Lewis' pass - a 5-1 interval lead was procured.

Peter English finished off a corner move before setting up Lewis for 7-1. McCrea rebounded before Roberts netted the ninth. Walshe banged in his second in the latter stages while Conor Quinn did well to keep out an Evan Matthews drag in the last minute.

It means that, barring a defeat in the return match against St Andrew's, Wesley look perfectly set to claim the title with a 100pc record to date. Sutton Park look odds on to take third spot as they added to their 1-0 win over Kilkenny with a 5-0 victory over Mount Temple on Wednesday afternoon in the North Dublin derby.

In Senior B, meanwhile, High School have been making waves as they continued their great start to the season with a hard-fought 3-0 win over St Mark's in Tallaght last week. Shane O'Donoghue bagged a double in what was very much a Glenanne-inspired affair with both coaches and captains - Paul Fitzpatrick and Gareth Carragher for High School; Jonathan Kane and Rhys Coleman for St Mark's, respectively - hailing from the Tallaght club.

It added to earlier wins over King's Hospital (4-0) and Wesley's B side (2-0) to make it a good pre-Christmas run for the Rathgar-school. They will be among one of the hopefuls in the newly formed Senior Trophy.

In the draw made on Wednesday night, they received a bye to the second round of the competition and will play the winners of Mount Temple and King's Hos. Sutton Park are another side with lofty ambitions in this competition and will travel to play Sandford in the first round.

Wesley and St Andrew's, as last year's finalists, have been placed in the semi-finals of the Senior Cup proper and will face the finalists from this Trophy event. The two cup finalists will then go on to play in the John Waring tournament, set to be played in late March.

Elsewhere, Wesley's minor side (pictured, right)) completed the first half of the season with an unbeaten record with an impressive 5-1 win over King's Hospital while St Andrew's have all but wrapped up the U-13 A league after King's Hospital and Wesley tied 1-1.

Senior Trophy
Round One: Kilkenny vs Newpark; Mount Temple vs King's Hospital;
Round Two: John Scottus vs Kilkenny/Newpark; St Columba's College vs Dundalk; Mount Temple/King's Hospital vs High School; Sandford Park vs Sutton Park

Junior Cup:
Round One: Sandford Park vs Sutton Park; St Andrew's vs Kilkenny; High School vs Wesley College; Mount Temple vs King's Hospital; St Columba's vs Newpark
Round Two: St Killians vs Sandford/Sutton; Dundalk vs St Andrew's/Kilkenny; High School/Wesley vs John Scottus

Minor Cup:
Round One: St Killians vs King's Hospital; High School vs Dundalk; St Columba's vs St Andrew's
Round Two: Kilkenny vs St Killians/King's Hospital; Mount Temple vs Newpark; High School/Dundalk vs Wesley; St Columba's/St Andrew's vs Sutton Park

U-13 Cup:
Round One: Kilkenny vs Headfort; St Andrew's vs John Scottus; Mount Temple vs Dundalk; High School vs King's Hospital; Sutton Park vs St Columba's
Round Two: St Killians vs Kilkenny/Headfort; Wesley vs St Andrew's/John Scottus; Mount Temple/Dundalk vs Newpark; High School/King's Hospital vs Sutton Park/St Columba's

Recent schoolboy league results:
Senior A: Wesley 5 Mount Temple 1; Wesley 9 Kilkenny 2; Sutton Park 5 Mount Temple 0
Senior B: St Mark’s 1 John Scottus 1; St Mark’s 0 High School 3; St Mark’s 2 Dundalk GS 5; Wesley B 3 John Scottus 1
Junior A: St Andrew’s 4 Sutton Park 0; Wesley 2 Kilkenny 2
Junior B: Mount Temple 3 St Andrews B 1
Minor A: St Columba’s 2 Mount Temple 3; Wesley 5 King's Hospital 1
Minor B: Mount Temple B 2 High School 1
U-13 A: Wesley 1 King’s Hospital 1
U-13 B: Mt Temple 3 St Andrews B 0; Mount Temple 1 High School 1
U-13 C: Taney 1 St Andrews 2; Taney 6 RJS 0; Taney 6 Wesley 1

Butler named Echo Sports Star of the Year

Glenanne's Stephen Butler was named The Echo Newspaper Sports Star of the Year last night at a ceremony in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel on the Naas Road.

The 30-year-old overcame competition from Dublin GAA stars Conal Keaney, Liam Rushe, David O'Callaghan and Siobhan McGrath; National light-welterweight boxing champion Phil Sutcliffe and six others to win the prestigious award.

Butler was rewarded for a year in which he became Ireland's most capped player (currently with 161) and helped Ireland to gold in the European Hockey Trophy and Silver in the Champions Challenge II.

He is also Ireland's all time top goalscorer (79) and was instrumental in qualifying his club for the Irish Hockey League final in May after he scored a hatrick against Banbridge in the semi-final. The result meant Glens qualified for the EHL which took place in October.

It was an excellent night all round for the Tallaght club as St Francis Ladies football club picked up the Team of the Year gong with Glenanne Ladies first team player Mary Waldron part of their contingent.

Words: David O'Malley

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reds end Pembroke winning streak

Men's Leinster Division One:
Corinthian 2 (Davy Carson 2) Pembroke 1 (Andy McConnell)
Davy Carson (pictured) scored a memorable second half double to inflict just Pembroke's third defeat in 2009 as Corinthian came from a goal behind at Whitechurch tonight to open the door for a couple of clubs in the second half of the season.

The reds were the last side to get one over on Pembroke, a silver goal victory last March in the Mills Cup final, but were stunned inside 20 seconds when Paddy Conlon laid off a superb pass to Andy McConnell to smash home a rip-roaring reverse. From then on, Pembroke's full press saw them dominate territory but produce little end product as only Alan Sothern's reverse shot could be classed a clear chance.

Lucas Piccioli drew a strong baseline block from Antoine Bruneau, the 18-year old Frenchman standing in for the injured David Harte. The keeper blocked one corner from Chris Pelow - Brian Doherty forced into an early exit due to injury - as the low-key first half ended 1-0.

But the reds were back on terms in incredible fashion as a great team move saw Andrew Cronje and Chris Pelow eventually combine to whip in a first time cross from the left wing. Carson nipped in ahead of goalkeeper and defender at the near post but a slight trip knocked him to the ground. He maintained control, however, and, while on the floor on the endline, used his reverse to nudge the ball under Bruneau to slowly roll in off the back post.

Pembroke's attacks became more urgent with one flurry drawing four successive saves from Ross Murray as they camped in the reds 25. But Cronje, Alan Blennerhassett, Andrew Sutton and Ben Murphy excelled at defending the circle, keeping free shots to the bare minimum while a series of baseline pull-backs found only red sticks.

And their efforts were rewarded at the far end when Rowland Rixon-Fuller bulldozed his way down the left wing to lay on a sublime cross for Carson. The young striker applied an effortlessly graceful touch at the near post for 2-1. Pembroke earned their second corner on the final whistle but Henry Micks charged down Alan Sothern's drag-flick and the clearance sparked wild celebrations. The reds move back into top spot while Glenanne were also an interested spectator. Game very much on in the league.

Perfect records intact for Loreto and Railway

Women's Division One:
Trinity 0 Railway Union 5 (Kate Dillon 2, Nikki Evans 2, Jean McDonnell)
Railway made it a magnificent seven as they brushed aside Trinity 5-0 at Santry tonight, building a 2-0 lead at half-time before stretching out to a comfortable win in the second period. Nikki Evans continues her rehabilitation from a back problem in style as she netted twice while midfielder Kate Dillon also picked up a brace.

Glenanne 0 Loreto 7 (Nikki Symmons 3, Catriona Tipping, Cathy McKean, Nicci Daly, Hannah Matthews)
Loreto also maintained their perfect record in Leinster league hockey to date with a stunning seven goal salvo against Glenanne in St Mark's with Nikki Symmons netting a hat-trick. She scored the first two goals before the returning Catriona Tipping and Cathy McKean both got on the mark before half-time. Nicci Daly made it five early in the second half, scoring against her old club before Hannah Matthews struck home a corner and Symmons completed the evening with a stunning goal to complete her trio.

Tonight's fixtures: News in brief

* Pembroke travel to Whitechurch tonight to face Corinthian as first plays second in a crucial men's Leinster division one game. A win will move the 'Broke five points clear of the chasing pack with a game in hand. Tip off is at 8.30pm.

Meanwhile, Railway Union will aim to keep their perfect run in all competitions going when they travel to Santry Avenue to face Trinity. That game gets underway at 7.30pm

* The UCC flood relief quiz and raffle raised over €900 to help replace equipment lost and damaged in the recent floods. he event was organised by Railway ladies first team squad and supported on the night by Railway, Trinity, Pembroke and Glenanne Ladies hockey clubs.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ireland's men remain 19th in world

Following the completion of the Champion's Trophy and Champion's Challenge events, Ireland have remained in 19th spot in the latest world ranking list announced this morning, one place behind France and marginally ahead of Austria.

The ranking reflects this summer's final appearance in the Champion's Challenge II event and winning the EuroHockey Nations Trophy but does not, as yet, include ranking points earned in the World Cup qualifiers.

These will be factored in following the World Cup in March in India and will see Ireland close the gap on France  due to a higher ranking in the respective qualifier though the margin looks currently too large to overhaul. The next ranking tournament will be in 2011 for Ireland.

Argentina's ranking dropped from ninth to 14th following a disappointing Pan-Am Games but is likely to bounce back up the list in March if they make an impact in the World Cup with Belgium likely to drop out of the top ten.

Meanwhile, Ireland lie eighth in the European rankings which factors in results from 2007 and 2009's nation's championships with England sharing the top spot with the Netherlands.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Glens hold Railway young guns at bay

Leinster Senior Mills Cup:
A much-changed Glenanne line-up bounced back to beat Railway Union by the odd goal in five as Stephen Butler, Stephen Doran, Shane O'Donoghue and Joe Brennan were rested for the Mills Cup opening tie.

David McCarthy scored his second of the weekend for the Union to give his side the lead but a Gary Shaw double and one from Clive Kennedy swung the game the direction of the Tallaght-men. Peter English pulled one back on the final whistle but Glenanne were safe in their 3-2 win.

They will face Fingal in round two after they won the northside derby with three late goals. Scoreless until 15 minutes from time, Dave Bane (left) broke the deadlock at Mount Temple - the school where he teaches - with a drag-flick before a long ball caught the pressing Bulls on the counter-attack.

Adrian Sweeney scored from a one-on-one situation before Paddy Gahan completed a very stylish team move to round up the win.

Three Rock advanced to play Corinthian in round two, wiping out a half-time deficit at Belfield inside an eight-minute purple patch. Sven Galjaardt and Pierre de Voux scored in that time for a 2-1 lead after former Rover Tim Hill had got the final touch for UCD's opener. Galjaardt later added a corner goal for 3-1.

The ties between division one and two sides were scarcely contests. YM rattled in eight first half goals en route to a 12-0 win over Navan with Richie Pedreschi scoring a hat-trick and Jacob Webber bagging five. Todd Gill (pictured right, celebrating) scored the pick of the goals having returned from his nasty facial injury.

Monkstown were scarcely less ruthless, beating near neighbours Avoca 10-0, Frank Ryan getting a first senior hat-trick. Bray's tie with Weston has been postponed until provisionally next Saturday.

UCD 1 (Tim Hill) Three Rock Rovers 3 (Sven Galjaardt 2, Pierre de Voux); Glenanne 3 (Gary Shaw 2, Clive Kennedy) Railway Union 2 (David McCarthy, Peter English); YMCA 12 (Jacob Webber 5, Richie Pedreschi 3, Todd Gill, Stephen Walker, Andrew Walker, Will Powderly) Navan 0; Monkstown 10 (Gareth Watkins 2, Simon Groves 2 Frank Ryan 3, Ian Allen, Cian Speers, Brian Groves) Avoca 0; Clontarf 0 Fingal 3 (David Bane, Adrian Sweeney, Paddy Gahan)

* For Adrian Boehm's photos from Monkstown vs Avoca, click here. For Deryck Vincent's photos from Clontarf vs Fingal, click here and for a few shots from YMCA vs Navan, click here.

Penalties put paid to Loreto again

Jacqui Potter Cup - first round
Loreto were the first big name exit from the Jacqui Potter Cup as a side shorn of their international contingent as well as Cathy McKean and Catriona Tipping vacated the competition early on penalty strokes. Last time out it was Bray; this year the resurgent Corinthian were the victors 4-2 in the shoot-out after 85 minutes failed to produce a winner.

Susie Geoffroy, Holly Warren - in her second game since returning from Australia - Lyndsey Watson (pictured, left) and Niamh Barry all scored while only teenagers Hannah Matthews and Sinead McGirr held their nerve for the Beaufort club meaning the reds prevailed without recourse to a final stroke.

Glenanne were another side affected by the Irish squad's training day with coach Guy Garrett - the Ireland A coach, too - unable to make his side's fixture with Railway Union II. They left it late but clipped the winner in the final throes when Christine Barretto scored her second corner of the day for 2-1. Earlier, Mary Doorly had given Railway the lead, also from a corner.

Old Alex II also went through on penalty strokes, meanwhile, denying Hermes II a dramatic comeback in their tie at St Andrew's. Two Rebecca Coll goals left Alex in a commanding position but Aisling Keane - one corner, one stroke - matched Coll's efforts to tie the fixture up. Extra-time produced no winner but Alex prevailed from the spot, 4-3. Elsewhere, North Kildare beat Clontarf 3-1.

Jacqui Potter Cup results:
Glenanne 2 (Christine Barretto 2) Railway Union II 1 (Mary Doorly); Corinthian 0 Loreto 0, Corinthian win 4-2 on strokes; Hermes II 2 (Aisling Keane 2) Old Alex II 2 (Rebecca Coll 2); Clontarf 1 (Hilary Skuse) North Kildare 3

Second round draw (December 20):
Hermes v Skerries; UCD v Railway; Corinthians v Pembroke II; Glenanne v Bray; Corinthian v Old Alex; North Kildare v Loreto II; Old Alex II v Genesis; Pembroke v Trinity

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sothern strike gives Pembroke edge

Men's Division One
Pembroke 3 (Alan Sothern 2, Alan Giles) Glenanne 2 (Stephen Butler 2)
First blood to Pembroke as Alan Sothern got a touch to Mick O'Connor's amazing reverse-stick cross to win the showdown between the province's two leading lights. Three more points on the board but the significance of Glenanne's unplayed back matches mean the Tallaght club could be a massive 15 points behind the reigning champions when next they take the field.

As it was, the goal came against the run of play as Pembroke made the best of their chances while Glenanne held sway in possession and territory stakes but missed the vital incisions.

The hosts's skipper Alan Giles began the scoring, finishing off a great move initiated by Andy McConnell. Maurice Elliott led slide two decent  chances as Pembroke were in the early ascendancy, one saved by Stephen Butler and the next by Stephen Doran. But the Glens grew back into the game with two Butler drags going close, the latter rebounding to Johnny Goulding but David Harte saved well.

They got on terms, though, on half-time from a third corner as Butler bashed in. It came in the wake of Adam Pritchard's sin-binning as a loose ball ran behind him and Alan Lewis zipped in and took a hefty tackle just inside the 25. And Ireland's all-time top scorer made it 1-1 at the break as both sides harrangued the umpires over various perceived injustices on the walk to the dug-outs.

Alan Sothern dragged in a corner in the second half to restore the 2-1 lead before Ronan Gormley hit a post . But the next ten minutes was all Glenanne with Butler - the game's dominant force - scoring a corner of his own. No further goals in a niggly affair, however, left the Glens open for the sucker-punch and it came when Mick O'Connor fired an absolutely brilliant reverse-stick cross which left Sothern the opportunity he lapped up to take an eighth successive league win.

Three Rock Rovers 11 (Peter Blakeney 4, Pierre de Voux 2, Garry Ringwood 2, Sven Galjaardt, Patrick Shanahan, Pieter Steins-Bisschop) Clontarf 2 (Luke Hayden, Tom Noonan)
Peter Blakeney inspired Three Rock to their most clinical performance of the season to bring his tally to six in the two games since returning from injury. He whipped in a spectacular reverse with the first shot of the game, set up by Sven Galjaardt's pin-point cross. He doubled up soon after, driving past three tackles before bumping a forehand shot in. Luke Hayden finished off Tom Noonan's great work for 2-1 but Blakeney served up his hat-trick in the 19th minute, found by Mick Maguire's reverse-stick cross - 3-1 at half-time.

The lead was stretched to 7-1 by Pierre de Voux, Sven Galjaardt and Patrick Shanahan's delightful individual effort before Noonan got one back. But Garry Ringwood's late double - one from the spot - and Pieter Steins-Bisschop got his first for the club completed the scoring.

Corinthian 5 (Barry Glavey 2, Darren Kimfley, Brian Doherty, Chris Pelow) Railway Union 4 (Kevin Wong, David McCarthy, Peter English, Paul O'Brien)
Corinthian maintain their place in second place with a thrill-a-minute tie against Railway Union of ever-changing dimensions. The reds looked well set at 2-0, bursting into gear via Barry Glavey and Darren Kimfley, the latter rounding the Railway keeper to put his side in the box seat. Glavey would later prove the hero with a stunning fifth for Corinthian, reversing into the goal's stanchion - the single goal to separate the sides.

But Railway showed they have the nous to unlock the reds defence in their 3-3 draw earlier this term and were back in the game in the simplest of fashions when Corinthian failed to deal with a lengthy overhead. The ball rebounded Kevin Wong's way and the teenager held his composure to half-volley his first division one goal. David McCarthy repeated that feat soon after a decent move saw him unmarked in the circle.

Corinthian re-established their lead when Brian Doherty dragged in on the half-time whistle for 3-2. Peter English returned the favour to tie at 3-3 before Pelow and Glavey strung out a 5-3 advantage. Kevin O'Brien and Andrew Holmes both spent time in the bin but Railway were not done and Paul O'Brien completed a move for 5-4. And a draw was inches away on the final hooter penalty corner. The first effort was blocked but Mark English smashed a shot which Peter Yeates came within inches of touching in against his former club.

YMCA 2 (Mikey Fry, Jacob Webber) Fingal 1 (Stephen Thompson)
YM moved into a tie for fifth spot as they held off Fingal's late charge to stay in the mix for an IHL place in 2010/11. They dominated the early proceedings as the northsiders struggled to deal with a low-lying sun at Alexandra College. The Y flew out of the blocks, Mikey Fry scoring from a breaking ball in the circle. It was the sole reward, though, for their early endeavour as the airport club developed into the game with chances going each way by the half's end.

Eamon Bane's miscue from inches out should have had Fingal on terms after the break but a Jacob Webber drag-flick created a significant 2-0 wedge between the teams. Paddy Gahan went close before Stephen Thompson scored from second phase penalty corner in the 61st minute. But, despite late pressure, YM held on for their second home league win of the season.

* For Adrian Boehm's photos of Pembroke vs Glenanne, click here while photos from Three Rock Rovers vs Clontarf, click here

Leading trio all record 2-0 wins

Women's Division One
Old Alex 0 Loreto 2 (Nikki Symmons, Ali Meeke)
Ali Meeke's late goal eventually gave Loreto a comfortable denouement to their tie with Old Alex as they held a tentative 1-0 advantage for a long period before making sure of all the spoils. It sets up a mouth-watering tie with Railway Union next Saturday as both sides recorded 2-0 scorelines today to lead the table with a perfect half-dozen wins. The Beaufort club took the lead via Nikki Symmons - probably the stand-out player in Leinster this season to date - as she completed a brilliant goal, forged from a turnover which swept through four passes before the Irish international roofed a reverse-stick shot from the left edge of the circle. Her side remained on top for the most part but 1-0 is always a nervous lead as Alex had their moments. But when Ali Meeke rounded the goalkeeper to slot home the second in the last ten minutes, the win was Loreto's.

Pembroke 0 Railway Union 2 (Isobel Joyce, Kate Dillon)
Railway had a similar struggle in breaking down a more solid looking Pembroke line-up but scored from a corner in each half to keep their perfect record in all competitions running. Captain Isobel Joyce got a reverse-stick deflection to Emer Lucey's hit for 1-0 before the break while Kate Dillon mopped up a second phase effort and take the points from a physical Sandymount derby.

Hermes 2 (Anna O'Flanagan 2) Corinthian 0
Anna O'Flanagan's well-taken second half double was the difference as Hermes hold their position behind the top two and in ready position to prosper when either Railway, Loreto or both drop points next weekend. Corinthian provided stern opposition, once again showing great defensive rigidity under Stewart Walker. But Hermes broke the deadlock when O'Flanagan continued her superb form to net a great first-time effort and her second killed the game off. Christine Quinlan impressed at centre-back in place of the absent Aoife McCarthy while Chloe Watkins is still suffering from her ankle injury.

Suttonians extend Division Two lead

Men's Division Two
Suttonians 6 (Daryl Reamsbottom 2, Richie Wormold 2, Conor Gillett, Ed Hipwell) Bray 3 (Simon Cox 3)Suttonians extended their lead to six points in division two as a second half goal-rush proved decisive against Bray, profiting from Avoca's late concession against Dublin University, to hold the box seat going into the Christmas break. Daryl Reamsbottom scored the only goal of the first half before Simon Cox cancelled out that lead early in the second period. But three quick Suttonians' goals - the pick of them from Richie Wormold - stretched the lead out to 4-1 and though Cox pulled one back there was no way back as the hosts added another two goals to make it 6-2 before Cox completed his hat-trick. He and Reuben Holden both picked up yellow cards in the aftermath of the game's ninth goal.

Navan 2 (Ruairi Clarke, Simon McKeever) Weston 3 (Phil Barron, Enda Tucker, Simon Pearson)Simon Pearson's winner was the highlight of an otherwise scrappy affair as Weston recovered twice from a deficit to eventually take the points at their former home, King's Hospital, against Navan. The Co Meath club twice led in the first half via Ruairi Clarke and Simon McKeever but were first pegged back by Phil Barron's drag-flick and then a corner strike from Enda Tucker in the second half to make it 2-2. And Pearson popped up with a neat drag before angling a chip-hit over the advancing goalkeeper to take the three points and place themselves seven points off top with a game in hand.

Avoca 4 (Stephen Brownlow 3, Enda Gallanagh) Dublin University 4 (Henry Butler, Craig Moore, Stu Cinnamond, Chris Tyrell)
Chris Tyrell grabbed Trinity a last-gasp point to end a run of three defeats but were ruing three times losing the lead in a topsy-turvy end to their pre-Christmas league campaign at Newpark. Henry Butler gave the students the lead but Enda Gallanagh's sublime effort recorded for the first of four levellers of the day; 1-1 at the break. Craig Moore volleyed home after a slightly skewed corner move popped his way from Andy Gray's stick before Stephen Brownlow began to show off his party-trick. He dragged in for 2-2. Stu Cinnamond got Trinity back in front with a top D smash only for Brownlow to zip in two corners for 4-3 with five minutes to go - his ninth in two games. But Tyrell found himself in the right place to tap home after Tolly Humphries invention to steal a point and dent Avoca's title hopes.

100pc Leinster records face major tests

Loreto face their first Leinster league tie away from the Beaufort Astroturf today as their 100pc credentials will be put to the test by Old Alex, a side whose youthful exuberance earned a 1-1 IHL draw at Beaufort two months ago.

The Milltown club has since gone on to record a mixed bag of results, winning in Randalstown but losing to Trinity among the ups and downs. Contending with the attacking machine of Symmons, Meeke, Keegan, Daly, McKean and Small is priority number one for Alex.

But should that crew misfire, Alex could sneak in for some points with the aggressive wiles of Rachel Griffith and Laura McCoy perhaps an important factor.

With four of the IHL places already six points out of reach of Alex, they need to start winning games in hand to close the gap.

Similar issues concern Pembroke who lie ninth after five games this term. They supply Railway Union with a tricky away day as they travel the short hop across the Sandymount dart tracks.

Former Park Avenue player Aoife Sherriff is out for Pembroke. For Railway, four games in eight days before the Christmas break will stretch their expansive squad to the limits as Jacqui Potter Cup concerns kick in on Sunday with the second round up for decision on December 20. They play Trinity next Wednesday night in league action.

Hermes, meanwhile, will be hoping to take advantage of any slip from the top two to re-enter the title race. They currently sit fourth, two points off the pace and a game extra played and are relying on other to drop points. But a home win over Corinthian would bring their league run of wins to four and keep their interests alive.

Women’s Division One (Saturday):
Hermes vs Corinthian, 3pm, St Andrew’s; Pembroke vs Railway Union, 3pm, Serpentine Avenue; Old Alex vs Loreto, 4.15pm, Milltown

Jacqui Potter - round one fixtures (Sunday):
Glenanne vs Railway Union II, 12.30pm, Glenanne Park; Clontarf vs North Kildare, 2.30pm, Mount Temple; Corinthian vs Loreto, 2.30pm, Whitechurch; Hermes II vs Old Alex II, 2.45pm, St Andrew's

Pembroke and Glens to set weekend alight

Pembroke and Glenanne is always the one to watch out for when the fixture list produced but the way the season has panned out to date, today’s fixture has been elevated to the first defining point of this Leinster league season. Both hold 100pc records and have been mildly inconvenienced en route.

The stats – as provided by the Glenanne website – show little to separate the sides with four wins and two draws a piece in their last ten.

Over 70 minutes, the last three encounters have ended level most recently last May in the hotly contested IHL final.

Pembroke are without veterans Gordy Elliott and Justin Sherriff while Stephen Butler made his return to the fray for the Glens last Saturday against Cookstown. His duel with David Harte and Adam Pritchard at corner time could prove a central battle.

Elsewhere, Corinthian will be looking to make up for the dropped points at Park Avenue earlier this season when they face Railway Union.

Fingal, meanwhile, will need victory at YM to have any chance of getting back into the chase for IHL places. Three Rock host Clontarf at Grange Road for whom Mukthar Ahmed has moved on to Portrane in recent weeks after a brief stint at the Bullring.

In division two, Avoca face Dublin Uni for the second time this season, aiming to keep in touch with high-flying Suttonians who host Bray.

Sunday sees many of the major players in the Mills Cup make their seasonal entry into the competition – making it a double weekend for almost every club. Avoca face Monkstown in the borough derby while north of the Liffey Clontarf battle with Fingal for local bragging rights.

Pembroke are already through to the last eight having brought forward their tie with Trinity which they won comfortably.

Men’s Division One:
Three Rock Rovers vs Clontarf, 1pm, Grange Road; Corinthian vs Railway Union, 1.15pm, Whitechurch Park; YMCA vs Fingal, 2:45pm, Alexandra College; Pembroke vs Glenanne, 1.30pm, Serpentine Avenue

Men’s Division Two:
Avoca vs Dublin University, 1.45pm, Newpark; Suttonians vs Bray, 1pm, Sutton Park; Navan vs Weston, 12.30pm, Kings Hospital

Mills Cup (Sunday):
Glenanne vs Railway Union, 2.30pm, Glenanne Park; YMCA vs Navan, 3pm, Alexandra College; UCD vs Three Rock Rovers, 4pm, Belfield; Bray vs Weston, TBC; Monkstown vs Avoca, 2.30pm, Rathdown; Clontarf vs Fingal, 4.15pm, Mount Temple

Irish Junior Cup (Saturday):
Glenanne II vs Annadale II, 3.45pm, Glenanne Park

Thursday, December 10, 2009

UCD strip down for Action Prostate Cancer

UCD's men have stripped down to produce a calender for 2010, hoping to use their assets to good effect and raise funds for Action Prostate Cancer.

The calender costs €10 with the proceeds going towards the charity. To see a few sample photos, click here. If you are interested in buying a calender, contact Gavin O'Halloran on 0857342202 or at gavinohalloran@gmail.com.

Members of the club will be in attendance at the Pembroke vs Glenanne game on Saturday, too, with copies of the calender available for purchase.

Hermes' second half blitz downs TRL

Jacqui Potter Cup - first round
Three Rock Ladies 1 (Suzanne Mellon) Hermes 6 (Anna O'Flanagan 2, Jenny Burke, Aoife Harte, Sarah Greene, Niamh Atcheler)
Hermes were made to work hard for their place in the second round of the Jacqui Potter Cup as they were held 1-1 at half-time at Grange Road by division two's Three Rock Ladies before pulling clear in the second half. Aoife Harte opened the scoring from a corner move as TRL defended stoutly in the face of an onslaught before Suzanne Mellon completed a corner switch following a counter-attack to leave the side's level at half-time.

Jenny Burke's goal early in the second half proved crucial and a double from Anna O'Flanagan made the game safe. Niamh Atcheler (pictured) was also on the mark while Sarah Greene - playing against her former club - scored her first senior goal to notch up the half-dozen.

The tie was brought forward from Sunday when four other opening round ties will be up for decision. Corinthian face Loreto in the only all-division one tie.

Jacqui Potter - round one fixtures (Sunday):
Glenanne vs Railway Union II, 12.30pm, Glenanne Park; Clontarf vs North Kildare, 2.30pm, Mount Temple; Corinthian vs Loreto, 2.30pm, Whitechurch; Hermes II vs Old Alex II, 2.45pm, St Andrew's

Pembroke take Leinster pole-position

Men's Leinster Division One:
Pembroke 3 (Tim Lewis, Adam Pritchard, Alan Sothern) Monkstown 0
Pembroke's reclaiming of top spot hinged on a 20-second swing in the 43rd minute of their tie against Monkstown at Serpentine Avenue as the visitors caused their share of problems for the national champions. Frank Ryan's pull-back took David Harte out of the game but, under pressure, Brian Groves miscued with the goal beckoning. Fast forward to Pembroke's next attack and Groves was sin-binned for a frustrated-looking tackle in the 25.

From an ensuing corner, an Alan Sothern switch to pusher-out Tim Lewis (pictured, left) finally broke the deadlock of a high octane fixture. And while the Town had their moments, Pembroke's slicker turnover play garnered two late goals for the 3-0 win.

Pembroke gave the Town goal a battering in the first half but Dave Fitzgerald was in immense form, saving spectacularly from Sothern and Andy McConnell among others. The best chance, though, almost fell to the Town when a penalty stroke was awarded only for a consultation to downgrade to a corner - the judgement was that David Harte was covering behind the defender's foot en route to goal.

Scoreless at half-time, Lewis bravely deflected in that opener, taking a blow to the head in the process. David Harte was called on to produce a remarkable triple save from Stephen Cole, Gareth Watkins and the reinstated Groves with rising aerials in quick succession.

But when Cian Speers was sin-binned for breaking down an auto-pass, the gaps opened for Pembroke to seal the win. Andy McConnell raced down the left flank and his pull back skipped the near post to find an unmarked Adam Pritchard to dink over Fitzgerald. A third was disallowed for a push on Matt Fairweather but it was only a stay of execution as McConnell, again, intercepted on the 22, exchanged a pass with Lewis before picking out Sothern's stick for a divine goal.