Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fight for indoor title gets underway

Indoor hockey returns this Sunday with a 13-game marathon at the National Basketball Arena with the chance to represent Ireland at the European Club Championships in 2010 the prize for the winning side.

The group phases take place this weekend, February 1, as the race to pick up the Tony Byrne title begins in earnest

The tournament this year will take place over the next two Sundays – February 8 sees the closing group games and the playoff stages – with the competition’s increased popularity boosting the number of entrants to ten with Kilkenny making a first appearance.

The Cats will be bolstered by Derek O’Gorman – the former Leinster centre-midfielder joining his former club for the duration of the competition as his outdoor club, Fingal, is not involved on the indoor circuit.

Kilkenny, enter a tough group with reigning national champs Three Rock Rovers one of the sides to watch. For this season, they add Venezuelan international Lucas Piccioli to last year’s squad. He impressed when lining out for Corinthian two seasons back and will bring his excellent close-control to bear.

His introduction, as well as the scramble for places in Rovers squad for the 2009 European championships, has left player-coach Liam Canning with an interesting dilemma.

The highly decorated indoor expert has a squad of 18 to choose from but has only 12 places on the flight to Cambrai and is considering whether he may be one of the players confined to a watching brief.

Corinthian, meanwhile, provides an unknown quantity with South African internationals Andrew Cronje and Darren Kimfley possible starters.

Glenanne, too, have been formidable in recent years reaching the semi-final stages last year but were edged out 6-5 by Monkstown. Dublin Uni complete the group.

Group 2 features regular contenders Railway Union under the tutelage of master of the boards Paul O’Brien. They have shown their intention to reclaim the main prize with an early season training weekend to Prague while Kevin King – a specific indoor coach from England – has been drafted in to man the sideline while Mick O’Connor guests once more on the field.

Monkstown, with Czech international Filip Jaros and coach Trevor Watkins at the helm, improved dramatically last year to be a real contenders too. They have Gavin O’Halloran included in their panel, on loan from UCD.

2007 champs Pembroke Wanderers cannot be written off while Trevor Dagg will hope to use his many successful years as an Avoca indoor player mould his young YM charges into a challenging side.

His former club round out what looks the slightly tougher of the groups.
Indoor hockey has undergone significant growth in the past few years, thanks in the main to the efforts of Paul O’Brien with a number of initiatives for getting youth sides involved inaugurated.

To this end, the IHA introduced a ‘Stepping Stones’ training courses in December to introduce people to indoor coaching – recognizing the importance the game can play in developing young players close skills and quick decision making.

Tony Byrne Cup - Group I
(10:10am) Kilkenny v Corinthian; (1:30pm) Dublin University v Kilkenny; (2:20pm) Three Rock Rovers v Corinthian; (4:50pm) Dublin University v Three Rock Rovers; (6:30pm) Glenanne v Dublin University; (7:20pm) Glenanne v Three Rock Rovers;

Group II
(9:20am) Railway Union v YMCA; (11am) Avoca v Railway Union; (11:50am) Avoca v Monkstown; (12:40pm) YMCA v Pembroke Wanderers; (3:10pm) Pembroke Wanderers v Railway Union; (4pm) Monkstown v YMCA; (5:40pm) Monkstown v Pembroke Wanderers


Stephen Findlater said...

See above a classic video from the Glenfiddich international tournament with some top-class goals.

Anonymous said...

Bit silly having it this weekend with the IHL.
The Glens have to go straight from their IHL match to this.
Not sure if other clubs do aswell?
Surely this could have been better organised...

Stephen Findlater said...

In response to the previous comment, the indoor was organised well in advance of both the ISC and IHL dates being named with an understanding that the weekend of February 6/7/8 was to be held for indoor hockey.

Booking a venue like the NBA needs to be done a very long way in advance and the dates chosen were set to coincide with Rovers efforts in Europe the following week.

Queso said...

A lot of credit must go to Paul O'Brien, Seamus Butler and Tom Goode, to name but a few. These guys have kept indoor in Leinster alive at club level and as a result it is the one part of Irish hockey that Leinster have completely dominated.

Since the new European Club Indoor format was introduced in 1990 only twice have Ireland's representatives not been from Leinster. On both occassions it was Holywood '87.

During this period Avoca are the undisputed indoor kings with 13 appearances followed by Railway Union with 3 and Pembroke Wanderers and Three Rock Rovers with 1 apiece.

It's great to see more new clubs taking part and other's investing in indoor as a serious phase to the season.

Hopefully the IHA will recognise this and give indoor the space in the fixture list it deserves... afterall who wants to skating around on frozen pitches in December and January when you can be nice and cosy indoors!!

Anonymous said...

agree with queso, think there should be a break over christmas where indoor can be taken more seriously.

Anonymous said...

its not very accurate saying leinster sides have dominated, sure ulster and munster sides have not even entered over the last couple of years.

Anonymous said...

why are there no ladies fixtures in indoor hockey?

Anonymous said...

Shame the Ulster teams pulled out this year. would have made it a bit more exciting!

Anonymous said...

Ulster teams would of made it more exciting...

Well possibly, but i think it is going to be great from what i hear!
Steve has already done a great round up, but i hear Rovers are training hard and are going to be the clear favourites.

They are in a tough group with my predicton the glenns also qualifying with 3rock, with Steve Butley, Graham Shaw,Joe Brennan, Parsons,and Nasir, all making a big effort!

Corinthian should be there or close in the group stage, but i dont think they will have the class to come through, even with the S.A influence!

In the second (Harder) group in my opinion, monkstown and Pembroke will progress! Railway will be decant and well drilled but, i am still predicting a Rovers, Glenns, Town(with the Check guy) & Pembroke semis!

Corinthian and Railway to be close, and the rest of the teams to compete for the first 10 mins but will fall away due to lack of fitness and experience! YM maybe cause some diffuclty with daggers and maybe robo but wont be up to much.
Going to be a great weekend of hockey and i am all for the expansion of indoor hockey in Ireland. Lets support the boys.


Anonymous said...

There was one day of ladies indoors at the end of last season, it was great crack

Queso said...

You can't really blame Leinster teams if clubs from Ulster and Munster aren't really bothered to organise anything themselves!!

Regarding the ladies indoor, Ireland have been much more disorganised and were only represented by Randalstown (1990 & 1992, 1993, 1994) with Galway representing Ireland in 2009.

No irish team was entered in the interveneing years and I don't think any ladies indoor championship has been organised for this season, so no team will be entered next year either.

Stephen Findlater said...

An offer was made by the Indoor Committee to organise a date for the competition and then either the Ladies Branch/IHA could subsequently take on the rest of the organisation.

Unfortunately, nobody stepped forward to take on the role and so, as of this time, there will be no ladies indoor.

The IHA has agreed to set up an indoor committee, though, with a first meeting taking place on February 8. From this, something may develop.