Wednesday, April 29, 2009

UCD miss out on IHL shot

UCD 1 (Holly Jenkinson) Hermes 1 (Jenny Burke)

Jenny Burke's 67th minute short corner strike put paid to UCD's chances of playing in the 2009/10 Irish Hockey League at Belfield tonight as they were denied the win they needed to leapfrog Old Alex.

Holly Jenkinson's (pictured) superb corner hit had put College on course for the points 13 minutes from the end at the game's first penalty corner end. But Hermes forced four late set-pieces before Burke scored from the last one, completing an intricate move.

The students did have the ball in the net once more with 25 seconds remaining but the whistle was blown for a free-out just moments before Rosie Carrigan pushed in a rebound.

It means UCD finish sixth in the table and, despite their cup heroics, will not be in Irish hockey's major event next year. It makes for some difficult decisions for the club's top players whose studies may be coming to an end - the carrot of Europe counter-balanced by IHL dreams.

ESB Irish Hockey Awards nominees released

The nominees for the ESB Irish Hockey Awards were released this morning in 11 of the 13 categories up for decision. The winners will be announced at the award's night, set to take place at the Burlington Hotel on May 23, to be hosted by Adrian Davis with former Irish rugby international and British and Irish Lion, Fergus Slattery (pictured in Lions' action), the guest speaker.

Two new categories have been introduced to the list this year with the men's and women's senior player of the year awards split into two parts. The nominees below reflect the newly created Senior Club Player of the Year, distinct from the Senior Player of the Year. The latter award will be voted for by the core senior international players.

Here's the full rundown of the nominees:

Senior Club Player (male): Jonathon Bruton (Cork C of I); Neil Lyons (Three Rock Rovers); Gareth Watkins (Monkstown); Ian Hutchinson (Cookstown)

Senior Club Player (female): Susie Martin (Ballymoney); Emma Smyth (Railway Union Ladies); Anna O’Flanagan (Hermes); Jean McDonnell (Railway Union Ladies)

U18 Player (male): David Carson (Corinthian); Kyle Good (Three Rock Rovers); Shane O’Donoghue (Glenanne); Stephen Cole (Monkstown)

U18 Player (female): Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute); Niamh Atcheler (Hermes); Dora Gorman (Greenfields); Chloe Watkins (Hermes)

Coach of the Year: Turloch O’Siochain (Three Rock Rovers); Craig Fulton (Pembroke Wanderers); Michael Haycock (Cookstown); Mary Logue (UCD)

Club of the Year: Cookstown; Pembroke Wanderers; Railway Union Ladies; Three Rock Rovers

Umpire of the Year: Geoff Conn; Robert Johnston; Carol Metchette; Kieran Bolger

Emerging Club of the Year: Wexford; Limerick; Galway

Volunteer of the Year: Sally Ann Fanagan (Loreto); Norma Gartside (Ards); Mary Flahavan (Naas); Finbarr Kelleher (Cork Harlequins)

Development Coach of the Year: Niall Denham (Three Rock Rovers); David Cole (Monkstown); Fintan O’Flynn (Greenfields); Natalie Fulton (Pembroke Wanderers)

Youth Club of the Year: Monkstown; Lisnagarvey; Bandon; Cork C of I

UCD hope to steal wildcard spot

Just three days after their momentous ESB Senior Cup triumph, UCD have yet another major battle on their hands as they look to secure a place in next weekend's IHL wildcard qualifiers.

They play Hermes at Belfield (7.30pm) knowing only a win will is the only possible result to left them into fifth place in the table after Pembroke beat Old Alex on Saturday afternoon 2-0, courtesy of Aoife O'Gorman and Shona Doyle's goals.

Hermes, as always, will be no pushover. While this league match does not affect their league position in any way, Colin Stewart's side will be aiming to peak for Saturday morning's IHL semi-final with Pegasus and so will not be holding back as the fight for places intensifies.

Should UCD fail to pick up the maximum points, Alex will go into that playoff series, beginning on Saturday at Grange Road at 2pm against Belfast Harlequins. Cork C of I will follow on Sunday before rounding off 
the tournament against Connacht champions Greenfields.

From that series of group matches, the top two will secure a place in the 2009/10 IHL season.

Meanwhile, ahead of the first IHL finals weekend, top players from each of the clubs involved have given their views on the inaugural season of the competition. You can read the men's thoughts now and the women's will be available in the near future.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Leinster Branch AGM

Please be advised that the Leinster Branch AGM is being held on Wednesday, April 29 in Three Rock Rovers HC at 7.30pm.

All clubs please ensure that they are represented.

Muller names panel for Germany series

As part of the German Hockey Federation's 100th anniversary, Ireland will play the world number three side in Nurnberg twice over the weekend on May 9/10.

National coach Gene Muller has named a panel of 16 for the series with four changes from the Easter games against England.

Emma Grey comes in for Mary Goode in goal while Ciara O'Brien, Niamh Small, Michelle Harvey and Lisa Jacob replacing Lizzie Colvin, Shirley McCay, Megan Frazer and Cliodhna Sargent.

The fixtures will be key for Muller's continuing assessment of his squad, playing a side who will be in their pool in the EuroHockey Nations Championships.

“This will be a stern test for us against the world’s 3rd ranked team. Germany is in our pool at the EuroHockey Nations Championships in August, so it will be good to see how we fare with a block of preparation left until the championships.”

Ireland squad
Lauren Barr (Ballymoney), Bridget Cleland (Ballymoney), Emma Clarke (Ulster Elks), Eimear Cregan (Capt) (Cork Harlequins), Roisin Flinn (UCD), Emma Gray (Hermes), Michelle Harvey(Pegasus), Louisa Healy (Loreto), Lisa Jacob (UCD), Cathy McKean (Loreto), Rachel Mulligan (Armagh), Ciara O’Brien (Chelmsford), Emma Smyth (Railway Union), Emma Stewart (Armagh), Niamh Small (Loreto), Nikki Symmons (Loreto)

Saturday, May 9: Germany v Ireland, 2pm
Sunday, May 10: Germany v Ireland, 11am

Kilkenny III complete double

Kilkenny III beat UCD III to the punch in a second successive competition to claim the last outstanding men's Leinster league title - division eight - thanks to their 2-1 win over Wicklow.

UCD were unable to get the win they needed on the grass against St Brendan's/Phoenix Park III to lose out by two points. It completed a productive Saturday for the Cats as their seconds look like they might produce the most unlikely of escapes from the drop in division four.

Their fifth win on the spin - a 2-0 defeat of Portrane - pulls them up to tenth in the 13 team division and with Railway Union III and Portrane still to play in the run-in, may yet remain clear of the bottom two.

In an update from last week, South East Wanderers II beat RCSI 4-1 in the Minor Cup final.

Meanwhile, Clontarf and Dublin University have agreed a glamour date for their Neville Davin final. The pair will face off in front of the newly erected stand at Grange Road next Saturday evening directly after the Pembroke and Three Rock IHL semi-final at 7pm.

The final two Leinster cups of the season will be contested in the next week on with Glenanne going for the Walters/Galtrim double. They play UCD in the former on Friday night in Pembroke at 8.15pm and St James Gate in the latter on Tuesday, May 5 at 7.15pm - again in Pembroke.

Monday, April 27, 2009

How to become a Leinster Branch umpire...

In response to a recent query put to The Hook, the Leinster Hockey Umpire's Association has laid out below the recruitment process to becoming an umpire. It is the same path that Ray O'Connor followed along with top current umpire Geoff Conn, leading to them travelling around the world, getting to see the action at its closest:

New members should contact LHUA through the 2008/09 Appointment Secretaries. For the ladies' side, Brian George can be contacted at or 087 1270119 while on the men's side Tom Goode is the point of contact at or 086 2160673.

From there, potential umpires can advise what experience they currently have, what level they are currently umpiring at, your availability and what level you aspire to.

From there, the LHUA appoint to appropriate fixtures with senior umpires to partner you with at an early stage with mentoring also available along with umpiring shirts, jacket, cards and whistles.

Grading forms are completed throughout the season and post game debrief are encouraged while the LHUA run coaching sessions throughout the season which should be attended. These take the form of Q&A, new rule discussions and video. The LHUA also use headsets to assist and develop umpires.

The LHUA has three grades (3 - Foundation, 2 - Intermediate, 1 - Senior)  that umpires progress through based on reports and gradings. Currently Grades 1 and 2 umpire in the Leinster Senior League.

Should you have any further queries, contact the relevant appointment secretary above. This post will be re-posted as the 2009/10 season approaches so as to offer potential umpires a reminder as hockey gets back into gear next Autumn.

Logue names Irish U-18 panel for Scotland series

Fresh from her ISC triumph as UCD coach, Mary Logue stepped into her other role this morning of Irish U-18 coach to announce an 18-player squad for a two day series against Scotland at Bellahoutson in Glasgow on May 8 and 9.

Eight Leinster players make the squad with Hermes' Irish Junior cup player-of-the-match Sarah Greene (pictured) and goalscorer Deirdre Duke included along with club mates Chloe Watkins, Gillian Pinder and Niamh Atcheler.

Loreto pair Hannah Matthews and Ali Meeke make the trip as does Pembroke's Orla Fox. Six players from Connacht are included with three from Ulster and Catholic Institute's Naomi Carroll the sole Munster representative this time out.

Irish U-18 squad: Niamh Atcheler (Hermes), Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute), Deirdre Duke (Hermes), Brenda Flannery (Greenfields), Orla Fox (Pembroke Wanderers), Dora Gorman (Greenfields), Irene Gorman (Trinity), Sarah Greene (Hermes), Sammy Jo Greer (GK) (Ballymoney), Jenny Kyle (Pegasus), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Ali Meeke (Loreto), Tara Melvin (Galway), Emilie Molloy (GK) (Galway), Anna Mae Morton (Armagh), Gillian Pinder (Hermes), Lynsey Trainor (Galway), Chloe Watkins (Hermes)

Coach: Mary Logue

Asst Coach: Richie Malone

Manager: Sinead McDonnell

RTE 2 to show ISC highlights

RTE 2 will tonight screen the highlights from yesterday's Men's and ESB Irish Senior Cup finals. The hour-long show gets underway at 7pm.

*Pic courtesy of Rob O'Connor

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pembroke hit Cookstown for six

Pembroke Wanderers 6 (Gordon Elliott 2, Maurice Elliott, Paddy Conlon, Justin Sherriff, Alan Sothern) Cookstown 0

Pembroke produced the most comprehensive victory in the open era of the Irish Senior Cup as they mauled Ulster champions Cookstown 6-0 at Belfield yesterday, taking the opportunity to let their hockey do the talking after a week of off-field controversy.

Indeed, not since 1921 when the now defunct Royal Hibernians beat Queen’s University 9-0 has a final been so one-sided with Pembroke retaining the title and look a formidable prospect at next weekend's IHL playoffs.

Craig Fulton's side is in rude health - unlike this stage last year when his side dealt with a long injury list - and look the team to beat with their third trophy within a fortnight.

The build-up to the game had been mired in the eligibility issue concerning but man-of-the-match Gordon Elliott said the controversy had no undue effect on the Pembroke players: “We dealt with that fairly easily. We were just told this is the situation, it’s not any fault of the club and it wasn’t an issue for the players.

“You do have to feel a bit sorry for the guy in question and from that point of view it’s a bit disappointing.”

As for the game, Pembroke’s initial foundations were built on a stern defensive effort as Cookstown made the early running.

Superb tackling from Colin Kelly and Conor Harte, though, meant the Tyrone side was denied any shooting opportunities.

And with that side of the game intact, the trio of international talent Alan Sothern, Justin Sherriff and Gordon Elliott up front were always likely to prosper. Elliott snapped up the first chance in the 19th minute, sending Ian Hughes the wrong way after Paddy Conlon’s baseline rummaging created the chance.

Maurice Elliott then doubled the advantage, courtesy of an outrageous first touch to Conor Harte’s free-in. His reverse-side trap, flummoxed Hughes and Ian Hutchinson alike to set up and easy finish. From that point, Cookstown already looked a well beaten outfit though they did force three corners in the second half and Colin Donaldson's lob landed on the roof of the net.

Pembroke received no corners all game but Gordon Elliott’s tidy finish made it 3-0 just after the break before Sherriff’s superb run played in Elliott down the left flank. His pin-point cross found the sliding Paddy Conlon for a simple tap-in.

Sherriff was superb throughout and has been a rejuvenating force for the Serpentine Avenue club this term since his return from a long-term injury. So long the main goal threat, the striker has transformed his game to be the link player rather than the target man and he had a hand in most of the goals.

His goal, in the 60th minute, therefore capped his performance, as he slammed the ball home from the top of the circle. Conlon then played in Alan Sothern for an incredible 56th goal of the season to complete the rout.

The victory also comes with the added bonus of a place in next season’s EuroHockey League.

Cookstown: Ian Hughes, Ian Hutchinson (capt), Gareth Cuddy, Ewan Butler, Andrew Barbour, Ivan Steen, David Best, Colin Donaldson, David Ames, Stuart Smyth, Keith Black Subs: Stephen Cuddy, Mark Crooks, Greg Allen, Timmy Smyth, Stephen Sloan

Pembroke Wanderers: David Harte, Ronan Gormley, Conor Harte, Gordon Elliott, Colin Kelly, Paddy Conlon, Stuart Loughrey, Justin Sherriff, Alan Sothern, Tim Lewis, Alan Giles Subs: Craig Fulton, Maurice Elliott, Michael O’Connor, Scott Lowrie, Simon Thornton

* For more of Adrian Boehm's pictures from the game, click here. For Rob O'Connor's pics, click here. Sportsfile and Inpho also have sets from the games.

UCD stun Pegasus in Irish Senior Cup showdown

UCD 4 (Roisin Flinn 2, Holly Jenkinson, Rosie Carrigan) Pegasus 1 (Grace Irwin)
UCD produced the most astonishing performance in recent Irish Senior Cup history as they dominated the competition’s undoubted kingpins, Pegasus, winning 4-1 at Belfield to take their first national title in 58 years.

Struggling to break the top five in Leinster competition, the students were full value for the comprehensive result over the reigning champions who were in search of three-in-a-row. Pre-match they were buoyed by the return of Irish international Lisa Jacob after six-week layoff due to an ankle injury.

She was to prove a key influence, leading a hard-pressing game that upset Pegasus long-ball tactics. Holly Jenkinson proved another key figure, picking off the errant Pegasus passes while Liz McInerney was peerless in midfield.

But while the students have been noted for their defensive solidity – just 12 goals conceded in 17 games – up front, they were inspired with Jacob and Roisin Flinn dovetailing perfectly aided by the rotating Rachel Burke and Rosie Carrigan.

Burke laid on the first goal 16 minutes in with a pullback from the endline to Flinn and within two minutes the lead was doubled, this time from Jenkinson’s corner-strike, creeping home via Sharon Moffett’s pads.

Pegasus pulled one back two minutes after the break as they enjoyed a purple patch, Grace Irwin scrambling home after a mix-up between Grace O’Flanagan and Jenkinson saw the ball squirm free.

And when they won a disputed penalty corner moments later the tide appeared to be turning.

Arlene Boyles shot, though, was well blocked by O’Flanagan and Megan Tennant-Humphreys did well on the rebound. It was Pegs’ last clear opportunity of the day as College raised the intensity.

Flinn squeezed in for 3-1 after Jenkinson’s initial strike had wreaked havoc. And the rout was complete as Carrigan capped the performance with the goal of the game, flipping the ball past Boyles at the top of the circle before smashing past Moffett.

The closing quarter was played out with relative ease, especially when Lynsey Mallon’s frustration led to the sin-bin.

UCD: Grace O’Flanagan, Marie O’Connell, Megan Tennant-Humphreys, Holly Jenkinson, Caitriona McGilp, Lisa Jacob (capt), Elaine O’Neill, Laura Wilson, Orlagh O’Shea, Liz McInerney, Roisin Flinn Subs: Fiona Bradish, Rosie Carrigan, Rachel Burke, Pamela Smithwick, Leigh Pelow, Ciara McNestry, Fyona Flinn

Pegasus: Sharon Moffett, Nadine Brown, Fiona McIlwaine, Jill Orbinson, Claire McMahon, Suzanne Beaney, Arlene Boyles (capt), Alex Speers, Lynsey Mallon, Michelle Harvey, Pamela Magill Subs: Jenny Kyle, Grace Irwin, Hannah Clarke, Julie McKnight, Jessica Perry, Lyn Brown

* For more of Adrian Boehm's pictures from the game, click here. For Rob O'Connor's pics, click here. Sportsfile and Inpho were also there.

Ward strike wins U-21 cup for Town

Monkstown 1 (Andrew Ward) Glenanne 0

Monkstown won the Under-21 Cup yesterday in Pembroke after a 1-0 win over Glenanne in a pulsating game of hockey.

Andrew Ward (pictured) got the decisive goal with 15 minutes to go after Richard Sykes crash ball took a triple deflection before eventually trickling over the line via David O’Malley’s pad.

The timing of the goal was cruel on Glenanne who had held out for 15 minutes with ten men following consecutive sin binnings for Shane O’Donoghue and Jonathan Kane at the beginning of the second half.

O’Donoghue rattled the post with a late dragflick but they ran out of time.

It was a game in which ‘Town’ enjoyed the majority of possession but failed to really pressurise the Glens goal while the Tallaght side provided a constant threat on the counter attack.

Sam O’Leary came close twice early on but was thwarted by O’Malley on both occasions while Glenanne’s best chances fell to Kane who tested Craig Ellis with a slap hit from a second phase short corner.

Richie Shaw almost opened the scoring late in the half when he intercepted Nick Dee’s pass outside his own circle before running the length of the pitch. However, he failed to connect properly with his reverse shot.

The second half was affected by the two yellow cards for Glens midfielders with Monkstown desperately trying to break the deadlock.

The two corners they earned didn’t go to plan – Shaw got a block on the second one – while Phillip Byrne cleaned up brilliantly elsewhere.

However, with Glenanne back to their full quota, Ward struck. His deflection caught the inside of Alan Mcloughlin’s stick before nicking off O’Malley’s right foot and in.

The eventual victors put in a brilliant performance at the back with Nick Dee particularly impressive while Ward was a constant threat.

Glens put together a spirited final period but despite winning two corners and harrying the Monkstown defence at every opportunity they couldn’t find an equaliser.

* Report thanks to David O'Malley

UCD survive playoff

UCD 4 (Robbie McFarlane 2, Tadhg Walsh-Peelo) Bray 2 (Stephen Jones, Simon Cox)
UCD retained their division one status thanks to a 4-2 win over Bray in the promotion/relegation playoff on Saturday afternoon at Serpentine Avenue.

Bray scored first and last but in the end the superior fitness of the students began to tell in the second half as they seemed to come up against a physically spent force.

Stephen Jones broke the deadlock with a tap in at the back post as the Garden County side were rewarded for their high tempo opening to the game.

Robbie McFarlane drew the sides level by half-time, though, rebounding from his own shot to hit a high reverse past Greg Keeley.

And former Bray man Tadhg Walsh-Peelo (pictured) did the major damage after the break, scoring two reverses in quick succession to all but end his former club's promotion hopes.

Robbie McFarlane added the fourth - UCD's third goal in ten minutes - before Simon Cox tapped in late on for a consolation goal.

Hermes II triumph on strokes in Irish Junior

Hermes II 1 (Deirdre Duke) Railway Union II 1 (Louise O'Dwyer) Hermes II win 3-1 on strokes

Hermes II claimed their third Irish Junior Cup, overcoming a last minute equaliser to eventually win on penalty strokes over Railway Union II who were denied for the second year running at the final stage.

The opening stages were a cagey affair with Caitlin Friel having the pick of the chances for Railway Union after Ruth Hutchinson and Julie Motherway combined down the right. Yvonne Kenny saved well as did her counterpart Jill Whelan from Hermes' first corner of the game.

The real drama, though, came after the break as the pitch opened out. Sarah Greene was becoming a stronger influence as she moved up into midfield, using her tight skills to win a corner. Aisling Keane's straight hit was again denied.

Railway's move to half-court press started to pay dividends, meanwhile, as they picked off possession a couple of times notably when Caoilfhionn Rowan played in Patricia O'Dwyer but the experienced Jill Hodgins got back quickly to snuff out the danger.

And from the next play, Hermes had the lead - the ball played in from the right wing with Deirdre Duke turning the ball under Whelan from four yards with a deft upright reverse. The game restarted only to stop again for the umpire's to discuss the decision - a push alledged in the build-up - but the decision stood.

It left 25 minutes for Railway to find an equaliser, spurred on by Karen Clarke's midfield machinations, but it did not look like it would until they were awarded a corner on the final whistle. The initial corner found a foot and Louise O'Dwyer snapped up the second corner to force extra-time.

No winner was forthcoming so penalty strokes were needed. Aisling Keane, Carol Devine and Hodgins all netted as Kenny saved to hand Hermes the title.

Hermes II: Yvonne Kenny, Aimee Jones O'Connor, Sarah Greene, Roisin McInerney, Jill Hodgins, Aisling Maguire, Roly Burke, Carol Devine (capt), Aisling Burke, Aisling Keane, Orla Lee, Sarah Woodroofe, Deirdre Duke, Shelley Sloan, Michela McMullen

Railway Union II: Jill Whelan, Louise McDermott, Gillian Heavey, Mikaela Ring, Ros Lynch, Karen Clarke, Caitlin Friel, Fiona Connolly, Louise O'Dwyer (capt), Ruth Hutchinson, Emma Sweeney, Caoilfhionn Rowan, Kate Dillon, Bebhinn Delaney, Patricia O'Dwyer, Jill Whelan, Lisa McCarthy

* For more of Deryck Vincent's pictures from the game, click here

Saturday, April 25, 2009

YMCA claim Railway Cup

YMCA II got a tangible reward for their top season as they beat Three Rock Rovers II 4-1 at Serpentine Avenue. Man-of-the-match Luke Chadwick got the ball rolling with a neat reverse before Richie Miles doubled the lead.

Ross Varian pulled one back from a corner rebound but Charlie Carroll scored against his old club to make it 3-1 before Phil Powderly completed the scoring.

Gray day for Pembroke as C of I shine

IJC Final: Cork C of I 5 (Andy Gray 3, Mark Holmes, Trevor Dunne) Pembroke 1 (Maurice Elliott)

Cork C of I ended a 16-year hiatus to comprehensively take the Irish Junior Cup out of Pembroke’s hands with an emphatic 5-1 win at Belfield this afternoon.

Their mixture of youth and experience was used to dynamic effect by coach Dermot Judge – son of Leinster Branch President David – who varied his line-up with great aplomb to get the most impact from his key players.

Experienced heads Trevor Dunne and Mark Holmes took on the first quarter of the game before making way for young flyers Stephen Parker and Irish U-16 international Nick Burns.

And in a similar manne

r to the wins over Cookstown and Glenanne, C of I got off to a whirlwind start with two goals inside the first six minutes.

Holmes and Dunne made the vital interventions, the latter crossing for the former to delightfully deflect home the first.

It should have been two inside a minute when Andy Gray batted home a rebound but umpire Alaistair Schutte pulled play back for a penalty corner. Three more followed in quick succession before Dunne smashed across goal, picking up a defender’s stick and into the net.

As Judge explained afterwards:

“That’s the tactics for the whole season. We reckon those two forwards will break the first 20 minutes of their defence and then bring on Stephen Parker and Nick Burns to add pace and that usually works for us.”

That start, though, subsided quickly as C of I spent much of the half pinned inside their own half.

Pembroke forced seven penalty corners in the half, the third of which was rebounded by Maurice Elliott – Pembroke’s most dangerous outlet – for 2-1.

Derek Hales took one off the line from Michael O’Connor as Billy Lynch pulled off a string of top saves, memorably plucking an O’Connor drag-flick from the top corner with a full length dive.

C of I’s sporadic attacks, though, yielded a series of good chances.

Burns was only denied by Stu Garrett’s outstretched stick before Andy Gray’s skills brilliantly won the Cork side’s fifth corner.

Once again, the umpire was too hasty to blow his whistle as Nick Burns followed up Roger Gray’s shot to net. C of I, though, were not to be denied as Andy Gray duly roofed the corner given in the aftermath and a healthy 3-1 advantage.

The second half proved a less free-flowing affair, the game stuck between the 25s, suiting to the leaders to a tee. O’Connor was sin-binned for ten minutes, mainly due to frustration, taking two bites at Andrew Scannell.

It took nigh on 20 minutes for the first chance in earnest, Dunne playing in Stephen Parker who was denied by the advancing Simon Thornton.

Victory, though, was sealed soon after as Burns intercepted Michael Tijs’ poor ball on halfway, fed Roger Gray down the left flank. The forward out-foxed Thornton, taken down with the goal beckoning, to win the crucial penalty stroke, slammed home with ease by Andy Gray.

And he rubber-stamped the issue in the 59th minute from a switched corner to complete a five-star performance.

Judge afterwards felt the result was the culmination of four years work with the large underage contingent in his squad.

“All the six young fellas started with me, brought them all up and they joined a good lot of first team players coming down and that’s what junior cup is all about.

“Pembroke were very threatening, they had us on the ropes for most of the first half and we were lucky to get two early goals and hold on.”

For Trevor Dunne, this was his third Irish junior success, having won the title with C of I in 1993 and 1996 with Pembroke but felt the victory is a major milestone for the young up-and-comers. “We haven’t won it for 13 years so if we didn’t win today it might have put us back a couple of years for these young fellas.”

He admitted it was hard to come up against his old club, though, given his fond memories of his time in Dublin but knew they would not give an inch either in this battle.

“Pembroke are a great club, very similar to Ci, great family club so it’s hard but someone has to win, they would have taken 5-1 over us as well.”

 Cork C of I: Billy Lynch, Karl Lynch, David Harvey, Derek Hales, Stuart O’Grady, Trevor Dunne, Roger Gray, Mark Holmes, Richard Dorman, Andrew Gray, Andrew Daunt Subs: Andrew Scannell, Stephen Parker, Nick Burns, Andrew Whittaker, Adam O’Callaghan, Glenn Hanna

Pembroke Wanderers: Simon Thornton, Maurice Elliott, Michael O’Connor, Scott Lowrie, Ken Treacy, Mairtin Cronin, Peter Priestley (capt), Michael Tijs, Duncan McKeen, Scott Furlong, Stuart Garrett Subs: Conor McDermott, Dougie Good, Andrew Stokes, Geoff Garrett, Chris O'Connor

* For more of Adrian Boehm's pictures from the game, click here

Women's Division One: Week 18 results

Loreto 1 (Cathy McKean) Railway Union 0

Loreto completed their buuild-up to the IHL finals weekend with a high tempo, tightly fought match with champions Railway Union. Cathy McKean's goal ensured second spot in the table and three home games in next year's IHL while Railway were disappointed not to get more from their six corners but will be content with their season's work.

Pembroke 2 (Shona Doyle, Aoife O'Gorman) Old Alex 0
Pembroke confirmed fourth place, taking all three points against Old Alex, meaning UCD's game with Hermes in midweek will be key for Alex's wildcard dreams. Arul Anthoni, though, was upbeat about his side's performance in spite of the result saying they fulfilled his tactical brief perfectly but did not get the key breaks in the circle.

Pembroke struck twice to punish them on that count with former Railway duo Aoife O'Gorman and Shona Doyle getting the goals that guarantee them a second crack at the IHL.

Portrane Annual Golf Classic

Friday, April 24, 2009

UCD hope to bridge 58 gap

UCD go into the ESB Irish Senior Cup final aiming to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the competition's history as they look to emulate the class of 1951. The task, though, is little different than most other rounds in the competition for the students as their defensive solidity has seen them negotiate ties with last season's club championship finalists Loreto and Hermes.

Add in victory over Belfast Harlequins - becoming the only Leinster side to win in Ulster - and a 3-1 win in their only tie on home turf against the emerging Ulster Elks and it is clear that plenty of Mary Logue's cup experience has rubbed off on her young charges.

Standing in front of them is a side with five players at the opposite end of the spectrum who have seen and experienced much of this before.

The stats speak for themselves when it come to Pegasus' cup pedigree. They go in search of three-in-a-row and an eighth ISC since 1992.

Former internationals Arlene Boyles, Jill Orbinson, Claire McMahon (above, left) Suzanne Beaney and Pamela Magill all line out along with current internationals Alex Speers and Michelle Harvey, all back to retain their title.

The key battle looks set to be how McMahon and Beaney are dealt with by Holly Jenkinson and Megan Tennant-Humphreys (pictured, right). While UCD have international experience up front, it is the miserly defence that has conceded just 12 goals in 17 league games, that has been their base this year.

Thursday night against Pembroke proved a decent run-out though the Belfielders were disappointed not to net one of several corners but should they nick a go-ahead score, Pegs will have a tricky task in front of them.

ESB Women's Irish Senior Cup: UCD vs Pegasus, 3.30pm, Belfield

Pembroke aim to overcome controversy

Pembroke will hope to push the eligibility controversy to one side and focus on the hockey as they bid to retain the Irish Senior Cup on Sunday afternoon against Cookstown at Belfield.

Following a meeting with the IHA last night, Mossley have decided not to pursue their query any further, accepting that the "participation of an ineligible player by Pembroke, against them, was a result of genuine and unintentional errors by Pembroke and the IHA".

The issue, though, seriously threatens to ruin what is normally a marquee day in Irish hockey, set to be broadcast on RTE on Monday evening, with certain quarters threatening to boycott attending what is normally a guaranteed game to watch for the hockey community.

An additional statement released this afternoon added "Mossley HC has acted entirely honourably in this matter, seeking only clarity on the issue, and has at no time sought for penalties or action against Pembroke".

Such timing in the build-up to the final has made it an especially unfortunate affair for all concerned, whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation.

Now is the time, though, to focus on what could be an intriguing game. Last time Cookstown and Pembroke met, they played out a scoreless draw at Coolnafranky using the IHL rules. Such a format has not seemed to be conducive to the Tyrone club's game this season but in the major competitions using the original rules they are as yet unbeaten.

Ivan Steen has recovered from a cracked kneecap and is likely to be a key man, pulling the strings behind Stuart Smyth and Andy Barbour. Midfielder Thomas Hutchinson, though, misses out due to a severe knee injury that will require surgery and at least a six-month lay-off.

In Pembroke, though, they face the form side in the country right now, picking up the EuroHockey Club Trophy and the Leinster title in the last fortnight.

Justin Sherriff, Mick O'Connor and skipper Alan Giles had slight niggles for their match against Monkstown but should come through to play. There is the additional banana-skin of their junior cup final where squad players may be played and subsequently injured - an interesting juggling act for Craig Fulton.

With an EHL place on offer, and the heightened interest created by this week's drama, all concerned hope that hockey will do the talking on Sunday.

Men's Irish Senior Cup final: Pembroke Wanderers vs Cookstown, 1.15pm, Belfield

Preview of Saturday's action

Amid all the hoopla, Pembroke could be on for another pair of national titles over the weekend as they look to retain both the men's senior and junior cup titles.

Saturday's battle with Cork C of I sees the side come up against an old friend as the highly decorated Trevor Dunne returns to Dublin for the weekend. Dunne spent several highly successful years with the Serpentine Avenue outfit in between two spells with the Garryduff club.

He is one of three involved in Saturday's squad who played in 1993, the last time C of I claimed the prize, along with Richie Dorman and Derek Hales. The trio, along with Stephen Parker, also bring All-Ireland senior success in the form of the 2003 club championships to the table.

Pembroke, though, have been resurgent since Christmas with top young players Scott Furlong and Scott Lowrie (above, left) - converting from his coaching role in the early stages of the season - returning to the fold.

What could throw a spanner in the works for their three-in-a-row hopes could be how many players from the firsts match day 16 Craig Fulton is willing to let play a full part a day before the senior final.

Should a complete line-up be available, Pembroke are an awesome proposition as evidenced by their 5-2 win over league winners Monkstown last Saturday with Maurice Elliott the major threat.

On the women's side, Railway Union II will be looking to go one better than last year's IJC final appearance and add to the the ever-growing silverware collection at Park Avenue.

Hermes II combine youth and experience with Fiona Manning lining out alongside top school's players Sarah Greene and Deirdre Duke (pictured, right).

Elsewhere, there is a trio of important domestic games on Saturday. UCD's hopes of retaining division one status rest on their playoff shoot-out with Bray on Saturday afternoon.

While results tell the tale of a season, rival coaches have been suitably impressed with the Belfielders application this term though closing out games has proved the problem on occasion - the late loss to Fingal a case in point while they a 2-1 deficit against Rovers was transformed to 5-1 inside the last eight minutes in the league.

Bray, meanwhile, have been on the up since Christmas to emerge from the pack and take second place ahead of Skerries and Avoca. Simon Cox is the key man up front but Cliff Bailey is the real jewel as he showed in recent weeks he can still embarrass defenders at will.

The draw with Clontarf was played at an incredible tempo and if Bailey can combine with Mark Brooks and Jamie Crawford while Greg Keeley holds his end up between the posts, it could be a very tricky day for the students. Their experience from last year against Suttonians, though, should hold them in good stead.

Three Rock Rovers II take on YMCA II, hoping to reverse their 2-1 extra-time defeat in the IJC with a Railway Cup final success.

Ross Harris' side has saved their best form for this cup, ousting Pembroke in the semi-final stages as they have aimed to bring on the talent of Shane Madeley, Tom Samuel and David McCrea.

Experience comes in the form of Graham Dowling and Ross Varian. Ger Butler's YM, though, would appear to be favourites for the crown having finished just a point off the pace in the league and reaching the IJC semis.

Jacob Webber is an obvious threat - he scored the winner in that IJC game - while Graham Woods is a tough man to beat. He shared Leinster U-18 duties with his opposite number Wendel Armstrong back in the late 90s and how each one fronts up could well be the difference.

The U-21 final, meanwhile, makes its long awaited appearance having originally been scheduled for before Christmas. Glenanne make their second final appearance in a row and will be led out by Richie Shaw with other first teamers Jonathon Kane, David Keogh and Shane O'Donoghue providing the firepower.

Monkstown are the opposition. Frank Ryan and Zac Dutton have fired in the goals for them in their run so far while they have a wealth of talent to pick from the St Andrew's school team, most notably Stephen Cole. Andrew Ward (left) and Nick Dee are other key men.

Saturday schedule:
Men's Irish Junior Cup: Pembroke II vs Cork C of I II, 2pm, Belfield
ESB Women's Irish Junior Cup: Hermes II vs Railway Union II, 4.15pm, Belfield
Division One/Two Playoff: UCD vs Bray, 4pm, Serpentine Avenue
Railway Cup final: Three Rock Rovers II vs YMCA II, 2pm, Serpentine Avenue
U-21 Cup final: Monkstown vs Glenanne, 6pm, Serpentine Avenue

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Men's Division Two: Avoca 8 Navan 0

Avoca 8 (Scott Wilkie 2, Karl Chapple 2, Stephen Day 2, Carl Breaden, Enda Gallanagh) Navan 0

Avoca completed the regular division two season with an 8-0 win over Naas at Newpark to finish the league in a tie for third place with Skerries. There were doubles for Scott Wilkie, Karl Chapple and Stephen Day.
In the final reckoning, Avoca finished just two points off the play-off position and will look to two dropped points against Naas a month ago when they drew 0-0 as a vital factor. Navan finish the season in eighth place in the table with nine points.

Women's Division One: Pembroke 0 UCD 0

Pembroke 0 UCD 0

Pembroke will be the happier after a 0-0 draw with UCD at Serpentine Avenue tonight, especially after surviving numerous penalty corners. The point pushes them one ahead of Old Alex in fourth place, whom they play on Saturday at 12pm, with a draw there guaranteeing them a place in next year's IHL.

For UCD, gaining fourth is now impossible and so requalifying for the IHL will rest on getting a result against Hermes and hoping it is enough to earn a wildcard place.

Having said that, they will be pleased with the performance tonight ahead of the ISC final. Rachel Burke's deflection flashed across goal and Catriona McGlip saw her one-on-one with Jane Coyne brilliantly tipped around the post.

Alex, UCD and Pembroke in IHL qualification mini-league

The three-game 'mini-league' between Old Alex, UCD and Pembroke for the fourth women's IHL qualification spot from the Leinster league gets underway tonight at Serpentine Avenue as the students take on Pembroke at 8.30pm.

Pembroke lead the way currently with 28 points from 16 games. Alex are currently fifth on the same points but with a game extra played while UCD have completed 16 fixtures and are on 25 points.

Alex play at Pembroke on Saturday at 12pm before the Belfielders complete the season against Hermes next week. Fifth place will take a wildcard placing to be played over the May Bank Holiday weekend at Grange Road.

IHA response to Mossley registration query

The IHA released the following statement this morning in response to a query from Mossley over the registration of Vaughan Erasmus (pictured against Monkstown) for the Irish Senior Cup quarter-final between the two sides.

"The matter was investigated by the IHA and it was discovered that while he was registered appropriately with both the IHA and Leinster Branch in 2008, under the strict interpretation of the rules Vaughan Erasmus was not eligible to play for Pembroke Wanderers in Irish Competitions as he had not played for his club prior to December 31st 2008.

"The intention was for Vaughan Erasmus to play for Pembroke before December 31st 2008 however due to visa delays, he did not arrive in the country until January 2009.

"Vaughan Erasmus was played as a substitute in the match against Mossley but has not played since that date for Pembroke Wanderers in any Irish Competition.

"The Management Board at its meeting on 17th April 2009 discussed the matter in detail and ruled as follows:
- The playing of Vaughan Erasmus was deemed to have been an unintentional and genuine error;
- This decision by Pembroke Wanderers H.C. to play Vaughan Erasmus was in part due to a miscommunication with Clubs by the IHA around player eligibility;
- Vaughan Erasmus is not eligible to play for Pembroke Wanderers in any Irish Competition for the remainder of the current season.
- A full review of the Regulations regarding Registration and Eligibility of players for Irish Competitions will be undertaken before next season."

Monkstown II and Clontarf U-16 triumph

Monkstown II claimed the division three crown with a 4-3 win over Corinthian at Serpentine Avenue in a bizarre encounter last night which almost saw the reds recover from a four-goal deficit inside the last ten minutes.

The Town hit the front thanks to Zac Dutton's drag-flick early on before Corinthian saw a series of corner chances slip through their fingers, one effort chalked off for a foot after consultation between the umpires.

Andrew Ward doubled the lead from a corner rebound for 2-0 at half-time and made it three midway through the second half with a superb solo run from halfway to round Ross Gribben and score. The key touch was his first, using one deft movement to pull the ball clear of the last defender on halfway and create serious forward momentum.

And it looked to be lights out for the reds when Frank Ryan swept home Alec Barrett's cross with barely a quarter-hour to go.

But Bruce Campbell scrambled one in from a corner, as did Wesley Rothwell - on his return from the sin-bin after he and Simon Groves both saw yellow. When Rowland Rixon-Fuller netted a drag-flick with a minute to go, the impossible looked like coming to pass as Monkstown hit away possession from the tip-off giving the now 10-man Corinthian team - Campbell shown a red card for an altercation with Craig Ellis - one last phase of play to score.
They could not get the ball upfield quickly enough to give the Town the LHUA President's Cup.

Earlier in the evening, Clontarf U-16 girl's claimed the league in another match that almost offered up an equally unlikely comeback as they beat Three Rock 5-3 at Grange Road.

Goals from Nicola Taylor, Jen Keating and Megan Oliver had the northside club 4-0 up by half-time. Three Rock fought back in the second half, with Kerri Ann Cullen and Ciara Maginn on target to get within two goals of Tarf but they held firm to secure the title.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

IHA set to release statment over Mossley appeal

The IHA have confirmed they will release a statement on Thursday in relation to a complaint made by Mossley concerning their Irish Senior Cup quarter-final match with Pembroke.

The issue in question relates to the registration of a Pembroke player for the fixture which took place on February 28 at The Glade. The Serpentine Avenue club won the game 6-0.

Division Three playoff set for tonight

Monkstown II and Corinthian II will face off tonight at 8.45pm in Serpentine Avenue for the division three title after they finished the regular season level on 39 points from the 18 games.

On Monday night, St Brendan's Phoenix Park got the point they needed to win division five, tying 3-3 with Railway Union IV.

The Neville Davin Cup final date is set to be changed yet again. The final - initially moved back from April 19 due to the junior interpros - was set for May 2 but will not now go ahead. May 7 has been  touted as an alternative date but may yet change under agreement between Clontarf and Trinity, both anxious to play the match sooner rather than later.

YM to retain coaching ticket

YMCA became the second club to announce their coach for next season, confirming Trevor Dagg will be in charge of the first team for a third consecutive season while Ger Butler will stay on as assistant coach for 2009/10.

It comes three days after the end of what can be seen as decent season in YM's development, reaching the Neville Cup final and the Mills semi. 

The young side only lost twice in eight games in the league since Christmas - single goal defeats to Pembroke and Glenanne - recovering well from a crippling injury list to finish seventh.

The second team, meanwhile, completed their league season in third with an IJC semi-final and Railway Cup final to their name. Allied to the quintet of Leinster U-21s, the mood is positive around Claremont Road.

A club statement today said "Although an expected outcome, we are delighted to keep the continuity of coaching for the squad. 

"We see the investment in time and money in coaching and management as vital for our young side to continue its upward curve. Since Trevor's commencement as head coach in 2007, YM has progressed from being a bottom three club, culminating in a strong season this year."

The Hook passes half a million hits

It was with great pleasure that I discovered The Hook passed its 500,000th hit late on Saturday night, something which looked a long way off when I first started the blog back in August 2007.

The reasons were simple. I felt Leinster hockey was terribly represented in the local and national press for a sport with such a high participation rate. Frustrated at this, I wanted to offer a media outlet.

After just two months in existence - in fact the last time I produced a hit update - comments on the site suggested "Irish hockey is so full of nasty, malicious slime and begrudgers" who would be intent on "wrecking the site". Since then, while there are some fairly parochial and innocuous comments, but, for me, the major success of the site has been that it has created a sort of online hockey community and scarcely found people trying to bring down the blog in any way.

Indeed, since passing the landmark number of hits, I worked out that at least 200 people have directly contributed to the site whether by emailing in, accepting phone calls or accosting me at matches to give me some information. I'm sure countless more comment, even in spite of my tightening reign.

It shows to me there is a very decent collective will at work which I'm glad is getting some sort of information about our sport.

As with all these things, there are loads of people who are central to the success and need to be thanked. Thank you monologues can usually get a bit cringe-worthy the longer they go on so I decided to limit this to just two people.

First off, when Adrian Boehm sent me photos on spec wondering if I could use a few pics, I had no idea the amazing contribution that was to follow, sending approximately 150 sets of pics and opening the floodgates for a number of top photographers (and a couple of young up and coming snappers already producing great pictures). Over 200,000 views of the Irish Hockey Photographers website and my own flickr site suggest this is one of the major attractions of the site.

Secondly, Alan Good from Southern Fried has been a great sounding board for all manner of issues, including legal advice, the rules of journalism, getting paid work and all things Munster which I owe a debt of gratitude. The fact The Hook has helped spawn two off-shoots is one of the great endorsements that something is being done right.

Finally, I'd like to thank all the readers and players for making the while venture worthwhile. Though I'm now getting a few bits and pieces of advertising on a more regular basis, the blog is basically a hobby that I do in addition to my full-time work as a sports journalist. 

Some people suggest I may get sick of covering matches or doing the site but, while it can be hard to cover all the things I would like to, generally it is great craic. 

Here's to the next half a million, keep on blogging...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Railway II complete double: league and cup round-up

Railway Union II claimed division two tonight as they beat Skerries 3-0 thanks to three second half goals. Needing a win to secure the title, the Park Avenue side found the going tough in the first period against a side fighting for their division two survival before Louise McDermott opened the scoring after the break from a penalty corner.

Former Trinity striker Caoilfhinn Rowan added a brace to complete the scoring. It gives Railway II thier first ever win at this level of competition, their first team having won division two back in 1992.

On Saturday, three more women's cup finals were decided with Monkstown completing the double to take the division 13/14 crown, beating Malahide II 5-0 at UCD with Suzi Murray scoring twice.

Bray V took the division 12 title (pictured in action, below left), coming from a goal down to beat Newbridge III while Hermes III overcame Newbridge II to win the division 7/8 title (right).

On the men's side, Kilkenny III got the only goal of the game to beat UCD III in the junior cup final. The pair duel once more next week in the final round of division eight matches with the students needing a win over St Brendan's/PP on the grass to take the silverware. Anthing else could open the door for the cats who travel to Wicklow.

Elsewhere in the men's leagues, a hat-trick from Karl Chapple and one from Scott Wilkie saw Avoca beat Suttonians 4-3 on Sunday in division two to move the Blackrock side into a tie for third with a home match against Navan to conclude the season.

Understrength Skerries and Naas, due to the junior interpros, also played with the seasiders winning 4-1, Andrew Butterly with two goals while Sean Lawlor and Alan Early were also on the score sheet.

Division three will require a playoff as Monkstown II - shorn of the injured Donal O'Mearain, Alun and Gareth Evans - lost to a resurgent Pembroke II when they needed just a point. Corinthian II's 6-0 win over UCD II, therefore, means a test match is needed to decide the league winner.

Corinthian III took division four with a 6-2 win over Weston II after beating Three Rock Rovers III in midweek to assure what looked set to be their title for a long while after winning their first five games in a row. Keith Fishbourne retains the title he won with Glenanne III in 2007/08.

As of earlier this evening, St Brendan's Phoenix Park were within a point of taking division five after they beat Three Rock Rovers IV in a virtual league decider.

Finally, Monkstown took the U-16 league last Friday night, overturning their cup exit at the hands of Corinthian to win 7-0 thanks to hat-tricks from Simon Lowry and Stephen Nolan.

A key result for the Town last Wednesday as they held Clontarf at bay 3-2 in what has been a very competitive league. The Bulls provided some surprises to the Dublin hockey community - though not to themselves - with that eye-catching performance as well as victory over Three Rock Rovers.

Railway Union were also in the frame while Rovers claimed the cup. The Town, meanwhile, held on to the Joey O'Meara Cup for the fifth year running.

This weekend, meanwhile, sees a trio of big matches at Serpentine Avenue on Saturday. Three Rock Rovers II play YMCA II for the fourth time this season in the Railway Cup decider at 2pm, followed on court by UCD and Bray in the division one/two playoff at 4pm.

Monkstown play Glenanne at 6pm in the heavily delayed U-21 final.

* For Deryck Vincent's pictures of Hermes III vs Newbridge II, click here, and for photos of Newbridge III vs Bray V, click here.

Corinthian survive relegation playoff

Corinthian maintained their place in the top flight of Leinster hockey, beating Genesis 2-0 in their promotion/relegation playoff thanks to a goal in each half.

After an impressive opening, Amanda Walker broke the deadlock from a penalty corner in the 20th minute. The goal galvanised Genesis who enjoyed their best period of pressure leading into the break but were held at bay.

The reds doubled their advantage a quarter of an hour into the second half through Sarah-Jane Ross and they kept the lead intact despite Genesis twice having the ball in the net. Both were disallowed, though, while Holly Warren went close to making it 3-0 late on but saw her effort come back off the post.

It means the status quo remains with Genesis remaining in division two while Corinthian will ply their trade in division one for another season.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ulster do U-21 Interprovincial double

Ulster retained both the men's and women's U-21 interprovincial titles at Grange Road, getting the better of Leinster in both tournaments’ key matches.

On the men's side, wins for both Ulster (3-0) and Leinster (3-2) over Munster made the final game of the three-game blitz a straight showdown for the title with the northern province having the slight edge on goal difference.

They soon made it a very clear advantage when Neil Hamilton netted from the flick spot but Jacob Webber netted his second of the tournament from a corner to level matters in the 12th minute.

A cagey battle ensued with Leinster holding the ball for long periods but largely in their own half while Ulster looked the more threatening outfit.

As it was, the blues took the lead early in the second half when Andrew Ward's razor-sharp reaction bunted home after Tim Hill's baseline run saw the ball fly up into the Monkstown man's path.

But Ulster slowly began to turn the screw with Jason Lynch's tussle with David Robinson one of the game's highlights. David Ames became more influential too at right midfield as Timmy Smyth deflected in for 2-2 with a quarter hour left.

And the title was confirmed when Hamilton fired in a drag-flick in the closing minutes to give Leinster too much to do to comeback.

On the women's side, the key game occurred on Saturday when Ulster beat Leinster 1-0. The two sides were the stand-out performers all weekend but the northerners showed a greater all round togetherness to their play to retain the title.

Hannah McMillan's 11th minute strike - one of five she scored over the two days - was the difference in that game and Ulster duly beat the rest of the competition with a degree of comfort: Munster (3-0), South East (6-0) and Connacht (4-0).

Leinster ended the weekend in second with three wins to their name. They opened up with a 4-0 win over Connacht, Kate McKenna, Nicci Daly, Nikki Evans and Anna O'Flanagan on target.

Further wins on Sunday were added against South East (3-0) and Munster (1-0) but that single goal against Ulster would prove critical.

There was interprovincial success, though, for Leinster in the men's junior competition as they completed the competition with three wins from three.

Shane Dooley's single goal was enough to beat Connacht in the tournament's opening game at Lisnagarvey. Munster ended the first day at the head of the table, though, as they proceeded to win the day's next two games - 3-2 against Ulster courtesy of a double by Fingal man Chris Neville and 4-1 against Connacht with Railway's Mark Egner also bagging a brace.

But the blues took over as the major force on Sunday afternoon when they built up an early 2-0 lead over the southerners, thanks to Phil Ryan and Naas man Kieran Davenport's two goals in three minutes. Neville pulled one back but Clontarf's Rob Kelly stretched the lead to 3-1.

It meant a win over Ulster would confirm the title and they duly obliged, Davenport and Navan's Eamon Lynskey wrapping up a 2-0 win.

* For the final tables in the U-21 men's, ESB U-21 women's, Junior men's and junior women's, click on the links attached.

Meanwhile, there was plenty of photos taken over the weekend. For Adrian Boehm's pictures from the U-21 men, click here, and from the U-21 women, click here. For Emer and John Keogh's pictures of the women's tournament, click here while Stephen Findlater's pictures of the U-21 men's match between Leinster and Ulster are here. Stephen West's photos of the tournament are here.