Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ulster take Interpro clean-sweep

Ulster's underage squads completed a brilliant weekend's hockey as they claimed all four of the interprovincial titles on offer in Dublin this weekend, losing just one game across the U-18 and U-16 tournaments.

It meant Leinster had to settle for second in three of the competitions with the U-18 girls edged into third by Connacht on goal difference.

On the boy's side, the key match at U-16 level turned out to be Leinster's 2-1 defeat to Munster on Sunday morning. The three-team event looked poised for a final game decider between Ulster and the blues on Saturday evening. David Cole's goal had earned a share of the spoils in the first series of games against Ulster, 1-1.

But Scott Sullivan's brace denied Leinster that shot as the southerners grabbed a 2-1 win, their first points of the tournament. It made their battle with Ulster an uphill battle as they needed to pick up a 2-0 win to take the title.

Railway's Jeremy Duncan did notch his third goal of the weekend but the boys in blue could not find the elusive second goal and, despite losing 1-0, Ulster won back the trophy by a single goal on goal difference.

At U-18 level, Ulster needed just to avoid a four-goal loss in the final game to retain the title and it never looked likely to materialise as Stephen Dowds netted for a ninth time in four outings - firing two hat-tricks on Saturday in the 3-1 win over Leinster and 5-2 defeat of Munster. Dowds was a major star along with Ian Sloan in a creative midfield role.

In the U-18 girls event, Ulster were the dominant force throughout and any possible overnight fretting was dispelled with comfortable wins over both title rivals Connacht (2-0) and Leinster (4-0).

The latter match had the outside chance of handing the trophy to Leinster should they rack up a 4-0 win of their own. The score was right but in favour of the opposing team as Joanne Orr and last year's U-16 skipper Leah Ewart both picked off a double.

Aisling Naughton's pair against South East in a 4-1 had handed Leinster their outside chance.

Leinster U-16s came much closer to their respective crown as any sort of win would have seen them raise the silverware. Kate McQuillian, though, snatched the only goal of the game to ensure the title stayed in Ulster.

Lucy McKee, a star of the 2008 interpro vintage, once again was in flying form up front, netting six times over the weekend.

* For Adrian Boehm's photos from Saturday of the U-16 girls competition, click here. For the U-18 girls, click here. For Sunday's U-18 boys, click here and for the U-16 boys, click here

** For full results, scorers and tables, go to the IHA website. Click here for the U-16 girls, here for the U-18 girls, here for the U-16 boys and here for the U-18 boys.


Anonymous said...

can someone tell how with all the leinster clubs full to the brim with players , can we not win at this level. On paper we are the better. Is it our coaches? or is it the lack of training. lack of funding? WHAT.... a leinster supporter

Anonymous said...

Maybe its 'our' arrogance... believing we are better players. I've been at the past two interpros and last year we won the U-16s with a physically bigger side while Ulster were a delightfully skillful side who obviously focussed on technique.

I believe they have a number of regional teams across the province feeding into the Ulster team and could be a major factor.

I do believe, though, we too often think we are miles better just because the senior club teams are winning when in essence, we need to work harder at our grass roots structures.

Anonymous said...

ian sloan is an absolute maestro...

Anonymous said...

Leinster appeared too happy to pass the ball about and look good in doing so. They rarely threatened the Ulster defence in either match. Ulster played a more direct game which paid dividends. The major difference in the sides was Stevie Dowds. A different class at schoolboy level.

Anonymous said...

belller is a great player had a great tournament lol

Anonymous said...

I think 11.19 has nailed it on the head. Their is a belief in Leinster that you are better then the other provinces. The only area where Leinster is better is in their top 2 club teams and one of these, Pembroke has very few players who came up through the club. The proof that Ulster is better was at the last u21 and senior interpros, and now at u16 and u18 (mens). If all the best players in Leinster play for the top 2 clubs then of course the teams will be at the top. This hasn't happened in Ulster. The next few years will tell whether this strategy will work long term.

Anonymous said...

Leinster Underage squads - the management should be getting training sessions organised with players who will be up for selection next season - do this on a monthly basis and then finalise it at beginning of sept and spend sept training as a unit, get the keepers some specialised training and go out this time next year, better prepared and BEAT ULSTER

Anonymous said...

I'd suggest we need to get rid of any hang-up about 'beating' Ulster. These tournaments should be about development and not focussed on results based success.

Across all sports in Ireland, from U-8s up to U-18 its all about winning and competition and not about skills and technique.

Sure we do ok at underage stuff but when you see we have SEVEN times the amount of hockey players in Ireland than in Spain, you get the feeling our resources are not going to lead to either top level success.

It also makes it harder for smaller clubs to emerge as the constant competitive stuff means a side with small numbers will struggle to establish itself as kids don't really fancy getting thrashed each week.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last comment. look at Munster it was all about learning and not about winning. With a limited number of players they just got better and better. They learnt after every game, they developed and grew in confidence.
Results are not everything it is how the individuals and the team develop. If anyone was about to see the support over the weekend that both their teams got despite the results. To see how the players responded, does anyone really think that a Leinster or an Ulster team would have responded like they did.
I am sure both sets of management really wanted to win and are really disappointed that they did not but again I would be confident in saying that in terms of player development they must be delighted.
Ulster Supporter

Anonymous said...

In realation to winning - maybe the ethos should start with the management and work its way down, my son was on U16 last year and U18 this year and the first comment out of the coaches mouth was "we are here to win the interpros"

Anonymous said...

Leinster and Ulster may have a different view as they expect to win.
But virtually all school hockey is about winning. So the players are conditioned to do certain things that will help the team win. The schools want winners and only what makes a team win even if it stunts a players development.
To me it takes a special person/ coach/ administrator to take a decision to develop players and not to win all the time, to take a team and let the lesser players play, to let a group struggle but to let them grow and learn.
Just look at most under age games the best players play all the time and the lesser lights play a little. When in fact the lesser lights should play the most and gain experience. Even in school training I bet you will find that the better players knock up together, when it would be better for all if they had to knock up with a different team mate each match, this would eventually bring up the lesser player maybe not to the star players level but it would come up.

Anonymous said...

Leinster teams are too focussed on people who do skills etc "correctly". Messy players who might have instinct for goal or something a bit different are rarely picked for these underage squads even though they often are the ones who will be able to learn more from being on these teams and are more difficult to defend against.

Leinster teams care too much about playing pretty hockey.

Anonymous said...

Play less when you are a better player? Punishment for those more talented? I think you might find that technique to be a quick way to discourage people from improving or wanting to play at all.

In theory you might have a nice idea, but sport tends to be best when it is aspirational. People work better when they have something to work for and a standard they have to strive to reach. The Munster and Connaught teams would probably not have improved much had they played against teams that were not of a higher standard than they were.

Anonymous said...

how did the u16 girls play? i meant to get up to see some matches but i didnt get the time. any names to watch out for?

Anonymous said...

In reply you are not punishing the stronger players, you are letting the weaker players gain experience and be seen.
In the past I knew of one inter-pro coach who rarely played his strongest team. The reasoning was that the international coach needed to see his lesser players, to show that they could handle responsibility and perform even without the 'stars'. This gave that teams players more chance of being selected for trial. I also saw these teams in training and in the build up matches the 'star' players played less together as the coach reasoned that they as the better players would have more experience and would be able to adapt better even if they did not play together for long periods in every match.
Maybe this was wrong and the coach was wrong but I personally think it worked for that coach and the teams they looked after.

Anonymous said...

I heard the all-irelands school draw is out any chance you can put them up?

Stephen Findlater said...

Will do when I receive word of it. If you know more, drop me an email -