Sunday, November 29, 2009

Glenanne and Corinthian into Neville decider

Neville Cup semi-finals:
Corinthian 3 (Chris Pelow 2, Darren Kimfley) YMCA 1 (Simon Mills)
Chris Pelow's double copper-fastened their place in the Neville Cup final as Corinthian got the better of YMCA for the second time this season at Whitechurch Park. The Y had begun in lively fashion but failed to forge an early lead and were rocked on their heals when a bad tackle led to a stroke which Pelow duly converted. Darren Kimfley made it 2-0 on the half-time whistle before Simon Mills made a game of it when he scored from a corner-switch. But Pelow potted a drag-flick to restore the two-goal lead and a place in the St Stephen's Day decider.

Monkstown 4 (Andy Ewington 2, Gareth Watkins, Andrew Ward) Glenanne 9 (Eddie O'Malley 3, Shane O'Donoghue 3, Gary Shaw 2, Brendan Parsons)
Shane O'Donoghue's goal inside 11 seconds set the tone for an incredible tie at Rathdown as Glenanne move within one step of retaining their Neville Cup crown. The lead was doubled by the third minute and from there the Glens galloped to a healthy 6-2 half-time lead. Andy Ewington pulled back a couple of corner goals in the second half but Eddie O'Malley and O'Donoughue both completed hat-tricks while Gary Shaw almost matched that feat but found Dave Fitzgerald in his way on a number of occasions in the closing ten minutes. Graham Shaw returned for a second half run out.

Mills Cup second round:
Weston 2 (Vikram Singh, Enda Tucker ps) Suttonians 0

Pembroke make statement of intent

Leinster Division One:
TRR 2 (Sven Galjaardt, Neil Lyons) Pembroke 4 (Alan Sothern 4)
Pembroke gave a major statement of intent at Grange Road as they swept aside the challenge of Three Rock Rovers with a dominant second half performance as Alan Sothern clattered in a quadruple to go with his Saturday treble and make it a handsome return to Leinster hockey.

He struck inside three minutes with a delightful chip/lob over Stephen West from the left of the circle for an early lead in the Ballsbridge club's first outing against a side in the top half of division one this term. Even at such an early stage, the goal had been coming with Pembroke employing a very aggressive press.

But it was their only return of the first half as West pulled off a number of fine saves while an error-strewn period, marked by horrendous defensive lapses at both ends, saw both chances fail to convert chances. Pembroke had more of them but Rovers went close with Mike Maguire touching Peter McConnell's cross wide from two yards out.

But Maguire did set up the equaliser in the 31st minute when he bullied his way through three tackles before playing in Sven Galjaardt who smashed in a reverse.

Sothern had a goal chalked off for a Mick O'Connor stick-shield early in the second half but scored a stroke to restore the advantage in the 48th minute after his initial corner shot his Neil Lyons on the line. And a concerted second half effort saw Pembroke camp in Rovers' half and but for more clinical shooting from very close range - Three Rock scrambling clear on umpteen occasions and West pulling off an incredible triple save - the visitors would have been out of sight.

Sothern made it 3-1 in the wake of Garry Ringwood's yellow card (dissent) and completed his tally from close range after a right-wing steal in the 57th minute. Lyons pulled one back inside a minute, driving past David Harte and scoring from the endline via Craig Fulton's leg.

But any comeback was stopped in its tracks by Mick Maguire's petulance off the ball and Pembroke held on for the last ten minutes and move within a point of first place with two games in hand.

Top five pull clear of bottom five

Men's Leinster Division One:
Clontarf 0 Pembroke 9 (Alan Giles 4, Alan Sothern 3, Justin Sherriff, Paddy Conlon)
A month off but the goal-rush continues as Pembroke waltzed to another big win. Clontarf battled hard in the first half before the visitors pulled away in the second period with captain Alan Giles scoring four times while Alan Sothern scored a hat-trick on his return from Argentina. Tim Lewis picked up a slight back strain while Patrick Good is also a doubt for Sunday's league tie with Three Rock. The win, though, maintains the Serpentine Avenue club's 100pc record in six league games to date and was one of five wins in the division for the top five ahead of the bottom half.

Railway Union 0 Three Rock Rovers 3 (Ali Haughton, Sven Galjaardt, Peter McConnell)
Three Rock Rovers kept pace with the leaders as they completed a league double over Railway Union, coverting a 1-0 half-time lead into a three goal win. Ali Haughton scored a superb solo goal - his injury not as bad as first diagnosed - flicking high over Stephen O'Keefe following a mazy run to complete the scoring. Corner strikes from Peter McConnell and Sven Galjaardt had done the earlier damage. Conor Quinn made a number of saves to keep a clean-sheet on debut while fellow Wesley schoolboy David McCrea also saw first team league action.

Fingal 2 (Tom Manning, Chris Neville) Corinthian 3 (Brian Doherty 2, Davy Carson)
Rarely a dull moment when Fingal and Corinthian at ALSAA. With the fog descending and plenty of calls for an abandonment, Corinthian were the ultimate beneficiaries as Fingal lost their discipline to end the game with nine men and Davy Carson pounced two minutes from time to win the game. Earlier, Chris Neville's corner goal and Tom Manning's brilliant smash made it 2-0 at half-time with both sides having chances to add to the scoring.

Brian Doherty's drag brought the reds back into the game and, after David Bane and Andrew Sutton agreed to play on after consultation with umpire Andrew Groves, Doherty got on the score-sheet once more to tie the game up. Derek O'Gorman received his second yellow card - the first for a bad tackle, the latter for dissent - moments after returning to the pitch to be issued a red while Bane was sent to the bin for a bad tackle, too. And Corinthian prospered via Carson to keep their place at the top of the pile.

Monkstown 3 (Gareth Watkins, Andrew Ward, Matt Fairweather) YMCA 2 (Andrew Walker, Richie Pedreschi)
Monkstown reasserted the gap between the top and bottom halves of the table as they won by the odd goal in five at Rathdown. They led for 67 minutes but still almost contrived to draw the match as a late chance fell to Richie Pedreschi and a late corner went unconverted. Gareth Watkins was the beneficiary of a good advantage to break the deadlock inside three minutes and Matt Fairweather's corner made it 2-0 at the break. Andrew Walker pulled one back from a corner second phase but Andrew Ward swept in a baseline pull-back to make it 3-1. Pedreschi struck late to make it a nervous finish for the Town but they held out. Geoff Walker and Watkins were both earlier sin-binned in the same incident, the former not retreating at a free while the latter's reaction warrented the card.

Glenanne 6 (Shane O'Donoghue 2, Alan Lewis 2, Joe Brennan, Eddie O'Malley) UCD 2 (Robbie McFarlane 2)
Glenanne returned to league action with a bang to end UCD's winning streak. Eddie O'Malley started the rout before Joe Brennan (pictured) - on his return from injury - dragged home a corner for a 2-0 half-time lead. He was on set-piece duty as both Graham Shaw and Stephen Butler did not feature. Goals from Alan Lewis and Shane O'Donoghue stretched the lead to 5-0 before Robbie McFarlane scored twice in a minute to reel in the margin somewhat.

Men's Irish Junior Cup:
Six Leinster sides remain in the Irish Junior Cup as a number of big names crashed out of the competition at the first round stage. Pembroke stepped up their game to beat Corinthian for the second time in a week, needing no recourse to the extra-time Railway Cup win of six days previously. Craig Wilson and Maurice Elliott set them on their way before Leinster U-16 Kirk Shimmins and Mick O'Connor struck late to seal the win.

YMCA's tie in North Down was originally threatened by frost but got the tie played and won 4-2 to set up a Sandymount derby with Pembroke in round two. Monkstown won the other Dublin derby 4-2 ahead of UCD while Railway had too much for Antrim.

Fingal II were disappointed to have their tie abandoned despite a 5-0 lead with half an hour remaining against Catholic Institute due to fog. Glenanne's tie with Annadale - set to feature David Smyth and Chris Jackson - went the same way.

Three Rock bowed out 2-1 at Instonians despite a lively performance and a boisterous crowd with Neal Megarity and Alan White impressing. Ross Harris' stroke set up a tense finish but Inst held out and will play the winners of Fingal's tie in round two.

Weston lost on strokes to Mossley; Dublin Uni went close against a fancied Lisnagarvey side with former Villiers' man Roger Clarke's fortuitous goal giving them a lifeline but were unable to force an unlikely period of extra-time in their 2-1 loss. Clonatrf fell 8-1 to Cookstown.

Holders Cork C of I were the big winners at a misty Havelock Park as they earned a win in Banbridge. Nick Burns stood out and got the vital goal in the 2-1 win after Stephen Parker had scored the Garryduff side's opener. They must travel once more to Co Down in round tow as they go to Newry.

No such luck for their city rivals Cork Harlequins who fell to their Belfast namesake in the round's big shock result.

IJC round one results:
Weston II 2 Mossley II 2 Mossley won 5-4 on strokes; Portadown II 0 Newry II 8; Kilkeel II 11 (Andrew Graham 4, Allen Gordon 3, David Finlay 2, Ryan Cunningham, David Tremblett) South Antrim II 1 (Jonny McDonough); Banbridge II 1 Cork C of I II 2 (Stephen Parker, Nick Burns); Clontarf II 1 Cookstown II 8; Instonians II 2 (Gregg Frizelle, Graeme Carson) TRR II 1 (Ross Harris ps); Bandon II 4 (Aaron Beamish 2, Darren Beamish, David Barrett) NICS II 2 (Steven Armstrong, Steven Neill); Belfast Harlequins II 2 Cork Harlequins 1; North Down II 2 (S Dalzell, A Keith) YMCA II 4 (Phil Powderley, Keith Benson, Gary Ryan, Michael Sleeman); Pembroke W II 4 (Craig Wilson, Maurice Elliott, Kirk Shimmins, Mick O'Connor) Corinthian II 0; Monkstown II 4 (Ian Allen 2, Zac Dutton, McHenry) UCD II 2 (Neil Young, Luke McSharry); Railway Union II 2 (Bruce Thompson, Kevin White) Antrim II 0; Lisnagarvey II 2 (S McQueen, Ian Davidson) Dublin Uni II 1 (Roger Clarke); Bangor II (Jonny McNaught) Raphoe 1 (Nigel Woods) Bangor won 4-3 on strokes; Fingal II vs Catholic Institute - abandoned due to fog; Glenanne II vs Annadale II - abandoned due to fog

Men's Irish Junior Cup draw:
Newry v Cork C of Ireland; Railway Union v Mossley; Monkstown v Kilkeel; Cookstown v Glenanne/Annadale; Bandon v Bangor; YMCA v Pembroke Wanderers; Belfast Harlequins v Lisnagarvey; Instonians v Fingal/Catholic Institute

UCD stay on course as three Leinster sides progress in ISC

Rosie Carrigan's corner rebound kept UCD's dream of retaining the ESB Irish Senior Cup alive as she scored the decisive goal to beat Cork Harlequins at Belfield.

She pounced on a 14th minute corner rebound for the game's only goal. Laura Wilson bashed a superb strike which dinged off the inside of Amy O'Neill's left-hand post only to fall for Carrigan to neatly push home.

From then on, Cork Harlequins generally showed plenty of menace leading up to the 25 but were scarcely able threaten once inside the danger zone.

Karen Bateman did net only for her effort to be brought back for an earlier penalty corner infringement but that was the extent of goal-mouth incident for Quins as UCD defended their circle immaculately.

The win sets up a repeat of last year's famous second round win against Loreto on penalty strokes. The Beaufort side struck late to ease away from Pembroke in a tight battle.

Their sharpness in either circle was the difference in a flowing game. Ali Meeke and Hannah Matthews had given Loreto a very early lead but Sinead Loughran pulled one back on the stroke of half-time to give Pembroke a lifeline.

Chances a plenty but a second goal from Meeke and one from Nicci Daly in the last six minutes gave the scoreline a more comfortable look.

Railway Union have set up an enticing semi-final draw against Pegasus after both emerged from extremely tight fixtures in Ulster, beating Ards and Ballymoney respectively.

Patricia O'Dwyer bagged a 31st minute strike to see Railway through as they dominated the first half despite struggling on the slower surface in Ards. Emma Smyth stood out, though the second half was a tense affair with neither side able to settle into much of a rhythm.

Suzanne Beaney's hat-trick meant Pegasus' hopes of avenging last year's final defeat to UCD remain alive.

She scored the golden goal which divided themselves and Ballymoney having earlier cancelled out goals from Susie Martin and Irish star Bridget Cleland for 2-2 at the end of full-time.

ESB Irish Senior Cup - quarter-finals:
Loreto 4 (Ali Meeke 2, Hannah Matthews, Nicci Daly) Pembroke 1 (Sinead Loughran); UCD 1 (Rosie Carrigan) Cork Harlequins 0; Ballymoney 2 (Susie Martin, Bridget Cleland) Pegasus 3 (Suzanne Beaney 3) aet; Ards 0 Railway Union 1 (Patricia O'Dwyer)

ESB Irish Senior Cup - semi-final draw
UCD vs Loreto; Pegasus vs Railway Union

ESB Irish Hockey Challenge - first round:
Dungarvan 0 Monkstown 2 (Courtney Waktins, Sarah Murray); Derg Valley 1 (A Sproule) Greenfields II 0 aet

Leinster Division One:
Hermes 1 (Aoife Harte) Bray 0
Hermes closed the gap on the leading pair in the only division one on Saturday, eventually breaking the deadlock 15 minutes from time against a Bray side who once more showed their solid nature. Mary Goode was to the fore to deny multiple waves of attacks but a clever corner, Jenny Burke hitting for Aoife Harte's deflection, provided the only goal of the game. The win moves Hermes within two points of second placed Railway Union.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Leinster ladies' eyes on ISC final four

Crunch time in the ESB Irish Senior Cup as Leinster's leading ladies seek to keep the trophy in the capital for a second successive year with the tournament already reaching the business end.

Ireland's World Cup qualifier has seen the women's ISC and IHL matches moved to much earlier dates this season and the confirmation of April 24 to May 2 for 2010's key tournament means there will have to be a rejig of dates. The ISC semi and final stages and IHL round five are definitely affected while IHL round four could also be relocated in the likelihood Gene Muller will pull his players away for international training camps the week before the WCQ in Chile.

Back to the action, this weekend, all four ties offer something to savour. Pembroke beat Loreto last time the pair locked horns at Beaufort and their sporadic form means anything could happen. The Serpentine Avenue club, though, have saved their best form for encounters with the top teams - unbeaten in the IHL and an away league draw with Hermes.

If Natalie Fulton can channel that energy and Karen Hales carry the fight into this cup game, the Beaufort side could be in for a serious battle. Loreto, by contrast, have struggled outside of the league but have oodles have quality to bounce back.

Railway, meanwhile, have a tough trip to north where they face Ulster pace-setters Ards who have notched recent league victories over Ballymoney and Randalstown to establish their territory in the top-tier.

Katy Fraser is a powerful foe and if her side can get their corner-routine going - they left nine slip in last week's IHL - they could be a handful for Mick McKinnon's team. Their 4-1 win over the same opposition in October, however, is the perfect confidence booster for the Leinster champions and a defensive unit guided by Helen Stevenson, Holly Jenkinson and Emer Lucey is always going to keep things tight at the back - a key component on away days.

Holders UCD face 2000 winners Cork Harlequins at Belfield and are the last remaining non-IHL club in the contest. Such status may prove a help, especially at this time of year with impending exam weeks colliding with round three of the top competition.

Primary focus, therefore, will be given to this game. Kerry McComish has been a huge influence at the back, a more than capable replacement for the afore-mentioned Jenkinson, working in tandem with Megan Tennant-Humphreys. Fiona Braddish will hope her scoring run continues into her last month before travelling.

Harlequins, though, carry the Munster flag and will hope Rachel Kohler and Karen Bateman's experience can out-wit the students.

At the Joey Dunlop centre, Ballymoney play Pegasus play each other in a repeat of last season's semi-final. Pegs used home advantage to prosper that day 2-1 but Lynsey McVicker's Ballymoney have since struggled in Ulster action with just one win from four and yet to register a maximum in the IHL.

The Dunlop centre is usually a fortress, though, where plenty of dreams have been shattered.

In the Leinster league, just one match survives the cull. Hermes play Bray on Saturday as they endeavour to close the gap on the top two.

ESB Irish Senior Cup, quarter-finals (Saturday):
Loreto v Pembroke Wanderers, 2.15pm, Beaufort; UCD v Cork Harlequins, 2.30pm, Belfield; Ballymoney v Pegasus, 2.30pm, Joey Dunlop Centre; Ards v Railway Union, 2.45pm, Ards Leisure Centre

Women's Division One (Saturday):
Hermes v Bray, 1.15pm, St Andrews

Pembroke and Glenanne return to league action

How Pembroke and Glenanne react after their three-week, mid-season lay-off provides the major talking point in the men's division one this weekend. Neither side have been adversely affected by niggles in the camp but the volume of hockey in the legs of the international contingent ahead of double-weekends for both clubs means managing their players will be key.

None of their Irish players trained this week while the Irish Junior Cup throws a further spanner in the works for the 'Broke who will have to transport a couple of players across town if they are to optimise their chances against Corinthian II before taking on Clontarf in division one.

The Bulls will be without John Lennon but could introduce former Dublin University skipper Jonny Orr for the first time who has returned from his travels and moved to the northside club to link up with another Trinity captain, Ben Hewitt. Reducing the margin from the opening day demolition is paramount for 'Tarf.

Sunday sees what previously would be regarded as the highlight of the weekend as the 'Broke travel to Grange Road but it's difficult to tell how the injury-ravaged Three Rock will react to adversity.

Ali Haughton returned to the injury list with a new ailment just a week after returning while Alan Bothwell is out for between four to six weeks. Throw in Peter Blakeney and Gavin Bourke's continued absence and Stephen West's illness and it means Maarten Bos has had to scramble.

Wesley goalkeeper Conor Quinn has been called into Saturday's match day squad while there could be increased roles for Tom Samuel, Ross Canning and David McCrea.

In this light, Saturday's trip to Railway is a tricky one. Peter English will be a key man, especially after a mid-week hat-trick against Kilkenny College past the highly accomplished George Smyth.

Monkstown's game against YMCA is the pick of Saturday's action. Iain Walker and Stephen Barry return for the Y after their sojourn in Argentina and victory over the Town would tie them with the sky blues with a game in hand and place them firmly in the IHL mix.

But the Glenageary hosts have added a corner strike in the form of Matt Fairweather and Andy Ewington to the arsenal led by Gareth Watkins, meaning Walker could have a lively day if he steps into the pads vacated by Graham Woods who impressed in first team action.

Sunday is another test of Trevor Dagg's growing ambitions. A disappointing 3-1 loss to Corinthian a fortnight ago is the motivation in their bid to reach a second successive Neville Cup final. The reds had the measure of YM in last year's Mills Cup semi-final, too.

Glenanne return to action with plenty of ground to make up and face a bouyant UCD in search of a third successive league win. John McInroy always makes his presence known against the Glens while their sharp corner routine has made them a real threat with Rob Lynch in the set position.

Whether Graham Shaw and Stephen Butler come back will be key and whether Eddie O'Malley can transfer his predatory instincts from the past month with the twos - nine goals in four games - into first-team hockey could be key for the Tallaght club in shaking off any ring-rust. A Neville Cup trip to Monkstown on Sunday also awaits.

Finally, Fingal and Corinthian usually serve up thrillers with home advantage the deciding factor on the past three occasions. ALSAA-advantage, therefore, could be central in Fingal bouncing back as former Leinster player Derek O'Gorman gets back into his stride. But the current league leaders have an added zeal to their play under Andrew Cronje and will hope they can keep their neck in front of the chasing pack.

In the refixed Mills Cup first round game between division two hopefuls, Weston and Suttonians, Dean Maguire returns for the Lucan club following his IHT suspension though Brian Scully might be an absentee against one of his former clubs. They compete for the right to play Bray in the second round on December 13.

In the Irish Junior Cup, a number of big names will fall by the wayside. Leinster leaders Corinthian II play perennial challengers Pembroke II while holders Cork C of I II travel to Banbridge II. Glenanne II vs Annadale II is another tasty contest

Division 1:
Railway Union vs Three Rock Rovers, 1pm, Park Avenue; Monkstown vs YMCA, 1.30pm, Rathdown; Glenanne vs UCD, 1pm, Glenanne Park; Clontarf vs Pembroke Wanderers, 2.45pm, Mount Temple; Fingal vs Corinthian, 1.30pm, ALSAA
Sunday: Three Rock Rovers vs Pembroke Wanderers, 3pm, Grange Road

Neville Cup, semi-finals (both Sunday)
Monkstown vs Glenanne, 2.30pm, Rathdown; Corinthians vs YMCA, 2.30pm, Whitechurch Park

Mills Cup, first round (Sunday)
Suttonians vs Weston, 3.30pm, Sutton Park

Men's Irish Junior Cup, first round (Saturday):

Weston II vs Mossley II, 2.30pm, Griffeen; Portadown II vs Newry II, 1pm Edenvilla Park; Kilkeel II vs South Antrim II, 2.30pm, Maccauley Park; Banbridge II vs Cork C of I II, 4pm, Havelock Park; Clontarf II vs Cookstown II, 1pm, Mount Temple; Instonians II vs Three Rock Rovers II, 4pm, Shawsbridge; Bandon II vs NICS II, 3pm, Bandon GS; Belfast HQ II vs Cork HQ II, 1pm, Deramore Park; North Down II vs YMCA II, 1pm, Comber LC; Pembroke W II vs Corinthian II, 1pm, Serpentine Avenue; Fingal II vs Catholic Inst II, 3.15pm, ALSAA; Bangor II vs Raphoe II, 2.30pm, Ballykillaire; Glenanne II vs Annadale II, 3pm, Glennane Park; Monkstown II vs UCD II, 3pm, Rathdown; Railway Union II vs Antrim II, 3pm, Park Avenue; Lisnagarvey II vs Dublin Uni II, 2.30pm, Hillsborough

* I'll be up North all day Saturday so if people can email me any scores and reports at - or indeed email me to get my phone number so you can text in scores from any of the above game - it would be great!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Scott strike moves Trinity into third

Women's Leinster Division One:
Old Alex 0 Trinity 1 (Rachel Scott)
Trinity bounced back up into a share of third place with UCD and Corinthian tonight with a single goal victory over a number of their alumni, moving ahead of Old Alex in the process. Rachel Scott (pictured) scored the only goal of the game in the 20th minute from a penalty corner. Maebh Horan almost doubled the tally but was denied by the post but Alex were the better side thereafter. In the second half, Roisin Flinn was a regular threat while Alex won a series of corners, one of which Horan saved off the line. Jessie Elliott was in top form in the pads, holding out for a third clean sheet of the season.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ask Ray... about yellow cards

Ask Ray is back for a second season and will appear as regularly on a Wednesday as queries come in. This week the Olympic and World Cup final umpire deals with multiple yellow card offences:

The Query
If a player receives a yellow card for a specific infringement, do all other players who subsequently make the same infringement have to get a yellow card?

Ray's Response
No is the answer to the specific question

A card should be used as a last resort, when the umpire has tried to fix a problem of a player or team who keeps breaking a rule. Umpires must be very careful never to put themselves in a position that they have no other option but leave one team with less players on the pitch than the other.

One problem is that some players never seem to get or understand the message the umpire is trying to get across. A good example of this is when a player has received a yellow card for a deliberate offense they then come back onto the pitch and do the same again.

They, then, expect the umpire to give them the same yellow card. In this example the player/coach must take full responsibility for whatever happens next.

From the FIH Rule-book:
2.3e it is possible, although umpires are not encouraged to do so, for a player to receive two green or two yellow cards for different minor offences during the same match. However, when an offence for which a card has already been awarded is repeated, the same card must not be used again and a more severe penalty must be awarded.

Hope this makes sense?

Ireland to face mighty Australians in WCQ

Ireland's women have been handed a mammoth task to reach the women’s BDO World Cup as they have been confirmed in a group with Australia for their qualifier next April.

They will play in Santiago, Chile on April 24 to May 2, 2010 with in a pool which features the host country, Malaysia, Scotland and Trinidad & Tobago.

As in the recently completed men's WCQ competition, only one qualifying place in the 2010 World Cup - which will be held in Argentina - is available.

Ireland's performances in the recent European championships meant they were in the pot of second seeds but the surprise loss of world number five-side Australia to New Zealand on penalty strokes, though, immediately threw a shark into the water when it came to the draw.

Subsequent qualifiers left Ireland as the sixth highest ranked side for the WCQs and thus destined, by the FIH's draw system, to be pitted against the Aussies ahead of the other first seeds, the USA or Japan.

It leaves Ireland, as world number 15s, facing a tough, uphill task to reach the tournament's final. Malaysia were beaten 1-0 (world number 22) in Kazan last summer while a 0-0 draw in the Europeans against Scotland show how tight the battle will be.

Hosts Chile have jumped to 16th in the world after their bronze medal in the Pan-Am games; an event where Trinidad finished fifth.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hockey - The Live Blog: Jim Glennon announced as guest speaker

What do you think of the state of Hockey?

The Management Committee of the Leinster Branch is inviting everybody with an opinion on the future of Hockey to have their say on Friday, November 27 2009 in Pembroke Wanderers, Serpentine Avenue at 7.30pm.

Former Irish rugby international and Dublin North TD Jim Glennon has been announced as one of the guest speakers on the night. In recent times, Glennon has chaired the Dublin forum, a project which allowed Dublin residents to discuss issues of political significance. He is among a number of speakers who will give thought provoking presentations on various aspects of our sport followed by an open debate.

Topics will include:
- Representative versus Club demands
- Recruitment and Retention of Players
- Club Development
- Youths
- Coaching
- Finance and Funding
- Publicity

The Irish Hockey Scene - come and have your say

Suttonians and TRL draw home comforts

Weston will head back out on the road as they look to take a second Ulster scalp in the Irish Hockey Trophy quarter-finals. But in Antrim, finalists last season, they will face a sterner test than their trip to Armagh and home tie with Galway following the draw on Sunday night.

Suttonians, though, will enjoy home advantage once again against Ulster opposition in the form of either Queens or Portadown. Their tie last weekend was a wash-out and so will be replayed on December 5, pushing the quarter-final date back to January 16.

On the women's side of the competition, Three Rock Ladies are the only Leinster Branch side to enjoy home comforts but their entrance into the Trophy has been delayed yet further to accomodate Dromore and North Kildare's refix. TRL received a first round bye and second round walkover and so have yet to show their hand.

Clontarf face a tough trip to one of the tournament favourites, Catholic Institute (pictured in final action from last year), while Diocesan travel south to play Wexford. Our Lady's refix against Greenfields will be played on December 5 and have a possible tie with Omagh should they overcome last season's Connacht champions.

Men's Irish Hockey Trophy - Quarter-finals
December 5:
Antrim v Weston; NICS v Cliftonville
January 16: Suttonians v QUB/Portadown; Catholic Institute v Belfast Harlequins/UCC

Women's ESB Irish Hockey Trophy - Round 3:
December 5: Ashton v Greensiland; Galway v Bandon; Catholic Institute v Clontarf; Wexford v Diocesan; Carrickfergus v Portadown
January 16: Omagh v Greenfields/Our Ladys; QUB/ Waterford v Knock; Three Rock Ladies v Dromore/North Kildare

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cockram's golden goal gives Ireland third place

World Cup Qualifiers
Ireland 2 (David Ames, Timmy Cockram) Czech Republic 1 (Stepan Bernatek) after golden goal extra-time
Timmy Cockram’s golden goal winner against the Czech Republic in the World Cup Qualifier third/fourth play-off today did little to paper over the cracks of a disappointing week in Argentina for Ireland’s men.

Cockram struck from a penalty corner swich to eventually break the resistance of towering goalkeeper Filip Neusser and earn a 2-1 win.

Ireland dominated possession throughout but once again found the Czech netminder in top form. He would later claim the goalkeeper of the tournament crown, an accolade he also achieved in Wrexham at the Europeans and is regarded as one of the world's best. His value to the team can be seen in the fact he sat out the 9-0 loss to Belgium.

At the height of Ireland's pressure, David Ames gave Ireland a first half lead in a physically tough yet highly entertaining game. He completed a brilliant move as Conor Harte's overhead fed Ronan Gormley racing down the right. His pass was hit in first-time on the reverse by Ames over Neusser. But it was all the Irish had to show for a first half full of attacks.

And, as they had done in Thursday’s 2-2 loss, the Czechs developed into the game and fought back with Stepan Bernatek equalising in the 53rd minute. With the bronze medal becoming a more real possibility for both sides, the closing quarter was a fiesty one as the Czechs were reduced to nine men for almost a full two minutes as Jakub Kyndl (green) and Ondrej Vudmaska (yellow) were sin-binned in quick succession.

Ireland were unable to take advantage and so extra-time was needed to separate the sides. Cockram, though, finished off a slick corner move to complete a first victory in four outings after beginning the tournament in rude health with emphatic results against the USA and Chile.

It means Ireland stayed true to their pre-tournament ranking as third seeds but the long wait to reach a major event continues. Ireland must now wait until mid-2011 for their next ranking event after a busy year saw European and Champion's Challenge II final appearances as well as Celtic and Glyndwr Cup successes.

Ireland: David Harte, John Jackson, Ronan Gormley (capt), Mikey Watt, Stephen Butler, John Jermyn, Eugene Magee, Timmy Cockram, Geoff McCabe, Conor Harte, Tim Lewis
Subs: Graham Shaw, Peter Caruth, Alan Sothern, David Ames, Paul Gleghorne

Classification results:
5th/6th playoff: USA 2 Chile 1
3rd/4th playoff: Ireland 2 Czech Republic 1 after extra-time
Final: Argentina 4 Belgium 3

Loreto struggle as Hermes and Alex win

Women's ESB Irish Hockey League: Pool B
Loreto’s IHL struggles continue for a second series of matches as the reigning champions fell to northern powerhouse Pegasus 2-1 in Belfast in a high quality encounter to leave them three points off the pace in Pool B.

Michelle Harvey’s drag-flick in the third quarter ultimately proved the difference in an end-to-end game between two of the sides who reached the competition’s inaugural play-off stages.

Loreto settled the quicker but could not capitalise on Lizzie Colvin’s decent work in the centre of the park as they created a couple of stylish chances but Pegs steadily grew into the game and saw Suzanne Beaney go close with the best move of a scoreless first half.

The former international, though, did in corner from which Arlene Boyles broke the deadlock in the 40th minute. Nikki Symmons responded instantly with a marvellous auto-pass and dribble to enter the circle and shoot to make it 1-1.

But Harvey netted the winner, still inside a hectic third quarter, from a corner won by the marauding Nadine Graham. And the Ulster champions kept Loreto at bay for the final quarter in spite of Kerry Harvey’s sin-binning to complete their second win of the campaign. Loreto lie fifth in the standings but their bonus point means they are still in contact with the play-off places.

Elsewhere, there were wins for both Alex and Hermes, the former picking up a notable road victory at Randalstown.

Roisin Flinn got her side off to the perfect start when she latched onto a through ball and slotted home. And her side went close to doubling the lead inside five minutes but Town keeper Emma Teggarty and Katherine Elkin combined to keep out a corner.

But it was not all one way traffic and Alex had to clear one off the line to keep the lead intact. They doubled up in the second quarter via a fine Aoife Budd deflection from a corner for a comfortable 2-0 half-time advantage.

Randalstown earned a series of third quarter penalty corners in the third quarter while Fyona Flinn and Ann-Marie Cullen both spent time stewing in the sin-bin.

And from Town’s 11th corner Catherine McGrillen finally pulled one back to make the final quarter a tense affair but few clear-cut chances emerged to give Alex three points and second place in the table behind Pegasus.

At Belfield on Sunday, Aine Connery’s first game against her former UCC team-mates proved vital as she popped up 14 minutes from time to break the deadlock.

She looked almost embarrassed (pictured, right) in the wake of her rebound from Jenny Burke’s first phase shot but it set up a first win of the campaign and raise hopes of returning to the final four. With UCC piling forward for an equaliser, Gillian Pinder (above, left) finished off a one-on-one chance past Karen Olden via Audrey O’Flynn’s stick to seal the win.

Early on, UCC enjoyed the better of the first quarter, forcing two corners, but Emma Gray and Sarah Greene were alert to the danger. Hermes, though, grew into the game and with the returning Niamh Atcheler using a strong second half wind to great effect with a series of aerials and Deirdre Duke earned a string of corners.

Connery’s goal, though, was to be the enduring memory as Hermes bounce back into contention.

Results: Pegasus 2 (Arlene Boyles, Michelle Harvey) Loreto 1 (Nikki Symmons); Randalstown 1 (Catherine McGrillen) Old Alex 2 (Roisin Flinn, Aoife Budd); Hermes 2 (Aine Connery, Gillian Pinder) UCC 0

Standings: 1. Pegasus 6pts (+2) 2. Old Alex 5pts (+1) 3. UCC 4pts (+2) 4. Hermes 4pts (+1) 5. Loreto 3pts (-1) 6. Randalstown 1pt (-5)

* For Adrian Boehm and Deryck Vincent's pics from the Hermes vs UCC game, click here. Video courtesy of Marcus Harvey.

Railway and Pembroke lead IHL Pool A

Women's ESB Irish Hockey League - Pool A round-up
A superb Railway Union second half performance against Cork Harlequins moved them into a great position at the top of Pool A of the women’s Irish Hockey League, three points clear of the chasing pack.

Cecelia Joyce’s second half double and a Jean McDonnell corner strike ensured a 3-0, bonus point win in a weather-affected game at Park Avenue which saw the sides hauled off for five minutes due to heavy rain.

Nonetheless, the hockey was of a high quality as Leinster and Munster champions clashed. The first half was cagey, though, with McDonnell and Sinead Walsh’s combination work to draw an excellent save from Amy O’Neill the highlight of a period of few chances.

But within three minutes of the restart Cecelia Joyce followed up McDonnell’s shot from Railway’s first corner and eight minutes later the poacher nabbed a tip-in after Kate and Emer Dillon created the initial momentum. And, after the rain break, McDonnell earned her side a second successive bonus point when her corner-shot took a deflection into the net.

Just down the road, Pembroke moved into second spot in the group with a thrilling 3-2 win over Cork C of I as Karen Hales potted a double against her former team-mates.

She scored the first inside two minutes from the game’s first corner and excelled in the opening quarter to deny the strength and pace of Sinead Connery – the outstanding player of the game.

She made it 1-1 in the third quarter, completing an excellent team move as C of I came back into the game and three corner chances for the Garryduff side went a begging leading into the fourth quarter.

At the far end, however, Alice Ward restored the Pembroke lead after a left-wing cross wreaked havoc with 12 minutes left. But, down to ten players due to Connery’s green card, Mel Ryan nailed a corner to level once more.

Hilda Maguire followed Connery to the line for not retreating at a free but Hales stepped up once more to crash home from Pembroke’s second corner of the game six minutes from time to seal the three points.

Ards tied 1-1 with a depleted Ballymoney in the Ulster derby. Former UCD woman, Katy Fraser opened the scoring inside five minutes from a corner but Ards inability to add to that tally from eight further corners cost them dear.

’Money fought back in the second half and levelled inside a minute of the turnaround when Rachel Lightbody touched in Katie Mullan’s pass. Their defence stood strong to hold onto a share of the spoils – Ards first ever IHL points.

Pool A results: Railway Union 3 (Cecelia Joyce 2, Jean McDonnell) Cork Harlequins 0; Pembroke 3 (Karen Hales 2, Alice Ward) Cork C of I 2 (Sinead Connery, Mel Ryan); Ards 1 (Katy Fraser) Ballymoney 1 (Rachel Lightbody)
Standings: 1. Railway Union 8pts (+6) 2. Pembroke 5pts (+1)  3. Cork Harlequins 4pts (0) 4. Ballymoney 4pts (0) 5. Ards 2pts (-3) 6. Cork C of I 1pt (-4)

* For Deryck Vincent's photos of Railway Union vs Cork Harlequins, click here. For Adrian Boehm's photos of Pembroke vs Cork C of I, click here

UCD and Corinthian up to third place

Women’s Leinster Division One
Glenanne 3 (Paula Fitzpatrick 2, N Ward) UCD 4 (Lisa Jacob 2, Valerie Sexton, Kerry McComish)
UCD bounded up into a share of third place with Corinthian, taking advantage of the IHL side’s inactivity in the domestic league as they edged a 4-3 thriller against Glenanne at St Mark’s.

Indeed, the Tallaght club almost nicked a share of the spoils in the game’s dying moment from a penalty corner, awarded then disallowed and subsequently reinstated on the final whistle.
UCD, though, cleared their lines to hold on to all three points.

The students went 2-0 up courtesy of Lisa Jacob’s double from play before the Glens pulled one back with a straight corner strike.

Valerie Sexton scored against her former club to make it 3-1 at half time but the hosts were right back in the game with a shot from the edge of the circle and levelled at 3-3 with a neatly worked deflection. Kerry McComish, though, scored what proved to be the winner from a penalty corner deep into the second half.

Bray 1 (W Adams) Corinthian 2 (Laura Delany, Susie Geoffroy)
Corinthian came from a goal down to move into third equal in the standings as their good early season form continued with victory in Bray.

Bray hit the front but Laura Delany levelled matters before Susie Geoffroy won the game with a top-class goal amid the blustery conditions on the seaside. Their third win this term jumps them above Hermes and Old Alex for the time-being though both sides have two games in hand.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ireland confined to third place play-off

World Cup qualifier
Ireland 0 Argentina 4 (Mario Almada, Pedro Ibarra 2, Lucas Cammareri)
Ireland were unable to get the three-goal win required against Argentina at the World Cup qualifier in Quilmes this evening and will now be confined to the third place play-off on Sunday against the Czech Republic.

Argentina's sharpness at corner time proved a major factor with Pedro Ibarra scoring his sixth and seventh of the competition. It leaves Ireland with a chance to gain revenge over the Czechs who claimed a shock draw on Thursday.

Argentina took the early initiative, taking the lead in the 12th minute when Mario Almada got the final touch to score from a goalmouth scramble after his brilliant initial run found its way back to him on the endline. Pedro Ibarra’s lethal drag-flick made it 2-0 while a second corner was deflected home by Lucas Cammareri to put Ireland all but down and out by the break.

The Irish had a decent amount of possession but precious little end-product, characterised by the post-match statistic of shots to circle-penetrations. Just three efforts on goal were gleaned from 13 circle entries

It was a slightly better second half performance but, knowing they had to do little more than close out the match, the Argentinians were never truly threatened.

On 50 minutes into the second half, the hosts were awarded a penalty stroke when a Fernando Zylberberg run was cut short and Ibarra calmly converted with David Harte sent the wrong way. It was his ninth goal of the tournament.

Ireland earned their first corner in the last five minutes but it was dealt with to make it another tough day at the office on the day Graham Shaw was awarded his 150th cap.

Ireland: David Harte, John Jackson, Ronan Gormley (capt), Mikey Watt, Stephen Butler, John Jermyn, Eugene Magee, Timmy Cockram, Geoff McCabe, Conor Harte, Timmy Lewis
Subs: Graham Shaw, Mitch Darling, Alan Sothern, David Ames, Paul Gleghorne

Final group standings: 1. Argentina 13pts (+14) 2. Belgium 10pts (+15) 3. Ireland 7pts (+1) 4. Czech Republic 7pts (-7) 5. Chile 3pts (-10) 6. USA 1pt (-13)

* Photos courtesy of World Hockey, video courtesy of TazVideoSport

Suttonians and Weston to fly flag: IHT results

Goals galore in the men's Irish Hockey Trophy as Suttonians and Weston keep the Leinster flag flying into the quarter-finals. Suttonians produced an incredible 8-3 win over Down which included no less than seven yellow cards and one red. Reuben Holden scored a goal to help his side into a 3-2 lead before being permanently dismissed with half an hour to go.

Down, however, received five yellows to regularly even up the balance of play and Suttonians took advantage to stretch the lead with Richie Wormold bagging a hat-trick and Simon Walsh and Conor Gillett scoring twice.

Weston had a more comfortable win with Alan Browne on target twice in a 5-0 win over Galway. Trinity, however, bowed out in an 8-4 turnover in Antrim. Despite Simon Clarke's hat-trick, Navan fell to the odd goal in nine to Cliftonville for whom Stevie McMillen matched Clarke's tally while former international Julian Stevenson was also on target. Avoca lost 6-1 to Ulster Senior One leaders NICS at Stormont.

On the women's side, Diocesan won the Dublin 6/4 derby with Muckross with a fine 3-0 win and became one of just three Leinster sides to progress in the women's Trophy. Clontarf nicked a 1-0 win over Parkview courtesy of Ciara Brody's goal while Three Rock Ladies received a walkover from Yeats County.

Our Lady's, meanwhile, face a refix as their tie with a talented young Greenfields' side was postponed - one of three ties which did not survive the weather. Naas, Fingal, Suttonians and Skerries all exited the competition. Former Pembroke player Emma Glanville, though, was on target for Galway as they snuck an extra-time 2-1 win over Cookstown.

Men's Irish Hockey Trophy
Suttonians 8 (Conor Gillett 2, Reuben Holden, Richile Wormold 3, Simon Walsh 2) Down 3 (S White 2, P Tate); Antrim 8 (David McGrillen, Stuart McIlroy 5, Neil McCullough, Alan Mullan) Dublin University 4 (Tolly Humphries 2, Henry Butler, Chris Tyrell); Catholic Inst 2 (J O'Sullivan, S Brickenden) Newry 1 (J Taylor); NICS 6 (P Johnston 3, A Gill, C Irwin, C Posnett) Avoca 1 ; Navan 4 (Simon Clarke 3, Simon McKeever) Cliftonville 5 (Stevie McMillen 3, Julian Stevenson, David Hurley); Weston 5 (Alan Browne 2, Shane O'Hare, Karl Taylor, Enda Tucker) Galway 0; Queens vs Portadown OFF; Belfast HQ vs UCC OFF

ESB Women's Irish Hockey Trophy
Knock 3 (D Hagan, J Carlisle,S Campaganaro) Naas 1 (H O'Sullivan); Diocesan 3 (Maria Scanlan, Alison Gill, Sarah Lodola) Muckross 0; Wexford 3 (Jean Devoy, Miriam Sherlock, Miriam Lambert) Ballymena 1; Omagh 3 (Anne Buchanan, Emma Shortt, Julie Frazer) NICS 1 (Leanne Moore); Galway 2 (Emma Glanville, Lynsey Trainor) Cookstown 1 (Ruth Browne) aet; Fingal 1 (Ita McMahon) Greenisland 2 (Jenny Henry, Carly Ann Bennett); Bandon 4 (Ann O'Donovan 2,Lorna Dennehy, Racehlle Nyham) North Down 0; Suttonians 1 (Laura Trainor) Portadown 5 (Sam Hill 2, Debbie Archer, Alison Rainey, Esther Irwin); Catholic Institute 9 (Rosie Pratt 3, Kealy Cantrell, Roisin Upton, Naomi Carroll, Nicky Sterritt, Edel Higgins, Elaine Bromell) Skerries 1 (Susan Mooney); Clontarf 1 (Ciara Brody) Parkview 0; Banbridge 2 (N Robb, A Atkinson) Carrickfergus (E Boal, K McIlroy, S McGookin); TRL w/o Yeats County scr; Ashton w/o Priorians scr; Queens vs Waterford OFF; Dromore vs North Kildare OFF; Greenfields vs Our Ladys Terenure OFF

* For more of Deryck Vincent's photos of Clontarf vs Parkview, click here

Corinthian overcome Bulls charge

Corinthian 5 (Rowland Rixon-Fuller 2, Darren Kimfley, Davy Carson Dan Williams) Clontarf 1 (Tom Noonan)
Corinthian were made to work by a well organised and well structured Clontarf but ultimately their quality told in the second half as they notched up the goals to source a 5-1 win. Tom Noonan's brave first half strike gave the Bulls a first half lead as he slid in to complete a counter-attack, taking both ball and post in the process, picking up a nasty gash for his troubles.

But the red fought back in the second half and, enjoying the majority of possession throughout, finally took their chances to score five second half goals with Darren Kimfley, Davy Carson, Dan Williams and Rowland Rixon-Fuller's double doing the damage. Andrew Poynter's superb forehand drive denied Brian Doherty at corner time with one of the more spectacular goal-line clearances this season.

Monsktown 2 (Matt Fairweather, Gareth Watkins) TRR 2 (Pierre de Voux 2)
Both sides will feel they might have been robbed of all three points at a lively affair at Rathdown. Three Rock certainly stole one as they recovered from a 2-0 deficit but the final act of the game saw Pierre de Voux denied a hat-trick as the final whistle beat a simple finish into an open goal. Prior to that, Monkstown were the better side, taking a 1-0 lead into half-time through Matt Fairweather's drag-flick and Gareth Watkins doubled the lead, via David Storey's stick, with a reverse-stick effort. De Voux pulled one back from a neat corner move before equalising very late. He was assisted by debutant Ross Canning and the double-act almost produced the winner in the last seconds as Rovers countered from a Town corner. Canning squared to de Voux only for a blast of the whistle to end the day's action in which Patrick Shanahan was sin-binned.

UCD 2 (John McInroy, Tim Hill) Fingal 1 (Tom Manning)
UCD produced back-to-back league victories for the first time since their promotion back to the top tier as they continued their improvement to beat Fingal. John McInroy scored the only goal of the first half, once again the student's intricate corner machine paying dividends, as the player-coach deflected home. Tom Manning equalised within a minute of the second half restart. But Tim Hill scored a corner rebound from Rob Lynch drag-flick for the winner. Fingal almost gained a share of the spoils in the last minute but Ross Gribben produced the save of the day to keep out David Bane's effort as UCD got the points their effort deserved. Lloyd Pearson picked up the one yellow of a relatively clean game.

* For more of Adrian Boehm's photos from UCD vs Fingal, click here

Follow Ireland live online

Ireland's crunch match with Argentina in the World Cup Qualifiers today will be streamed live online by TV Publica.

To watch it live, click here, and press play on the TV P├║blica en Vivo video on the top right of the page.

Ireland need a three goal to keep their World Cup dream alive. Coverage begins at 6pm (Irish time) with a 6.05pm tip off time. A big thanks to fellow blogger Annette who runs the Hoofdklasse Hockey Caballeros site.

* A couple of games have already fallen victim to the weather. In the ESB Irish Hockey Trophy. Three Rock ladies game with Sligo's Yeat's County is off while Our Lady's, Terenure will not travel to play Galway's Greenfields as a result of the heavy flooding on the Dublin-Galway road. On the men's side, Belfast Harlequins' tie with UCC is also off.

* In the Czech Republic, Railway Union picked up a win and a loss on the opening day of the Prague international indoor tournament. They began with a 4-1 defeat, Kenny Carroll on target, to Ontario Canada before bouncing back to win 3-1 against Bohemians, Prague. Paul O'Brien scored twice while Stephen O'Keefe netted from the penalty spot.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Leinster sides aim to cause Southern discomfort

Something has to give at the top of the women’s Irish Hockey League Pool A as the group’s two perfect records go head-to-head at Park Avenue, Railway Union hosting Cork Harlequins. Both have perfect records in their domestic league, Irish Senior Cup and the IHL, making it a potential cracker.

Quins enjoyed a comfortable home win in their derby tie with Cork C of I, 4-1; a scoreline matched by Railway against tournament newcomers Ards. Emer Dillon will return after work commitments kept her out of last week’s win over Bray to play her hometown club.

Her side laboured that day but, having conceded just three times in seven games, their defensive solidity with skipper Isobel Joyce backed up by Helen Stevenson, usually just one goal suffices.

One threat their side will not have to deal with is Irish skipper Eimear Cregan who remains on the injury list but Quins’ experience of the big occasion could be key.Rachel Kohler, Ireland’s most capped player, continues to drive the team.

Pembroke, meanwhile, have another Munster woman facing her former colleagues as Karen Hales is set to battle sister Jennifer at Serpentine Avenue with Cork C of I coming to town.

Player coach Natalie Fulton is in bullish mood ahead of the game, promising: "the girls will be coming out fighting on Saturday and are ready for the challenge”. Form has been erratic for the ’Broke but they will look to summon the spirit of the draws against Ballymoney and Hermes to stay in the hunt for a semi-final berth.
’Money visit Ards in Pool A’s other fixture.

Pool B features the tie of the round as Leinster leaders, Loreto, travel to Pegasus needing a result to stay in the mix for a semi-final place and retention of their IHL crown. The Beaufort club surprisingly dropped points at home against Alex.

The signs have been good of late. Nicci Daly has settled in well and Nikki Symmons is a class apart in the domestic league. Their combination-work with Niamh Small and Nikki Keegan and goalmouth poaching of Cathy McKean will mean Pegasus’ Michell Harvey will need to be on top form in what promises to be a high quality affair.

At Belfield on Sunday, Hermes are another side who need to get back on track after a home setback. They are again without the services of Chloe Watkins (ankle) and Niamh Atcheler (wrist) for the visit of UCC. Aine Connery, though, should return to face her alma mater while Emma Gray will need to be alert to Audrey O’Flynn – one of the country’s premier drag-flickers.

Old Alex face a trip to Randalstown on Saturday but three games unbeaten in the league has the developing side in a good place and they face a Randalstown-side without a win since early October.

Two games are up for decision in the Leinster league. Both UCD and Corinthian can move second should they win on the road against Bray and Glenanne, respectively. However, if either of the latter pairing earn full points, it would catapult them off the bottom rung of the standings.

Elsewhere, ten Leinster league clubs will be gunning for a place in the last 16 of the Irish Hockey Trophy. Ashton have already advanced as Priorians have pulled out of the long trip south.

ESB Irish Hockey League (all Saturday unless stated):
Group A: Ards Hockey Club vs Ballymoney, 6pm, CIYMS; Railway Union vs Cork Harlequins, 4pm, Park Avenue; Pembroke Wanderers vs Church of Ireland, 5pm, Serpentine Avenue
Group B: Pegasus vs Loreto Hockey Club, 5.30pm, Queens; Randalstown vs Old Alexandra, 2.30pm, Randalstown;
(Sunday) Hermes vs UCC, 2pm, Belfield

Leinster Women's Division One
Glens vs UCD, 12.30pm, St Mark's; Bray vs Corinthian, 1.15pm, Loreto, Bray

ESB Irish Hockey Trophy Round Two:
Knock vs Naas, 1pm, St Colmans School; Dromore vs North Kildare, 2.30pm, Ferris Park; Diocesan vs Muckross, 1pm, High School; Queens vs Waterford, 1pm, Queens; Wexford vs Ballymena, 2pm, Enniscorthy; Three Rock Ladies vs Yeat's County, 1pm, Grange Road; Omagh vs NICS, 2.30pm, Youth Sport Omagh; Galway vs Cookstown, 2.15pm, Dangan; Fingal vs Greenisland, 2.15pm, ALSAA; Bandon vs North Down, 1.30pm, Bandon GS; Suttonians vs Portadown, 3.30pm, Sutton Park; Greenfields vs Our Lady's, Terenure, 1.15pm, Mervue; Catholic Institute vs Skerries, 12.30pm, Rosbrien; Clontarf vs Parkview, 2.30pm, Mount Temple; Banbridge vs Carrickfergus, 4pm, Havelock Park
Result: Ashton w/o Priorians scr

IHL places up for grabs as IHT kicks into gear

Corinthian’s win at Three Rock last week, allied to a resurgent YMCA, means the race for the five IHL places for 2010/11 may not be as clear-cut as two weeks ago.

YM have joined the group of current encumbents in what is set to be a gritty battle for points in a six-horse race. And they can put their feet up and watch at least one of their fellow contenders drop points this weekend as Monkstown and Rovers face off for the second time this term.

Rovers have struggled up front since their 5-4 win over the Town at Grange Road five weeks ago. Peter Blakeney’s injury-induced role as an unused substitute in the past two games and Kyle Good’s absence have been factors, especially in the draw with YM where a toothless attack failed to take one of many first half chances.

Rory O’Donoghue’s side, meanwhile, earned their first clean-sheet against Fingal after a concession rate of three per game in the first half dozen league games and will hope this is a sign of things to come rather than a flash in the pan.

Their meeting is the second fixture to be brought forward from the inhospitable January 2 round of Leinster league matches – YM and UCD was the other – as Rovers head for a mid-season tournament in Barcelona at that time.

Corinthian will aim to build on their rare appearance at the top of division one with a home tie against Clontarf. UCD’s win over Railway last week makes the scavenge for points all the more pressing for the bulls but a trip to Whitechurch Park is far from ideal.

The Belfielders, meanwhile, begin the second half of their league campaign looking up with more expectation off the back of that win. John McInroy’s charges showed plenty of vigour in their Neville Cup outing against Fingal and, with some added confidence in front of goal; they will be looking at possibly jumping two places with a win.

Railway’s fixture with YMCA is postponed as the Park Avenue club competes in an indoor competition in Prague.

For division two’s participants, the Irish Hockey Trophy takes centre stage. Two former Glenanne players will look to add further feathers in their coaching caps in a competition dominated in its inaugural season by Ulster clubs.

Alan Browne (pictured, below left) has brought an increased level of commitment to Weston with video analysis and regular match day squads of 16 becoming the norm rather than the exception to reinvigorate the Lucan club. They welcome Galway to Griffeen Valley Park following their feisty tie at Armagh earlier in the month.

Browne’s former team-mate, Frank Byrne, has been a bit more of a surprise package with Suttonians who were less feted at the season’s start.

However, the diminutive forward has forged a combative side with James Murtagh a quality keeper at the base of the team and Richie Wormold always a handful in division two.
They host Ulster Senior One’s basement side Down.

Avoca, meanwhile, have the toughest draw of the lot, playing an Aaron Gill-inspired NICS. Gill had been in rude-scoring form for the Stormont club, who currently occupy the position of Trophy favourites, and brings plenty of top level experience from his time with Instonians and the Irish U-21s.

Dublin Uni have produced some famous cup results in Ulster in the past decade for their trip to Antrim to not be a total write-off. Navan host a Cliftonville side with former Irish international Julian Stevenson in tow as player-coach.

Saturday fixtures:
Men's Division One:
UCD vs Fingal, 1pm, Belfield; Corinthian vs Clontarf, 1pm, Whitechurch Park; Monkstown vs TRR, 1.30pm, Rathdown

Irish Hockey Trophy: Queens v Portadown, 2.30pm, Queens; Suttonians vs Down, 1pm, Sutton Park; Belfast Harlequins vs UCC, 1pm, Deramore Park; Antrim vs Dublin University, 1pm, Antrim Forum; Catholic Institute vs Newry, 2pm, Rosbrien; NICS vs Avoca, 2.30pm, Stormont; Navan vs Cliftonville, 12.30pm, King's Hospital; Weston vs Galway, 2.30pm, Griffeen Valley Park

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ireland give up 2-0 lead to leave WCQ hopes on the brink

World Cup Qualifiers
Ireland 2 (John Jermyn 2) Czech Republic 2 (Martin Babicky 2)
Ireland’s World Cup qualifiction hopes were left teetering on the brink as they blew a two-goal lead to draw with the Czech Republic 2-2 in Quilmes and, following Argentina's 2-2 draw with Belgium, will have to win by three goals on Saturday over the hosts to reach the final play-off.

In truth, it was a desperately disappointing result as Ireland led to 2-0 in a first half, John Jermyn scoring a penalty stroke and a penalty corner in 12th and 22nd minutes respectively, but a second penalty stroke was saved by the excellent Fillip Neusser (pictured, right) who denied a 3-0 lead.

Chances came and went in the second half but the Czechs grew into the game and pulled one back through Martin Babicky midway through the second half, tapping in after Ondrej Vudmaska gave a defender the slip on the left edge of the circle.

Ireland responded positively, earning a corner while a couple of further efforts slipped wide. A single-goal lead is always a nervous one, though, and the Czechs crucially took the one chance that came their way with four minutes to go.

Vadmuska again made the circle penetration with Babicky again the man on target with a scramble at the back post to make it 2-2.

Ondrej Vudmaska was sin-binned for the final three minutes but Ireland were able to capitalise, leaving the Czechs to celebrate their first result of any kind against the Irish in five attempts - a remarkable turnaround from the 10-0 win the last time the side's met in 2007's Europeans.

Belgium's late comeback, though, means there is still a sliver of hope of making the final. Had the Argentines won, Ireland would have been left to rely on tournament bottom-feeders USA beating Belgium for any chance of progression to exist. But they scored twice in the last 13 minutes to reel in a 2-0 deficit and now Ireland can qualify on goal difference with a three-goal win.

Ireland: David Harte, John Jackson, Ronan Gormley (capt), Mikey Watt, Stephen Butler, John Jermyn, Eugene Magee, Peter Caruth, Geoff McCabe, Conor Harte, Tim Lewis
Subs: Graham Shaw, Mitch Darling, Alan Sothern, David Ames, Paul Gleghorne

Results: Ireland 2 (John Jermyn 2) Czech Republic 2 (Martin Babicky 2); Chile 2 USA 1; Belgium 2 Argentina 2
Standings: 1. Belgium 10pts (+15) 2. Argentina 10pts (+10) 3. Ireland 7pts (+5) 4. Czech Republic 4pts (-8) 5. Chile 3pts (-9) 6. USA 0pts (-13)

* Video courtesy of TazVideoSport. Photo courtesy of World Hockey.

O'Reilly strikes late for Sutton: School's results

Leinster Schoolboy's Senior A league:
Sutton Park 1 (Eoin O'Reilly) Kilkenny College 0
Eoin O’Reilly’s short corner rebound six minutes from time earned Sutton Park all the points as they struck late to beat Kilkenny 1-0 in a high quality Senior A school’s league tie on Wednesday.

The win adds to their recent 2-2 draw against an under-strength St Andrew’s as the northside school continues to make huge strides under the tutelage of Colin Stewart and Ronan Walsh.

In truth, a draw may have been the fairer result as both sides created plenty of opportunities but found brick walls at either end in the form of Kilkenny’s George Smyth and Sutton’s Tom Fee.

Notice of a flowing first half was served inside 100 seconds as Killian Flood’s cross flashed across the circle before a sublime interchange between the Cats’ Brendan Dowling and Eamon Walsh was well smothered by Fee.

Such chances flowed thick in a typical school’s manner in the first half as the mercurial Evan Matthews pulled the strings in the Kilkenny engine room while the overlapping Matty Moore wreaked havoc down the right-wing. O’Reilly’s big overheads and solidity at centre-back, though, allied to Ferdia Carty’s driving runs made for an intriguing contest.

Chances came thick and fast with the influential Howard McDonnell rebounded onto the post with Luke Moore scrambling the clearance off the line. O’Reilly’s surge from the back, meanwhile, drew a fine save from Symth which Flood rebounded just wide of the post.

The second half was more circumspect as the defensive gaps of the first period plugged and goal-mouth action scarce and the tackling more ferocious.

Evan Matthews’ drag was well saved by Fee’s stick from the first corner of the game. The ensuing break out saw Sutton earn their only corner as Max Dozier - a gritty battler throughout at right-back – snuck into space from a long-corner and found a foot with his cross.

A neat one-two gave O’Reilly the initial shot from eight yards which Smyth shut down but the sweeper reacted quickest to sneak his shot into the right corner and the game was won.

Elsewhere, Wesley and St Andrew's are currently pencilled in to meet in the Senior A and Minor A leagues on Friday, November 27 at 4.45pm in Ballinteer.

Recent results
Senior A: Sutton Park 1 Kilkenny 0
Senior B: Wesley B 3 King's Hospital 3
Junior A: Kilkenny 4 Mount Temple 3
Junior B: Wesley B 5 St Andrew's 1
Minor A: Mount Temple 2 Sutton Park 3; Mount Temple 2 King’s Hospital 1
Minor B: King's Hospital 3 Mount Temple 1
U-13 B: King’s Hospital 5 Mount Temple 0

* If you have results, fixtures or stories on Schoolboy or girl's hockey at any level that you would like covered, drop me an email at

** For more pictures from Sutton Park vs Kilkenny, click here

LHUA UDP underway: News in Brief

* The Leinster Hockey Umpires Association launched their Umpire Academy (LHUA UDP) last week at Grange Road with nine young umpires (male and female) committed to improving their knowledge, pitch presence and umpiring capabilities.

They will work in three groups, each of which has an experienced mentor who wil continue with training sessions throughout the season and constantly monitor progress on the pitch.

In December, the LHUA will host Training Session # 2 for 2009/10. With the new rules bedded in, the LHUA plans to gather our members together for another valuable Q&A session.

The session will be at Grange Road on December 3 at 8pm. It wil be open to non-members and the Association is accepting questions at from both members and non-members in advance.

* For video highlights of the World Cup Qualifier in Quilmes, courtesy of TazVideoSport, click here for Day One; here for Day Two and here for Day Three, including Ireland vs Belgium.

For a couple more photos from that same game, courtesy of World Hockey, click here.

* Pembroke face an incredibly tough proposition to reach the KO8 of the EuroHockey League after they drew Germany’s Rot-Weiss Koln in this morning’s draw.

The Germans were one of the stand-out side’s in round one of the competition with Christian Zeller scoring a remarkable ten times in two games.

Should the Irish club make it through the tie – scheduled for April 2, 2010 at 5pm (subject to confirmation due to tv scheduling) in Rotterdam – they will face the winners of RC Polo de Barcelona and Reading. For the full draw, click here

*The IHA launched this week the new Irish Hockey Youth Leader website. The website is dedicated to all of the young people helping out in their local hockey clubs either on the pitch or in the clubhouse. To learn more about the Youth Leaders initiative, click here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Belgian blitz downs Ireland

World Cup Qualifers
Ireland 0 Belgium 3 (J Truyens, J Dekeyser, B van Hove)
Ireland crashed to a 3-0 loss to world number nine side Belgium in Quilmes, Argentina last night to deal a severe blow to their hopes of taking the last remaining place in the 2010 Wold Cup.

The Irish fell behind to a Belgian blitz in the opening ten minutes as Jerome Truyens capitalised on a defensive mishap to open the deadlock in the 4th minute before Jerome Dekeyser made it 2-0 with barely ten minutes played when he latched onto Xavier Reckinger assist.

A couple of penalty corner efforts were the best the Irish could muster before half-time but the Belgians killed the game off when Benjamin van Hove shot past David Harte, on his 50th cap, to make it 3-0. It also proved a disappointing milestone day for Eugene Magee on the occasion of his 100th cap, becoming the youngest Irish player to reach that mark at 23 years and 231 days.

Ireland had a few half chances late on through Magee, Mikey Watt and Johnny Jackson but scarcely threatened an upset. Belgium had a 50th minute Tom Boon strike disallowed while the disappointing day was complete when Conor Harte was sin-binned in the 66th minute.

Pedro Ibarra struck five times for the Argentines as they beat Chile 7-3 to move level with Belgium at the top of the table on nine points while the Czechs got their first win of the campaign, beating the USA comfortably 3-1.

Ireland  must now win their last two group games against the Czech Republic (Thursday) and Argentina (Saturday) to have any chance of progressing.

Manager Peter Jackson said after the game: "Whilst we are disappointed with the result today, this tournament is only half way through. We have two more matches before finals day on Sunday and we have everything to play for against Czech Republic and Argentina. That is our focus."

Ireland: David Harte, John Jackson, Ronan Gormley (capt), Mikey Watt, Stephen Butler, John Jermyn, Eugene Magee, Graham Shaw, Timmy Cockram, Conor Harte, Timmy Lewis
Subs: Mitch Darling, Alan Sothern, Geoff McCabe, David Ames, Paul Gleghorne

Results: Ireland 0 Belgium 3 (Jerome Truyens, Jerome Dekeyser, Benjamin van Hove); Chile 3 Argentina 7; USA 1 Czech Republic 3
Standings: 1. Belgium 9pts (+15) 2. Argentina 9pts (+10) 3. Ireland 6pt (+5) 4. Czech Republic (-8) 5. Chile 0pts (-10) 6. USA 0pts (-12)

* Photos courtesy of; video courtesy of WorldHockey

Pembroke mash Trinity in Mills Cup

Mills Cup second round
Pembroke 9 (Mick O'Connor 2, Craig Wilson 2, Justin Sherriff 2, Adam Pritchard, Alan Giles, Scott Furlong) Dublin University 0
Pembroke became the first side to make it into the quarter-finals of the Mills Cup as they put Dublin University to the sword tonight at Serpentine Avenue with braces for Mick O'Connor (pictured), Justin Sherriff and Craig Wilson his first goals since returning from his travels. Adam Pritchard also netted his first for the club in a facile win and they will now face the winners of Navan and YMCA, scheduled for December 13.

Revington upbeat ahead of Belgian tie

Ireland coach Paul Revington gave his thoughts (above) to World Hockey in the wake of the 4-1 win over Chile and about what he expects from today's crucial game against Belgium. The match tips off at 7.45pm (Irish time) in Quilmes.

Meanwhile, Pembroke will play Dublin University tonight in a Mills Cup, second round tie brought forward from December 13. The match tips off in Serpentine Avenue at 7.30pm.

Saturday's fixture list, meanwhile sees three men's senior league matches up for decision as Monkstown and Three Rock have brought forward their January 2 tie as both sides were set to be inactive this weekend due to Pembroke and Glenanne's international commitments.

Railway are playing an indoor tournament in Prague and so their tie with YMCA is off.

Upcoming fixtures:
Tuesday: (Mills Cup)Pembroke vs Dublin Uni, 7.30pm, Serpentine Avenue; (World Cup Qualifier) Ireland vs Belgium, 7.45pm, Quilmes
Saturday: (Men's Division One) UCD vs Fingal, 1pm, Belfield; Corinthian vs Clontarf, 1pm, Whitechurch Park; Monkstown vs TRR, 1.30pm, Rathdown