Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Docherty Bullish about Clontarf indoor debut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Queso said...

Great article Steve and just goes to show if you don't ask you don't get!!

Anonymous said...

When are helmets going to become compulsory for all hockey players? Surely we are talking about gross negligence by the game's governing bodies here. It has always struck me as bizarre that the players are not protected in this way. Does anyone agree?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

That's clearly a joke!

Anonymous said...

Surely all players wearing them actually poses a safety risk. Fine for corners etc but it would be carnage in open play if they had them permanently. Surely you agree with that....
If you prefer hurley you should play that.

Anonymous said...

Hockey is not ice-hockey but there are plenty of avoidable facial injuries.People seem to think it's part of the game.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Hockey is unique alright. Golf could learn a thing or two from it. Think how much more interesting that game would be if you could aim its marginally more lethal ball at your opponent.

Anonymous said...

on this danger thing, helmets like the ones American girls wear and the face masks used at corners seem to really restrict vision which could be deemed quite a bit more dangerous.

think this does need to be looked at but the technology currently hasn't supplied a particularly good remedy.

Anonymous said...

11.39pm... I've heard that Elin Woods has recently been quite vocal about bringing that into the game of golf!!

Anonymous said...

1.25p.m. I bet the girl didn't shout "Fore".