Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Watt the 18th man

Michael Watt, 22, has been named as the 18th member of Paul Revington's Ireland’s squad for next week's inaugural Champions Challenge II in Belfield.

Revington says that Watt has impressed since returning from his study-enforced break: “Through careful assessment of players during the recent games between Ireland and the Ireland Celtic Cup Team in Dublin, and then assessment of players during the Celtic Cup in Edinburgh, it has been decided that Michael Watt will be selected as the final member of our Champions Challenge II Team.

"Michael put in two strong performances against the Ireland Celtic Cup Team and this combined with his 49 test caps edged him ahead of several strong performers at the recent Celtic Cup.”

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ireland's men retain Celtic Cup but women denied

Ireland men 3 (Gareth Watkins 2, Brian Doherty) Scotland 3 (Mark Ralph 2, Gavin Byers)
Paul Revington's novices retained the Celtic Cup in Edinburgh this afternoon, keeping the Scottish hosts at bay after Gareth Watkins had ensured a dream start with two goals inside six minutes.

Scotland fought back to make it 2-1 by the interval courtesy of Holland-based corner expert Mark Ralph and they tied the game up when Chris Grassick played in Gavin Byers to tap home.

But this Irish group have shown steely resolve all tournament and retook the lead barely a minute later, Brian Doherty (pictured) getting his third of the tournament, dragging past GB number one Ali McGregor.

Ralph notched his second of the game while Iain Walker pulled off a series of top saves. Gavin Byers almost nicked the win in the 70th minute but his lob of the YM man, landed on the roof of the net.

Ireland A women 1 (Katherine Steenson) Scotland 7 (Emily Maguire 2, Emma Rochlin, Julie Bryce, Aimee Clark, Laura Bartlett, Vicki Bunce)
Needing a high-scoring draw or better to claim the women's Celtic Cup title, Ireland's A selection were comprehensively outdone by Scotland ending up on the wrong end of a 7-1 mauling.

Emily Maguire started the rout in the sixth minute from a penalty corner before Emma Rochlin scored from the penalty spot to leave Ireland reeling. Julie Bryce and Aimee Clark both scored from play to make it 4-0 at the break.

Katherine Steenson got her second goal in two games for the greens but it proved academic as British Olympian Laura Bartlett, a virtuoso effort from Vicki Bunce and Maguire's second corner strike comfortably wrapped up the title for Scotland who lay in third at the start of the day. The door opened in their favour when Wales drew with the table's bottom-feeders, France, 2-2.

Men's Celtic Cup final standings (points/goal difference): 1. Ireland 7pts (+3) 2. Scotland 5pts (+1) 3. France 3pts (-2) 4. Wales 1pt (-2)
Women's standings: 1. Scotland 6pts (+7) 2. Wales 5pts (+1) 3. Ireland 4pts (-5) 4. France 1pt (-3)

Irish underage round-up: Day three

Ireland U-18 Girls 4 (Deirdre Duke 2, Katie Codyre, Gillian Pinder) Scotland 0
Ireland go into next week's Europeans off the back of a resounding 4-0 triumph over Scotland at Belfield to complete their three-game series with two wins and a draw.

Deirdre Duke (pictured, left) opened the scoring with a fine reverse in the 20th minute before Hermes club-mate Gillian Pinder made it 2-0 with 20 minutes remaining; once again on the reverse.

Katie Codyre profited from Anna-Mae Morton's excellent through ball to beat the Scottish goalkeeper one-on-one before Duke completed the rout in the 62nd minute when Ali Meeke's cross was not cut out by the Scottish defence.

Ireland U-18 Boys 4 (Shane O'Donghue 2, Andrew Skekleton, Stuart Loughrey) Scotland 3
Ireland gave Scotland a dose of their own medicine as they were the beneficiaries of a late, late goal to take victory in Edinburgh. Shane O'Donoghue fired in a last minute corner to edge the tie. Earlier, Ireland had led 2-0 before falling behind 3-2.

O'Donoghue and Shekleton again were on target to create the 2-0 advantage but Scotland stormed back with a drag-flick just before half-time as the game followed an identikit scoing pattern to the first game before the break.

A bullet drag-flick and a tap-in at the back post, though, turned the game on its head in the second half. Ireland reorganised, though, with Stu Loughrey roofing a neatly worked corner routine before an improvised reverse from Glenanne hitman O'Donoghue sealed the win in the dying monents.

Ireland U-16 Girls 1 (Joanne Orr) England 0
The U-16 completed their three-match series on a high another encouraging performance, continuing their upward ascent all weekend, taking a well deserved win.

Rebecca Barry went closest in the first half, her raised shot saved off the line in the 16th minute by a covering defender but Joanne Orr got the crucial goal 12 minutes into the second half to give Una McCarthy's side a share of the series - both sides adding a win to Saturday's draw while scoring four goals each.

Ireland U-16 Boys 2 (Nick Burns 2) England 1
Paul Cooke's charges completed a fine day for Ireland's underage sides, winning in style against a technically proficient English outfit with Midleton's Nick Burns (pictured) on target twice.

Ireland started in brilliant fashion, creating several clear-cut chances in the opening quarter, Josh Moffett's reverse going closest. Mark Ingram pulled off a fine save from a rare English break-out but the hosts deservedly took the lead when Tom Samuel nicked the ball and played through for Burns to out-strip the defence and roll in a reverse at the near post.

A second was disallowed soon after as Moffett's cross was deemed dangerous, though Burns acrobatic deflection was a sight to behold. 2-0 was achieved, though, when Darren Sweetnam's close-control earned Ireland their only corner of the game and Burns duly netted a high drag-flick. England pulled one back with three minutes to go.

* For more of Adrian Boehm's photos from Ireland U-18 girls, click here while photos of the Ireland U-16 boy's game are here

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ireland end Champs' Challenge in bronze

In Kazan, Ireland battled through 30 degree heat to claim a bronze medal at the inaugural Champion's Challenge II event by beating Ukraine 2-1.

Roisin Flinn scored both the goals, benefiting from renewing a partnership with Eimear Cregan after the latter missed the earlier stages in the tournament due to an ankle injury.

Cregan (pictured) played in Flinn for the only goal of the first half in the 11th minute as Ireland were reasonably in control. They were pegged back, though, against the run of play in the 45th minute when Maryna Vynohradova gave Mary Goode no chance, deflecting in her second goal of the tournament against Ireland.

Ireland pushed on for the winning goal and it came in the 64th minute from a penalty corner with Flinn getting the vital touch.

Overall, Gene Muller was pleased with the week's work which saw Ireland win three, draw one and lose one of their games: “We played very well throughout and deserved victory. I am very happy with the way we played over the course of the competition and overall this was a very beneficial tournament for our preparations for the European Championships in August.”

Nikki Symmons was awarded the tournament's 'Most Useful Player' prize while India won the tournament with a 6-3 win over Belgium - netting 26 times in their five games in the competition.

Ireland (vs Ukraine): Mary Goode, Roisin Flinn, Eimear Cregan, Emma Clarke, Emma Stewart, Bridget Cleland (capt), Shirley McCay, Cathy McKean, Nikki Symmons, Lizzie Colvin, Michelle Harvey
Subs: Alex Speers, Emma Smyth, Lisa Jacob, Niamh Small, Lauren Barr

Irish underage round-up: Day two

Ireland U-18 Boys 2 (Shane O'Donghue, Andrew Shekleton) Scotland 2 (Fraser Sands, George Scott)

The Irish U-18 boys drew the first of their two-match series with Scotland in Edinburgh, conceding a freak goal in the final ten seconds to deny them victory in a game they dominated throughout.
The Irish built up a 2-0 lead very early on when Shane O'Donoghue completed some good build-up play while Andrew Shekleton - a late call-up in place of Davy Carson - nailed a superb reverse.
For Scotland, Fraser Sands scored from a corner in the 18th minute before George Scott doubled the advantage with one of the last plays of the game from open play.

They play the same opposition again at 11am on Sunday.
Ireland U-18 Girls 1 (Chloe Watkins) Scotland 1
Chloe Watkins stunning reverse-stick aerial lit up what was otherwise a tight, tactical battle as Scotland played with a slightly fresher panel as extra troops arrived for the second game.
With school exams ongoing in Scotland, a number of their panel were unavailable on Friday, making this fixture a more meaningful test than Friday's shortened game.
Watkins opened the scoring in the 60th minute but Scotland levelled within 60 seconds to ensure the draw.

Ireland U-16 Girls 1 (Chloe Brown) England 1 (Anna Toman)
Una McCarthy's U-16 side put in an impressive stint in the second of their three match series with England, showing more composure and an increased tempo from Friday night.

Playing half-court, they managed to hold the ball for longer periods and responded well to going a goal behind in the 41st minute. Chloe Brown (pictured celebrating, right) made it 1-1 when she finished off a superb move, beginning at the stick of left-back Gemma Frazer.

And a couple of late chances to win the game, instigated by Leah Ewart and Elaine Carey, squeezed just wide while Ireland also edged the corner count 4-3.

Ireland U-16 Boys 1 (Owen Magee) England 2
Ireland were punished for a couple of rash mistakes in the second half as England claimed their second win of this three-game duel at Belfield this afternoon.

Owen Magee (pictured, left) showed what appears to be a family strength as he smashed in a suitably Eugene-esque reverse from 10 yards to tie the game at 1-1 with ten minutes to go. But England were awarded a late penalty stroke for a bad tackle in the circle to take the win.

Early on, Mark Ryan flashed just wide after Nick Burns' excellent upright reverse pass found the Irish skipper in space in the circle. Mark Ingram pulled off a stunning save from point-blank range in the first half from a brilliant English penalty corner move to keep the score sheet clean by the break.

But Ireland fell behind when a misplaced ball around the back was clinically punished, the English striker bursting into the circle and battering in a shot.

* For Adrian Boehm's pictures from the Ireland U-16 girls game, click here, and for the Boys U-16 game, click here

Late salvo keeps Celtic Cup dreams alive

Ireland Men 3 (Simon Todd, Brian Doherty, David Ames) Wales 2 (Rick Gay 2)
Two goals in a manic last three minutes saw Ireland take victory from the jaws of defeat to top their Celtic Cup group going into the final day of action - a straight showdown with Scotland for the title.

On an eventful day for Rick Gay, he twice gave Wales the lead with drag-flicks in the 6th and 40th minutes for 1-0 and 2-1 - Simon Todd netting Ireland's first half equaliser - but his red card in the 67th minute precipitated his country's collapse.

He was shown a second yellow, reducing his side to nine men and Ireland took full advantage with Brian Doherty maintaining a 100pc record in full internationals from a corner and David Ames popped up with a winner in the last minute to record a famous win for the young charges.

Scotland came back from a 2-1 half-time deficit to beat France 3-2 and, due to their 1-1 draw with Wales, remain the only side that can stop Ireland retaining the Celtic Cup.

Ireland Women's A 2 (Kate McConnell, Katherine Steenson) Wales 2 (Dawn Mitchell, Leah Wilkinson)
Ireland A twice came from behind to earn a point which sees them share top of their Celtic Cup group and a game away from potential overall victory when they play Scotland.

Kate McConnell's field goal levelled Dawn Mitchell's 16th minute strike but Wales led the way at half-time when Leah Wilkinson netted a penalty stroke. Katherine Steenson, though, scored from a penalty corner for a share of the spoils.
Whoever gets the better result on the final day will take the title, though if both lose Scotland could be in with a shout.

Men's standings (points/goal difference): 1. Ireland 6pts (+3) 2. Scotland 4pts (+1) 3. Wales 1pt (-1) 4. France 0pts (-3)
Women's standings: 1. Ireland 4pts (+1) 2. Wales 4pts (+1) 3. Scotland 3pts (+1) 4. France (-3)
* For more pictures from the tournament available for purchase, taken by Scottish Hockey, click here

Irish underage round-up: Day one

U-18 Girls 4 (Chloe Watkins 2, Lynsey Trainor, Irene Gorman) Scotland 2 (Kirsty Wilson, Stephanie McInally

Ireland's U-18 girls began their three-game series on Friday night with a low-key victory in a game reduced to 25 minutes each way due to the late arrival of some of Scotland's player. The visitors did, however, take an early lead from a quick free, neatly deflected in by Kirsty Wilson.

The Irish response was immediate; Niamh Atcheler's overhead causing mayhem as Vanessa Surgeoner controlled amid the confusion to calmly assist Irene Gorman on the back post (pictured, left).

Scotland retook the lead with a crisp strike from 12 yards but Ireland levelled for a second time when Gillian Pinder drew in the Scottish defence, freeing up Lynsey Trainor to score after the Hermes' attacker weighted a perfect pass to notch up the assist.

Ireland improved in the second half and looked more threatening throughout. Chloe Watkins (pictured, below right) bagged the third goal from a penalty corner drag-flick - via a defender's body - before completing the win from the penalty spot, after Pinder's shot had found a Scottish foot blocking it's route to goal.

Ireland U-16 Girls 2 (Lucy McKee 2) England 3 (Abby Brant, Jessica Hitman, Joe Lee)
In a high tempo clash, Ireland's U-16 girls got their first taste as a team of the new auto-pass ruling. They were initially pinned back by the English visitors to Serpentine Avenue but looked to have weathered the storm due to some good defending but were stung just as they started to break the siege by Abby Brant's opener.

Undeterred, the side responded swiftly as Lucy McKee weaved through two defenders and a goalkeeper to tie the game up and the Irish were in the ascendancy until the break.

But barely a minute into the second period, England were back in front when the aptly named Jessica Hitman made it 2-1. McKee equalised for a second time with another stylish effort but the English side took the win via a quick free on the right flank, working the ball to the back post for Joe Lee to tap in.

McKee and Upton went close soon after but a third leveller proved just out of reach.

U-16 Boys 1 (Ross Canning) England 3
Ross Canning's well taken goal was all Ireland U-16s had to show for their efforts in the first of their three test matches with England at UCD this weekend.

*For more of Adrian Boehm's pictures from Friday's Ireland U-18s vs Scotland, click here

Friday, June 26, 2009

Irish women downed by Belgium

The Irish women's senior team fell to a 3-1 defeat to Belgium this afternoon in Kazan and will now face Ukraine in the competition's third/fourth place play-off at 12.30pm (Irish time) tomorrow.

They were unable to hold onto a tenth minute lead, courtesy of Shirley McCay' penalty corner goal and found themselves chasing the game by half-time.

Jill Boon and Doriane Meuwese overturned the lead by the 24th minute before McCay was sent to the bin on the stroke of half-time. And, with the fourth corner goal of the game, substitute Erica Coppey sealed the win for Belgium with 26 minutes to go.

The Belgians will meet India in the final after they beat Ukraine 2-1.

Ireland complete French Celtic Cup double

Ireland Men 3 (Chris Cargo, Paul Gleghorne, Brian Doherty) France 1 (Freddie Soyez)

Ireland's youngsters produced a performance to remember as they hammered France 3-1 with debutants Chris Cargo (pictured, left), Paul Gleghorne and Brian Doherty all scoring in the first full international game.

Cargo set Ireland on their way in the second minute, hitting home a reverse-stick shot before Gleghorne doubled up in the eighth minute, this time assisted by Bangor-man Cargo. Doherty completed the Irish tally in the 43rd minute with a low penalty corner for a comfortable lead.

The experienced Freddie Soyez - with a caps total likely to be in excess of the entire Ireland squad on display - got a consolation strike with nine minutes to go.

Ireland Women's A 2 (Nikki Evans, Nicci Daly) France 1 (Perrine Roger)
Nicci Daly's 62nd minute strike in her first international outing gave Guy Garrett's side a winning start to the women's Celtic Cup in Edinburgh, beating a defender before burying a shot for the 2-1 win.

Nikki Evans was the first on the scoreboard when Hannah Bowe's pass split the French defence with Daly (pictured, right) laying off to Evans to slot home into an empty goal. The French missed a 48th minute penalty stroke but did get back on level terms when Perrine Roger finished off a swift break away a minute later.

But Ireland closed the game the stronger with Bowe again instrumental, feeding Kate McConnell. The Pegasus player laid on the perfect cross for Daly to net the winner.

Speaking afterwards, Guy Garrett was pleased with his side's performance  "The team started strongly against the French and the result is a great start to the tournament and puts us in a good position for the next two days with good performances from a number of players."

Seven Irish teams do battle this weekend

In what amounts to a perfect storm for Irish hockey, the Irish senior men and women, women's A side, Irish U-18 and U-16 boys and girls are all in action this weekend in 20 fixtures in three different countries.

Undoubtedly, the biggest matches of the weekend are in Kazan where the senior women are fighting for world ranking points at the Champion's Challenge II. They play their semi-final against an up-and-coming Belgian outfit at 3pm today (Irish time), hoping that captain Eimear Cregan can recover from an injured ankle to add to their fire-power up front.

To date, Ireland have impressed in terms of possession and territory but only truly cut loose in their tournament opener against Russia and will need to be wary of livewire forward Sophie Gierst.

In Scotland, a much-changed Ireland men's side lines out for the Celtic Cup with a number of the squad on course to pick up there first caps while the women's equivalent tournament sees the Irish playng three uncapped games with the A selection lining out.

The Irish U-18s are also in Scotland and will play a three-match series against the host country. The squad has yet another wrist injury to contend with as Davy Carson is ruled out for the weekend and so Andy Smyth travels with 17 players. Carson could yet be fit, though, in time for the European Championships.

On hometurf, Ireland's U-18 girls take up residence in Pembroke for the weekend with their three-match series against Scotland at 6pm this evening. They will be followed on pitch by the U-16 girls (8pm) who will subsequently move to UCD for the remaining two games of their series with England.

Completing the set are the Irish U-16 boys who will have 19 players - announced earlier this week - available to play in their three-game series against England, all to be played at UCD.

The panel features eight of the players who lined out in the Leinster U-16 final with four representatives from both Three Rock and Railway. Corinthian's Robbie Burke, Fingal's Mark Ryan and Monkstown's David Cole make up a total of 11 Leinster players in the panel.

Match Schedule:
Friday, June 26: (12pm) Women's A vs France, Edinburgh; (2pm) Senior men vs France, Edinburgh; (3pm) Ireland Senior women vs Belgium, Kazan; (6pm) U-18 Girls vs Scotland, Pembroke; (8pm) U-18 Girls vs Scotland, Pembroke; (8pm) U-16 Boys vs England, UCD

Saturday, June 27: (10am) Women's A vs Wales, Edinburgh; (12pm) Senior men vs Wales, Edinburgh; (4pm) U-16 Girls vs Scotland, UCD; (5pm) U-18 Girls vs Scotland, Pembroke; (6pm) U-16 Boys vs England, UCD

Sunday, June 28: (TBC) Ireland Senior women vs TBC, Kazan; (2pm) Women's A vs Scotland, Edinburgh; (4pm) Senior men vs Scotland, Edinburgh; (9am) U-18 Girls vs Sco
tland, Pembroke; (9.30am) U-16 Girls vs Scotland, UCD; (11.30am) U-16 Boys vs England, UCD

Ireland U-18 Boys: Alistair Thom (GK, Cookstown/Cookstown HS), Stephen West (GK, Three Rock Rovers/St Andrews), Phillip Brown (Banbridge/Banbridge Academy), Scott Forbes (Banbridge/Banbridge Academy), Stephen Cole (Monkstown/St Andrews), Karl Lynch (Cork C of I/Bandon GS), Stephen Hunter (Lisnagarvey/Wallace HS), David Carson (Corinthian/St Andrews), Stuart Loughrey (capt, Pembroke Wanderers/St Andrews), Peter MacDonnell (Lisnagarvey/Wallace HS), Peter Purcell (Annadale/Sullivan Upper), Mark Crooks (Cookstown/Cookstown HS), Ian Sloan (Cookstown/Cookstown HS), Kyle Good (Three Rock Rovers/Wesley College), Stephen Dowds (Banbridge/Banbridge Academy), Shane O’Donoghue (Glennane/High School), Jonathan Ames (Cookstown/Cookstown HS), Stuart O’Grady (Cork C of I/Ashton)

Ireland U-18 Girls: Sammy Jo Greer (GK) (Coleraine/Ballymoney), Emilie Molloy (GK) (Colaiste Iognaid/Galway), Niamh Atcheler (St Andrews/Hermes), Natalie Barr (Lurgan/Lurgan), Naomi Carroll (St Patricks Comprehensive/Catholic Institute), Katie Codyre (Colaiste Iognaid/Greenfields), Deirdre Duke (Alexandra College/Hermes), Brenda Flannery (Captain) (Colaiste Iognaid/Greenfields), Orla Fox (Mount Sackville/Pembroke Wanderers), Sarah Greene (Loreto Foxrock/Hermes), Hannah Matthews (Loreto Beaufort/Loreto), Ali Meeke (High School/Loreto ), Anna Mae Morton (Royal School Armagh/Armagh), Dora Gorman (Taylors Hill/Greenfields), Gillian Pinder (St Andrews and Hermes), Vanessa Surgeoner (Ballyclare/Randalstown), Lynsey Trainor (Colaiste Iognaid/Galway), Chloe Watkins (St Andrews/Hermes)

Ireland U-16 Boys: Michael Anderson (Banbridge Academy/Banbridge), Robert Burke (Wesley/Corinthian), Nicholas Burns (Midleton/Cork C of I), Ross Canning (St Columba’s/TRR), David Cole (St Andrew’s/Monkstown), Jeremy Duncan (Kilkenny/ Railway Union), Mark Ingram (Oatlands/Railway Unuion), Matthew Lecky (Royal & Prior/Raphoe), Shane Madeley (Wesley/TRR), Owen Magee (Banbridge Academy/Banbridge), Fiachra Maher (St Andrews/Railway Union), David McCrea (Wesley College/TRR), Joshua Moffett (Banbridge Academy/Banbridge), Paul Ritchie (Regent House/North Down), Mark Ryan (Sutton Park/Fingal), Thomas Samuel (Wesley/TRR), Robin Smyrl (Banbridge Academy/Banbridge), Jeffrey Spillane (Blackrock College/Railway Union), Scott Sullivan (Bandon Grammar/Bandon), Darren Sweetnam (Bandon Grammar/Bandon)

Ireland U-16 girls: Vikki Hynes (GK) (Salerno/Knocknacarra), Martha Hume-Barber (GK, High School/Corinthian), Lucy Camlin(GK, Ballyclare High/Ballyclare), Freddie Timmons (Taylors Hill/Galway), Amy Kate Trevor (Scoil Mhuire/Cork C of I), Juliette King Hall (Newpark Comp/Hermes), Louise Murray (Lurgan College/Lurgan), Gemma Frazer (Omagh High/Omagh), Roisin Upton (Cresent Comp/Catholic Inst), Amy Cooke (Ballyclare HS/Ballyclare), Leah Ewart (Royal Sch Armagh/Armagh), Kerri Mc Donald (Banbridge Academy/Dromore), Lisa Mc Carthy (Mount Anville/Railway Union), Katie Morris (Strathearn Sch/Belfast Victorians), Rebecca Barry (Laurel Hill Colaiste/Catholic Inst), Joanne Orr (Royal Sch Armagh/Armagh), Lucy McKee (Banbridge Academy/Armagh), Emily Beatty (Alexandra College/Old Alex), Aisling Naughton (Mount Anville/Corinthian), Elaine Carey (Jesuits, Galway/Galway), Chloe Brown (Nendrum College/North Down)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jacob strike ensures top spot

Lisa Jacob's (pictured celebrating UCD's ISC win) 18th minute, penalty corner goal against Malaysia - in combination with Ukraine's 2-1 win over Russia - meant Ireland topped their Champion's Challenge II group in Kazan early this morning.

The Wexford native defelcted home Shirley McCay's bash from Ireland's second corner of the day for her second goal of the tournament. The Irish largely controlled play but made for a nervy second half when conceding a number of corners after the break while failing to capitalise on a two minute spell which yieled four offensive corners.

Gene Muller, however, was happy that the primary objective for the tournament was acheived: “Malaysia is a greatly improved side and it was a difficult test. Our defence has been superb over the last three matches and we survived their attacks and corners. We are in the last four which is where we were aiming to be after the pool stages.”

Ireland will now play either Belgium or India in the semi-finals on Friday (3pm, Irish time); their opponent dependent on results this afternoon.

Ireland: Emma Gray, Lauren Barr, Emma Clarke, Bridget Cleland, Lisa Jacob, Shirley McCay, Niamh Small, Cathy McKean, Alex Speers, Emma Stewart, Nikki Symmons
Subs: Lizzie Colvin, Michelle Harvey, Roisin Flinn, Megan Frazer, Emma Smyth
Rested: Mary Goode (GK), Eimear Cregan (Capt)

Group B final standings (points, goal diff): 1. Ireland 7pts (+5) 2. Ukraine 7pts (+2) 3. Malaysia 1pt (-2) 4. Russia 1pt (-5)

Avoca appoint Mark Cullen

Avoca have appointed former player and Irish international, Mark Cullen, as their new men's first team coach for the 2009/10 season.

Cullen played hockey at the highest level throughout his career, representing Leinster as well attaining 46 Caps for Ireland, and was part of the all-conquering Avoca side of the 90's.

Since retiring from playing senior hockey, Cullen has been heavily involved in youth coaching both within the club and in Newpark school.

A spokesman for Avoca said of the appointment: "The club are delighted to appoint Mark as coach as we look to further develop the mens first team with ambitions of promotion to Division 1, as well as continued development of the club's youth system."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Colvin secures Ukranian draw

Lizzie Colvin (pictured) came off the bench for the second time in two days to score, this time earning Ireland with a levelling goal in today's 1-1 draw with Ukraine in the second group game of the Champions Challenge.

Colvin struck in the 59th minute from a switched penalty corner - Ireland's fourth of the game. It came just two minutes after Ireland had fallen behind as Maryna Vynohradova had given Ukraine the lead when she was left unmarked in the circle following a cheap turnover.

The result means the pair top the group with Ireland marginally ahead on goal difference going into their final group game with Malaysia early on Wednesday morning but will be hoping Eimear Cregan will see some action. She has missed the opening two fixtures due to an ankle injury.

Ukraine had started this fixture the stronger, holding the guts of possession and territory. The influence of Nikki Symmons and Michelle Harvey, though, in midfield led to greater stability after the turnaround as Ireland gained a greater foothold in the game.

Speaking afterwards, Gene Muller said of the match: "It was a very tough match for us. It was a battle, but after going a goal down we stayed in contention to come back and tie the match. Overall, I was very happy with our performance."

His side need just a point to advance to the semi-finals of the competition after Malaysia and Russia drew 2-2. India, meanwhile, are the team to beat in Pool A, with two wins and 13 goals to date.

Ireland team: Emma Gray (GK), Lauren Barr, Emma Clarke, Bridget Cleland, Lisa Jacob, Shirley McCay, Roisin Flinn, Megan Frazer, Emma Smyth, Emma Stewart, Nikki Symmons
Subs: Lizzie Colvin, Niamh Small, Cathy McKean, Alex Speers, Michelle Harvey
Rested: Mary Goode(GK), Eimear Cregan

Final group game: Wednesday, June 24 (10am (7am GMT)) Ireland v Malaysia

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Symmons' double provides perfect start for Ireland

An immense first half performance from Ireland in Kazan, Russia meant they got off to a perfect start in the Champion's Challenge II, beating the hosts 4-0.

All the goals came in the first half with Nikki Symmons (pictured) firing home two penalty corners either side of a field goal from club mate Lizzie Colvin - coming just three minutes after being sprung from the bench - tapping in her first international goal after Alex Speers burst down the right wing.

The latter pair of goals came while the Russians were down to 10 players, Evginia Sorokina the first of two Russians sent to the bin for a hefty tackle on Shirley McCay.

Lisa Jacob netted the fourth three minutes before half-time to complete the rout, deflecting home Emma Clarke's pass. Ireland head their group on goal difference after Ukraine beat Malaysia 2-1. The Eastern European side are Ireland's opponents on Monday afternoon, tipping off at 4pm (Russian time).

Ireland (vs Russia): Mary Goode, Lauren Barr, Bridget Cleland (capt), Lisa Jacob, Shirley McCay, Cathy McKean, Alex Speers, Emma Smyth, Emma Stewart, Nikki Symmons, Emma Clarke
Subs: Lizzie Colvin, Roisin Flinn, Megan Frazer, Niamh Small, Michelle Harvey

Ireland U-18s share series

Ireland's U-18s finished their low-key, three-match series with England with a 4-1 defeat, meaning they shared the spoils with a win a piece and the other match drawn. Both sides ended with six goals from the three games.

Katie Codyre got her second of the weekend in this morning's action.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

U-18s impress against England

Mary Logue's Ireland U-18s have earned, at the very least, a share of their three-match series ahead of the final game with England tomorrow morning (10.30am) after two impressive performances.

A 3-0 win courtesy of goals from Loreto's Ali Meeke and Hermes' duo Deirdre Duke and Niamh Atcheler (pictured) on Friday was followed up by a 2-2 draw this afternoon. Meeke was again on the score-sheet, this time Connacht starlet Katie Codyre getting the other goal.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

IHA to host High Performance course / Railway Union multi-sport camp

* The IHA will run a High Performance Coaching Course on July 10 and 11 in conjunction with the Men’s FIH Champions Challenge II with coaching presentations by top national coaches along with task based learning using the international match play.

This course will be structured in a similar fashion to FIH High Performance Courses to allow candidates to develop towards high performance level. The objectives are to provide an interactive workshop and learning opportunities for coaches working at provincial, national or senior club level (premier league). It will also form part of the Level 3 assessment process.

The course will be facilitated by David Passmore (HP Director) and Mick McKinnon (formerly Coach Education Officer of Irish Hockey) with presentations by national coaches Gene Muller and Paul Revington and other guest coaches from national teams playing at the tournament.

The cost is €60/£50 except from those registered on the Level 3. Places are limited to 22 for the full course. For more information, contact Vivienne on Vivienne.clarke@hockey.ie

* Railway Union will host two multi-sport camps for boys and girls aged 6-12 over the next fortnight with kids taking part in hockey, tennis, soccer, tag rugby, cricket, bowls and some 'surprise' sports.

The camp has two one-week programmes commencing on June 22 and June 29. The fee is €90 per child and the camps run Monday to Friday from 10am to 2pm. For more information, contact manager@railwaysport.com.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Own-goal ruling for EHL

Pembroke and Glenanne will have an additional new rule to get their head around in next season’s EHL with a trial law for the 2009/10 competition which makes own goals now a possibility.

The new rule states that “a goal is scored when the ball is played within the circle by an attacker or touches the stick or body of a defender within the circle and does not travel outside the circle before passing completely over the goal-line and under the cross-bar.”

This varies significantly from the current FIH ruling, meaning that now if a defender inadvertently deflects a cross from outside the circle into the net then a goal would be given.

The organisers believe the move will “clear up any debates about whether or not an attacker got a touch in the circle”.

The two Irish sides will play their first round matches either on October 9-11 or October 23-25. The full draw for the group stages, though, has yet to be made.

Garrett names women's Celtic Cup squad

Guy Garrett will take charge of an Ireland A selection for the women’s Celtic Cup in Scotland as the central panel will be competing in the Champion’s Challenge II event in Kazan, Russia.

To that end, he today announced a squad of 16 for the tournament which runs from June 26-28, saying: "We have been working hard and, with our final training camp this coming weekend, I feel that we are ready for the challenge that lies ahead. We have shown that we have become a much more cohesive unit over the past ten months."

Ireland A will take on France, Wales and then hosts Scotland who have won the Celtic Cup for the last two years.

In a much-changed line-up from the panel that played Germany’s U-21s in March, Emma Smyth, Lauren Barr, Megan Frazer, Michelle Harvey and Lizzie Colvin are all with the senior panel while Grace Watters and the injured Zara Delany are unavailable.

Kate McConnell returns after a stint in Australia while Slough-based Hannah Bowe is back in the fray, too. Aisling Campion, Miriam Crowley, Nicci Daly, Rachel Mulligan, Stephanie Quinn, Cliodhna Sargent and Emma Thornbury are the others included this time around.

Ireland A squad: Hannah Bowe (Slough), Aisling Campion (Loreto), Miriam Crowley (UCC), Nicci Daly (Glenanne), Nicola Evans (Hermes), Vicki Green (GK, Clifton), Kate McConnell (Pegasus), Liz McInerney (UCD), Rachel Mulligan (Armagh), Anna O'Flanagan (Hermes), Audrey O'Flynn (UCC), Stephanie Quinn (Armagh), Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins), Katherine Steenson (Armagh), Helen Stevenson (GK, Railway Union), Emma Thornbury (Armagh)

Match Schedule:
Friday, June 26 (12pm):
Ireland A v France
Saturday, June 27 (10am): Ireland A v Wales
Sunday, June 28: Ireland A v Scotland (2pm)

Seventeen named for Champion's Challenge

One place remains to be filled for the Irish men’s Champion’s Challlenge II after Paul Revington (pictured, right) announced 17 of his panel of 18 for the tournament which gets underway on July 6 in Belfield.

The squad includes 17 of the players which travelled to Wales two weeks ago with Mikey Watt the only player from that panel not named in this latest selection. Revington will name the eighteenth player after the Celtic Cup.

Speaking about the upcoming tournament, Revington said “The creation of this level of FIH event is a great incentive for our Irish team to perform well and improve our world ranking. The quality of teams attending this event will also provide our team with a great test of how well we have progressed since January as individuals and as a team collectively."

Ireland squad (club/caps): David Harte (GK, Pembroke Wanderers, 32), Iain Walker (GK, YMCA, 15), Ronan Gormley (Capt, Pembroke Wanderers, 75), Tim Lewis (Pembroke Wanderers, 41), Joe Brennan (Glenanne, 17), Conor Harte (Pembroke Wanderers, 19), John Jackson (Loughborough, 17), Graham Shaw (V/Capt, Glenanne, 129), Stephen Butler (Glenanne, 143), David Hobbs (V/Capt, Cork C of I, 128), John Jermyn (Cork C of I, 92), Andy McConnell (Three Rock Rovers, 7), Geoff McCabe (Banbridge, 40), Eugene Magee (Banbridge, 81), Timmy Cockram (Lisnagarvey, 74), Mitch Darling (Three Rock Rovers, 20), Alan Sothern (Pembroke Wanderers, 16)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

IHA to launch nationwide indoor competition

The IHA has announced it will launch two new indoor hockey club competitions – the National Mens Indoor Trophy and the National Womens Indoor Trophy - for the 2009/10 season.

For the winner of each competition lies the major carrot of representing Ireland at the European Indoor Club Championships in 2011.

Both competitions will be structured as a National Indoor Finals event, played over the weekend of February 6 and 7, 2010, consisting of 8 teams. Qualification for the final's weekend will take place through regional qualification tournaments.

The format of the regional qualification tournaments will be determined by the IHA Indoor Committee once entries from participating clubs have been confirmed. Due to the final's dates, the Indoor Committee anticipate that the regional qualification tournaments would take place between November/December 2009 and January 2010.

The competitions are open to all IHA affiliated clubs in Ireland and those interested in participating are requested to notify the IHA office by emailing katie.roche@hockey.ie before June 30.

To cover the expected cost of hall hire, equipment etc, the entry fee for the competition will be between €400 and €500 per team.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Irish Masters set for Leinster get-together

The Irish Masters will hold a get-together in Sutton Park School on the weekend of July 11 and 12 with a view to increasing their Leinster player-base from which squads will be selected for both a four-nation's tournament in August and the world championships in October.

Head coach Andy Nye is encouraging all over 40-year-old players to try out for the side ahead of what will be an exciting autumn season for the Masters.

They first travel to England to play the home nations before travelling to Hong Kong two months later for the prestigious world championships.

Nye hopes to build a large panel from which to select from and is ambitious about what can be achieved with an enthusiastic group. The get-together is confirmed for Sunday, June 12 at 12pm while the Saturday time is currently to be finalised. For more information, contact nye_andy@hotmail.com.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Irish clubs remain in European second-tier

Ireland will not receive a place in the enlarged EuroHockey Club Champion's Cup, announced on Friday afternoon, meaning Loreto and UCD will take on the second and third tier of European competition in 2009/10.

With a view to building toward a women's EuroHockey League, the EHF has increased the entries from eight to 12 teams in the Club Champion's Cup with the Cup Winner's Cup discontinued.

For 2009/10, clubs will be split into five divisions with, based on European club results over the past three years, with Europe's top four clubs receiving two entries to the top competition and the remaining four places going to the continent's fifth to eighth ranked teams.

As such, with Ireland currently rated the twelfth best performing country at club level, Loreto will play in the EuroHockey Club Champion's Trophy with UCD in the third-tier Challenge I event in much the same structure as previous years.

The top teams will play in a condensed version of the men's EHL, beginning with four groups of three next April 2, 2010. The KO8 round will be played on April 5 and the subsequent finals weekend dates will be confirmed at a later date.

* For more information on the new competition structure, click here (needs Adobe Acrobat)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fitzgerald, Robinson, Doherty and Giles set for Irish debuts

Paul Revington has announced an experimental line-up for the upcoming Celtic Cup in Scotland later this month with David Fitzgerald, Brian Doherty, David Robinson and Alan Giles all set to make their senior international debuts.

With the Champion's Challenge and European's on the horizon, the Irish manager has named eight uncapped players in his panel of 18 with Johnny Jackson (pictured) the only outfielder remaining from last week's trip to Wales. Nine of the panel are still U-21.
Revington explains his reasoning for the young panel: “The Celtic Cup is placed too close to the Champions Challenge II, which carries major FIH and European ranking significance and as such we have taken the decision to rest several key senior players.

“This squad has several members who have been called up from the ‘A’ side as they move into their final phase of development. The Celtic Cup offers them the opportunity to showcase their qualities on the international stage as they endeavour to secure a place in the full senior squad.”

IHA high performance director, Dave Passmore, adds “It is great to see so many new caps, several who have been working with the ‘A’ set up for some time and others who are new into the system. This demonstrates the strength of the system and it is a credit to the clubs for their development.”

In addition to the quartet of Leinster debutants Paul Gleghorne, Andrew Herbert, Bruce McCandless and Chris Cargo get their first call-up.

Ireland men's squad:
Iain Walker (GK, YMCA), David Fitzgerald (GK, Monkstown), John Jackson (Capt, Loughborough), Brian Doherty (Corinthian), Adam Pritchard (Cork C of I), Paul Gleghorne (Loughborough), Keith Black (Cookstown), Simon Todd (Mossley), David Ames (Cookstown), David Robinson (YMCA), Alan Giles (vice-captain, Pembroke Wanderers), Michael Maguire (Three Rock Rovers), Andrew Herbert (Cork C of I), Peter Blakeney (Three Rock Rovers), Peter Caruth (Annadale), Gareth Watkins (Monkstown), Bruce McCandless (Banbridge), Chris Cargo (Reading)

Match Schedule
Friday, June 26:
(2pm) Ireland v France; (6pm) Scotland v Wales
Saturday, June 27: (12pm) Ireland v Wales; (4pm) Scotland v France
Sunday, June 28: (12pm) France v Wales; (4pm) Scotland v Ireland

For more info, click here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cronje takes Corinthian reins

In the wake of John McInroy's move to UCD, Corinthian have moved quickly to confirm Olympian Andrew Cronje (pictured) as their new head coach for the 2009/10 season.

Cronje was a key component in the club's rise to an IHL placing and the Mills Cup since arriving mid-season and will now become player-coach with Peter Darley staying on as his assistant. Charlie Lyons, fitness coach Marc Smith and physical therapist Mike Carswell complete the club's management ticket.

Commenting on Cronje’s appointment, Darley said, “it’s fantastic to have someone of Andrew’s calibre taking charge of such an exciting season. While we are sorry to see John leave, he goes with our best wishes for the future and he leaves behind a squad of players that have benefited from his hard work and infectious enthusiasm. We’re all really looking forward to the IHL and to the further developments in the squad that Andrew will bring as coach.”

Corinthian club president, Sean Murtagh, added “The next season promises to be an exciting one for Corinthian. We are fortunate to have a rich vein of talent coming through our junior ranks. The integration of these players into our senior set up will be vital to the future success of Corinthians in competing at Irish Hockey League level. Andrew’s leadership, coaching and playing experiences will be crucial in achieving this.”

Monday, June 8, 2009

McInroy makes UCD switch

John McInroy has been confirmed today as UCD’s player-coach for the 2009/10 coming season, making the switch after a successful season with Corinthian, winning the Mills Cup and obtaining an IHL place.

McInroy’s move comes as the men’s club look to emulate the achievements of the UCD women’s setup with UCD Director of Sport Brian Mullins saying of McInroy’s appointment: “We are delighted John has come on board. He brings with him first hand experience of University hockey transformation following his involvement with University of Cape Town and their rise to the South African national club championship in 2003.

“That particular team produced seven senior international players and we see this as being a target for UCD Sport. We are excited about the next phase for UCD Hockey.”

The former Pembroke man will take up an MBA in the UCD-affiliated Smurfit Business School and said of the move: “This was simply an opportunity I could not pass. I believe UCD can become one of the most powerful clubs on this island. The lifestyle of a student-athlete is conducive to developing international sportsmen and truly close-knit teams.

“UCD will become an obvious choice for students wishing to achieve high education standards while also developing themselves as elite level hockey players.”

Elsewhere on the coaching merry-go-round, Gerry Wheeler moves back into the Fingal hot-seat with Johnny Harte moving back to Bray’s ladies.

Former Fingal skipper Brian Scully (pictured, right), meanwhile, has taken up the Weston ladies coaching role and has joined the men’s division two club as a player. Paul Kennedy – last year’s coach at Weston – has returned to St James’ Gate.

O'Brien brothers star for Irish cricket team

Railway Union's Niall and Kevin O'Brien (pictured) starred with the bat this afternoon as they repeated their heroic exploits from the 2007 World Cup to see Ireland's cricketers through to the Super 8 stage of the T20 World Cup.

Kevin - who captained Railway's division one hockey side for the first half of the 2008/09 season - hit a heroic 39 off 17 balls as Ireland overhauled Bangladesh's total of 137 for a six-wicket win. Earlier, Niall clubbed 40 off 25 balls to set Ireland up for the win.

Five Leinster players in Irish U-16 squad

Five Leinster players have been named in Una McCarthy's 21-player panel for the upcoming England tests which run from June 26 to 28. Martha Hume-Barber, Juliette King-Hall, Lisa McCarthy, Emily Beatty (pictured) and Aisling Naughton all get the call for the three-match series.

McCarthy will use this panel as a developmental group with the 2010 Europeans in mind, saying: “As this is a non-European competition year for U-16’s and very much about developing players, 21 have been selected with the intention of giving these young players experience of participating in a series of highly competitive matches.

"Having played Belgium at Easter, the majority of that squad remain but a number of new younger players have been added in the hope of building on the progress made over those three matches.”

Ireland U-16 squad: Vikki Hynes (GK) (Salerno/Knocknacarra), Martha Hume-Barber (GK, High School/Corinthian), Lucy Camlin(GK, Ballyclare High/Ballyclare), Freddie Timmons (Taylors Hill/Galway), Amy Kate Trevor (Scoil Mhuire/Cork C of I), Juliette King Hall (Newpark Comp/Hermes), Louise Murray (Lurgan College/Lurgan), Gemma Frazer (Omagh High/Omagh), Roisin Upton (Cresent Comp/Catholic Inst), Amy Cooke (Ballyclare HS/Ballyclare), Leah Ewart (Royal Sch Armagh/Armagh), Kerri Mc Donald (Banbridge Academy/Dromore), Lisa Mc Carthy (Mount Anville/Railway Union), Katie Morris (Strathearn Sch/Belfast Victorians), Rebecca Barry (Laurel Hill Colaiste/Catholic Inst), Joanne Orr (Royal Sch Armagh/Armagh), Lucy McKee (Banbridge Academy/Armagh), Emily Beatty (Alexandra College/Old Alex), Aisling Naughton (Mount Anville/Corinthian), Elaine Carey (Jesuits, Galway/Galway), Chloe Brown (Nendrum College/North Down)

Match Schedule:
Friday, June 26 (8pm): Ireland v England, Pembroke Wanderers
Saturday, June 27 (4pm): Ireland v England, UCD
Sunday, June 28 (9.30am): Ireland v England, UCD

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ireland claim Glendwyr Cup

A second win in two days over Wales saw Ireland pick up the Glendwyr Cup for their troubles in Wrexham but more importantly for Paul Revington's side they were more effective in front of goal, racking up a 3-1 win.

Once again, they dominated possession in the early phases, taking the lead through John Jermyn's drag-flick. Stephen Butler nailed a corner of his own to make it 2-0 by the interval before David Hobbs supplied an outstanding solo effort to complete the scoring.

The C of I man (pictured) bamboozled two defenders before reversing low into the backboard in the 52nd minute. Wales got a consolation goal in the 64th minute from a penalty stroke converted by Rick Gay.

Speaking afterwards, Revington was happier with his side's efforts though plenty of room for improvement exists. “This was an improved performance from the team in terms of possession, penetration and defensive pressure. The team has still a bit to go to turn today's possession and penetration into more goal scoring opportunities”

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cockram fires Irish winner

Timmy Cockram's (pictured) 50th minute goal was enough to give Ireland a 1-0 win over Wales in Wrexham this afternoon in terrbile conditions in a scrappy and bitty game.

The Garvey man netted from a corner switch while David Harte pulled off a series in the closing phases to ensure the clean-sheet and the win.

Afterwards, Paul Revington was pleased with his sides first half performance, saying: “The team did well to get themselves into the game early on and create a foundation to play off. They enjoyed a great phase midway through the first half as they created quality turnovers and counter-attacks. They were disappointed not to capitalise in this period”.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fingal ladies search for new coach

Fingal ladies, who play and train in the ALSAA sports complex beside Dublin Airport, have a coaching position available for their first eleven, currently playing in Division 3 of the Leinster League for the coming season.

An attractive package is available for the right candidate. Please forward all inquiries to Ita McMahon on itamcmahon@gmail.com.

Cookstown to turn sod on water-based pitch

Cookstown will turn the sod on June 15 on their brand new water-based hockey pitch in Coolnafranky, bringing to fruition four years of work behind the scenes.

The £900k project will be the first FIH accredited water-based pitch west of the River Bann in Ulster and will be installed in addition to the club’s current sand-filled pitch.

The project received support from the Sport Northern Ireland Building Sport Programme (£660k) and from Cookstown District Council (£90k). The project will commence next week and it is expected to be complete by October 2009.

The club hopes the grounds will subsequently be considered to host Senior Internationals, along with local cup finals/semi-finals within Ulster Hockey.

Project-manager Stephen Cuddy, said of the project: “This is a very exciting project for the club, we have simply outgrown our current facilities and we made the decision four years ago that if we were going to develop a second pitch it would have to be a water-based.

“At the moment our first eleven have to travel to Belfast every week to gain exposure on the specialist surface. I am excited about having a state of the art facility that the club can be very proud of.”

* Pictured at the launch are (front row) Irish internationals Colin Donaldson, David Ames and Keith Black with (back row) the club's Gareth Cuddy, Alan Ferguson, Stephen Cuddy and Michael Haycock.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Premier League undergoes massive revamp

Alexandra College's quest to retain the Leinster schoolgirl's Premier League looks set to become even tougher than their hard-fought victory last December as the 2009/10 competition takes in an enlarged format.

The league increases in entries from 16 to 18 with Sutton Park and Mount Temple stepping up from Senior One.

The league will now consist of two groups of nine - as opposed to the four groups of four format used in recent years - with schools playing the other sides in their group once. The top two in each pool's final standings then advance to the semi-final stages.

The groups are seeded with the quarter-finalists from last year in the first pot and the remaining eight schools in a second pot. Four teams from both pots were drawn into Group A with the remainder of schools placed into Group B.

There was a subsequent draw for groups between Sutton and Mount Temple to complete the draw. Seeding for the following season will be decided by league placings, adding an extra competitive edge to latter-season games.

The Hook will aim to provide a weekly update from each of the nine rounds of matches with the help of the school's coaches and team managers.

2009/10 Pools
Group A: Wesley College, Mount Sackville, Muckross Park, St Andrew's, Loreto Bray, Loreto Dalkey, Rathdown, Our Lady's Terenure, Mount Temple
Group B: Loreto Beaufort, Mount Anville, Alexandra College, Loreto Foxrock, High School, Holy Child Killiney, King's Hospital, St Gerards, Sutton Park

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Coaching news and positions

* Former Irish international Linda Caulfield and IHA Hall of Famer Johnny Cole are among a high quality line-up of coaches for the two 'Genesis Talent Coaching Clinics' running later this month. The clinics are designed for proficient hockey players, aged between 16 and 19, with spaces limited to 20 players to ensure a coach to player ration of 1:5.

For goalkeepers, the clinics will run on June 22 and 23 from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at UCD with Stephen O'Keefe, Jane Coyne and Eimear Fitzsimons among the coaches. For outfielders, June 24 and 25 are the dates with the clinics beginning at 6pm until 8.30pm. The clinics cost €10. For more information, contact coaching@iol.ie or call Hilary on 086 840 9698.

* Suttonians currently have coaching positions available for the upcoming 2009/10 season for their men's, ladies and colt sections. An attractive package and support is available for the right candidates. All enquires to Darrell Reamsbottom (087-2523214) or suttonians@gmail.com

* Lisnagarvey are currently looking for a men’s 1st XI coach/player-coach for the 2009/2010 season to further develop the first team squad. The main duties will be to prepare the men's firsts for the Ulster Premiership and Irish Hockey League, with possibly further scope within the club.

This position may be a full-time or a part-time post, at the discretion of the club. Candidates would have minimum level 2 coaching qualification (or equivalent) and have experience of coaching/playing hockey at a senior level. For more information, contact lisnagarveycoachingpost@hotmail.co.uk

Muller names squad for Champion's Challenge

Gene Muller today announced his squad to compete in the inaugural Champions Challenge II in Kazan from June 21-27.

The 18-player panel features 13 of the players who lined out against Germany in May. The three who do not travel to Russia are Louisa Healy, Rachel Mulligan and Ciara O’Brien while Lizzie Colvin, Megan Frazer, Mary Goode, Shirley McCay and Alex Speers all come back into the fold.

Ireland, as world number 15, are the second highest ranked side in the competition behind India and feature in a group with Malaysia (24th), Russia (23rd) and the Ukraine (18th) in Pool B. Pool A consists of Belarus (26th), Canada (19th), India (14th) and Belgium (20th).

The group travel out to Kazan on June 17 where they take in a holding camp for three days before getting into action on June 21 against the hosts.

Speaking about the event, Muller believes his charges will be trying hard to impress with the main focus of the year – the Europeans – on the horizon.

“The champions challenge II tournament will provide us with some much needed tournament experience. The tournament is open with many teams of similar ranking all wanting to progress up the world rankings.

“Critically the tournament comes at an ideal time in our preparation for the European Championships. I expect us to play well as the players have worked hard this year.”

Lauren Barr (Ballymoney), Emma Clarke (Ulster Elks), Bridget Cleland (Ballymoney), Lizzie Colvin (Loreto), Eimear Cregan (Capt, Cork Harlequins), Roisin Flinn (UCD), Megan Frazer (Ballymoney), Mary Goode (GK, Bray), Emma Gray (GK, Hermes), Michelle Harvey (Pegasus), Lisa Jacob (UCD), Shirley McCay (Ulster Elks), Cathy McKean (Loreto), Alex Speers (Pegasus), Niamh Small (Loreto), Emma Smyth (Railway Union), Emma Stewart (Armagh), Nikki Symmons (Loreto)

Staff:Gene Muller; Sally Ann Fanagan; Denis Prichard; Karen Coughlin; Rudi Wortmann; Ian McKeown

Match Schedule (times given as GMT)
Sunday, June 21: Ireland v Russia, 3pm
Monday, June 22: Ireland v Ukraine, 1pm
Wednesday, June 24: Ireland v Malaysia, 7am
Friday, June 26 & Saturday, June 27: Classification/Finals

Maguire to play with Leuven

Phelie Maguire will clock up a fifth club in four different countries next season as he agreed a two-year deal yesterday to play with Belgian runners-up and EHL semi-finalists KHC Leuven.

Maguire has previously had stints in Australia with Fremantle and in Holland with HGC as well as playing senior hockey for both Three Rock Rovers and Dublin University.

He impressed Leuven coach Norbert Nederlof during the first group stage of the 2008/09 EHL when the Dutchman - who has conducted numerous coaching seminars in Ireland - saw Maguire up close during Rovers' famous 1-1 draw with Leuven.

The Irish international midfielder has been living and working Belgium for the majority of this season in Brussels before taking part in a volunteer programme in Palestine.

He becomes the first Three Rock player to confirm a move to a European club though Mitch Darling is currently in talks with a couple of Dutch and Belgian clubs with a view to a move to the continent in the coming year.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hermes stunned by Italians

Hermes were shocked by Italian side Mori Villafranca 2-0 in the final of the EuroHockey Club Champion’s Trophy in Wettingen yesterday, as they let slip a series of decent early chances.

It meant there was no fairytale ending for coach Colin Stewart who stepped down after the tournament following an incredible run of nine trophies in his four-year tenure.

Anna O’Flanagan twice went close in the opening stages while Jenny Burke drew an immaculate save from goalkeeper Eliza Gazzini.

But Hermes were stung when Elena Apelganets buried the Italians only corner of the game two minutes before the break. Hermes, for their part, did not score from their eight corners as they bossed the play.

With Sinead McDonnell in the sin-bin - for using her back-stick whilst attempting a tackle on the ground - Villafranca got a crucial second in the 56th minute to settle matters, Anna Tagliaschi applying the final touch to a goal-mouth scramble.

Hermes' efforts became for desperate as they rallied late on in the sweltering heat, especially with the Italians were reduced to nine players for the last five minutes but to no avail.

The result means Ireland miss out on promotion to the Champion’s Cup level of competition, meaning IHL winners Loreto will preside in the Trophy again in 2010.

Elsewhere, there was disappointment for Irish internationals Hannah Bowe - brother of Irish rugby star Tommy - and Emer Harte (pictured in action against Den Bosch) who were part of England’s Slough who were relegated from the Champion’s Cup due to a 4-3 loss to Ukraine’s Dinamo Sumchanka.

In men's European competition, Bloemendaal emerged victorious after an incredible EHL final, just getting the better of holders Uhlenhorst 5-4. The combination work of the world's two best players Jamie Dwyer and Teun de Nooijer was a sight to behold in the first half, building up a 4-0, then 5-1 lead.

The German side bounced back with a stunning fightback but Bloemendaal held on to take the title for the first time. Meanwhile, KHC Leuven, conquerors of Three Rock, lost 3-2 to Uhlenhorst in the semi-final. For highlights of some of the best hockey you will see, go to http://www.ehlhockey.tv/.