Monday, June 7, 2010

Blakeney adds Italian title to Irish and Aussie success

Peter Blakeney became one of a rare few in world sport as a national champion in three different countries as he helped HC de Sisti Roma to the Italian ‘Serie A’ title, adding to prior victories in Australia with the West Australia Thundersticks and in Ireland as part of Three Rock Rovers club championship season in 2008.

With job opportunities scarce in Ireland, Blakeney agreed to join the Italian club in the spring for the second half of their season on a semi-professional basis.

And while he soon got a job offer that would keep him in Ireland, the Killiney man decided to fulfil that agreement and travel back and forth to games each weekend.

He scored four times on debut as Roma surged to the top of the rankings, entering last weekend’s ‘final four’ playoffs as top seeds.

They won a thrilling semi-final against city rivals Butterfly Roma 4-3 on Saturday. Bouyed by a text from Francesco Totti – part of the club’s affiliate football team – his side went on to claim national glory and an EHL place with a 2-1 win over HC Bra.

It was achieved the hard way. A rush of blood saw Roma skipper Federico Ardito give up a corner and a ten minute sin-binning which Massimo Lanzano converted to put Blakeney’s side on the back foot at half-time.

But Luca Settimi levelled matters before Blakeney played a pivotal role in assisting the winner 13 minutes from time, again converted by Settimi to secure the club’s sixth national crown.

“Australia was the highest honour, winning their national championships; beating any side with Jamie Dwyer in it was pretty good. Italy, in terms of standard, it’s probably not up there but the setup is pretty good.

“It was all on television and they create a very nice atmosphere to play in with everyone taking it pretty seriously while playing a national league means you get to travel quite a bit.”

Roma now go for a league and cup double against Lazio in the Italian Cup next Saturday. As for next season, Blakeney remains undecided as yet whether he will be around for their run at the EuroHockey Club Trophy given the heavy toll flying over to Italy every week took after a week’s work.

The travelling Irish have regularly secured national titles abroad in the past decade. Stephen Butler, Graham Shaw and Joe Brennan helped Antwerp’s Dragons to the Belgian league as well as helping Glenanne to Irish Senior and Club championship success while Pembroke’s Ronan Gormley was part of Club de Campo’s Spanish Cup winning side among his many medals.

Former Mossley man Johnny Jackson, meanwhile, is a multiple English indoor winner with Loughborough University but has yet to taste success in Irish club competition.

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