Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Smyth lines out for 6th decade: News in brief

* There was a special moment last Saturday as Railway Union legend Brendan Smyth lined out to play for the first time in his sixth decade of adult league hockey in Leinster, drawing a guard of honour from both UCD III and his own fifth eleven.

Smyth made his senior debut back in the 1960s and has since served as captain of many club teams as well as taking on the club captain and president roles while also serving as an umpire for the LHUA.

He was also instrumental in setting up the Park Avenue club's colts section in which he still coaches 25 years on. From that youth system, daughter Emma has risen through the ranks to take her place in the senior international set-up to add an extra cherry on top of an outstanding contribution to the sport in the province.

* Carol Metchette has been confirmed as one of just four European umpires to be included in the roster for the Women's World Cup, set to be played in Argentina later this year.

Metchette is currently in San Diego where she is officiating in the first of the three World Cup Qualifying tournaments.

Vibrant girl's club scene draws to close

A vibrant girl’s club scene looks set to be finished off in style in the coming weeks as the only formal cup competition – the Jacqui Potter U-16 Cup – sanctioned by the Leinster Branch reaches fever pitch.

Hermes and Railway Union will emulate their senior counterparts when they lock horns at the semi-final stage of the U-16 Jacqui Potter Cup.

Railway advanced from the quarter-finals with a 3-1 win over Three Rock Ladies while Hermes got the better of Muckross on the same scoreline. Alex, meanwhile, await a semi-final opponent with Weston, Corinthian and Suttonians in the mix for the final four place.

In the U-16 leagues, Muckross took the A league, Genesis won the A/B title last week while Alex were triumphant n the B competition. Some results are outstanding for B/C and C leagues.

At U14 level, Corinthian, coached by Michelle Harvey and Holly Warren, won a playoff for the A league over the Mount Anville club side at Whitechurch Park and they backed that up with a double in the B league when they came out on top from their final tie with a young, but well drilled Avoca team in their final.

Botanic, meanwhile took the C league with victory over Mount Anville.

Leagues are organised informally between clubs and cater for girls from 1st to 4th year – they are not strictly organised by ages to facilitate girls playing with their peer groups. It is intended that this format will keep players with clubs for longer.

Meanwhile, in the age groups catering to primary school goers, Mount Anville emerged as eventual winners from a high quality Deirdre Ennis Shield – one of the highlights of the U-13/U-12 club scene – last week, with 16 teams from across the province and beyond taking part including a visit from Sligo’s Yeats County to the Teresian school.

Mount Anville got the better of host team, the Muckross Tigers (pictured, right), in the final 1-0 with Rachel Moore scoring a great goal to seal the title after an excellent day’s action.

The tournament saw teams from Bray, Genesis, Malahide, Loreto, Railway, Our Ladies, Alex, Corinthian, Mount Anville, Yeats, Avoca, Hermes, Pembroke and Muckross divided into four sections to play a series of round robin games.

From these groups, Muckross and Mount Anville emerged from the subsequent quarter and semi-finals to set up a gripping final match with Moore eventually nabbing the winner, holding at bay the host club who could not break down the determined Mount Anville defence.

Ukraine pull out of WCQ; Div one refixes

* Ukraine have pulled out of the upcoming World Cup Qualifier in Chile leaving a vacant place in the competition with either the Netherlands Antilles, Ghana or Lithuania as the next in the list to take up the place. Ukraine were already replacements for Trinidad and Tobago who turned down their invite a month earlier.

Should no one take up the place, it means Ireland will have an extra rest day during the group stages. They have been scheduled to play Scotland on April 24 followed by Malaysia a day later. Any replacement side will be played on April 27 before Australia on April 29. The final group game is on Saturday against Chile on May 1 before the classification matches on May 2.

* The women's Leinster division one looks set to be extended beyond the original April 10 date as a date remains to be confirmed for the Hermes vs Bray fixture. It was originally reset for April 17 by the Leinster Branch, though with a number of divisional finals leading to a possible shortage of umpires, it could yet be switched to April 15 or 18.

Hermes' title rivals will play their back match against UCD on Wednesday, April 7 in Belfield. Pembroke are pencilled in to play Old Alex on April 17 in a fixture which will act as a warm-up game for Alex's IHL playoff bid.

Railway back into share of lead

Women's Division One:
Bray 0 Railway Union 4 (Emer Dillon 2, Sinead Walsh, Cecelia Joyce)
Railway Union scored twice in each half last night to keep their title charge in full working order, condemning Bray to a promotion/relegation play-off. All four goals came from play, Sinead Walsh breaking the deadlock before Cecelia Joyce (pictured) added the second before the break before Emer Dillon added a brace in the second half.

The win moves the Park Avenue side level with Hermes on 43 points from 16 games with a tricky tie at UCD to come and a final day showdown with Hermes. The loss for Bray fully confirms Pembroke are safe from any remote relegation danger.

* If you have any info on the four outstanding matches to be refixed and when they are to be played, please email me at stevie_findlats@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lerinster claim interprovincial treble

Leinster came within ten minutes of completing an interprovincial clean-sweep at Grange Road last weekend but three from four titles represented a more than decent return.

The one that got away proved the women’s senior title as former international Suzanne Beaney struck ten minutes from time to cancel out Cathy McKean’s earlier opener to earn the draw Ulster needed to take the women’s title.

Friday night’s win over Munster had been supplemented by Nicci Daly’s single-goal winner over Connacht on Saturday.

The game-breaker, though, proved to be Alice Garrad’s fortuitous effort for Ulster against Munster to make it 2-0. It was the only tie of the tournament to be decided by more than one goal and came in the wake of southern hesitation after a lifted shot into Sinead McCarthy’s body.

The Ulster women reacted quickest to roll goalwards and Garrad nipped in for a simple touch to secure the goal which ultimately proved vital.
On the men’s senior side, Stephen Butler and Graham Shaw enjoyed what is likely to be their interpro swansong as they jointly lifted the cup.

Friday’s big win over Ulster, combined with Munster and the northern province’s 2-2 draw on Saturday meant the blues needed only a draw on Sunday.

They went one better as Andy McConnell got in around the back of club mate David Harte to grab the winner after Gareth Watkins had earlier grabbed his fourth goal of the tournament.

At U-21 level, the equation was a similar one on Sunday as just a draw was needed to claim the title. Goals from Davy Carson, Brian Doherty and Stephen Cole outdid Dan Hobbs’ pair of corners in their 3-2 win over Munster.

And Leinster’s U-21 women matched that feat in style. They overcame a tough opening battle against Munster to ease past South East on Saturday, captain Anna O’Flanagan leading from the front with a hat-trick before taking the laurels in the winner-takes-all decider with Ulster on Sunday, Railway duo Nikki Evans and Kate McKenna grabbing the goals.

Senior and U21 Interprovincials, Grange Road, Dublin

Senior Men
Ulster 1 (T Cockram) Leinster 4 (G Watkins 3, P Blakeney); Ulster 2 (B McCandless, S Todd) Munster 2 (J Jermyn 2); Munster 1 (J Jermyn) Leinster 2 (G Watkins, A McConnell)
Final standings (pts/goal diff): 1 Leinster 6 pts (+4); 2 Munster 1 pt (-1); 3 Ulster 1 pt (-3).

U21 Men
Ulster 1 (N Hamilton) Leinster 2 (B Doherty, J Kane); Ulster 3 (N Hamilton 3) Munster 2 (D Hobbs 2); Leinster 3 (D Carson, B Doherty, S Cole) Munster 2 (D Hobbs 2);
Final standings (pts/goal diff): 1 Leinster 6 pts (+2); 2 Ulster 3 pts (0); 3 Munster 0 pts (-2).

Senior Women
Ulster 1 (S Quinn) Connacht 0; Munster 0 Leinster 1 (J McDonnell); Leinster 1 (N Daly) Connacht 0; Ulster 2 (S Beaney, A Garrad) Munster 0; Connacht 1 (T Melvin) Munster 2 (A Connery, S McCarthy); Ulster 1 (S Beaney) Leinster 1 (C McKean);
Final standings (pts/goal diff): 1 Ulster 7 pts (+3); 2 Leinster 7 pts (+2); 3 Munster 3 pts (-2); 4 Connacht 0 pts (-3).

U21 Women
Leinster 3 (N Farrell, H Matthews, N Evans) Munster 2 (K Campbell 2); Ulster 4 (K Hewitt, E Thornbury, S McClure, J Kyle) South East 0; Munster 1 (K Murphy) South East 2 (M Byrne, C Murphy); Leinster 3 (A O’Flanagan 3) South East 0; Munster 0 Ulster 6 (E Thornbury 2, K Lammey, K Steenson, J Kyle, K Hewitt); Ulster 0 Leinster 2 (N Evans, K McKenna)
Final standings (pts/goal diff): 1 Leinster 9 pts (+6); 2 Ulster 6 pts (+8); 3 South East 3 pts (-6); 4 Munster 0 pts (-8).

* All the photos from Saturday and Sunday's action can be viewed at the following links:

Interprovincial Trophy Presentations - Adrian Boehm
Senior Women: Leinster vs Ulster - Adrian Boehm
Senior Women: Munster vs Ulster – Adrian Boehm
Senior Men: Munster vs Ulster – Adrian Boehm
Senior Men: Munster vs Ulster – Simon MacAllister
Senior Men: Munster vs Leinster – Adrian Boehm
U21 Men: Munster vs Leinster – Adrian Boehm
U21 Women: Munster vs Leinster – Adrian Boehm

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dundalk GS claim 'B' league treble

Dundalk Grammar school enjoyed a week to savour as they claimed the Senior B, Junior B (left) and Minor B (right) school’s hockey titles this week with Mount Temple taking home the U-13 B title.

It proved to be the biggest haul in a single year for the school, raising thoughts that they may step up to ‘A’ level hockey in the coming years.

The concerns remain, though, that the lack of a club side in the near vicinity to help provide the extra coaching and competition, more prevailent inside the M50 ring in Dublin, needed to raise the strength in depth to step up to the next level could be a hindrance.

Nonetheless, the school continues to produce strong teams and they retained the senior crown in style.

They came from behind to deny High School in a second final this season, eventually recording a 3-2 final win, powered forward by Irish U-18 talent Andrew Shekleton.

David de Loughrey opened the scoring before Shane O’Donoghue was on hand to help switch the lead in favour of the Rathgar side.

Rob Carr, though, tied the fixture up at 2-2 and Philip Rowntree proved the hero as he netted three minutes from time to snatch the title.

Carr was also on target in the Junior final as the Louth men once again prevailed on a 3-2 scoreline, this time getting the better of a St Killians, for whom captain David Kane and goalkeeper Shane Bourke were recently included in a Leinster selection to play a touring South African side.

He grabbed the first goal of the tie and, while the German school got back on level terms, Niall Curran and Josh Arrowsmith built up a commanding 3-1 lead before a late penalty stroke made for a tight finish.

In the minor final played at Griffeen Valley Park, goals from Brendan McDonnell and Norman Ogunde led the school to their third title of the week on Friday, getting the best of Mount Temple 2-1.

Temple, though, had reason to celebrate as they won the U-13 B crown with a 2-1 win over St Andrew’s B.

Alex II claim women's division Two

Old Alex II claimed the ladies two division title on Saturday as Sylvia Gilsenan and Caroline Maguire got the goals needed to overcome main title rivals Loreto II at Beaufort. The win for Gillian Garrett's side put them an unassailable ten points clear of the pack with their opponents left with only three games to play to take the title with something to spare, rendering their 2-0 defeat at the hands of Hermes II on Sunday purely academic.

A potential double remains on the cards, too, if they can get past the challenge of Randalstown II in the Irish Junior Cup final, to be played on April 10 in Belfield

The race for a potential play-off place, though, remains very much game on. Genesis retook the initiative as they picked off two wins last weekend, first off with a 2-0 win out in Skerries before adding the scalp of Loreto II on Sunday, also on a 2-0 scoreline.

They jump ahead of North Kildare who made their big move with wins over Three Rock Ladies and Clontarf a week earlier. The Kilcock side lie two places off Genesis, both with 18 games played, while TRL are also in the mix, one point behind Kildare with a game in hand.

The first eleven side in the best final position is likely to meet Bray in a promotion/relegation play-off. When this will be played remains to be seen, especially as the Wicklow side are likely to be without Mary Goode until May due to Ireland's involvement in the World Cup Qualifiers.

* With women's three to 14 finishing up, for the most part, last weekend, if you would like to see your league-winning or promoted side featured and on the Hook, please email details to stevie_findlats@yahoo.com about key players, interesting facts and photos to d get your club heroes some publicity!

Weston in pole position; Avoca playoff bound

Enda Tucker's goal put Weston on course for a spot in division one in 2010/11 as his strike was all that was required to get the better of Navan last Saturday at Griffeen Valley Park. They move into a tie for first place with Avoca whose regular season finished with the decision by the Leinster Branch to award the club the points from their fixture with Bray, called off a week earlier when the Wicklow club was unable to field.

It leaves the pair tied on 30 points but Weston still have a game remaining against Suttonians and, should they take a point from that tie, will be crowned division two champions.

For so long the front runners, Suttonians' challenge finally came to an end on Saturday as Bray's Simon Cox showed his quality to net four times in a 4-2 win, Ian Martin and Conor Gillett with the goals in response, finishing off a disappointing second half of the season after a scintillating pre-Christmas run. Just one win since the turn of the year saw their lead dissipate and look set to end the season in fourth.

Avoca will face some kind of play-off no matter what happens in the final fixture of the season. Should Suttonians win, they could face a winner-takes-all fixture against Weston while defeat would see the Blackrock side challenge Railway Union.

Navan, meanwhile, after a promising first season under coach Stephen McGrath still end up with the wooden spoon in sixth place while Bray, for all their troubles, managed to leap-frog the Meath side on the final day of the season.

Saturday results: Weston 1 (Enda Tucker) Navan 0; Bray 4 (Simon Cox 4) Suttonians 2 (Ian Martin, Conor Gillett); Avoca w/o Bray scr

Friday, March 26, 2010

Watkins gives Leinster impetus

Gareth Watkins’ hat-trick gave Leinster the major impetus on the opening night of the men’s senior interprovincial championships as they smashed a listless Ulster 4-1 at Grange Road last night.

The Monkstown striker bashed home on his open side in the seventh minute following a long-straight ball worked its way through the heart of the northern province’s defence.

He doubled up with an improvised reverse-stick strike with half-time closing in. Peter Blakeney swept home to make it 3-0 early in the second half before Watkins got the simplest of tap-ins to Alan Sothern’s cross for a comfortable lead.

Ulster offered little but pulled one back in the final via Timmy Cockram’s drag-flick.

Earlier, the Leinster U-21s came from a goal behind to beat their Ulster counterparts 2-1. Neal Hamilton opened the deadlock in the fourth minute but a concerted second half effort saw Brian Doherty level with a drag-flick and Jonathon Kane squeeze in the winner while Ulster were down to nine players.

In the women’s competition, Ulster and Leinster were both pushed all the way before scoring second half winners.

Stephanie Quinn swept home a 42nd minute corner switch to out-gun a game Connacht outfit who came close to forcing an equaliser late on.

Leinster, meanwhile, had to wait until the 58th minute before Jean McDonnell grabbed the winner against a Munster side who shaded the possession stakes but could not break down the home defence. Pamela Smithwick pulled off a pair of fine saves late on to keep hold of the points.

Senior Men
Leinster 4 (Gareth Watkins 3, Peter Blakeney) Ulster 1 (Timmy Cockram)

Senior Women:
Ulster 1 (Stephanie Quinn) Connacht 0; Leinster 1 (Jean McDonnell) Munster 0

U-21 Men:
Leinster 2 (Brian Doherty, Jonathon Kane) Ulster 1 (Neil Hamilton)

* For more of Deryck Vincent's photos from the women's Leinster vs Munster fixture click here and for the men's Leinster vs Ulster match, click here.

Muller names squad for WCQ in Chile

Gene Muller announced his 18 player panel for Ireland’s World Cup Qualifier team to compete in Santiago, Chile in late April in midweek after a series of challenge matches behind closed doors last weekend against Germany's U-21s.

From the squad that competed in the European championships, four changes have been made with Louisa Healy, Niamh Small, Julia O’Halloran and Audrey O’Flynn coming in place of Emma Gray, Lauren Barr, Cathy McKean and Emma Stewart.

Audrey O’Flynn is the only player to come into the panel without major tournament experience, having made her debut early in 2010. Her inclusion is the major surprise, seemingly a direct replacement for the experienced Emma Stewart but brings a significant corner option to the table.

The other changes were slightly more clear-cut, Cathy McKean’s (pictured, below right with Stewart and Nikki Symmons) retirement opened one space while the keenly contested goalkeeper quandary was simplified by Emma Gray’s exam pressures.

Julia O’Halloran has impressed in the green since coming back from a year’s study break from international hockey.

The absence of Barr and Stewart means one less recognised defender in the panel and an extra player in the front six though Southern Fried reports Nikki Symmons could be used in the sweeper role.

Speaking about the selection, Muller said: “Our main aim will be performing to our potential. Our preparation has been thorough and we have no immediate injury scares which bodes well for the team.

“There are no easy points given the evenly matched nature of the teams in Santiago, so mental toughness will be paramount to progress in this tournament. Australia is the obvious stand-out team having recently lost in the Champions trophy final.”

Ireland are the second seeds in the group with world number five’s Australia the runaway favourites to take the one qualifying place in Argentina in August. Chile (16th), Ukraine (21st), Malaysia (22nd) and Scotland (23rd) make up a tough group. The series of fixtures has yet to be finalised by the FIH.

In other international news, Ireland's men remain 18th in the world rankings following the completion of the World Cup earlier this month. This position is unlikely to change before the end of the year with only the Champion's Trophy impacting the rankings at the top end later in 2010.

Ireland - WCQ panel
Emma Clarke (Leicester), Bridget Cleland (vice captain, Ballymoney), Lizzie Colvin (Loreto), Eimear Cregan (Captain, Catholic Institute), Roisin Flinn (Old Alex), Megan Frazer (Maryland), Mary Goode (GK, Bray), Michelle Harvey (Pegasus), Louisa Healy (GK, Loreto), Lisa Jacob (UCD), Shirley McCay (Dragons), Audrey O’Flynn (UCC), Julia O'Halloran (UCC), Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins), Niamh Small (Loreto), Emma Smyth (Railway), Alex Speers (Dragons), Nikki Symmons (Loreto)

Wesley senior boys take third major

John Waring All-Ireland Schoolboy’s Championship Final
Wesley 1 (Shane Madeley) St Andrew’s 0
Revenge proved a dish served piping hot for Wesley as Shane Madeley scored the vital goal to hand the Ballinteer school the John Waring All-Ireland Schoolboy Championship just a fortnight after a relinquishing the Leinster Senior Cup by the same scoreline.

The Irish U-16 hitman was the beneficiary of an outstanding baseline run from Alan White who drew goalkeeper Stephen West before laying on the perfect pull-back for Madeley to roll home in the seventh minute.

It proved the only goal of an absorbing contest to round off a fast and furious second edition of the John Waring “super sixes” competition, featuring the cup finalists from Ulster, Munster and Leinster.

Due to costs, the tournament was condensed into a one-day format rather than the two-day event last time out, making each school play potentially three fixtures.

Wesley progressed from what looked the harder group, beating Ulster champions Banbridge - shorn of the skills of Stephen Dowds due to a hamstring injury - 2-1 courtesy of two Peter English drag-flicks to seal their place in the decider following an earlier 4-1 win over Ashton.

St Andrew’s, though, were forced to see their destiny unfold in front of them as a 0-0 draw with Belfast’s Campbell College put them in danger of elimination.

The matter was decided by who could get the better scoreline against Bandon Grammar. First up, Andrew’s recorded a 3-1 win and then could only watch as Andrew Williamson and Chris Morrow put Campbell on the brink at 2-0. Andrew Scannell’s response, though, for the southerners meant the Booterstown school could breathe again and take up their title shot.

The exertions of the day meant there was little in it as players succumbed to cramp at regular intervals. Wesley served notice of intent, earning their only penalty corner inside three minutes before Madeley kept his cool to finish off an excellent move for 1-0.

Neal Megarity – who had a fine game from full-back – almost laid on a second when he squeezed a cross right past the face of a gaping goal-mouth while Madeley’s interchange with Andrew Malcolm early in the second half almost earned an insurance goal.

Andrew’s had their chances in the second half. Fiachra Maher’s push beat goalkeeper Rob Fitzgerald but had not the weight to get by the covering Megarity while the defender was also out fast to block a David Cole drag-flick to keep score-sheet clean and earn a third piece of silverware.

Wesley now travel to Holland at Easter to play in the European School’s Hockey Championships.

Wesley: R Fitzgerald, D McCrea, R Burke, C Motyer (capt), A White, K Shimmins, P English, N Megarity, S Madeley, T Samuel,
Subs: S Doherty, A Malcolm, D Sturley, L Chadwick, J Lewis, A Roberts, C Quinn, S Margetson

St Andrew’s: S West, M Cronin, F Maher, R Sykes, J Beirne, M Styles, D Cole, S Nolan, G Garrett, S Spence, C Stephens
Subs: R Anderson, R Nair, S O’Halloran, D Watkins, J Donnellan, J Codd, A Gaw

John Waring All-Ireland Schoolboy’s Championship results
Pool A: Bandon 1 (A Scannell) St Andrew’s 3 (D Watkins, C Stephens, F Maher); Campbell College 0 St Andrew’s 0; Campbell College 2 (A Williamson, C Morrow) Bandon 1 (A Scannell)
Standings: 1. St Andrew’s 3pts (+2) 2. Campbell 3pts (+1) 3. Bandon 0pts (-3)

Pool B: Banbridge Academy 2 (Phil Brown, H McShane) Ashton 1 (W Johnston); Wesley 4 (L Chadwick, P English, R Burke, C Motyer) Ashton 1 (W Brownlow); Wesley 2 (P English 2) Banbridge Academy 1 (Phil Brown)
Standings: 1. Wesley 4pts (+4) 2. Banbridge 2pts (0) 3. Ashton 0pts (-4)

* For all of the Hook's photos from the John Waring All-Ireland Schoolboy's Championship, click here. This version of the article originally appeared in Thursday's Evening Herald.

Avoca take on division two lead

Avoca became the third side to hold the top spot in five days in men’s division two as they won twice in midweek, edging ahead of Weston by virtue of goal difference though the Lucan side have a game in hand.

The Blackrock side started with a come-from-behind win at Bray on Tuesday as home skipper Phil Davis fired in an excellent drag-flick. Enda Gallanagh and Stephen Brownlow both scored from play to swap the lead by half-time and three second half goals sealed a comfortable win.

And they followed up with a significant blow to rivals Suttonians' title hopes, winning 4-0 on the Howth peninsula with two goals in each half.

The results mean a win over Bray in their final league encounter guarantees Avoca a top two place while if Suttonians can get a win at home against Weston, a potential tiebreaker could be needed for top spot. Dublin Uni’s outside hopes of taking a playoff spot, meanwhile, were ended.

Suttonians and Weston will hope for no slip-ups on Saturday when they face Bray and Navan, respectively.

Division Two:
Tuesday: Bray 1 (Phil Davis) Avoca 5 (Enda Gallanagh, Stephen Brownlow, Ezra Handelman, Martin Naughton, Stephen Day)
Wednesday: Suttonians 0 Avoca 4 (Stephen Brownlow, Rob Pearson, Willie Aylmer, Peter Haughton)

Saturday fixtures:
Bray v Suttonians, 1pm, Loreto Bray; Weston vs Navan, 1.30pm, Griffeen Valley Park

Gill serves up final decision for Sutts

Aaron Gill smashed home a hat-trick as Civil Service brought the Irish Hockey Trophy home in-style, as they thumped six goals past Suttonians in last Sunday’s final.

With less than a minute on the clock, Suttonians swung into attack but Service captain Jamie Anderson saved the day clearing the ball off the line.

From there Service never looked back, and on eight minutes their prolific goal scorer, Gill struck, blasting home an unstoppable penalty corner strike.

With five minutes of the half remaining Service doubled their lead, Patrick Towe followed up Gill’s initial penalty corner shot to slide the ball home. Suttonians had a couple of chances to reduce the deficit at this stage but Service held firm and pulled clear in the second half, with one a piece from Colin Irwin and Ross Anderson with Gill wrapping up the day with two more goals.

Meanwhile, Catholic Institute made up for the heartbreak of their Munster Senior Cup final defeat in midweek to claim the Irish Hockey Trophy with a 3-1 win over Greenfields.

Having lost three finals in two seasons — including the decider of this competition last year — Ger O’Carroll’s side will be delighted to finally get their hands on some silverware in their centenary year.

Goals from their first two short corners, courtesy of former Pembroke and Bray woman Elaine Bromell’s straight hit and Rebecca Barry’s deflection, had them in control, before the influential Bromell departed with a knee injury on 20 minutes.

Brenda Flannery pulled one back from the penalty spot for the Galway side just before the break, but Katie Campbell squeezed the ball home from an impossible angle for an insurance goal and an ultimately comfortable victory.

* Adrian Boehm's photos from NICS vs Suttonians can be seen here, words courtesy of Ulster Hockey Review. For Adrian's photos of Catholic Institute vs Greenfields, click here, words courtesy of Southern Fried.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pembroke retain Leinster Division One

Men's Division One:
Pembroke 2 (Alan Sothern, Justin Sherriff) TRR 0
Pembroke made it slightly harder on themselves than necessary, making for a nervy finished for all concerned as well as an anxious YM contingent until Justin Sherriff eventually rolled home with the last touch of the season to confirm the league title.

Rovers had started brightly, Sven Galjaardt miscuing a clear sight on goal inside 30 seconds before Pembroke upped the ante. Stephen West, though, continued his fine form with a string of fine saves while the Pembroke corner sputtered initially with three efforts denied and one effort chalked off after a radio consultation between the umpires. The fourth, though, drew the game's opening goal with Alan Sothern elaborately spinning onto his reverse and bashing off a defender's stick to deflect over West.

Pembroke continued to make more of the play but the longer the tie stayed at 1-0, the edgier the play became. Conor Harte was sin-binned for a full-length tackle on the marauding Mick Maguire to put Pembroke seriously on the back foot for the first time. Two corner chances - the second switched left to Peter McConnell skimmed wide - went unconverted before Pierre de Voux followed to the sin-bin for a bad tackle.

The suspension forced Rovers onto the back foot again and while the play sprayed from end-to-end, the hosts had the clearer chances. Sherriff saw a piledriver from eight yards batted away brilliantly by West's glove while Maurice Elliott reversed wide. But the tie was finally put to bed in the final seconds when Craig Fulton, a guiding light at right midfield, intercepted on halfway. He initially looked to run down the clock in the corner but, with the Rovers' defence stretched, Elliott was played in and he calmly rolled to Sherriff to tap in and retain the league title.

Clontarf 1 (John Lennon) Corinthian 4 (Brian Doherty 2, Henry Micks, Rowland Rixon-Fuller)
Corinthian did all they could but the nature of the final day meant the their destiny was always out of their hands. They sped into a 3-0 lead, Brian Doherty netting a drag-flick while Henry Micks and Rowland Rixon-Fuller were also on the mark before the break. John Lennon pulled one back from a corner move in the second half but Doherty's second flick confirmed the win. The Bulls drop out of division one after one season and the players also said goodbye to Ben Hewitt who emigrates to Australia before the new term begins.

Railway Union 0 YMCA 2 (Simon Mills, Rob Whelan)
YMCA have a shot at a first IHL appearance as they benefitted from Three Rock Rovers' loss as they had too much in the tank for Railway Union. Simon Mills' first half drag-flick was supplemented by Rob Whelan's corner rebound to take the points before being left on tenterhooks for ten minutes as they awaited the final result across the DART tracks. They now face either Lisnagarvey or Instonians in the wildcard playoffs - currently pencilled in for mid-May - and Munster's Bandon.

Monkstown 3 (Frank Ryan, Gareth Watkins, Brian Groves) Glenanne 3 (Joe Brennan, Eddie O'Malley, Graham Shaw)
Monkstown got a point en route to fourth place in the standings and an automatic IHL place as Brian Groves struck a minute from time, ensuring Glenanne ended the season on another low-key moment. The Town got off to the perfect start, racing into a 2-0 lead through Frank Ryan and Gareth Watkins. But Joe Brennan's corner rebound and Eddie O'Malley's strike from play tied the game up at the break before Graham Shaw scored from another corner for 3-2. But, with Jonathon Kane and O'Malley serving yellow-card suspensions, Monkstown picked off a final goal from nine-man Glenanne.

Fingal 4 (Gary Sharman 2, Tom Manning 2) UCD 1 (Tim Hill);
Fingal completed a tough season on a high, unbeaten in four league ties with a comfortable final day win over UCD. An incredibly open fixture, plenty more goals could have arrived for two sides with nothing to play for but Gary Sharman and Tom Manning both bagged braces before UCD skipper Tim Hill scored in the final minute of the season.

Men's Division Two:
Bray 0 Weston 5 (Phil Barron 2, Shane O'Hare 3)
After a day off the top rung, Weston eased back into top spot with Shane O'Hare inspiring a comfortable win over bottom placed Bray this afternoon. The result confirms Trinity are out of contention for the automatic promotion place while it creates a four point wedge between the Lucan club and the two remaining challengers, Avoca and Suttonians. It is a big week for both with midweek fixtures to be played.

Hermes nudge ahead once more

Women's Division One:
Hermes 4 (Gillian Pinder, Aine Connery, Deirdre Duke, Christine Quinlan) Trinity 0
Hermes pushed their noses back in front as they ended Trinity's season in emphatic style, breaking down a dogged defensive performance to assert their title claims. Gillian Pinder's corner goal was the only strike of the first half before Chloe Watkins set up Aine Connery to make it 2-0.

Anna O'Flanagan chalked up another assist as she played in Deirdre Duke (pictured) before Christine Quinlan score from a corner move. Hermes have a trip to Bray before facing Railway on the final day of the season. Railway are three points back but with a game in hand, though they must also travel to Bray as well as face UCD.

Loreto 4 (Hannah Matthews, Nicci Daly, Wendy Byrne, Catriona Tipping) Pembroke 2 (Aoife Sherriff, Rachel McKeon)
Only a minor miracle can keep Loreto in the hunt for the title but they kept on plugging to earn the spoils against Pembroke at Beaufort this afternoon. In a rip-roaring opening, Hannah Matthews scored a corner; Aoife Sherriff, early in her return from lengthy injury, netted from a switch-move and Nicci Daly fired in a cracker after a stunning Cathy McKean through pass - all inside the first ten minutes.

Wendy Byrne made it 3-1 midway through the second half before a brilliant Rachel McKeon strike from the edge of the circle bounced in off the inside of the post to make it 3-2 as the game entered the closing stages. Catriona Tipping, though, scored from close range to take all three points from a very entertaining fixture.

Loreto were this time without Niamh Small, Lizzie Colvin and Nikki Symmons due to extensive involvement over the previous two days for Ireland against Germany's U-21s. The Irish won their training match on Saturday 3-0 with Audrey O'Flynn scoring two drag-flicks and Roisin Flinn also on target.

Leinster clubs claim Challenge success

YMCA and St Brendan’s/Phoenix Park claimed a Leinster double at Belfield, taking home the respective Irish Hockey Challenge titles after hard fought wins over Fermoy and Limerick.

YM’s women continued their incredible run of success in all competitions since inaugurating four years ago, adding a second national title to the one they claimed last year, also against Fermoy in the final.

Last time out it went to penalty strokes but the Y had slightly more to spare this year. They got off to the perfect start, Tara Powderly breaking the deadlock after eight minutes, latching onto a 40 metre ball from Dawn Allison to hit home first time from a tight angle.

And Helen Keane confirmed the title’s place back in Sandymount with 20 minutes to go from the penalty spot after Fiona McCormick had been taken down in the circle.

Fermoy had their moments, pinning YM back for much of the second half, forcing some good saves from Anna Keoghane but they were unable to breach the line and so tasted Challenge final defeat for second successive year.

On the men’s side, Matt Hutton was the St Brendan’s/Phoenix Park hero as the club claimed a first national title since amalgamation following some success in the 70s in the Irish Junior Cup under the Lorraine moniker.

Hutton struck in golden goal extra-time to hand the Dubliners the title. His earlier goal looked to have handed Brendan’s the win but former international warhorse Robbie Ryan scored with an excellent upright reverse to tie the game at 1-1 with just a couple of minutes left on the clock.

ESB Irish Hockey Challenge: YMCA 2 (Tara Powderly, Helen Keane) Fermoy 0
Men's Irish Hockey Challenge: St Brendan's/Phoenix Park 2 (Matt Hutton 2) Limerick 1 (Robbie Ryan)

* For more of Deryck Vincent's photos from the St Brendan's/Phoenix Park vs Limerick final, click here while Kevin Gallagher's set can be seen here. Ondine Roche's photos from YMCA vs Fermoy can be seen here

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Reds half-dozen forces final day decider

Men's Division One
Glenanne 0 Corinthian 6 (Brian Doherty 2, Conor Motyer, Chris Pelow, Andrew Cronje, Rowland Rixon-Fuller)
Corinthian picked up a surprisingly simple win at St Mark's this afternoon to make sure they stay in the mixer for a maiden title on Sunday afternoon hen they travel to Clontarf.

In the absence of Steven Doran and Stephen Butler - out for the final weekend of the Leinster league season following last week's red cards - Gareth Carragher stepped in for an exceptionally busy afternoon, pulling off a string of saves but he was powerless to stop Brian Doherty's first half drag-flick and a miraculous deflection from Conor Motyer for 2-0 at half-time. And the reds put a listless Glenanne performance to the sword as Doherty notched his second while Andrew Cronje, Chris Pelow and Rowland Rixon-Fuller all got in on the act.

The Whitechurch club, with the win, become the only side to have picked up a victory over every single opponent in the league campaign and, should they beat the Bulls will finish the season with an unbeaten away record. For the Glens, they have now lost three games on the spin, an incredibly rare occurrence in modern times.

Men's Division Two:
Navan 0 Dublin University 7 (Andy Gray 2, Craig Moore, Daire Coady, Henry Butler, Charlie Pearmund, Andrew Beverland)
Dublin Uni end a league campaign of 'what might have been' as they recorded yet another huge win, hitting the top spot for the first time this season. It is nigh on impossible for them to stay there with each of the other contenders having three games still to play. Currently, they have scored over 25 goals more than their nearest rival and ended the season on a run of 16 points from a possible 18. Had they hit form sooner, a title challenge could have been a closer run thing.

Once again, the goals were shared around with six players on the mark with Daire Coady, Andrew Beverland and Charlie Pearmund's drag-flick netting from corners. The Badgers remain in fifth place as Bray were unable to field against Avoca this afternoon.

Men's Irish Junior Cup:
YMCA II and Monkstown II ensured the Irish Junior Cup will return to Dublin after a year in Cork as they produced excellent away wins in Ulster this afternoon, beating Cookstown II and Lisnagarvey II, respectively. Andy Ewington was the golden goal hero for the Town, dragging home with a minute and a half to earn a 3-2 win. Richard Sykes and Simon Groves were on target for the Town in normal time though Frank Ryan missed an early stroke saved. YM's route was slightly less fraught with former Sandford senior league winner Gary Ryan doubling up while Warwick Armstrong was also on the mark in a 3-1 win.

Results: Lisnagarvey 2 (G Bittle, Matt Murphy) Monkstown 3 (Simon Groves, Richard Sykes, Andy Ewington) on golden goal; Cookstown 1 (Ian Sloan) YMCA 3 (Gary Ryan 2, Warwick Armstrong)

Title retains focus as IHL places decided

Women's Division One:
Corinthian 1 (Susie Geoffroy) Hermes 5 (Elaine O'Neill, Juliette King-Hall, Deirdre Duke, Aoife Harte, Anna O'Flanagan)
With the majority of loose ends being all but tied up today, the most important issue remains anybody's guess as both Railway and Hermes fulfilled their part of the bargain to stay neck-and-neck in the title race. Hermes ended up lengthy winners at Corinthian - playing their last league fixture of the season - though they were forced to endure a few scares in the second quarter before eventually pulling clear. They got off to a flyer, Elaine O'Neill opening the scoring before Anna O'Flanagan (right) played in Juliette King-Hall at the back post to score her first senior one goal.

But the reds pounced on the break, Susie Geoffroy smashing home a 27th minute corner while Ciara Bregazzi-Nevin's effort was well smothered by Emma Gray soon after. Hermes, though, knocked the stuffing out of the fightback when Michaela McMullen slipped to Deirdre Duke to reassert a two goal advantage at the interval.

Duke earned the fourth, drawing a foot on the line and Aoife Harte netted the ensuing stroke before O'Flanagan completed the scoring after a Duke assist.

Railway Union 2 (Patricia O'Dwyer, Jean McDonnell) Pembroke 1 (Noelle Farrell)
Railway kept pace with Hermes with their final day showdown looking an ever more likely title decider as they overcame a potential banana-skin, Jean McDonnell getting the vital goal 15 minutes from time. Patricia O'Dwyer rebounded after Kate McKenna's shot hit the post but Noelle Farrell tied the game up at the break, scoring in the 33rd minute. But McDonnell proved the gamebreaker, smacking home a straight corner strike to take the derby day honours. Pembroke drop to ninth as a result and are the only side that Bray can now catch up with.

Loreto 4 (Nicci Daly 2, Nikki Keegan, Cathy McKean) Old Alex 0
Loreto kept their faint hopes of the division one title alive though they are running out of games for the leading duo to slip up in if that is to become a reality. They produced a strong second half against the Jacqui Potter winners, netting three times after the break in spite of the absence of Lizzie Colvin and Nikki Symmons, on international duty against Germany's U-21s in a training fixture. Nicci Daly scored the first inside five minutes from a corner rebound and, after a long wait, Nikki Keegan made it 2-0 and Cathy McKean and Daly's second copper-fastened the points. Alex were without Roisin Flinn but despite the setback are confirmed as the fifth place finisher by virtue of other results on the day and now must prepare for the IHL play-offs for a second year running.

Bray 0 UCD 1 (Rosie Carrigan)
Rosie Carrigan's (pictured, left) scrambled corner goal five minutes from time finally earned the win for UCD at Bray, confirming their place in the 2010/11 IHL while Bray are on the brink of being confirmed as tenth place and a promotion/relegation playoff against an eligible division two candidate. Mary Goode and her defensive troops frustrated the students for long periods, keeping out multiple corners until Carrigan eventually scored while the hosts were down to ten players.

Glenanne 2 (Mary Waldron, Rachel Maunsell) Trinity 0
Glenanne leapt three places by virtue of their win over Trinity at St Mark's this afternoon, overtaking Pembroke, Trinity and Corinthian, confirming their place in the division in the process as they moved clear of the reach of Bray with just a fixture with Loreto to come.

ESB Irish Junior Cup:
Old Alex II will fly the Leinster flag in the women's Irish Junior Cup final after Sylvia Gilsenan's golden goal proved the only divider between the Milltown club and Railway Union II, 2009 finalists. They will play Randalstown II in the final after they disposed of Lurgan II, 4-0.


Results: Randalstown II 4 (Pamela Muir 3, Louise Mellor) Lurgan II 0; Railway Union II 0 Old Alex II 1 (Sylvia Gilsenan) on golden goal

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pembroke on course to keep league title

For a brief time, Pembroke looked third favourite in a three-horse race but they could retain their Leinster Senior League crown without even taking the pitch this weekend should Glenanne pick off a home win against Corinthian on Saturday.

It would add a further fillip to a side looking in decent fettle ahead of the EHL KO16 challenge in Rotterdam.

Should the reds remain in the hunt, the title is still within Pembroke’s hands when Three Rock come visiting on Sunday afternoon.

Timmy Lewis is one injury doubt, skipping the Mills Cup final on midweek while Mick Maguire should be available despite a broken nose sustained in midweek.

Rovers still have plenty to play for in what could be the most interesting battle on the final day with all matches tipping off simultaneously.

The fourth automatic IHL place and the wildcard shot for fifth are still very much up for grabs. Monkstown can confirm fourth if they beat the Glens. Rovers, meanwhile, need a point from their tie at Pembroke to ensure a top five place.

YMCA have what looks the easiest task on paper, facing promotion/relegation bound Railway Union in Milltown but any dropped points means they end in sixth place.

Fingal and UCD face off for seventh place at ALSAA while Corinthian will hope their title hopes are still alive and well when they visit Clontarf.

Elsewhere, Suttonians go in search of their first ever national title though they go in as heavy underdogs against a fancied NICS who have stormed Ulster’s Senior One league.

Aaron Gill is their talisman; the former Irish U-21 netting in excess of 50 goals this season for a side that have rattled up more than a century of strikes.

Sutton are without Richie Wormald but Conor Gillett and Simon Walsh are the sharp-shooters and, with three Ulster scalps under their belt, the mood is upbeat in the camp ahead of their big day.

St Brendan’s/Phoenix Park, meanwhile, will aim to put their controversial semi-final walkover behind them as they face into the tie against Limerick at full-strength.

Dessie Farrell and Donal Byrne’s suspensions arising from red cards in the quarter-finals have been deemed to be served as the club looks to win a first national title since amalgamating. They face a Limerick side powered by former Avoca and Irish international Robbie Ryan – a winner at Belfield in the Senior Cup back in the mid-90s.

In division two, Dublin Uni finish their regular season at Navan looking to keep up their free-scoring ways and add to the pressure on the other sides in the race for the play-off place.

Bray, meanwhile, play three times in four days including important ties against Avoca and Weston in the race for top spot.

Monkstown II and YMCA II are both on the road to Ulster in the Irish Junior Cup semi-finals, facing Lisnagarvey and Cookstown respectively.

Leinster Men’s Division One
Saturday:
Glenanne vs Corinthian, 1.30pm, Glenanne Park
Sunday: Monkstown vs Glenanne, 2pm, Rathdown; Fingal vs UCD, 2pm, ALSAA; YMCA vs Railway Union, 2pm, Alexandra College; Clontarf vs Corinthian, 2pm, Mount Temple; Pembroke v Three Rock Rovers, 2pm, Serpentine Ave

Men’s Division Two:
Saturday:
Avoca vs Bray, 12.15pm, Newpark; Navan vs Dublin University, 12.30pm, Kings Hospital
Sunday: Bray vs Weston, 3.30pm, Loreto Bray
Tuesday: Bray vs Avoca, 8.30pm, Loreto Bray

Men’s Irish Hockey Challenge Final
Saturday:
St Brendans v Limerick, 4pm, Belfield

Men’s Irish Hockey Trophy Final
Sunday:
NICS vs Suttonians, 4pm, Belfield

Men’s Irish Junior Cup Semi Finals
Saturday:
Lisnagarvey II v Monkstown II, 2.30pm, Comber Road; Cookstown II v YMCA II, 4pm, Coolnafranky

Hermes hoping for double delight

On another hectic weekend of hockey, Hermes will hope to rebuild an advantage at the top of division one as they finish both Corinthian and Trinity’s season’s this weekend.

Neither side have much to play for bar staking a claim for sixth spot in the final standings, a finishing point which would signify decent progress for both.

Corinthian have proven a far more robust side this year with a settled side to choose from after a couple of years of player transiency while Stewart Walker has brought good know-how to the party.

They host title-chasing Hermes in their final match on Saturday before the Booterstown club faces Trinity on Sunday.

In a similar vein, David Bane has worked well with his student side, making them particularly solid at the back though their challenge for an IHL place fell on hard ground due to the lack of an out-and-out goalscorer.

They face another side jockeying for sixth, Glenanne, on Saturday who can leap-frog both sides with three points and a fixture to go.

But the significant action all takes place in relation to the title race. The season looks to be building to a final day crescendo with Railway and Hermes facing off.

Hermes have the easier ties, though double weekends can prove tricky, especially as their St Andrew’s contingent have three games in their legs from the Ireland school’s action.

Railway’s derby date with Pembroke could also be tough against a side looking to bounce back after their Jacqui Potter cup final defeat on Wednesday.

Loreto rely on other results to get back into the fray and Alex have proven to be a tough nut to crack.

Bray play UCD needing a win to have any hope of avoiding the bottom rung in the standings.
Elsewhere, two Irish titles will be handed out over the weekend at Belfield.

First up, Fermoy play UCD in a repeat of the 2009 ESB Irish Hockey Challenge final before Sunday sees Catholic Institute attempt to change from runners-up to winners in the Irish Hockey Trophy.

Railway Union II and Old Alex II fight for the right to represent Leinster in the Irish Junior Cup final, too.

Leinster Ladies Division One
Saturday:
Railway Union vs Pembroke, 12.45pm, Park Ave; Corinthian vs Hermes, 1.30pm, Whitechurch; Loreto vs Old Alex, 2pm, Beaufort; Bray vs UCD, 2.30pm, Loreto Bray; Glenanne vs Trinity, 3.15pm, Glenanne Park
Sunday: Hermes vs Trinity, 12.15pm St Andrews; Loreto vs Pembroke, 4.30pm, Beaufort

ESB Irish Hockey Challenge Final
Saturday:
Fermoy v YMCA, 1.30pm, Belfield

ESB Irish Hockey Trophy Final
Sunday:
Catholic Institute v Greenfields, 1.30pm, Belfield

ESB Irish Junior Cup Semi Finals
Saturday:
Randalstown II v Lurgan II, 2.30pm, Antrim Rd; Railway II v Old Alex II, 4pm, Park Ave

St Andrew's end Leinster drought in style

Kate Russell All-Ireland School’s Championship Final
St Andrew’s 3 (Harriet Kinsman, Niamh Atcheler, Sarah Woodroofe) Colaiste Iognaid 1 (Tara Melvin)

St Andrew’s ended a decade’s wait for the Kate Russell title as they produced a composed second half performance to claim their maiden win in the competition, ending Colaiste Iognaid’s reign as champions with a 3-1 win at Dangan this afternoon.

It proved a suitable cherry on the top for Ireland A trio Chloe Watkins, Niamh Atcheler and Gillian Pinder who have achieved so much in the school’s careers.

But after a few heart-breaking eliminations in recent years, Andrew’s used that pent-up experience to squeeze the life out of a high-quality Jes’ outfit for whom Lynsey Trainor was a clear and constant danger.

Raiding down the right wing, she served notice of intent inside three minutes, shooting just past Tiffany Ellis’ post before earning the first corner of the game as the Galway girls started the faster.

But Andrew’s grew into the tie, Atcheler taking on a more advanced role and winning her side’s first corner, soon followed by another pair of set pieces in quick succession.

From this third corner, Harriet Kinsman neatly opened the deadlock after an improvised move saw stopper Sarah Woodroofe quickly re-adjust to square the ball for Chloe Watkins.

Her shot and Gillian Pinder’s second phase effort were both blocked but the bouncing ball fell to Kinsman’s left and she made a tricky effort look easy, using an upright reverse to roll home. The Jes, though, were back on terms inside five minutes, Tara Melvin pummelling home a straight hit, via the despairing stick of Atcheler on the line.

But she was to have the last laugh in the half as she slightly miscued a reverse on the left edge of the circle, the ball looping high above Natasha Cooke’s head and while she got her stick above her head, she was unable to get enough purchase to push it over the bar and it trickled over the line.

Iognaid, though, came close to levelling before the break, Eavan Murphy winning their third corner before Atcheler blocked a Trainor strike while Vera Taaffe took Brenda Flannery’s shot off the line.

Trainor reversed over with the first act of the second half but, from there on in, the Booterstown school was well on top.

Gillian Pinder’s mazy dribbling and Sophie Marshall’s pace on the counter created the chances. They were aided, too, by some rash Jes’ tackling which had garnered two green cards in the first half and two subsequent yellows after the break.

Woodroofe went close in the first period of 11v10 and netted the vital third during the second five-minute spell, getting on the end of a superb team move.

Pinder raced a couple of sticks before feeding Marshall with an excellent through-ball. She squared perfectly for Woodroofe to simply roll home and the title was assured.

St Andrew’s: T Ellis, N Atcheler, L Stephens, V Taaffe, L Pinder, C Watkins, G Pinder, S Woodroofe, S Marshall, H Kinsman, L Gray
Subs: H Sarratt, H Meredith, S Kavanagh, J Lavery, A Spain, L Moran

Colaiste Iognaid: N Cooke, T Melvin, A Ryan, N Callanan, L Trainor, B Flannery, E Murphy, K Codyre, M Carey, M Russell, E Carey
Subs: C Treacy, A Dunne, C Kirk, A Cunningham, C Power, S McLaughlin, N Codyre

Kate Russell All-Ireland School’s Championship, results
5th/6th place play-off: Crescent Comprehensive 3 (K McGrath 2; Ciara Moloney) Salerno 0
3rd/4th place playoff: Loreto Kilkenny 1 (A Curran) Royal School Armagh (J Orr 2, A-M Morton 2, J Johnston)
Final: St Andrew’s 3 (H Kinsman, N Atcheler, S Woodroofe) Colaiste Iognaid 1 (T Melvin)

* More photos from the final can be seen here

Thursday, March 18, 2010

UCD safe as Railway await playoff

Men's Division One
UCD 2 (Robbie McFarlane, John Brennan) Railway Union 1 (Peter English)
UCD confirmed their place in Division One for another season with a game to go as they got the better of Railway Union at Belfield tonight, leaving their opponents in ninth and awaiting a promotion/relegation playoff. Robbie McFarlane got the only goal of the first half, in which Kenny Carroll was sin-binned, when he rebounded a corner.

Railway had their chances with Peter Yeates and Fiachra Maher going close but it was the students who added to their tally next when John Brennan scored his first goal since the club regained division one status, finishing off an excellent counter-attack early in the second half.

Karl Chapple and Ben Grogan both spent time in the sin-bin while Peter English's drag-flick with 15 minutes to go set up a lively finish but, despite holding decent possession, Railway were shut out by a UCD defence who gave up no clear chances.

Amazing Andrew's comeback seals final slot

St Andrew’s produced an incredible comeback to fight their way into the Kate Russell All-Ireland School’s Championship final, recovering from a three goal deficit to tie with Royal School, Armagh in Galway today.

Laura Pinder hit home a short corner on the final hooter to level the game 3-3 and advance ahead of the Ulster champions – who were going for a third title in four years – on goal difference by virtue of an earlier 6-0 win over Salerno.

Armagh mustered four goals against the Galway side and looked on course to take up a final berth when youth internationals Leah Ewart and Anna-Mae Morton along with Jill Johnston built what looked a commanding lead against Andrew’s.

But Niamh Atcheler gave them a lifeline 20 minutes from the end before Chloe Watkins netted a penalty stroke to set up a grandstand finish.

Zoe Troughton kept out numerous penalty corners from the Dubliners but she was powerless to prevent Pinder’s last gasp effort, capping an incredible comeback.

The Booterstown school now face reigning champions Colaiste Iognaid in the final today (1.30pm).

The Jes had a slightly simpler passage, defeating Crescent College 3-0 before coming back from a goal deficit to defeat Loreto, Kilkenny before winning out 3-2 with Brenda Flannery, Lynsey Trainor, Elaine Carey and Katie Codyre key performers

It sets up a repeat of last year’s epic group match which ended 2-2 in normal time, precipitating a penalty shoot-out to see who topped the group after all variables were tied.

The Galway girls prevailed 4-2 before defeating Foyle in the final to take the trophy back to Connacht for the first time since 1988.

Group A results
Colaiste Iognaid 3 (Niamh Codyre 2, Lynsey Trainor) Crescent Comprehensive 0; Colaiste Iognaid 3 (Elaine Carey, Michelle Carey, Eavan Murphy) Loreto Kilkenny 2 (Grace Walsh, Aoife Murphy); Loreto Kilkenny 2 (Aisling O’Grady, Aine Curran) Crescent Comprehensive 1
Final standings: 1. Colaiste Iognaid 4pts (+4) 2. Loreto, Kilkenny 2pts (0) 3. Crescent Comprehensive 0pts (-4)

Group B
Royal School Armagh 4 (Joanne Orr, Sarah McMahon, Leah Ewart, Beccy Anderson) Salerno 0; St Andrews 6 (Niamh Atcheler, Laura Stephens, Hayley Sarratt, Chloe Watkins, Sophie Marshall, Joanne Lavery) Salerno 0; Royal School Armagh 3 (Leah Ewart, Anna-Mae Morton, Jill Johnston) St Andrews 3 (Laura Pinder, Niamh Atcheler, Chloe Watkins)
Standings: 1. St Andrew’s 3pts (+6) 2. Royal School Armagh 3pts (+4) 3. Salerno 0pts (-10)

Friday’s fixtures:
Final,1.30pm: St Andrew’s vs Colaiste Iognaid
3rd/4th place, 11.30am: Loreto, Kilkenny vs Royal School, Armagh
5th/6th place, 9.30am: Salerno vs Crescent College

Town take thrilling U-16 final on strokes

U-16 Benny Atkinson Cup final
Corinthian 4 (Ian Stewart 2, Andrew Malcolm, Jonathon Lewis) Monkstown 4 (David Cole, Johnny Byrnes, Max Bradley, Lee Cole); Monkstown won 5-3 on strokes

The sizable amount of early risers at Grange Road on St Patrick’s Day were greeted with a curtain-raiser to savour as Monkstown and Corinthian played out a cracker, sharing eight goals before the Town eventually took the tie on penalty strokes 5-3.

Fast and furious throughout, Andrew Malcolm got the scoring underway in jig-time, whipping home a corner in the fourth minute but David Cole cancelled out that effort with a drag-flick of his own.

And Johnny Byrnes gave the sky-blues the lead for the first time in the 20th minute with a truly incredible strike, arcing a first-time aerial from the right edge of the circle in off the stanchion at break-neck speed.

The reds, though, were back on terms when Stephen Reid raced into the area to earn a corner – one of five set-pieces his stickwork drew – which Ian Stewart dragged home.

It concluded the scoring for the first half though there were numerous other chances. Jordan Sutton’s 3-D skills created plenty of early havoc, John Cummins’ reverse hit the sideboard while Byrnes also struck a good shot off his left hand side as play swung from end to end. Aran Rooney and Neil Pelow, meanwhile, impressed at the heart of either defence.

The chances kept rolling after the break, Jonathon Lewis’ delightful dink just drifted over before Monkstown took back the advantage in the 59th minute as Max Bradley rolled in a rebound after Robbie Clarke did well to block down a Cole drag.

The rebound, though, fell to a Town stick and two shots later the winger was on hand to bag the lead. It only lasted 60 seconds, though, as Stewart produced a composed finish that sent the game into silver goal extra-time.

Both sides had corner chances in the first period to no avail but Lee Cole’s long range deflection from brother David’s long ball made it 4-3 in the second. He did well to get a touch behind his back and Jamie Bourne’s run left AJ Browne unsighted momentarily for the ball to sneak in.

But Lewis made strokes a necessity with a final hooter corner move, switched right and flicked in at the near post.

Monkstown converted all five of their efforts, handing them the title after Corinthian’s third stroke went wide.

The game also marked a positive day for the Leinster Umpire Development Programme, with participant Karl Chapple officiating the final. Alison Keogh, another young whistle-blower on the programme, is currently taking charge of fixtures in the Kate Russell Cup.

Corinthian: AJ Browne, Robbie Clarke, Neil Pelow, David Shaw, Dylon Shirley, Jonathon Lewis, Jonathon Roberts, Andrew Malcolm, Ian Stewart, Alan Oglesby, Jordan Sutton, Ciaran O’Shea, Stephen Reid, Jack Perdue, Darragh Walsh, David Howard

Monkstown: Stephen Wolfe, Jonathon Codd, Gavin Browne, Oisin O’Halloran, John Cummins, Ivan Moloney, Johnny Byrnes, David Cole, Andrew Orr, Aran Rooney, Lee Cole, Craig Kingston, Ryan Hohn, Andrew Browne, Max Bradley

* For more photos from the Benny Atkinson U-16 Cup final, click here

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Paddy' Day triumph for Pembroke

Mills Cup final
Pembroke 4 (Alan Sothern 2, Gordon Elliott, Patrick Good) Fingal 1 (Eamon Bane)

Pembroke picked off the one title to elude them in 2008/09 as they showed far too much know-how for underdogs Fingal at Grange Road yesterday, steaming clear in the second half.

Alan Sothern was tormentor-in-chief, as he has been for most defences this term, with two efforts before Gordon Elliott’s neat tip-in and Patrick Good’s well-struck shot added the garnish late on.

For the ALSAA club, there was no repeat of their only other final appearance when they failed to show up in 2006, falling in abject fashion to Glenanne.

This time round, they played a smart first half, managing to draw level through Eamon Bane, but once Pembroke clicked into gear, the result was inevitable.

It started in ominous fashion, though, as a penalty corner decision was brilliantly converted by Sothern, roofing a drag-flick, awarded after Chris Neville was adjudged not to have retreated five metres at an auto-pass.

However, Sothern had no qualms from the ensuing penalty corner, whizzing the ball past Nigel Grothier’s ears.

To their credit, Fingal stuck rigidly to a game plan of deep defence with four men breaking at speed, using Gary Sharman, Adrian Sweeney and the excellent Tom Manning’s pace to chase balls down the channels.

They soaked up a lot of pressure, Sothern shooting over and wide while Ben Chillingworth deflected Conor Harte’s flick wide.

But from the Fingallians’ first penalty corner, David Bane’s miscued drag-flick was dinked over David Harte by Eamon Bane to level the tie.

Pembroke, though, raised the tempo in the second half and retook the lead in bizarre fashion, Brian Gray, diving full length to block a Sothern cross, spectacularly deflected the ball into the roof of his own net

It was a deflating blow so soon after the interval and, despite Derek O’Gorman’s midfield machinations, Pembroke’s horde of international stars took hold.

The speed of interchange left Fingal chasing shadows. Elliott missed an open goal when Alan Giles and Andy McConnell combined while Grothier saved brilliantly down low from Sothern.

But Elliott made amends in the 51st minute, guiding Justin Sherriff’s shot goalward for 3-1 before Good completed the scoring with eight minutes to go.

Earlier, Monkstown claimed the spoils over Corinthian in an outstanding U-16 Benny Atkinson Cup final on penalty strokes after extra-time finished 4-4. Normal time ended 3-3 in a see-saw battle in what was a truly great advert for the sport.

Elsewhere, John Jermyn struck four times as Cork C of I hammered Catholic Institute 7-3 to take the Munster Senior Cup.

Pembroke: David Harte, Alan Giles, Craig Fulton, Ronan Gormley, Conor Harte, Maurice Elliott, Paddy Conlon, Andrew McConnell, Michael O’Connor, Justin Sherriff, Adam Pritchard, Alan Sothern
Subs: Gordon Elliott, Ken Treacy, Patrick Good, Michael O’Connor

Fingal: Nigel Grothier, Eamon Bane, Gary Sharman, Lloyd Pearson, Andy Marshall, Derek O’Gorman, Ben Chillingworth, Stephen Thompson, Tom Manning, Chris Neville
Subs: Brian Gray, Paddy Gahan, Adrian Sweeney

* Photos from Adrian Boehm of the Mills Cup final can be seen here

Alex break ten year duck to win Potter title

Jacqui Potter Cup final
Old Alex 2 (Danielle Costigan, Rebecca Coll) Pembroke 0
Old Alex dug their heals in to claim their first Jacqui Potter Cup title in the modern era, holding off a thorough Pembroke examination at Grange Road yesterday afternoon.

Goals from former Trinity duo Danielle Costigan and Becca Coll did the damage but the true turning point came nine minutes into the second half when the outstanding teenage defender Leah Lenehan dived full length to block Shona Doyle’s three-yard effort.

The moment epitomised the Alex effort, hassling and harrying for every inch despite their opponents enjoying upwards of 60pc of possession and territory.

Pembroke also let seven penalty corners slip through their fingers with barely a shot in anger to threaten Pamela Smithwick. Alex, by contrast, had no corners but snapped up the two major chances that came their way.

They had started in slick fashion, with the combative Roz Ellis and the ever-graceful Roisin Flinn the source.

The latter reversed over in the first minute while the American Ellis – who has been a powerhouse since her move to Ireland in a bid to progress her international prospects – was instrumental in the game’s opening phases.

Her steal on the edge of the circle from Hayley O’Donnell in the seventh minute, set up Costigan to bully past one defender and roll into the bottom corner.

But, after a nervy start, Pembroke began to boss the final, earning two corners before the half was out while Sarah Canning’s diving tackle denied Karen Hales a clear sight on goal.

And the pattern became more pronounced in the second half, most notably when Shona Doyle out-stripped Lenehan down the right wing. Her initial shot rebounded her way off Smithwick, leaving the goalkeeper prone.

But Lenehan recovered superbly to smother the shot with the goal exposed and while there was a decent shout for a penalty stroke in the aftermath, the danger was averted.

It was a costly moment, as 12 minutes later Coll was the quickest to react as the ball got stuck in Kelly Scott’s pads to bundle in for 2-0, mere moments after she let a golden opportunity slip.

It secured a first senior title since 2000 in the Leinster Senior Cup, a forerunner to the current trophy, named in honour of the much-loved former Clontarf, Muckross, Hermes and Ireland player.

Meanwhile, Cork Harlequins claimed the Munster Senior Cup, winning the final 3-1 over a Catholic Institute side who featured former Quin Eimear Cregan just two months after transferring.

First half goals from Jane Chapple and Rachel McSharry gave them a commanding lead before Jane Bourke put the game to bed. Kym Daly nicked a consolation for the Limerick club on the final whistle.

Pembroke: Kelly Scott, Natalie Fulton, Rachel McKeon (capt), Sarah Clarke, Shona Doyle, Anli Kotze, Noelle Farrell, Karen Hales, Hayley O’Donnell, Alice Ward, Orla Fox
Subs: Aoife Sherriff, Jill Collins, Hilda Maguire, Wendy Hobson

Old Alex: Pamela Smithwick, Roz Ellis, Aoife Budd, Nicola Gray, Ann-Marie Cullen, Danielle Costigan, Leah Lenehan, Roisin Flinn, Laura McCoy, Sarah Canning, Rebecca Coll
Subs: Hazel Agar, Rachel Griffith, Sylvia Gilsenan

* Photos from Adrian Boehm from the Jacqui Potter Cup final can be seen here