Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ireland bow out after Scot's WCQ loss

Women’s hockey World Cup Qualifiers – day four
Ireland 0 Scotland 2 (Alison Bell, Vikki Bunce)


Ireland’s mathematical chances of reaching the World Cup were ended this afternoon in Santiago and, while there was more life to their performance, a lack of real incision cost them dear against a zesty Scottish outfit.

The Scots showed fewer ill-effects of their short acclimatisation period – arriving 48 hours before the fixture – as, after a few early glitches, they began to boss proceedings.

Gene Muller’s side did show up stronger than on Wednesday but the key difference came in either circle when Scotland were always able to get a shot away while Ireland’s efforts were scrappy and scrambled and, bar a Niamh Small aerial, never stretched Abigail Walker.

With Laura Bartlett and Samantha Judge the instigators, Scotland earned the game’s first three corners.

None drew a save from Mary Goode and it was Small – with her first act of the tournament – who went closest in the first quarter, using one hand to brilliantly flick the ball past the last defender and shoot high, forcing Abigail Walker to palm over the endline.

Emily Maguire clattered the Scot’s third corner wide as did Kareena Marshall from their fourth effort after Emma Smyth’s excellent initial block.

After soaking up their share of pressure, though, Eimear Cregan became the game’s key player. Her three-dimensional skills created a pair of chances, breaking in from the left flank.

The first squeezed just away from Julia O’Halloran’s stick at close quarters. And Cregan drove forward to earn her side’s corner but Michelle Harvey was shut down before she could connect.

The game opened up further when Aimee Clark was sin-binned and Ireland produced a razor-sharp break through Nikki Symmons’ intuition and Emma Smyth’s pace played in Cregan to ghost back from the baseline and shoot, skewing across goal via a defender’s stick.

But Scotland got the perfect sucker-punch when the influential Judge drove through a couple of tackles and shot.

The rebound fell her way and she nudged it right of the goal where Alison Bell touched home for a half-time advantage.

Cregan earned another corner soon after the break but a mix-up meant no shot accrued for a second time, much to Muller’s frustration.

By contrast, Scotland had two bites of the cherry from their fifth corner, demanding some excellent goalkeeping from Mary Goode in the 53rd minute before also denying Ailsa Robertson and Aimee Clark.

Into the last five minutes and piling forward, Nikki Symmons raced up from sweeper but her cross did not make passed a packed Scottish defence.

And they broke at pace, creating a three-on-two which they used to perfection to eliminate the cover defence, laying up for Vikki Bunce to power home 2-0 from five yards.

Emma Clarke was sin-binned for dissent in the aftermath and it almost got worse for the Irish inside 60 seconds when Bartlett scrambled home but, after a lengthy discussion, the effort was ruled out. It was academic for Ireland but goal difference could be a factor later this week for the Scots.

Speaking about the fixture, coach Gene Muller was frustrated about his side’s inability to finish off the chances they created, saying:

“It was a better performance than against Malaysia. I felt we had chances early on that we didn’t capitalise on and I felt our execution was poor especially at corners – something we’ve spent a lot of time on.

“Two of them broke down when we could have gone ahead. When they are one up in the last ten minutes you have to go for it. We went for it, created a few chances but got caught with just two at the back so that’s the way it goes.”

His thoughts were echoed by captain Eimear Cregan: “We battled hard and were a lot more committed than we were against Malaysia but didn’t create as many chances as we should have with the possession we had and corners didn’t come off.

“It’s a very hard lesson to learn but we go back to the drawing board, put it to bed and when we play Chile on Saturday give it all we’ve got.”

Ireland are now out of the running for a World Cup spot but must play Chile and Australia to confirm their final ranking place in the competition and world ranking points over the weekend. The Australians, meanwhile, outlined their favourite’s tag with a 9-0 thrashing of Malaysia.

* For more of HockeyPress Argentina's photos from the Ireland vs Scotland game, click here. To download and listen to a post-match interview with Gene Muller, click here while Eimear Cregan's interview can be found here. For the live match-tracker, click here

Ireland: M Goode, R Flinn, C Sargent, E Cregan (capt), E Clarke, B Cleland, A Speers, J O’Halloran, N Symmons, A O’Flynn, E Smyth
Subs: M Harvey, S McCay, M Frazer, L Colvin, N Small

Scotland: A Walker, V Bunce, A Bell, C Forrest, S Judge, L Bartlett, A Robertson, E Maguire, L Wrightson, L Fawcett, K Marshall
Subs: K Cameron, H Cram, L Clement (capt), C Dow, A Clark

Standings (played, points, goal difference): 1. Australia 2-6pts (+14) 2. Scotland 1-3pts (+2) 3. Chile 2-3pts (-4) 4. Malaysia 3-3pts (-7) 5. Ireland 2-0pts (-5)

Follow the Hook's live match-tracker

The Hook will be hosting a live match-tracker for Ireland's second WCQ fixture against Scotland at http://irelandvsscotlandwcq.blogspot.com/ this afternoon.

Also, http://thesportszone.cl/ will once again be providing a live audio stream (username and password required) from the game.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Malaysia lay waste to Irish dreams

Women’s Hockey World Cup Qualifier
Ireland 0 Malaysia 3 (Norbiani Hashim, Rabiatul Mohamad, Norazlin Sumantri)

Gene Muller described Ireland’s performance as “the weakest for over the past two or three years” as they were left deflated by a sub-par performance this afternoon in Santiago to leave their World Cup dreams in tatters.

Malaysia bossed the tie from start to finish with the girl’s in green stuttering through the fixture, struggling to string more than a couple of passes together while huge holes appeared behind the back four with alarming regularity.

The mitigating circumstances have been widely covered in the build-up but, nonetheless, it was a listless performance from which Ireland need to bounce back if they are to avoid losing precious world ranking points.

The warning signs came thick and fast in the early exchanges. Three corners inside eight minutes and one attacking howler from Fazilla Sylvester Silin – a fresh-air from three yards with the goal vacant – showed the measure of the task.

Megan Frazer did win a corner at the far end but Audrey O’Flynn’s slip to Eimear Cregan was intercepted. Nikki Symmons’ fine diagonal overhead from sweeper was just beyond Julia O’Halloran’s control on the right edge of the circle but they were sporadic breaks past a composed Asian outfit.

By contrast, a couple of long crash balls and one uncontrolled overhead were causing all manner of problems at the far end.

From one, Rabiatul Mohamad robbed Bridget Cleland and was only denied by an excellent Mary Goode out-stretched boot.

Audrey O’Flynn had to place a well-timed covering jab to deny a two-on-one with the Irish ‘keeper while Malaysia had two strikers on their own in the 25 from another long ball but an inexplicable foot cut that attack off at its root.

Ireland’s luck, though, failed to hold as Malaysia continued the offensive into the second half.

Another corner was kept out 25 seconds after the break – the yellows failing to shoot on four of their five initial efforts. Switching to straight shots, they drew more joy.

First off, Goode did brilliantly to deny a drag-flick. The save was harshly adjudged dangerous and the deadlock was broken from their seventh set-piece in the 43rd minute.

Goode saved first up but her pads were not fully cleared and Norbiani Hashim gobbled up the rebound with a tidy flick over the helpless netminder.

Within four minutes, it was 2-0. Sylvester Silin found a huge swathe of space down the right flank behind the full-back and measured a perfect cross which Mohamad applied a delightful first-time tough, beating Goode at the near post.

Ireland responded excellently to draw two corners, the first blocked by a runner breaking the line, the second which was neatly switched left and O’Flynn dragged for Shirley McCay’s deflection.

It slipped just wide of the post, though, and Ireland struggled to create anything more in a frustrating closing quarter.

And when Norazlin Sumantri was given the freedom of Santiago to place past Goode for the third goal with six minutes remaining, a miserable afternoon was complete.


Ireland must now win all their remaining games, starting with Scotland tomorrow, and get a couple of results to work in their favour.

*Photos courtesy of HockeyPress Argentina (Jaramillo and Correa Arce) can be seen here - strictly copyright restricted! To download and listen to an audio interview with Gene Muller click here.


Ireland: M Goode, C Sargent, E Cregan, E Clarke, B Cleland, A Speers, M Frazer, N Symmons, A O’Flynn, E Smyth, L Colvin
Subs: M Harvey, R Flinn, S McCay, L Jacob, J O’Halloran

Malaysia: F-A Yahya, N-H Md Ali, S Ruhani, J Mohamad Din, N Hashim, C Lambor, Nuraini Abdul Rashid, Nadia Abdul Rashid, N Hashim, S Othman, F Sylvester Silin

Standings (played, points, goal difference)1. Australia 1-3pts (+5) 2. Malaysia 2-3pts (+2) 3. Chile 2-3pts (-4) 4. Scotland 0-0pts 5. Ireland 1-0pts (-3)

Muller zones in on tricky Malaysian tie

After a turbulent build-up, Ireland finally get to do their talking on the pitch this afternoon at the revised time of 12pm (5pm, Irish time) when they go begin their search for a place at the World Cup in Argentina next August.

They start out against Malaysia this afternoon, beginning a hectic run of four matches in five days in the revised tournament format with only first place earning qualification.

Australia wait in the long grass as overwhelming pre-tournament favourites but coach Gene Muller admits that is “the farthest thing" from his mind as he focuses solely on today’s task at hand.

It brings to an end to a preparation period beset by outside factors, starting with the earthquake in Chile which threatened to relocate the competition through Trinidad and Ukraine’s decisions not to compete and finally compounded by the volcanic ash which kept Ireland – along with Scotland and Malaysia – grounded.

Ireland arrived seven days later than scheduled and two days after the tournament began, meaning they are playing catch-up on the Chileans and Aussies who already have a win under their belt and Muller admitted it has been a tough situation to manage, mainly with the uncertainty regarding their arrival in South America.

“It’s not ideal. We tapered for a tournament that was supposed to start last Saturday so effectively the training volume has been down, the intensity has gone down because of this uncertainty. Sometimes these things work in your favour but the only thing I’m concerned about now is the schedule.

“To play four matches in five days with only 48 hours acclimitisation is going to require massive resistance to adversity. There’s a lot of adversity now so we really need to be on our game.”

The fixture list has undergone numerous re-jigs with Malaysia’s tie with Chile brought forward on appeal while Ireland’s two midweek matches have been brought forward by a couple of hours each.

But Muller says that the current situation is particularly inequitable and is forthright in his views, highlighting pressure to get the opening fixture televised as a influential factor.

“I think it’s unfair. It’s quite clearly a case of where television has trumped common sense. There are no doubts these are extraordinary circumstances but the schedule was still controllable but I think Australia and Chile have been handed a huge advantage.

“We play the tournament over five days, they play it over nine. The tournament falls under the auspices of the FIH and they are meant to be custodians of fairness in these situations.

“Either it should have been lengthened or started at the same date. It was quite possible, all they had to do was move the opening fixture to Wednesday and you would have the same conditions.

“I’m angry about it. It seemed that the teams affected [by flight delays] were not taken into consideration and obviously a television producer trumped three teams. It’s quite simply not fair.

“I know Malaysia, Scotland and Ireland protested. All we heard was that the schedule wasn’t going to change. In these circumstances, you manage as well as you can but we need to get lucky as well.”

How quickly his side can adapt to the conditions will be vital given they play their first fixture a little over 48 hours after the whole squad landed. Ireland have been in such a position before for preparation tournaments and experience suggests that initial fixtures can be negotiated on adrenaline but the second time out can be the most draining.

Ireland go into the tournament with slight worries over Julia O’Halloran and Eimear Cregan who has suffered from a bug over the past week.

But Muller has been pleased with his side’s strength of character in testing times.

“The spirit is good in the camp, I’m impressed with their resilience. They’ve been fantastic and up for it as they need to be because in this tournament, Australia are standouts, but the other four teams are very close to one another and literally anyone can win the other games on their day, that I’m absolutely sure of.”

And while Australia is the side that absolutely must be beaten if a dream ticket is to be secured, plenty of water must pass under the bridge to set up a Sunday showdown.

“Right now, Australia is the farthest thing from my mind. We have to think about three other games before then. I say that quite honestly, we have to get through Malaysia.

“They should have beaten us the last time we played [in 2009’s Champion’s Challenge in Russia]. We beat them 1-0, a game we were lucky to win, where they held sway for long periods.

“They still have the same players and coach so I can’t imagine they will be enormously different.

“They also missed qualifying for the semi-final of the Asia Cup by a minute, India scored in the last minute and ended up qualifying for the World Cup so they are tricky if you don’t have your wits about you.”



Ireland squad (club)(age/caps)
Mary Goode (GK, Bray) (30/64), Louisa Healy (GK, Loreto) (28/48), Michelle Harvey (Pegasus) (21,28), Roisin Flinn (Old Alex) (23/68), Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins) (22/55), Eimear Cregan (Catholic Institute) (28/161), Emma Clarke (Dragons, Belgium) (24/85), Bridget Cleland (Ballymoney) (27/140), Shirley McCay (Dragons, Belgium) (21/81), Lisa Jacob (UCD) (22/64), Alex Speers (Dragons, Belgium) (23/68), Julia O'Halloran (UCC) (22/45), Megan Frazer (University of Maryland, USA) (19/21), Nikki Symmons (Loreto) (27/132), Audrey O'Flynn (UCC) (23/4), Emma Smyth (Railway Union) (24/22), Lizzie Colvin (Loreto) (20/27), Niamh Small (Loreto) (23/24)

Ireland’s World Cup Qualifier match schedule:
Wednesday, April 28 - Ireland vs Malaysia, 12pm (5pm Irish time)
Thursday, April 29 - Ireland vs Scotland, 12pm tip-off (5pm Irish time)
Saturday, May 1 - Ireland vs Chile, 12pm tip-off (5pm Irish time)
Sunday, May 2 - Ireland vs Australia, 10am tip-off (3pm Irish time)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chile bounce back to take Malaysian scalp

World Cup Qualifiers (day two)
Javiera Villagra’s second half penalty stroke enabled Chile to bounce back from their opening day defeat to Australia as they put Malaysia on the back foot with a 1-0 win on a gloomy afternoon in Santiago.

The home team’s skipper was the stand-out player in a low quality affair which yielded few chances in front of a small crowd – especially in comparison to Saturday’s fixture which had in excess of 2,000 spectators – due to a last minute rescheduling.

The fixture was brought forward by a day while Ireland’s fixtures on Wednesday and Thursday have been changed to 12pm starts from 3.30pm and 1.30pm, respectively (more on which to appear on the Hook tomorrow), as the FIH continue to scramble with the match schedule.

A low-key first half, littered with individual errors and plenty of his-passes going skyward or over the end-line, saw Malaysia slightly on top, showing some neat stickwork and earned the only corner of the half.

It was indicative of the play, though, with the ball pushed wide of the goal, behind the intended target for a deflection.

The second half was livelier. Chile, despite two yellow cards, upped the ante to earn three corners in quick succession while Daniela Caram and Manuella Urroz caused plenty of problems with their long stride up front.

The former was adjudged to be taken out following a left-wing burst by Malaysian keeper Farah Ayuni Yahya and Villagra, the impressive right midfielder, calmly sent Yahya the wrong way from the spot.

Siti Rahmah Othman almost levelled matters with the Asian side’s only attack of the second half, controlling an 80-metre hopeful punt on the circle’s edge, but she was unlucky to clatter the inside of the post with a well-struck shot that had beaten Claudia Schuller.



World Cup Qualifiers – day two
Chile 1 (Javiera Villagra) Malaysia 0

Standings (played, points, goal difference)
1. Australia 1-3pts (+5) 2. Chile 2-3pts (-4) 3. Ireland 0-0pts (0) 4. Scotland 0-0pts 5. Malaysia 1-0pts (-1)

Upcoming Match Schedule:
Tuesday, April 27 - rest day
Wednesday, April 28 - Ireland vs Malaysia, 12pm (5pm Irish time)
For the full, revised schedule (correct as of April 27, 1am Irish time) click here

Town twos take home the treble

Monkstown II completed a remarkable season on Sunday when they added the Leinster division three title to the Irish Junior and Railway Cups.

They did so by beating league rivals, Pembroke, 2-1 in a close-fought encounter at Rathdown. Pembroke made sure the title went to the wire when they dispatched Fingal II 2-1 on Saturday while the Town beat Railway 7-2 on the same day.

It meant Monkstown went into the decider with a three-point cushion, meaning at least a draw would seal the title while a loss would lead to a play-off for a second successive year.

Pembroke started on the offensive, forcing Monkstown to defend stoutly and before nicking a goal on the break from their first real attack through an Alec Barrett penalty stroke.

The visitors, though, continued to very much held sway possession-wise but never fully stretched Craig Ellis in goal while the sky-blues were always a threat on the break.

Maurice Elliott, Mick O’Connor and Craig Wilson were a constant danger, forcing Richard Sykes to excel in defence for the town.

Alastair Nolan was yellow carded for the town on the stroke of half time, aiding Pembroke as they piled on a barrage of attacks at the beginning of the second half.

But once restored to 11, Barrett earned a corner from which Sykes (pictured, above, celebrating with Theo Kirwan in the IJC final) dispatched a well taken drag-flick for 2-0.

Pembroke were then reduced to ten with Wilson seeing yellow for a bad tackle but they nicked one from a broken-down corner in his absence with the ball falling to Scott Furlong with ten minutes to go.

Pembroke threw everything forward but found Monkstown’s defences unbreachable to retain their title by a six point margin following a hectic final month of the season in which they saw off challenges from Corinthian, Three Rock (the Tuesday prior) and finally Pembroke in a run of five league games in nine days following double cup success earlier in the month.

* Following on from last month's round-up of the women's leagues, The Hook will endeavour to post stories about how each of the men's leagues finished up. Divisions four, five, six and eight have yet to be posted, please email stevie_findlats@yahoo.com with details to get your club heroes recognised!

Mullingar ladies carry on up the divisions

Mullingar ladies first eleven claimed Leinster’s Division 11 last week as they claimed a vital 2-0 win away to Naas III.

Captained by Lorraine Scanlan, the side coped admirably without the services this season of Anne Stension, their influential centre forward who injured her cruciate ligament in the first game of the season.

With Stension's absence, players such as Sarah MacManus – a Westmeath ladies football and camoige star – stepped up to the plate and excelled all year.

It caps an impressive few years for the ’Gar’s ladies section who only returned to action in 2007 following a six year break from competitive hockey.

They re-entered the league after men’s club stalwart and, then club coach Colin Waters, persuaded them to give it another go in the Leinster league.

Since then, the ladies won the Division 13/14 Cup and Division 13 league in 2008, and were promoted from Division 12 last season.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Australia enjoy comfortable WCQ start

As three flagpoles stood unadorned (pictured right), Australia and Chile opened the World Cup Qualifier in Santiago in front of a large crowd at the impressive Manquehue complex with the pre-tournament favourites running up a comfortable 5-0 victory.

Scarcely did they need any help but the Aussies from three tamely awarded corners, the first of which was slapped high into the roof of the net by Amy Korner and was initially given before being ruled out from halfway. The same corner, though, broke the deadlock in the 15th minute when Korner - the pusher out - kept her shot low this time to rattle the backboard.

An excellent right-wing move fortuitously found its way home via Ashleigh Nelson's stick after a goalkeeping mishap and the game died as a contest at that moment before half-time as any Australian early jitters went out the window.

Nelson scrambled in from another corner before a smart Kate Hollywood deflection and a Madonna Blyth reverse sealed a functional win to start the week and serve an impressive statement of intent.

World Cup Qualifiers - Day One:
Chile 0 Australia 5 (Ashleigh Nelson 2, Amy Korner, Kate Hollywood, Madonna Blyth)

* For more photos of Chile vs Australia, click here


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Monks and Glens to contest all-Leinster affair

Men's Irish Senior Cup semi-finals:
Monkstown and Glenanne will make it an All-Leinster Irish Senior Cup final after they got the better of Annadale and Three Rock Rovers, respectively, this afternoon.

Indeed, the Town remain on course for an incredible Senior and Junior double after they produced yet another of their now trademark wins, Andrew Ward the hero for the second week running with the final touch to beat their Belfast opponents on golden goal.

Annadale had started the stronger in their tie, looking strong on the break and forced a double corner early on which Neil Hamilton netted low at the second attempt.

But after the quarter hour, Jonny Moore became the busier keeper, pulling off a pair of saves before Ward levelled the tie at the break.

The second half continued to be very even with chances at both ends. Dave Fitzgerald made a string of saves in the first quater of the second half before the Rathdown hosts swung the momentum toward Moore’s goal.

Hamilton dragged home from Annadale’s only corner of the second period to restore the lead with just seven minutes remaining but Monkstown’s soaring self-belief in tight clinches saw Ian Allen snatch an equaliser with just two minutes left.

Into extra-time, Eoin O’Connor charged down a corner before Andy Ewington rattled the crossbar with a drag-flick of his own.

But with strokes becoming a real possibility, a lightning break incorporating eight passes eventually found Ward to get a touch at the back post to spark the celebrations.

The Glens win at Grange Road – their third this term – was more routine, running up a 2-0 win with a goal in each half.

Gary Shaw struck in the eighth minute to set the ball rolling after Joe Brennan's long overhead found the returning Graham Shaw to square for his cousin to score.

Steven Doran had to be alert to keep out Rovers, notably with a fine triple save before the break and they carried the fight in the second period, bossing the third quarter of the game.

They failed to capitalise, though, and Stephen Butler took his chance with a corner drag-flick with 13 minutes gone in the second half to seal their passage and keep hopes alive of a third ISC title. The Glens closed out the game in the ascendancy drawing fine saves from Stephen West while Butler and Garry Ringwood both served yellow card suspensions for bad tackles.

Men’s Irish Senior Cup Semi-finals
Monkstown 3 (A Ward 2, I Allen) Annadale 2 (I Hamilton 2) a.e.t.-Monkstown won with Golden Goal; Three Rock Rovers 0 Glenanne 2 (Gary Shaw, S Butler)

* For more of Adrian Boehm's photos from the Monkstown vs Annadale ISC semi-final, click here. Emer Keogh's photos from the Three Rock vs Glenanne game, meanwhile, are here

** Elsewhere, Cork C of I’s men completed the Munster treble with an 11-0 win over Catholic Institute to win the Peard Cup.

On the women’s side, Cork Harlequins will have to face a play-off for a second year running to retain their league crown for a 15th year after they tied 2-2 with Catholic Institute on the final day of the regular season. As last year, they now face UCC in a straight playoff for the title.

Institute qualify for the wildcard playoffs ahead of Cork C of I as a result and will face Old Alex in mid-May.

Glens have final four ISC pedigree

Glenanne look the pedigree outfit going into the final four stage of the Irish Senior Cup – the world’s oldest knock-out hockey competition – as they travel to Grange Road on Saturday in the all-Leinster tie against Three Rock Rovers.

Three wins over the Rathfarnham side in 2009/10 should have them firmly in the box-seat while they are the most recent winners of the competition, the only side left to win the competition this millennium with Rovers last tasting success in 2007. Three Rock are second on the all time list but have been waiting for a success since 1974 and a first final appearance since 1999.

Monkstown’s wait goes back to 1914 while Annadale have two final appearances to their name – the most recent in that thrilling 4-3 loss to the Glens in ’07 – but no wins.

Glenanne will, though, be fretting over the fitness of Graham Shaw who was a significant absentee last weekend for the visit of Lisnagarvey in the IHL.

An additional motivating factor for Rovers, though, could be there willingness to impress Arul Anthoni who will take over the coaching reins at Three Rock in 2010/11 with Maarten Bos stepping down at the end of the campaign.

Monkstown will be eyeing a return to the final they last contested in 2008 with the one remaining Ulster side in their way. Rory O’Donoghue’s side picked off an eye-catching win, rising from the dead against Banbridge to score three times in the closing quarter in what was a real watershed moment for the club.

With Rathdown advantage, they face an Annadale side who have negotiated a pair of Ulster derbies but have yet to visit Dublin this term. Peter Caruth and Jonny Quigley are the main threats from play with Neil and Ian Hamilton both offer corner threats while it’s difficult to discern much from a low-key 1-0 home defeat to Three Rock last week.

They are battling with a double-prize in the offing – a televised date on RTE to be shown on Monday, May 10, a day after the final itself as well as a potential EHL place. Only Glenanne have two clear shots at Europe, therefore raising the ante for the other trio.

Men’s Irish Senior Cup Semi Finals (Saturday)
Monkstown v Annadale, 1.30pm, Rathdown; Three Rock v Glenanne, 3pm, Grange Road

Friday, April 23, 2010

FIH release new WCQ schedule

The FIH has released the revised schedule for the Women’s World Cup Qualifier following the confirmation of new arrival dates of Ireland, Scotland and Malaysia.

The tournament will still run within the original dates, 24th April – 2nd May, but with a round robin format as opposed to the group stages culminating in a final’s day.

The Irish will now begin their campaign on Wednesday against Malaysia before facing Scotland on Thursday and playing a double-header against Chile and Australia on the weekend.

The tournament will begin as originally scheduled with Chile facing Australia on Saturday afternoon - the Aussies beat Chile 4-0 in a warm-up fixture earlier this week.

A live webradio broadcast in English from the World Cup Qualifier in Chile, run by The SportsZone, will be hosted on Santiago Radio. For more information on what times and what games will be covered, go to www.thesportszone.cl (Thanks to our friends at hockeycaballeros.tk for the heads up.)


Ireland match schedule:
Wednesday, April 28:
Ireland vs Malaysia, 3.30pm (8.30pm Irish time)
Thursday, April 29: Ireland vs Scotland, 1.30pm (6.30pm Irish time)
Saturday, May 1: Ireland vs Chile, 12pm (5pm Irish time)
Sunday, May 2: Ireland vs Australia, 10am (3pm Irish time)

* For the full, revised schedule, click here

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Portrane announce Golf Classic details

The annual Portrane hockey club, fundraising golf classic will take place on Friday, May 7 in Donabate Golf Club with participants competing for the inaugural Tommy O’Sullivan Perpetual Trophy.

The event will honour the goalkeeper who was a well-known figure on the Leinster hockey scene and passed away before his time in 2007.

All funds raised from the event will go toward the club’s continued development and expansion of the club’s schoolboy and schoolgirl hockey programme. Currently, the club has iver 100 juvenile members from Under-8s up to Under-16s.

In recent years, the club have been working hard to introduce hockey into local primary schools and are now well established with a weekly hockey programme in three schools on the Portrane-Donabate peninsula and also this year has been introduced into three schools in Swords.

In June this year, construction of the new international standard water base pitch will commence with the official opening of this world class facility on schedule for September 2011, providing an enormous boost for Portrane Hockey Club as well as all sporting clubs within the peninsula and wider Fingal area.

The golf classic itself has a tee-off times between 9am and 4.50pm sharp. This is a four person team event with four ball teams teeing off at ten minute intervals on one of Dublin’s most enjoyable coastal parkland courses.

The day will consist of a round of golf on one of Dublin’s premier golf clubs including surprise goodie bags, barbeque on the 10th hole and complimentary drinks during the round of golf.

The evening will conclude in the clubhouse with a three course dinner where the presentation of excellent prizes and club draw will take place. Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams, nearest the pin and longest drive.

* For entry costs, prizes, entry forms and all other information, contact Adrian Henchy on 0876859260 or adrianhenchy@gmail.com.

Irish squad to arrive in Chile on Monday

Ireland's women will arrive in Chile for their WCQ in two groups, the first arriving on Sunday and a second set landing in Santiago on Monday, April 25.

Their flights have been confirmed with Air France and will be the fourth side to arrive at the tournament following the already in situ Chile and Australia while Malaysia are now set to land on Saturday.

Ireland have split the squad into two to facilitate the earliest possible arrival with 12 of the squad and management travelling on Saturday and 11 on Sunday each group arriving at 7.30am the day after they depart.

The FIH have not yet confirmed the changed match schedule once this is released it will be publicised by the Irish Hockey Association.

* The Hook's delegation is currently en route to Chile and will arrive on Thursday morning. As a result, if you have any information, match reports and photos from Saturday's Irish Senior Cup fixtures or the conclusions of your Leinster league, please email me on stevie_findlats@yahoo.com as my phone is likely to be out of action for most of the next fortnight.

Athy complete memorable first season

Athy hockey club sealed the Division 7 title in their maiden year with two games to spare as their 2-0 win away to Kilkenny last Saturday moved them out of the reach of UCD.

Second half goals from Neville Kavanagh and Warren O’Donnell were enough to seal the points against a spirited and youthful Kilkenny side, backboned by members of the college’s Leinster School’s Trophy winning side.

Athy was founded at the start of this season as a section of the local rugby club, Athy RFC. The majority of the club had previously played hockey in school and, indeed, for other clubs in the region, A regular social Friday night game with the club’s already existing ladies section provided the impetus for the foundation of the men’s side.

When one night, 17 males turned up for the game the thoughts of a men’s side turned into action and a meeting was arranged with Leinster Secretary Ronan Pelow, who has continued to be a great encouragement.

The club completed the required formalities and were accepted at the Branch’s AGM, allowing the business on the pitch to begin.

The Co Kildare side got off to an innocuous start with a 5-0 friendly defeat at the hands of Kilkenny's first team, a tough ask for many of the players who hadn’t played in several years.

However, a 3-0 friendly win followed over Naas II before the league campaign started with a tough 3-2 win over UCD, Athy being fortunate to catch the students at the start of term.

A run of five further wins was brought to an end with a 0-0 draw with Corinthian with former South East Wanderer Graham Hill having an inspired day between the posts.

Further wins followed into the New Year until a crunch, top-of-the-table clash with UCD in Belfield. Athy saved their best performance for the big day with a 2-0 win in a highly competitive game.

A 2-0 Monday night win over Weston a fortnight ago brought Athy up to 44 points, the maximum UCD could reach and the aforementioned 2-0 win over Kilkenny last Saturday brought Athy over the finish line.

Among those who made the season a memorable one were goalkeeper Kevin O’Toole who had never even seen a hockey match before the season’s start but, hailing from a town that has produced both Henderson brothers and Fingal’s Nigel Grothier, he took to net-minding like a duck to water.

Trevor White fitted in seamlessly following his move from South East Wanderers while goal scorers in-chief were Neville Kavanagh and Warren O’Donnell, captain and chairman, respectively.

Treasurer Gary Bailey and Match Secretary Barry Ashmore combined those roles with playing for the club while the club also is thankful to sponsors Pearson International Milking Machines.

Athy now hope to finish their season with a bang when they combine with their ladies team at the MayFest in Three Rock Rovers.

The club are already planning for next season and have already signed up two new players and are hopeful of a couple more over the summer.

The mixed hockey games will continue over the summer on Friday nights at 7pm in Athy RFC so if interested, male or female, in a social game or to join the club either email info@athyrugbyclub.com or call up to the astro pitches in Athy RFC on Friday nights.

Avoca ladies seek first team coach

Avoca’s ladies first team, who will play in Leinster division four next season, are looking for a new coach for the 2010/11 as they look to bounce straight back to division three.

The club are looking for a coach “to help build and develop the first team to achieve the club's promotion ambitions, develop the many young players and attract new talent.

“The candidate will have expert technical, tactical and communication skills as well as being motivated and dedicated to the role and will work with the other club coaches to ensure players are developed effectively throughout the club.”

A competitive salary package is offered and interested applicants can send a short résumé detailing coaching qualifications, previous experience and any other information they feel is relevant to their application by Friday, May 14 to secretary@avocahockeyclub.com. For further information please contact Lavina Conway on 0876431100.

YM open day: news in brief

* The YMCA colt’s section are running an Open Day on Sunday, April 25 in Alexandra College, Milltown from 12pm to 4pm.

The aim of the Open Day is run a fun event for the club’s colts and provide an opportunity for anyone with children interested in taking up hockey or joining a hockey club to make contact with the club.

Anyone interested can register on the day at 12pm. The day will cater to all age groups from U-8 to U-16 with new members especially welcomed. For enquiries and bookings, contact Peter Chadwick on Chadwick.peter@gmail.com or 0862565899.

* Avoca will host their annual fundraising race night on Thursday, April 29 April in the Wishing Well in Blackrock. Horses and jockeys can be bought for €10 each; a raffle will be held on the night; the last race will be an auction race while there is also racecard advertising available for a half-page (€50) and full pages (€100).

To support the event, email carl.breaden@gmail.com with your horse or jockey name (pick any name you like/make it up) and the owner name (person that is buying it).

* The ladies of Trinity hockey club will run in the Women's Mini-Marathon on Bank Holiday Monday, June 7 to raise funds for MOVE.

MOVE is a charity run by medicine students, whose aim is to send medical students, with much needed supplies and funding, to hospitals in the third world. Funds raised from the Mini-Marathon will be donated to the World Medical Fund outreach clinics in Malawi, where some of the girls will be working in July.

Check out the Facebook page if you are interested in joining them in running/jogging/walking the race. The club will sort you out with sponsorship cards, an information pack in advance, and t-shirts on race day.

O'Malley strike earns Minor Cup; Avoca win Neville Davin crown

Glenanne V claimed the Minor Cup for the fifth time last Sunday at the Maws, with John Roche (pictured joining a list of club legends including Brendan Carr, Austin Stack and Terry Cooney to lift the title they last won back in 1992.

They shaded their tie with Fingal IV 1-0, Ryan O’Malley getting the vital goal from an Eddie O’Malley assist in the second half after a scoreless first period which featured plenty of short corners.

Avoca, meanwhile, made up for their playoff setback on Saturday afternoon to secure the Neville Davin Cup – a first senior cup title since winning the Irish Senior Cup in the mid-90s – as they beat Bray 5-3.

Stephen Brownlow scored a pair of drag-flicks and Will Aylmer made it 3-0 at the break from another corner. The lead was extended out to 5-1 by Enda Gallanagh and Brownlow’s third goal before John Egan and Simon Cox pulled back two late goals in the closing stages.

Minor Cup final:
Glenanne V 1 (Ryan O'Malley) Fingal IV 0

Neville Davin Cup final:
Avoca 5 (Stephen Brownlow 3, Will Aylmer, Enda Gallanagh) Bray 3 (Simon Cox 2, John Egan)

* For more of Daniel McSweeney's photos from the Minor Cup final between Glenanne V and Fingal IV, click here

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

FIH confirm WCQ to go ahead

The FIH have stated the BDO women's World Cup Qualifier in Santiago, Chile will go ahead. At this stage, two of the five participants are on site in Santiago: Australia and host Chile.

Ireland, Malaysia and Scotland saw their flights cancelled last Sunday and are now in the stage of attempting to re-book. As soon as any new itineraries are confirmed, the FIH will publish a new match schedule.

With the two teams already onsite, the FIH has also confirmed that the first match of the BDO World Cup Qualifier will be Chile-Australia on Saturday, April 24 at 3.30pm and the plan is still to have the final on Sunday, May 2.

Meanwhile, according to Malaysia blogger Jugjet Singh, the Australians have proposed - in an email copied to the IHA, too - a format by which 13 teams could go to the World Cup should the ongoing flight issues continue.

He writes: "Australia is of the opinion that since there might be a delay in the other teams arriving in Chile, they should be allowed to play a series against the hosts to decide which team plays in the World Cup.

"And the Aussies also suggested, in an e-mail to FIH, that another qualifier be held among the stranded teams where a second ticket to the World Cup will be on offer.

"And if the FIH can’t accommodate the request, the Aussies feel the tournament should be played on a round-robin basis with the top team playing in Argentina."

Hermes take U-16 title: cup final wrap

Hermes U-16 bounced back from initial elimination to claim the Jacqui Potter U-16 cup title at Grange Road last Saturday, getting the better of Old Alex 2-1 in a tense final.

They lost at the first time of asking to Railway Union but were reinstated due to a player eligibility issue and replayed against the Park Avenue outfit on Friday night, taking the laurels 3-1.

And they carried that momentum into the final with Emma Russell striking a goal in each half before the excellent Anna Roopnarinesingh pulled one back with seven minutes to go with a superb solo goal.

A few late corners almost forced extra-time but Hermes’ defence marshalled by Jane Fennelly and with midfield dynamo Laura Gray to the fore, they survived the tension to take the cup.

In the other finals on the day, Niamh Barry scored the second half winner for Botanic IV (pictured) to claim their first cup title in eight years as they withstood a late onslaught from Dalkey in front of a large, noisy crowd at Grange Road on Saturday.

Barry got the final touch after a scramble ensued at short corner time to seal the division 11/12 crown.

It proved a nice present for the absent captain Mo Smyth who was unable to play after being stranded in Amsterdam since the previous Thursday due to the fallout from the Icelandic volcano.

In the division 7/8 decider, Mini Douglas struck with virtually the last touch of the game to hand Railway Union IV the division 7/8 cup while Monkstown II won the division 13/14 cup 3-2 on penalty strokes after tying in normal time with Navan II 1-1.

U-16 Jacqui Potter Cup final:
Hermes 2 (Emma Russell 2) Old Alex 1 (Anna Roopnarinesingh)

Women’s Division 7/8 Cup final:
Railway Union IV 1 (Mini Douglas) Pembroke VI 0

Women’s Division 11/12 Cup final:
Botanic IV 1 (Niamh Barry) Dalkey 0

Women’s Division 13/14 Cup final:
Monkstown II 1 Navan II 1 Monkstown win 3-2 on penalty strokes

**********************************************

Last week at Belfield, meanwhile, Old Alex II were pipped to the Irish Junior Cup title by a formidable Randalstown II side who came from a goal behind to end the Milltown club's double dreams.

Sylvia O'Mahony netted from the second phase of a corner after Becca Coll's initial shot had created havoc but two goals from Pamela Muir and one from Courtney Burns swung the tie the Ulster side's way.

* Adrian Boehm's photos from the Old Alex II vs Randalstown II fixture can be seen here. Apologies for not posting sooner.

IHL wildcard weekend brought forward

YMCA's bid for a place in the 2010/11 Irish Hockey League has been brought forward to May 7-9 in the wake of Lisnagarvey's likely semi-final place in this year's competition.

The wildcard playoffs for the final two IHL places were set to be played on the weekend of May 14-16 but 'Garvey's changeable form between Ulster Premier League and the IHL has forced a probable clash.

The Hillsborough club ended the Ulster campaign in fifth place to obtain a wildcard slot while saving their best form for the country's premier competition in which they head Pool B and need just a single point in round five to reach the semi-finals.

Bandon and Cork Harlequins are currently battling for the second Munster IHL place with the runner-up in that race entering as the third wildcard place.

The competition will now be held on the same weekend as the men's and women's Irish Senior Cups on May 9. The IHA, though, have confirmed the Sunday wildcard fixture will be scheduled to ensure people can attend all three fixtures The venue will be confirmed within the next few days.

Irish women still left on standby

The Irish women's hockey WCQ team are still standing by as the havoc wreaked by the Icelandic volcano eruption continues to block flights into and out of Ireland with Dublin airport remaining closed until 7pm today at the latest update.

The Irish players were released from their base in UCD to return to their homes as officials try to establish the earliest time that the team can depart to make the trip to Chile. Alternative routes and splitting up the delegation into smaller groups have been explored to date but with no flights out of Ireland, the first step of the process is the one causing the most problems.

The FIH (International Hockey Federation) met yesterday and are attempting to establish the earliest possible arrival dates of Ireland, Scotland and Malaysia before they can confirm whether the start date or format of the World Cup Qualifier will be altered.

Scotland, according to today's Daily Telegraph, having been kicking their heals at their Peffermill base for the past three days with, like Ireland, Friday looking like the most likely arrival date.

At latest update, Malaysia were said to be attempting to re-route through Sydney Australia and then on to Chile with an earliest arrival date of Sunday - a day after the tournament is currently due to begin.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pembroke ladies climb three places

Women's Division One:
Pembroke 1 (Karen Hales) Old Alex 0; Loreto 2 (Sarah O'Meara, Catriona Tipping) Glenanne 0
Pembroke ended a difficult season with a positive boost as they jumped from ninth to sixth on the final weekend of Leinster division one, courtesy of Karen Hales' second half, straight corner strike against Old Alex on Saturday.

The three points were enough to push them ahead of Glenanne - who fell 2-0 on Sunday - as well as Trinity and Corinthian. They showed the greater motivation for this low key fixture, edging the corner count four to one and holding the edge in terms of possession with Orla Fox and Noelle Farrell to the fore.

A goal in each half was enough for Loreto's win which left them in third place in the final reckoning. Sarah O'Meara scored from a corner on the stroke of half-time before Catriona Tipping knocked in a cracker from open play in the second half, planting the ball into the top corner.

For the Glens, seventh place is a reasonable return after a sticky start to the season in the wake of high profile departures and four consecutive losses to begin with. But a late season rally saw them escape any relegation danger with plenty to spare.

Glens and Garvey in control of Pool B

Irish Hockey League Pool B (Saturday results)
Saturday: Glenanne 3 (Gary Shaw 2, Stephen Butler) Lisnagarvey 2 (Mark Raphael, Johnny Gray)
Stephen Butler’s rising rocket five minutes from time was the decisive factor to edge a superb encounter at St Mark’s in which Lisnagarvey came back from the dead to tie the fixture up only to be counter-punched.

Nonetheless, the losing bonus point means they retain top spot in the group and a similar return from their tie with Cork C of I at Hillsborough in the final round of fixtures would likely ensure a final four presence.

The Glens prevailed, in spite of the absence of the injured Graham Shaw, and now have a similar proposition in front of them with Annadale to visit Tallaght in round five, though will a slightly less friendly goal difference.

The Ulster visitors shaded a cagey first quarter but the game truly burst into life when Gary Shaw scored a double inside three minutes of the start of the second quarter. Eddie O’Malley nabbed the ball inside the 25 to set up Gary Shaw to slap into the empty net for the opener before a superb second.

Joe Brennan’s overhead created the chance in the first instance before Mick McGuinness pull back was excellent finished by Shaw.

Timmy Cockram drew a couple of excellent saves from Steven Doran before the half was out on his reverse while one open side effort whizzed past the far post. ’Garvey, though, got right back into the mix early in the second half, profiting from two Glenanne green card offences.

During the Shane O’Donoghue’s absence, Jason Lynch had more space to roam from midfield, playing a fortuitous one-two with Peter MacDonnell down the left-wing to reach the baseline where he rolled a reverse-stick cross toward Mark Raphael who applied the deftest of finishes.

And when Stephen Butler was similarly binned for a tackle on the influential Johnny Gray, the northerners prospered once more. Raphael won the corner, Cockram dragged and Gray snapped up a very sharp rebound after Doran’s initial save.

But, restored to eleven, Glenanne regained midfield control, Dave Williamson denying a Butler dragged while O’Donoghue’s outrageous three-dimensional skills were cut short by the umpire’s whistle when well-placed.

They applied plenty of pressure in the final period, though, and eventually got back into the box seat when Butler banged the stanchion on Williamson’s glove side to stay very much a favourite for an IHL semi-final place.

Cork C of I 3 (John Jermyn, Nigel Buttimer, Nick Burns) Cookstown 3 (Stephen Sloan, Thomas Hutchinson, Colin Donaldson)
A lively tie at Garryduff but a result which, in combination with events at Tallaght, did little to advance either sides of making the finals weekend.

John Jermyn netted his fourth of this year’s competition when his initial drag-flick hit a foot on the line and he potted the ensuing penalty stroke for the only goal of the first half.

The scoring tempo, though, ramped up in the second half as CI doubled their advantage when a Cookstown defensive mishap opened the chance for veteran Nigel Buttimer to flicked high into the net.

Stephen Sloan, though, responded from close range before Thomas Hutchinson levelled the tie from the Coolnafranky side’s sixth corner of the tie.

The hosts regained the lead through Nick Burns a minute into the final quarter when David Hobbs loped down the right wing and his cross was met by the diving teenager.

But Cookstown bounced back to equalise for a second time with just three minutes left when CI failed to clear and Colin Donaldson held his nerve to knock in his side’s third goal.

Sunday: Annadale 0 Three Rock Rovers 1 (Ross Canning)
Three Rock picked up their first win in this year’s competition with a tame 1-0 win over Annadale in a fixture short on interest after both sides were all but eliminated.

Teenager Ross Canning got the only goal, completing a well-worked move in the 61st minute while Andy McGimpsey as spending time in the sin-bin, consigning ’Dale to take the wooden spoon, barring a bonus point win in round five.

Early on, the Jordanstown hosts drew a pair of good saves from Stephen West, Peter Caruth and William Edgar the shooters. Pierre de Voux went close while Canning had the best of Rovers’ efforts on goal on his backhand side.

Richard Maybin let a golden chance slice wide from close range in the fourth quarter before Canning finished off a two-on-one with the goalkeeper for a three-point win.

Standings: 1. Lisnagarvey 11pts (+10) 2. Glenanne 11pts (+4) 3. Cookstown 8pts (+1) 4. Cork C of I 7pts (-2) 5. Three Rock Rovers 6pts (-7) 6. Annadale 2pts (-6)

* For more photos from Glenanne vs Lisnagarvey, click here

Pembroke through, three way scrap for second

Irish Hockey League Pool A
Saturday: Pembroke 3 (Alan Sothern, Gordon Elliott, Andy McConnell) Corinthian 0
Reigning champions Pembroke confirmed their place in the finals weekend of the Irish Hockey League as they sweep past Corinthian at a sun-baked Serpentine Avenue and will top Pool A with a game to spare.

Maurice Elliott earned a sixth minute corner from which Alan Sothern converted, firing in a just left of centre drag-flick, from the only major chance of the first quarter as Pembroke held possession while the reds were content to counter-attack.

Mick O’Connor fizzed one low cross past the face of goal early in the second quarter while a Corinthian corner shot and Darren Kimfley’s shot went close. Conor Harte pushed wide from Pembroke’s second corner, meanwhile, to end the half at 1-0.

But Harte atoned in style seven minutes into the second period when he pushed forward down the right channel and delivered the pass to Gordy Elliott from which he dispatched a reverse-stick shot to double the lead.

Former Pembroke man Davy Carson went close twice in the aftermath, hitting the post in the 50th minute, before Brian Doherty dragged a good save from David Harte in the final period.

Chris Pelow skimmed one over the bar as their attempts to nick a precious losing point stepped up but Pembroke were the side to finally earn a bonus of their own. Patrick Good provided the nuisance factor in the circle after Craig Fulton’s initial move to lay up Andy McConnell to score the third goal.

Monkstown 4 (Gareth Watkins 2, Andy Ewington, Andrew Ward) Banbridge 3 (Scott Forbes, Ross McCandless, Hugh McShane)
Monkstown temporarily forced their way into the IHL semi-final reckoning as they produced a monumental fightback, showing a typical attitude toward entertaining their support. Their hopes though took a big blow a day later as Inst's win leaves them needing huge favours to advance.

Andrew Ward grabbed the winner with just ten seconds to go to hand his side the lead for the first time of a see-saw tie.

They trailed 2-0 inside the opening quarter at Rathdown after Scott Forbes reacted fastest to rebound a corner following Dave Fitzgerald’s original save and Ross McCandless doubled up with an exceptional top right-hand drag-flick and while the Town fought their back into affairs, the deficit remained until the half-time interval.

Andy Ewington netted his 25th first eleven goal of the season in the third quarter to bring the sky-blues right back into the tie only for Hugh McShane to restore the two goal wedge which held until the fourth quarter.

But in an incredible reversal of affairs, Gareth Watkins scored a beautiful solo effort and subsequently scored an equaliser for 3-3 with scarcely two minutes remaining from a switched drag-flick.

And then Ward stole in to give Monkstown a major lifeline in the competition. The win moves the Rathdown outfit into fourth place overnight but within a point of Corinthian and Banbridge. The win even opens the door for Cork Harlequins if they can win against Instonians this afternoon.


Instonians 3 (Stuart McWilliams, William Robinson, Steven Redpath) Cork Harlequins 1 (Dan Hobbs)
Instonians took advantage of Saturday’s favourable results to jump into second place in Pool A as they held off the challenge of Cork Harlequins at Shaw’s Bridge, leading from start to finish.

Inst have been quick starters on a couple of occasions this term and repeated the trick when Stuart McWilliams pounced on a third minute corner rebound for 1-0. It proved the only strike before the big break though the hosts did have to hold out four corners with goalkeeper Nigel Skillen in top form to keep his line in tact.

Into the second half, Matthew Martin spurned a great, one-on-one opportunity before William Robinson doubled the lead in the 46th minute with a well-executed reverse-stick shot. Steven Redpath had a similar reverse chalked off soon after for back-stick before Dan Hobbs finally found his corner range to tighten the fixture up.

But any momentum was cut shoot when Rob Hobbs was yellow-carded and in that time, Inst took the initiative with Chris Kirk shooting over, Mark Irwin firing wide and two corners going a begging.

They finally got the insurance goal in the final minute when Redpath roofed a spectacular shot, denying Quins a losing bonus point and ending their interest in the competition. Inst move up to second and face a vital battle with Corinthian in the final round of fixtures at Whitechurch Park. Banbridge will aim to pick up on any draw or a non-bonus point win at Farmer's Cross.

Monkstown need a huge amount of factors to go their way and then trounce Pembroke to pick off a semi-final place.

Standings: 1. Pembroke 15pts (+9) 2. Instonians 8pts (+1) 3. Corinthian 7pts (0) 4. Banbridge 7pts (-1) 5. Monkstown 6pts (-3) 6. Cork Harlequins 3pts (-4)

* For more of Adrian Boehm's photos from Pembroke vs Corinthian, click here

Irish women one of three left stranded


As expected the Irish women's journey to Santaigo, Chile was delayed this morning as a result of the volcanic ash created the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland.

Ireland are one of three teams bound for the World Cup Qualifier in South America to be affected with Scotland also delayed while Malaysia are also delayed as they are currently concluding a European tour as part of their preparations.

It creates a slight planning headache for Gene Muller and his management team as their initial build-up plans will be drastically changed. They will train again at UCD today following yesterday's media day in which the Setanta Sports cameras and Sportsfile photographers were on hand to observe the side in their new Samurai-sponsored clothing.

The hope is for the side to travel out on the next available flight though current forecasts suggest this will be unlikely to occur on Monday.

ESB chief executive Padraig McManus (pictured with Michelle Harvey and Lisa Jacob), and title sponsor of women's hockey in the country, was also present at yesterday's training session and pas upbeat about Ireland's chances despite the tough draw.

Speaking at UCD, he said "This is a tremendously challenging time for Irish Women's Hockey and our national team certainly has to face tough competition in Chile. But I have every confidence that their combined skill, determination and extraordinary team spirit will bring them through to represent Ireland in the World Cup later this year in Argentina. I wish the captain, Eimear Cregan and the team every success in the World Cup Qualifiers in Chile".

Adams secures Bray's top tier status

Women's Division One/Two playoff
Bray 3 (Wendy Adams 2, Cathy Brock) Three Rock Ladies (Brigid Charmant) aet
Wendy Adams extra-time double meant Bray stayed in division one as they held off the challenge of Three Rock Ladies - division two's best placed first team - after a hard-fought battle at Wesley.

It was a hastily arranged fixture at Wesley, the sides only receiving confirmation of the tie on Thursday night before Bray were also dealt a tough blow on the eve of Saturday's tie when Mary Goode was withdrawn due to her Ireland commitments.

Her stand-in, Barbara Snow, had a solid performance, keeping out all bar one of Three Rock's seven penalty corners as well as making a couple of timely interventions. Bray largely held the balance of play, with Linda O'Neill's darting runs a constant threat, and took the lead in the seventh minute via Cathy Brock's corner move.

Brigid Charmant levelled with a corner of her own soon after. Both sides were unable to capitalise on a player advantage during normal time as Bray's Emer Willis (not retreating) and Three Rock's Suzanne Mellon (diving tackle) endured spells with ten players.

Charmant slipped one chance just wide of Snow's near post while Rovers had the slightly clearer chances on the breakaway.

But Catherine Murray went closest to breaking the deadlock in normal time, crashing a vicious reverse off the shoulder of Eimear Fitzsimons with two minutes left while a last second corner went incomplete from the Wicklow side.

However, they cracked the code in extra-time when Adams battled to dig out her own rebound from Fitzsimons' pads to flick into the net 90 seconds from the first whistle and tapped in from O'Neill's superb right wing run in the 89th minute to complete the win, with her side almost too tired to celebrate in the searing Ballinteer sun.

* For more photos from the Bray vs Three Rock Ladies fixture, click here

Railway retain division one status

Men's Division One/Two Promotion-relegation playoff
Railway Union 5 (Eoin McArthur 2, Peter English, Mark English, Kenny Carroll) Avoca 1 (Enda Gallanagh)
Railway held their nerve to recover from a goal deficit to give their young charges another year to develop in division one level while Avoca will have to see what any potential re-working of the league system holds, whether it be another year in the current division two or otherwise.

Enda Gallanagh gave the Blackrock side the lead with a fairly timid effort, getting a touch to an Ezra Handelman ball into the circle which deceived Stephen O'Keeffe. Railway had been on top up that point with Avoca offering sporadic breakaways but the Park Avenue hosts were held at bay until the 28th minute when Mark English got his side back on terms.

And brother Peter added a drag-flick just before the break to ease the division one side's nerves. A hotly-disputed Kenny Carroll goal fully broke the Avoca resolve - the arguments suggesting the Leinster defender's reverse-stick effort, following a corner rebound, was outside the circle. In truth, it looked more like a pass but had enough direction to deceive Greg Keeley.

Eoin McArthur added two second half goals in a quickfire spell and, while Avoca notched up several corners and saw Stephen Brownlow's stroke denied by O'Keeffe, Railway were always in control.

Friday, April 16, 2010

IHL semi-final picture to be painted

Reigning champions Pembroke stand with one foot already in the final four of the second edition of the Irish Hockey League and will become the first side to confirm that status with a pool game to spare if they garner a win on Saturday.

Standing in their way, though, is a Corinthian side that have caused them umpteen problems in Leinster’s top league, completing a home and away double, and with semi-final hopes of their own still very much alive and kicking.

They visit Serpentine Avenue off the back of three weeks solid training since the end of the domestic campaign with only Lucas Piccioli missing – due to a wedding in his native Venezuela.

Pembroke, meanwhile, will be hoping Tim Lewis will be back to full fitness. He featured in the purples last outing – the EHL defeat to Rot-Weiss Koln – but prior to that missed a number of local fixtures. Justin Sherriff is another nursing a slight injury.

Snapping at the Leinster duo’s heals at the top of Pool A are Ulster pairing Banbridge and Instonians.
Bann travel to Glenageary to face Monkstown who still have an outside shot at making the semis if they can bag back-to-back wins.

Gareth Watkins and Andy Ewington’s corner threat will hope to breach the 50 goal mark, having combined so far this season for 49 goals in all first eleven competitions this term.

A win for the Co Down side, allied to the fact that one or both of the sides ahead of them will drop points, makes this a key fixture in the play-off push.

And should young stars Stephen Dowds or the emerging Josh Moffett get a run this could be a fixture to savour. Ross McCandless’ drag-flick will be another key factor as Bann have struggled at times in his absence.

They look likely to end as Ulster’s bridesmaids once again as Cookstown hold the box seat.
Inst, meanwhile, welcome a Cork Harlequins’ side featuring Jason Black who made a scoring return last weekend against Catholic Institute in a remarkable 16-0 win after sitting out three months with injury.

Last year, the pair drew 4-4. This time around a loss for either side will end any semi-final prospects.
In Pool B, Glenanne Park plays host to game of the day as the bizarre fortunes of Lisnagarvey go to work in Tallaght. As David Medcalf delightfully described in his Independent column, ’Garvey will need to show their ‘Jekyll’ side after an inconsistent campaign in their domestic league.

When they click, though, they can be a match for anyone and they head the table with three wins from three, with a 7-0 win over Three Rock the highlight.

Glenanne are at close to full strength though Graham Shaw suffered a slight knock in training in midweek but should be fit to play a full part. Two bonus points means the Glens have over-hauled Cookstown in the table after their rare home defeat at the start of this year’s IHL campaign and should they get the win on Saturday, they will be in pole-position when the final round comes along.

Ulster’s top dog Cookstown and Munster champions Cork C of I will hope to pick up the slack created by the top two’s meeting.

Billy Lynch’s superb deputising role in the wake of Mark Ruddle’s ongoing absence has seen him included in the Irish training panel and if he can keep his sheet clean, a play-off place could beckon.

Sunday sees a virtual dead rubber at Jordanstown as Three Rock travel north looking to use their tie with Annadale to get in some match practice ahead of their Irish Senior Cup semi-final later this month.

Elsewhere, Railway Union and Avoca go head-to-head on Saturday afternoon at Park Avenue for the last remaining place in division one for 2010/11. Both are no stranger to the scenario in the past decade. Railway have had numerous final day altercations, the unlucky losers one year to Dublin University on sudden death penalty strokes while they also fell to UCD three years ago.

Nonetheless, their division one status means they are favourites. Peter English's overheads and drag-flicks will be a feature while the evergreen Paul O'Brien has still been a goal threat when he has been available.

Kenny Carroll and Mark English, too, provide real division one quality and it is the Blackrock side's brief to work their way away from them.

Mark Cullen's men finished their regular season on a high, unbeaten in six games including three wins by four goals on the spin. Stephen Brownlow has the chance to show what he can do against a top tier side and Avoca bring plenty of experience to the party. The challenge always is matching the step up in ball pace and lasting the pace, thereafter.

Sunday sees North Kildare host a pair of Leinster cup finals as Glenanne V play Fingal IV in the Minor Cup final while Avoca play Bray in the Neville Davin decider.

On the women's side, division one comes to a close in low-key fashion as Loreto play Glenanne without their quartet of Irish internationals, secure in third place. The Glens can hold on to sixth with a win. Pembroke can also move in sixth should Loreto win and they finish with a win over Old Alex.

Bray's fight to stay in division one, meanwhile, has been a very late addition to the weekend's calendar. They will face Three Rock Ladies on Saturday with Mary Goode being made available for the tie a day before Ireland head out to Chile for the World Cup Qualifiers.

Men's Irish Hockey League:
Pool A
Saturday: Pembroke vs Corinthian, 3pm, Serpentine Ave; Monkstown vs Banbridge, 4pm , Rathdown
Sunday: Instonians vs Cork Harlequins, 1pm, Shawsbridge

Pool B
Saturday: Cork C of I vs Cookstown, 3pm, Garryduff; Glenanne vs Lisnagarvey, 3pm, St Mark’s
Sunday: Annadale vs Three Rock Rovers, 2.30pm, Jordanstown

Division One/Two Promotion-relegation playoff (Saturday): Railway Union vs Avoca, 2pm, Park Avenue

Minor Cup final: Glenanne V vs Fingal IV, 12pm, The Maws
Neville Davin Cup final: Avoca vs Bray, 2pm, The Maws

Women's Division One (Saturday): Pembroke Wanderers vs Old Alexandra, 12.45pm, Serpentine Avenue; Loreto vs Glenanne, 2pm, Belfield

Women's Division One/Two Playoff: Three Rock Ladies vs Bray, 1pm, Wesley College

Division 7/8 Cup final: Railway Union IV vs Pembroke VI, 2.30pm, Grange Road
Division 13/14 final: Navan II vs Monkstown II, 10.30am, Grange Road

Deadline for Awards nominees nears

The deadline to nominate your club heroes and heroines for an IHA Award is fast approaching with Monday, April 19 the cut-off date.

Each IHA affiliated hockey club, school and branch are entitled to make one nomination per category. These nominations are then shortlisted by the judges before a final winner is selected.

It is, therefore, imperative to make sure your organisation has completed the online form sent out and votes in each category to make sure the very best people are put forward.

The 2010 Categories are: Senior Club Player (male); Senior Club Player (female); U18 Player (male); U18 Player (female); Coach of The Year; Club of the Year; Umpire of the Year; Developing Club of the Year; Volunteer of the Year; U18 Coach of the Year; Youth Club of the Year; Hockey School of The Year Award.

The winners will be announced at the ESB Irish Hockey Awards 2010 which will take place this year on May 29 at Burlington Hotel Hotel.

Also at the Awards evening, new inductees will enter the Irish Hockey Hall of Fame – an institution, now in its fifth year, honouring legends of the past from Irish hockey's history.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hermes end campaign on high note

Women's Division One:
Bray 0 Hermes 5 (Anna O'Flanagan 2, Gillian Pinder, Christine Quinlan, Deirdre Duke)
Hermes completed their league campaign with a 5-0 win in Bray to take second place in the women's division one table ahead of Loreto. Anna O'Flanagan and Christine Quinlan scored corner goals in the first half to start the ball rolling before Gillian Pinder scored a lovely effort after latching onto Niamh Atcheler's overhead ball.

Aine Connery was a lively presence in the second period for Hermes, setting up a second goal for O'Flanagan and one for Deirdre Duke. For Bray, they end the regular season in tenth place with seven points and will now play Three Rock Ladies in the promotion/relegation play-off following their 3-2 win over Corinthian II in midweek left them as the best placed first team in Division Two.

* Elsewhere, Three Rock Rovers will play Monkstown in the final after a controversial week in the Avoca U-21 Cup. Rovers beat YMCA 2-0 this evening to take up their final place. The Y had been awarded their semi-final place by the Leinster Branch by walkover against Corinthian while on the other half of the draw, Railway Union failed to field on time against Monkstown, conceding a walkover. The final, however, will no longer take place on Sunday in North Kildare due to Rovers' involvement in the IHL in Belfast.

** The U-16 Jacqui Potter Cup semi-final between Railway Union and Hermes will be replayed on Friday night following a mix-up with cut off ages. Railway won the initial tie but now play again at 6pm.