McFerran and Tice Nominated For FIH Hockey Stars Awards

Green Army members Ayeisha McFerran and Elena Tice have been nominated for 2018 FIH Hockey Stars Awards following an historic year. McFerran is nominated for FIH Goalkeeper of the Year alongside Ye Jiao (CHN), Maddie Hinch (ENG), Rachael Lynch (AUS), and Maria Ruiz (ESP). While Tice is nominated in the Rising Star category against Nike Lorenz (GER), Ambrosia Malone (AUS), Marijn Veen (NED) and Lucina Von der Heyde (ARG). The winners are determined by a combination of peer and public vote, so make sure to vote for McFerran and Tice before the voting closes on January 18th 2019. CLICK HERE TO VOTE

SoftCo extends Sponsorship of the Green Army

SoftCo, the leading global Finance Automation Software provider, today announced the extension of its main sponsorship agreement for the Ireland Women’s Hockey team up until at least 2021. The partnership with Hockey Ireland will incorporate the 2019 European Championships and the team’s qualification campaign to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

SoftCo, who are involved with grassroots hockey for 15 years, were delighted to support the Green Army during the recent World Cup in London where the team defied the odds to become the first Irish Senior team to reach the final of a World Cup, in any field sport. These achievements were recognized recently as the silver medal winning team and manager, Graham Shaw, were announced as 2018 Team and Coach of the Year at the RTE Sports Awards.

Preparations for the Tokyo 2020 qualifying campaign will begin with a competitive match series in Santiago, Chile in January. In June 2019, the team will be part of an eight-team FIH Hockey Series Finals event in Dublin with two teams progressing to a head-to-head Olympic qualification event in October/November 2019.

Commenting on the announcement, Jerome Pels, CEO, Hockey Ireland said:

“SoftCo’s support of the Green Army was of real benefit in the immediate run up to the World Cup and at the tournament against the best teams in the world. We are now looking to build on that success with the immediate goal being qualification for the Olympics. We are delighted to once again have SoftCo’s support during an extremely important time for the team”.

Commenting on the announcement, Susan Spence, Co-Founder, SoftCo said:

“We were so proud of the team in their run to the World Cup final during the summer. An Irish team achieving success on the world stage was a true inspiration to us all. This is a further significant investment to assist the team to reach its ambitious goals. We are delighted to be extending our support”.

FIH Announce new rules of Hockey

The FIH has announced a number of amendments to the Rules of Hockey that will come into force on 1 January 2019 for international sides.

Hockey Ireland will adopt the changes domestically from the start of the 2019/20 season.

• Introduction of the match format of four quarters as standard
In international matches, teams have been playing four quarters for some years and it is felt that uniformity in match formats can be achieved when all match formats are based on a four quarter principle. Like in international matches, time is stopped between the awarding of a penalty corner and the taking of that penalty corner. Other than in international matches, where this is covered by FIH Tournament Regulations, time is not stopped to celebrate goals as this was introduced primarily for television coverage. The four quarters has additional advantages at junior levels of the sport in which coaches often umpire youth/school matches and the additional breaks provide for coaching opportunities.

• Removal of Goalkeeping privileges for substitute field player
A mandatory experiment, with effect from 1 January 2019, taking out the option for teams to play with a field player with goalkeeping privileges. Teams have now two options: they either play with a goalkeeper who wears full protective equipment comprising at least headgear, leg guards and kickers and who is also permitted to wear goalkeeping hand protectors and other protective equipment, or they play with only field players. Any change between these options should be treated as a substitution. It is hoped that this experimental rule will enhance safety as field players will no longer have goalkeeping privileges so will not be entitled to use their body to stop shots at goal and it also enhances the promotion of the sport by eliminating the issue of outfield players wearing other shirts to indicate goalkeeping privileges.

• Defending free hits within 5 meters of the circle
The explanation for how to treat free hits for the attacker close to the circle has been changed in Rules 13.2.f. It has now been made clear that players other than the attacker taking the free hit must be at least five meters away, including when they are in their circle. If the attacker however chooses to take the free hit immediately, then defenders who are inside the circle and within five meters from the ball may shadow around the inside of the circle as per the explanation of the rule before 2019. This has the advantage of not preventing the quickly taken free hit which has been widely welcomed by coaches and players, whilst maintaining the 5m rule used everywhere else on the pitch to provide space for the free hit taker.

• Free hits awarded inside the defensive circle
As in Indoor Hockey a defender may now take a free hit awarded in the circle anywhere inside the circle or up to 15 meters from the back-line in line with the location of the offence, parallel to the side-line.

• Completion of a penalty corner
Rule 13.6 that described the completion of a penalty corner for substitution purposes and for a penalty corner at the end of a period, has been deleted. The option that a penalty corner is completed when the ball travels outside the circle for the second time, no longer exists.

These detailed revisions to the Rules of Hockey will be available from Friday 21st December on the FIH website.

Green Army & Shaw Win Big At RTE Sports Awards

The Green Army have won the coveted RTE Team of the Year award following a public vote and head coach Graham Shaw was announced as RTE Manager of the Year. The awards come as deserved recognition for the history-making silver medallists from the summer’s World Cup in London. Ayeisha McFerran was nominated for the prestigious Sportsperson of the Year but narrowly missed out to World Rugby Player of the Year Jonny Sexton.

Speaking about the achievement, Shaw said “This is a huge moment for our sport. We’ve got a special group of people involved in the team who train really hard and work really hard for each other. This was our first World Cup and to show the level of composure and togetherness that the team did is something I’m very very proud of”.

New Pitch at Sport Ireland National Sports Campus

A new state of the art hockey pitch will be laid at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus, providing a welcome boost to Ireland’s national hockey teams as they go in search of Tokyo 2020 qualification.

Today’s announcement comes on the back of recent strong performances by the Irish national senior hockey teams which are both ranked among the top ten nations in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) rankings.

The Irish women’s team claimed an historic silver medal at the 2018 World Cup in London in August, while men’s side recently competed in the World Cup in India following qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics – the first time Irish hockey was represented at the Olympics in over a century.

To build on this success, Sport Ireland has commenced the replacement of the current sand-based hockey pitch on the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus with a new Polytan Polygras Toyko GT surface. This is the same surface that will be used at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and the 2022 World Cup.

Speaking at the announcement today which was attended by members of the Irish Men’s and Women’s teams, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, said:

“This is a very welcome and timely development for the sport of hockey. I was lucky to witness Ireland’s achievement at the Women’s World Cup in London earlier this year and to see the desire and determination the team played with while representing their country. This new world-class facility at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus will be of massive benefit to the preparation of not just our senior national teams, but also our up and coming players who will no doubt have been inspired by the recent performances of our women’s and men’s teams. This new hockey pitch is another welcome step in the development of the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus as the home of Irish sport and together with the excellent facilities already in place and those planned for the next few years, will support more and more Irish sportspersons in their training and preparation for international competition.”

Chairman of Sport Ireland, Kieran Mulvey, commented: “The Irish hockey teams have had a remarkable period of success in recent years. The women’s team captured the imagination of the country with their exploits in the World Cup in August; while the men’s team have gone on to represent Ireland with pride in the World Cup this year following their qualification for the Olympic Games in 2016. The Board of Sport Ireland is keen to see the sport of hockey continue to rise in Ireland which is why we have approved the replacement of the hockey pitch. This development makes a clear statement that the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus is the home of high performance hockey in Ireland.”

The new pitch will be constructed by Sport Ireland with day-to-day management of the facility becoming the responsibility of the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus operations company.

Chief Executive of Sport Ireland, John Treacy, added: “The sport of hockey has gone through a very successful period and Sport Ireland is keen to build on its support for the game here at all levels. The new pitch at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus will allow Ireland’s elite hockey players to practise on the same playing surface that will be used in the next Olympic Games, which will be a huge benefit to their qualification prospects and preparation for international competition. Locating the pitch here at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus will also allow players to avail of existing science, medicine and lifestyle support services through the Sport Ireland Institute.”

Chairman of Sport Ireland’s National Sports Campus Committee, Patrick O’Connor, said: “This development of this new pitch alleviates the need for Irish teams to travel abroad to train, giving them access to the latest in pitch technology here in Ireland. This will further reduce hockey’s reliance on club-based facilities for training, which are not always readily available, and will make the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus an attractive proposition to travelling teams ahead of the Tokyo Games.”

The next major event on the agenda for the Irish women’s team is the Hockey Series Final, which takes place in Ireland in June 2019, with the men’s equivalent taking place in France in the same month. Both the men and women will compete at the Euro Hockey Championships next August 16-25 2019 in Antwerp, Belgium.

Chief Executive of Hockey Ireland, Jerome Pels, said: “Hockey Ireland would like to thank the Minister, the Government and Sport Ireland for their support. As we build on the success of the women’s silver World Cup medal this summer, this is a crucial development in our ability to support the high-performance teams. The Tokyo specification hockey pitch at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus is an important part of our high-performance plan. We believe there are great benefits of being within the performance environment at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus and having a direct connection with the other facilities such as the Sport Ireland Institute.”

It is expected that the new facility will be complete and ready for use in April 2019 at a cost of €600,000.

Green Machine World Cup Comes To An End

Odisha World Cup, Bhubaneswar

Ireland 2 (Cargo, O’Donoghue)

England 4 (Condon, Ansell, Gall, Gleghorne)

Ireland’s World Cup journey came to an end tonight in a 6 goal clash with England.

It was a relatively uneventful opening half with England slightly edging the chances. The world number 7 side seemed content to pass the ball around their backline and wait for gaps to appear, any real ones were few and far between. Liam Sandford won the only penalty corner of the first half and Mark Gleghorne sent his drag flick high and wide of its target. England were tipping the possession scales slightly and they got the opening goal in the 15th minute as Will Canlan pulled the ball back from the baseline for David Condon to score from close range. A replay showed the English breakaway goal came courtesy of an unspotted foot but they took advantage as the Green Machine tried to track back to deal with the overlap. Ian Sloan had a chance to double his sides lead as he stumbled through a tackle but his shot went sailing over the crossbar as David Harte charged out of his goal. Shane O’Donoghue was a bright spark for Ireland, appearing all over the pitch, and trying to instigate an Irish attack through midfield but the English defence remained resolute in the opening half.

The game came to life in rip-roaring fashion in the third quarter with 4 goals in 3 minutes. Chris Cargo pulled Ireland level in the 35thminute following great link up play by Michael Robson and Sean Murray to get the ball into the circle. But less than a minute later Liam Ansell put England ahead again as he picked up a pass from David Ames on the edge of the circle and sent a rocket on his reverse into the net. But the Green Machine responded once again, this time O’Donoghue sent one of his penalty corner drag flicks past George Pinner to level the game again. But Liam Sandford sent a pacey sweep into the circle and James Gall got low to deflect the ball past Harte to give England a 3-2 lead. Ireland continued to increase the pressure and Cargo nearly drew the game level again as he pounced on a rebound from Alan Sothern’s drag flick but the ball went over the bar. Paul Gleghorne took his place as kicking back for the final few minutes as Ireland chased the required equaliser but in the end it was a final-second penalty corner from his brother Mark that ended the game and Ireland’s time at the Odisha World Cup.

Speaking after the fixture, head coach Alexander Cox said “This is painful, you never get used to losing. I wasn’t happy with the first quarter, we were on the back-foot but in the second half we turned it around and gave it our all. I think in every game this tournament we had an opportunity to get a result but in the end, we weren’t clinical enough. We tried; I’m proud of the players and how they conducted themselves, we gave it our all throughout the tournament. We just have to make sure the next time we are on the other end of the result”.

Starting: D Harte (captain), J Bell, C Cargo, A Sothern, E Magee, S O’Donoghue, M Darling, M Robson, P Gleghorne, C Harte, S Loughrey

Subs: M Bell, M Nelson, K Shimmins, S Murray, D Fitzgerald, D Walsh, L Cole

Fixtures (all times listed are local)

Ireland’s Odisha World Cup Fixtures:

30/11/18 17:00 Ireland 1vs2 Australia

4/12/18 19:00 Ireland 1vs1 China

7/12/18 19:00 Ireland 2vs4 England

VOTE For The Green Army In Irish Independent Sportstar Awards

As an historic year draws to a close the Green Army have been nominated in several categories at the Irish Independent Sportstar Awards. They are nominated for Team of the Year, Magic Moment of the Year and Ayeisha McFerran is nominated for Sportstar of the Year. It’s simple to vote and there’s loads of prizes up for grabs, just click here to vote!

Green Machine Draw 1-1 With China

Odisha World Cup, Bhubaneswar

Ireland 1 (Sothern)

China 1 (Guo)

It was a frustrating match for Irish fans as the Green Machine dominated much of the tie but struggled to find the back of the net. Eugene Magee forced the first save of the game from Caiyu Wang as he got the faintest of touches in front of goal from Chris Cargo’s sweep into the circle. Moments later, Alan Sothern released a reverse strike from a tight angle only to see it skim over the crossbar. The Irish pressure didn’t let up and Matthew Nelson evaded 3 defenders in the circle but his shot hit the side netting. The first penalty corner of the game belonged to the Green Machine but Wang saved Shane O’Donoghue’s drag flick. China’s scramble defence was just about holding up and they countered when possible but the half belonged to Ireland, and Mitch Darling sent a pass across the face of goal at the end of the opening 30 minutes but nobody could get the vital touch.

China disrupted proceedings in the opening minute of the second half by winning their first penalty corner but David Harte was on hand to save Talake Du’s effort. From there it was similar to the first half with both Mitch Darling and Sothern seeing their shots on goal go just past the post. However, it was China who took the lead in the 43rdminute from a well-worked penalty corner routine that saw Du slip the ball to Jin Guo who dragged home. But Ireland responded within a minute as Michael Robson sent a reverse pass into the circle at pace for Sothern to deflect into the goal from the penalty spot. Ireland continued to up the pressure and Magee created another clear-cut chance as he used his 3D skills to dart along the baseline and pull the ball back but there wasn’t a team mate on hand to fire home. Ireland remained composed as the clock wound down and won another penalty corner; Wang palmed O’Donoghue’s shot away and the sides played out a 1-1 draw.

Speaking after the fixture, captain David Harte said “We performed well but ultimately our lack of conversion infront of goal came back to haunt us unfortunately. All the statistics were in our favour but you have to take the opportunities presented to you, we know every game in a World Cup is going to be a difficult one”.

Ireland’s next match of the Odisha World Cup is on Friday (December 7th) at 7pm IST/1:30PM GMT against England.

Starting: D Harte (captain), J Bell, M Nelson, A Sothern, E Magee, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, P Gleghorne, C Harte, S Loughrey

Subs: M Bell, C Cargo, M Darling, M Robson, D Fitzgerald, D Walsh, L Cole

Fixtures (all times listed are local)

Ireland’s Odisha World Cup Fixtures:

30/11/18 17:00 Ireland 1vs2 Australia

4/12/18 19:00 Ireland 1vs1 China

7/12/18 19:00 Ireland vs England

10/12/18 Crossover Match

12/12/18 Quarter Final

15/12/18 Semi Final

16/12/18 Bronze Medal Match

16/12/18 Final

Full Odisha World Cup schedule: http://fih.ch/events/world-cup/world-cup-2018/hockey-world-cup-bhubaneswar-2018-m//pools-matches