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Hockey Ireland Covid-19 Update – 06th May 2021

Hockey Ireland Coronavirus (COVID-19) UPDATE regarding Changes to COVID-19 Restrictions.

06 May 2021

The following changes have been made to the Hockey Ireland Covid-19 guidelines given the latest announcement on Covid-19 restrictions made by the Irish (ROI) Government.

Please see the following link for more information: gov.ie – Level 5 (www.gov.ie)

Updated Guidelines:

Please note: These guidelines are applicable from 10th May 2021.

  1. Outdoor training for adults in pods of 15 (including a coach) may resume. This includes contact training.
  2. Contact training for underage players may also resume in pods of 15 (including a coach).

From 07th June 2021:

  1. Outdoor (non-elite and club) matches and competitions may recommence.
  2. These should be played behind closed doors, with only essential personnel in attendance.

Please be advised that the ‘Return to Training’ guidelines continue to apply.

For Northern Ireland (NI), there following guidelines continue to apply:

From 23rd April:

The following relates to non-elite level outdoor sport:

  1. Outdoor sport organised by a club, individual or individuals affiliated will be extended to include squad training.
  2. Competitive outdoor sport can be organised by a club, individual or individuals affiliated, with numbers (including participants, officials, management and essential support personnel) not exceeding 100 and no spectators permitted.

The ‘Return to Training’ guidelines should continue to apply.

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The SoftCo Bucket Challenge

  • The Challenge

    Using the hockey stick, the ball must be passed by all players in the air without it hitting the ground, with the last player passing the ball into the bucket (see age categories below for details on the number of players). Your Challenge must be recorded & timed. The winner is the team who complete the challenge in the quickest time. There can only be 1 entry per team, but a club or school can have multiple entries from different teams within the same age category.

  • Challenge Entry Dates

    Challenge is open to entries between April 30 to May 31

  • How to Enter

    Each recorded Video Entry must be posted on twitter or Instagram by an authorised teacher or coach with the hashtag #softcobucketchallenge and tag @softcogroup on Twitter and @softco_life on Instagram. The winners in each group (see age categories below) will be the team who complete the challenge in the quickest time.

Want to see how the GreenArmy handled the challenge? Go to: https://twitter.com/SoftCoGroup/status/1388099470550839301 


Cees Koppelaar tribute

Kindly written and supplied by Stephen Findlater.

“The beauty of life is movement” – Cees Koppelaar

The Irish hockey community joined the wider world of Dutch sport to remember Cees Koppelaar last week following his death on Monday [April 26th] at the age of 81.

He could tell someone’s talent from the way in which they ran and he saw plenty of talent in his colourful life, one which brought him to Irish attention from 1987 to 1997 as senior men’s coach and, ultimately, Honorary Membership of Hockey Ireland.

Before that, Koppelaar had already achieved more than cult status in his homeland where he ran internationally in the 800m and 4x400m.

But it was in the coaching realm that he truly made his name, starting off at the Sagitta club, home to Fanny Blankers-Koen. Her husband, Jan, recommended his talents to Ajax coach Rinus Michels, initially with a second team that featured future legends Ruud Krol and Arie Haan.

After an initial trial of 10 sessions, Michels kept him on and he was soon refining the running techniques of Johan Cruijff all the way through to the 80s with Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten.

Cruijff would discover his hard but fair methods when he tried to move a training cone a little closer to shorten the pain in a running session: “You don’t steal from uncle Cees, you steal from yourself!” was the lesson.

He settled in Bloemendaal at the end of the 1970s where his passion for hockey was ignited, working with the village’s famous club, immersing himself in the game. He was installed as coach, bringing the club back to the upper echelons of the Hoofdklasse.

He had hoped to be co-opted to the Dutch national team but when his application for that role was turned down, Ireland stepped in. George Treacy had met him at coaching courses in the Netherlands and helped hatch a plan to bring him over to Ireland.

Along with Dixon Rose, they flew him over to Dublin and a deal was signed in the kitchen at Grange Road to make him the first paid men’s head coach in 1987.

Rose explained: “He wasn’t really thought of as a hockey coach in Holland, more of a physical trainer. His connection with hockey was tenuous.

“It was big for him to get [the Irish job] because he was frustrated not to get the Dutch job and he was hell-bent on proving to the Dutch that he could coach. That was why he was keen to take it and we really got the benefit from him!

“It was a seismic shift. Cees had a great personality. He wasn’t a hockey person per se but he had a major insight to Ajax and saw it like football with sticks. His legacy was he put Ireland on the map in European and world terms.

“He could tell when he saw a hockey player when he was running from behind whether he would be any good or not!”

Koppelaar was famed for his affability, his ability to tell a story and to engage with allcomers. And he was also known for what some called his distinctly Dutch way of calling a spade a spade, knowing his own mind and what he wanted.

“He could be a very volatile person,” Rose added. “When I initially told him George [Compston] was going to come in to join him as manager of the team [in 1988], he flew off the handle.

“He wanted to appoint his own manager; I said he could accept our recommendation or go back to Holland. I asked him just to try it, meet George, have the craic with him and see what you think.

“They just gelled immediately. George was perfect for him; he was pragmatic, quiet and very efficient and so they became the perfect partnership and that is when the success came.”

The outcome was plain to see; a place at the 1990 World Cup in Lahore and a fifth place finish at the European Championships in 1995.

And he relished helping Ireland land their first – and, still, only – win over the Netherlands, a 2-1 success in 1995 in Dublin. In total, he was head coach for 127 games, with 52 wins.

More than that, he travelled the length and breadth of the island to support the sport, running coaching clinics ­­wherever called for one.

Following his Irish stint, he returned to his original job as a running trainer with RKC Waalwijk football club and, always, with Bloemendaal and the Dutch national setup. In 2012, he was included in the KNHB’s Order of Merit, and he would remain involved at the highest level until just two years ago.

He famously gave the country’s best ever player, Teun de Nooijer, his first start at club level at the age of 15, and he encapsulated his influence.

“You read everywhere that Cees was a running trainer, but he was so much more than that,” de Nooijer said. “He was tactically strong and often acted as mentor to the group. He was someone with the gift of striking the right chord with players. 

“Hard, but fair. He had a perfect sense of what it took to get a team up and running again. He often saw from a distance whether someone was not feeling well. He immediately started working on it. Always with a lot of enthusiasm, anecdotes and humour, and with an enormous empathy.”

*Pictured about in his role as running coach with HC Bloemendaal and then back in the 70s with Johan Cruijff


RIP Cees Koppelaar

Hockey Ireland are saddened to learn of the passing of Cees Koppelaar, former Hockey Ireland Men’s Coach from 1987 to 1997 and honorary life member. A member of the Dutch national team in the early 1960’s as an 800 meter runner and member of the 4 x 400 meter relay team, he came into soccer and hockey through athletics. Koppelaar was the first professional coach assigned to the Hockey Ireland job and guided Ireland to the World Cup finals in Lahore, Pakistan in 1990.

A further write up will follow. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this time.


Katie Mullan on the Upcoming Summer of International Hockey

Katie Mullan says how each nation adapts to their ever-evolving circumstances will play a key role in ultimate success or otherwise this summer with June’s European Championships and the Olympic Games only six weeks later on the horizon.


Speaking ahead of the Green Army’s four-game series against Great Britain, the Irish skipper was “super excited” to get these high-quality games against the reigning Olympic champions into the agenda.


Ireland were originally hoping to be in Tokyo this month, scoping out the Olympic venue and getting some high-humidity training under their belt. Restrictions meant that plan was switched to Malaysia, but that 19-day tour also bit the dust on the eve of departure. It is indicative of the difficulties in the current COVID-19 environment. But Hockey Ireland acted quickly to work with Great Britain – who also withdrew from the trip to Malaysia – to arrange this latest 12-day camp. Although Ireland played GB as recently as March in the SoftCo Series, Mullan is delighted to meet them again so quickly.


“GB play such a fast, exciting version of hockey and that’s what we want to do too,” she said. “We’re excited to play international hockey and hit the pace we need to prepare for the Europeans [in June]. In a perfect world, playing the same team is not how you would want it, but we are grateful to get the games and it is very good preparation to focus on ourselves.”


Indeed, she is grateful Great Britain are available to play with other options currently limited. Many of the big leagues in Europe are closing in on their end of season playoffs while some nations like Australia, New Zealand and China have not been given clearance to travel to date.


“Every nation has their struggles in terms of best preparing getting out of Covid. You can see how much quicker Australia and New Zealand got out of lockdown and were able to train. 


“In one sense, they got a couple of steps ahead. Now, they are not getting games which we are. 


“Every team has their own personal journey and it’s going to be whoever manages those ups and downs best who will be the successful teams this summer, especially so for the European teams who have to go and peak twice with this being a qualifier for the World Cup.”


That is a complication Sean Dancer’s side will have to manage carefully. It is something they struggled with in 2017 when the Hockey World League semi-finals – the key World Cup qualifier – was followed just a month later by the European Championships. Ireland excelled at the former to earn their ticket to London 2018 but were close to burn-out for the second tournament and it almost cost them their place in Europe’s top tier.


“It’s been something we’ve spoken about a lot, the double-peak and what we learned from 2017. The biggest thing is back then we weren’t used to being together as a group throughout the year like we are now. 


“We came into those tournaments for a very short, intense period of time but were not used to being in each other’s company as consistently. 


“The fact we are together now in a semi-professional environment every week for a couple of days, it puts us in a better position and better prepared for the intensity of two international tournaments in one summer. 

“It’s going to be a challenge and one we are very aware of. There’s lots we can do to prepare for it and have lots of expertise in the group to manage it.”


For the series at Bisham Abbey, coach Dancer has made a number of changes to the line-up from the SoftCo Series, one which will also be uncapped. There is the potential for UCC’s Caoimhe Perdue – a graduate of Ursulines in Thurles – to play her first minutes of senior international minutes following her inclusion.


UCD skipper Ellen Curran is also back for her first international camp since January 2020 when she scored Ireland’s most recent goal in a capped match, netting against Germany in Stellenbosch.

Lena Tice and Megan Frazer remain in Ireland as they manage injury concerns while Ayeisha McFerran stays in the Netherlands on club duty with SV Kampong.


The game against GB will not be streamed on this occasion.


Ireland squad for Bisham Abbey (April 22-May 2):  Michelle Carey (UCD), Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute), Lizzie Colvin (Belfast Harlequins), Nicci Daly (Loreto), Deirdre Duke (Old Alex), Nikki Evans (Old Alex), Sarah Hawkshaw (Railway Union), Zara Malseed (Ards), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Sarah McAuley (Muckross), Shirley McCay (Pegasus), Hannah McLoughlin (UCD), Katie Mullan (Ballymoney), Lizzie Murphy (Loreto), Anna O’Flanagan (Muckross), Grace O’Flanagan (Railway Union), Sarah Torrans (Loreto), Roisin Upton (Catholic Institute), Chloe Watkins (Monkstown), Ellen Curran (UCD), Caoimhe Perdue (UCC)


Remaining Match dates and times:

Tuesday 27 April: Great Britain v Ireland, 10am. Score GB 3 – 1 Ireland (O’Flanagan).

Wednesday 28 April: Great Britain v Ireland, 6pm

Friday 30 April: Great Britain v Ireland, 2pm

Sunday 2 May: Great Britain v Ireland, 1pm

Keep Walking, Keep Well

Community facilities to open up for walking

Sport Ireland has partnered with six National Governing Bodies of Sport, to see sports facilities with walking paths open their gates, from April 26th, to support looking after people’s wellbeing and especially their mental health at this time.

Over the last number of years hundreds of GAA clubs up and down the country have turned on the lights on their walkways to facilitate walkers during the winter months. This year, a significant number of GAA clubs will once again support the initiative. They will be joined by five other National Governing Bodies of Sport for the first time thanks to the Government’s Healthy Ireland Keep Well campaign, with the benefit of Sláintecare funding and Sport Ireland partnership which allowed for the broadening out of the campaign.

The opening up of walking routes attached to community and club facilities is being facilitated to allow people of all ages and abilities to have a safe place to walk. The initiative includes over 600+ walking routes belonging to the GAA, IRFU, Hockey Ireland, Athletics Ireland, Cricket Ireland, and the FAI.

The opening of the walking routes is in line within the current Covid-19 restrictions which allow people to exercise within their county or within 20km of home if crossing county boundaries. Guidelines have been developed by Sport Ireland and Healthy Ireland in cooperation with the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media in relation to this initiative.

It is vital that clubs abide by public health guidelines and take every due diligence to ensure those who want to enjoy a walk at their local grounds can do so safely. Any additional training or activity taking place on clubs grounds must be in adherence with existing Government guidelines. Gatherings of people at facilities or carparks is not permitted.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, said: “We’re delighted to be in involved in finding a temporary solution for more people to get out and walk safely. We would like to thank all our governing bodies involved in their generous offering of opening their facilities for more people to walk and look after their wellbeing. We look forward to opening these facilities for sports and training as soon as is possible in the future”.

Under the initiative members and non-members can use all clubs walking routes. Walkers have a responsibility to adhere to the latest public health guidelines including travel restrictions. Only clubs within ones county or within 20km from one’s home if crossing county boundaries can be visited. An app has been developed by Get Ireland Walking specifically to allow management of walking slots and this is now open for people to book their slots. Clubs who are participating in this initiative have specific allocated times and days detailed on the app. Walkers must register for their walking slots on this app for both public health and insurance purposes. The app will facilitate booking of a slot for an individual or family pod, ensuring all are kept separate.

Minister of State for Health Promotion, Frank Feighan TD, said: “I would like to commend all the sporting organisations for pulling together at this difficult time in order to collectively help people in rural communities especially. People in rural locations in particular will benefit, as unlike urban communities, there may be less access to parks or pavements, so this initiative is extremely important to them. We are also very aware that many people would prefer to be using these facilities for sport and we look forward to the resumption of children being able to train in pods from the 26th”.

Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Sport, Jack Chambers TD, added: “Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen how our local sport clubs groups have made a real effort to support their local communities. Through opening their gates and inviting the community in enjoy their facilities in a safe manner is they are continuing this great work and for that we are very grateful.”

Guidance for clubs

  • All participating clubs must have a walking route on their grounds
  • All participating clubs must register on the Get Ireland Walking website
  • Get Ireland Walking has recommended a maximum of 50 people per hour be permitted on a standard walking track surrounding a pitch – this limit is automatically set on the App
  • A one-way system must be in place on the track for walkers
  • Hand sanitisation station(s) should be placed at the entrance of the track
  • The carpark and walking track should be the only elements of the club facilities open to members/the public engaging in this initiative.
  • Clear signage should be made available to indicate the following:
    • No gathering of people is permitted
    • Grounds/paths are available for walking only, no other form of exercise is allowed.
    • Any additional training or activity taking place on clubs grounds must be in adherence with existing Government guidelines
    • Covid health guidelines of 2m social distancing must be followed
  • Clubs should have the following in place :
    • A club safeguarding statement,
    • a club children’s officer in place;
    • Coaches and volunteers are Garda vetted;
    • Clubs should have a Covid-19 safety statement

Guidance for participants

  • All walkers must adhere to public health Covid-19 guidelines, including travel restrictions currently set at within one’s county borders or within 20km from home if crossing county borders.
  • Participants must walk as individuals, within their household pods or with one other household as per current Government guidelines
  • Children must always remain with parents/guardians

Next Steps

Clubs must register their facility and time slots on the Get Ireland Walking website

To book your walking slot download the Get Ireland Walking App. The app will be updated regularly with new clubs so if your nearest club isn’t registered today check back again.

Grants for clubs to take part

If your hockey club is interested in getting involved with the Keep Walking Keep Well please contact linda.monaghan@hockey.ie as we have grant funding available.

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Sport Ireland announce €40 million investment in sports sector

Sport Ireland today announced an investment of €40 million to National Governing Bodies for Sport (NGBs), High Performance athlete support and to the network of Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) for 2021.

Today’s announcement follows a year in which the sector has been significantly impacted by Covid-19 restrictions in place since March 2020. The funding of €13.8 million for NGBs is maintained from 2020. This funding, in addition to the recently allocated Covid-19 Grant Scheme, will provide stability and certainty to organisations throughout 2021. In line with previous years, a portion of the Core funding budget (‘Special Projects & Programmes’) will be ring fenced to assist with strategically important NGB related events and projects.

High Performance Programme funding will also be maintained for 2021 at €8,500,000. 2021 is anticipated to be an expensive year for high performance programmes as there remains a high level of uncertainty around competition and training camp plans due to Covid-19.  Sport Ireland will provide further support in 2021 to address the immediate and confirmed costs to high performance programmes in respect of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The investment in high performance sport is bolstered by funding of €2.68 million through the International Carding Scheme. The primary purpose of this funding is to support Irish athletes in reaching finals and achieving medals at European, World, Olympic and Paralympic level. The level of funding on this scheme has increased from €2.4 million in 2020. The International Carding Scheme has been amended to account for the challenges faced by athletes and NGBs as a result of Covid-19.

Budget 2021 saw a significant increase in funding for sport and physical activity, reflecting the commitment of Government and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media to support the sector in to 2021. The hard work and agility of the sports sector to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic has been acknowledged by Sport Ireland and the Government, and today’s funding announcement further strengthens the commitment to the sector.

Funding of €9.5 million has been approved for the network of 29 Local Sports Partnerships, representing an increase of 15% on 2020 funding. This increase in investment provides an opportunity for Sport Ireland to support a locally led safe return to sport and to further build the capacity of LSPs, increasing their reach and impact across Ireland.

Hockey Ireland continue to be extremely grateful for this investment and commitment to the sport, as echoed by Hockey Ireland CEO, Jerome Pels, “We are very grateful to Sport Ireland for their continued investment in, and support for, hockey. It has been a challenging year at all levels of our sport and the continued investment by Sport Ireland will help us across the organisation, as we edge towards returning to the pitch in coming weeks, and as our Men and Women prepare for their summer encounters on the international stage.”

For full details of the Sport Ireland funding announcement, click here.


Active School Week 2021 #ASW21

#ASW21 is fast approaching

Working Together
#ASW21 encourages schools and homes to work together to help more children and young people gain more active minutes every day

Active Schools Week website

National #ASW21 takes place 26-30 April, but if those dates don’t suit your school, you are free to choose a different week, later in the term.

IMPORTANT: All #ASW21 activities must comply with COVID-safety guidelines

Three Different Ways…
Active Every Day challenges schools to find three different ways to energise the school day, every day.

Parents/guardians are asked to encourage young people to find two other ways to be active, after school, for 7 days. Even better if the whole family joins in!

#ASW21 Challenges
As part of this challenge, schools are asked to send out #ASW21 Challenges. These physical activity challenges could be set by a member of staff, a sports organisation, a local/ national role model, or even by one of Ireland’s Tokyo 2021 Olympians.

Whatever the challenge, the main thing is, it’s FUN!


Hockey Skills Challenge
Challenge your students to get active and develop their sporting abilities with the Hockey Skills Challenge. Take on a skills circuit with an opportunity for everyone to earn a Certificate of Hockey Skill. This skills circuit is easy to run and easy to set up with resources available to support you every step of the way. The Hockey Skills Challenge is fun, rewarding and free!

We now also have great videos to help you and your players make the most of the challenge! Remember to show your skill on our social media channels by using the #HockeySkillsChallenge and tagging @IrishHockey.

You will need to set up a free account on our new e-learning zone to access the resources and videos. You can then find the challenge under the clubs / schools sections.

To access the resource and check out the video’s for each skill, click here. All the videos are saved on the Hockey Ireland YouTube channel

Or check out our Hooked on Fun (session plans for ages 6-9), Hooked on Games (session plans for ages 12+), small sided games cards (Fun 4’s, Super 6’s and Extreme 8’s) and our colouring book for a little break between all the active sessions. All of these are available through the schools area of our new e-learning zone. To access this zone click here




Irish Women travel to Bisham Abbey to take on Great Britain in Uncapped Series.

The Irish Women’s squad will travel to Bisham Abbey, London, tomorrow as part of their preparation for Tokyo Olympic Games this summer. A twenty strong squad will travel on the 22nd of April, with four matches against Great Britain scheduled to take place between the 22nd of April and 2nd of May.

All of the games are being played behind closed doors and will not be streamed, both Hockey Ireland and Great Britain Hockey will share the results on social media at the end of each day. The matches will all be uncapped.

The squad travelling is as follows:

Carey Michelle Leinster                 Midfielder             Uncapped
Carroll Naomi Munster               Striker                     111
Colvin Lizzie Ulster                    Midfielder              196
Curran Ellen Leinster                Midfielder               24
Daly Nicola Leinster                Midfielder               189
Duke Deirdre Leinster                Midfielder               141
Evans Nicola Leinster                Striker                      198
Hawkshaw Sarah Leinster                Midfielder                33
Malseed Zara Ulster                    Striker                      Uncapped
Matthews Hannah Leinster                Defender                 147
McAuley Sarah Leinster                Defender                 Uncapped
McCay Shirley Ulster                    Defender                306
McLoughlin Hannah Leinster                Defender                 14
Mullan Katie Ulster                    Midfielder               193
Murphy Elizabeth Leinster                Goalkeeper             13
O’Flanagan Anna Leinster                Striker                      207
O’Flanagan Grace Leinster                Goalkeeper             36
Perdue Caoimhe Munster               Defender                 Uncapped
Torrans Sarah Leinster                Striker                      26
Upton Roisin Munster               Defender                 76
Watkins Chloe Leinster                Midfielder               226


Notable absences from the squad include Ayeisha McFerran who remains on duty with Dutch Hoofdklasse club SV Kampong. Both Megan Frazer and Elena Tice remain at home managing injuries, while Ellen Curran and Caoimhe Purdue are called up to the squad.

Speaking on the trip announcement, Performance Director Adam Grainger said, “We’re very happy to have been able to travel for these matches. Great Britain are obviously a very strong side so this will give the squad more opportunities to test themselves against challenging opposition ahead of an intense summer of international hockey.

It’s been a challenging process with so many moving parts; the changing restrictions and ensuring we are minimising the risk of COVID to our athletes and their families while also providing them with the best opportunity to perform at the Olympics this summer. The team have been excellent in dealing with the challenges the current situation has presented to their programme.”

Match dates and times:

  • Tuesday 27 April: Great Britain v Ireland, 10:00 BST
  • Wednesday 28 April: Great Britain v Ireland, 18:00 BST
  • Friday 30 April: Great Britain v Ireland, 14:00 BST
  • Sunday 2 May: Great Britain v Ireland, 13:00 BST




We are pleased to announce the next online Q&A session as part of the Fundamentals of Umpiring Module 1 will take place on Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 7.00pm. To take part in this online Q&A session you must have fully completed your Fundamentals of Umpiring Module 1 through our eLearning Hub https://hockeyirelandhub.ie/

To book onto this online Q&A session please email linda.monaghan@hockey.ie by Monday 17th May.