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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.

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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

 

 

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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

FUNDAMENTALS OF UMPIRING MODULE 1 Q&A SESSION 19TH MAY 2021

 

 

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.

Anna O’Flanagan on the Challenges Along the Road to Tokyo.

Sitting on Anna O’Flanagan’s desk are a set of pens that have remained in the packet for almost six years now.

In just under a hundred days, she may finally get around to chucking them out, maybe even burn them. Bought in something of an emotional daze in Valencia, in 2015, the day after Rio qualification was denied by the width of a post, they sit there as a vivid reminder of shattered dreams.

“They will definitely go in the bin once I set foot on the pitch in Tokyo!” the Green Army’s all-time top goal-scorer says of that pen set.

“There’s a long way to go and I need to hopefully stay fit and well and play to the best of my ability over the next while to get on that pitch. Maybe I can burn them then!”

For many of her team-mates, the stationary is an odd keepsake but is something O’Flanagan uses to find something of an emotional catharsis in good times and bad.

“I have lots of notebooks and do get slagged over it!” she laughs. “I find it interesting to write about how I am feeling. You can have so many thoughts going around your head, worries or concerns, thinking about what might happen.

“When you write it down, your rational brain kicks in and the act of writing means you can rationalise it a bit better and wonder ‘why was I thinking about it like that?’ When you put pen to paper, it can look a bit ridiculous. It helps get a sense of reality!”

It is something which helped her through the tough lockdown times when she struggled for a sense of purpose. O’Flanagan has put her career on hold to, first, pursue and succeed in the run-up to 2018 World Cup silver, and then again for this Olympic push after a stint with Deloitte in the Netherlands.

But when Tokyo was put on hiatus, it had her questioning what next as the limbo of whether or not the Games would go ahead was played out.

“There was so much uncertainty for everyone in the world. For us, as athletes, we thrive off certainty and being planned. What gets me through training and those tough days is really visualising being at that next major tournament, being at the Olympics, competing and winning games.

“I went through a period when I just couldn’t see it, I couldn’t feel it. The world seemed so upside down that the thought of being able to travel to an Olympics seemed so far away.

“That was when I struggled the most. The last couple of months, there’s been such positive communication coming from Tokyo and also seeing other sports teams and events happen.

“Now, I can see it unfold. It will be weird and different for sure but being able to visualise it makes it seem more real, more tangible. We have to stay focused and assume it is happening, but I am not as anxious now that it will be binned at any second.

“That was so hard when we were training and trying to do your best, doing it with that in the back of your mind. I don’t have that worry anymore.”

The nature of the current world, though, means the road remains a bumpy one with plenty of twists and turns. The most recent example, last week’s proposed trip to Malaysia being called off at the last minute.

“Malaysia was a disappointment, but we are still able to train and play and this just gives us a perspective on how sport is cruel and your whole sporting career can change overnight. You have to treasure each day.”

A feature of the Green Army story, though, is how they roll with the punches and while other countries may be new to such slings and arrows of fortune, O’Flanagan says there will be few better outfits capable of coping.

“We know if there is any team that knows how to deal with adversity, it is us. If there is any team that has come together before and succeeded, it is us.

“We always say we are used to playing in front of no supporters. An empty stadium in Japan is no different to training in Abbotstown every week. Those little things add up.

“We saw from the GB win that what we are doing here has been going well and the year probably has stood to us as a group. If anything, we enjoy doing it when our backs are against the wall.”

 

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Irish Squad No Longer Travelling To Malaysia

The recently announced Irish Squad trip to Malaysia has been cancelled as of this morning. Over the past two weeks Hockey Ireland and their key stakeholders have been working tirelessly to provide the opportunity to travel to Malaysia for heat and humidity training and competition. Having constantly monitored the situation throughout this period, due to changing conditions in the past 24 hours, the difficult decision has been taken not to travel.

Speaking on the decision, Head Coach Sean Dancer said, “We informed the squad early this morning, and everyone is disappointed that we will not be able to make this opportunity happen.

“At this point in our build up to Europeans and the Olympics, the health and wellbeing of our staff and players is paramount. Weighing up the potential performance benefit of heat and humidity versus the uncertainties we live with at this time globally, particularly with travel and quarantine periods, has been incredibly difficult.

“I am confident we can control our build up well in Ireland to put the team in the best position to compete this summer.”

Keep Walking Keep Well club funding