, , ,

Ireland’s World Cup hopes on hold after 5-1 loss to England

Women’s EuroHockey Championships
Pool C: Ireland 1 (D Duke) England 5 (S Evans 2, A Toman, L Owsley, J Hunter)

Ireland’s World Cup qualification bid looks set to come down to October’s final qualifier after they could not build on a strong start against England in the EuroHockey Championships’ Pool C.

Deirdre Duke’s outstanding early goal had them dreaming of a first win over England since 1987 – and a first in several Euro meetings – but three second quarter goals put paid to those hopes.

As such, barring an unlikely turnaround in fortunes – requiring a heavy England loss to Scotland and a big Irish win over Italy – Ireland will now contest an eight-team qualifier in October for a ticket to next summer’s World Cup.

“We started really well, building really good possession and going for it,” was the assessment of Lizzie Holden, playing in her 200th cap.

“The wheels came off in the second quarter and they gathered momentum. That was the difference and there are just such fine margins in these Europeans. It spiralled out of control but we still put in a really good shift and am proud of the girls’ work-rate.”

Coach Sean Dancer concurred, adding: “Really disappointing; there was a lot on the line today and that obviously adds a lot of pain to the whole thing.

“We started the game well first quarter and I was really happy with how the game was going. We just couldn’t keep it going.

“The key thing about that first quarter is we backed ourselves. We just didn’t do that second quarter, missed a couple of opportunities from our attacking penalty corners and let a few in.”

Underdogs going into the tie, the task was made trickier when midfielder Chloe Watkins was ruled out due to a quad injury. It meant a debut for Ards’ striker Zara Malseed but meant a rejig in formation for Dancer’s side.

The Irish survived a tricky opening with super first-up defence to limit any damage and soon, they started to make inroads at the far end.

The approach was more direct with Naomi Carroll and Katie Mullan finding space to drive on and the opening goal came in the 13th minute. It was a glorious piece of work, created 70 metres out from goal as Anna O’Flanagan chipped a Carroll pass beyond her marker to unlock space.

A quick interchange with Nicci Daly was followed by O’Flanagan’s perfect cross that Deirdre Duke dove onto.

But the game turned England’s way with three goals in a nine minute spell in the second quarter. Anna Toman picked a brilliant line to clatter the backboard from England’s second penalty corner.

Danger-woman Lily Owsley’s baseline run finished with an inviting pass to the back post that Sarah Evans gobbled up to swap the lead. And Evans was on hand to volley in the third just before half-time from Ellie Rayer’s pass, leaving Ireland with a mountain to climb.

And that became steeper in the 42nd minute when Giselle Ansley’s corner shot took a heavy defensive touch to lift out of reach of Ayeisha McFerran and into the goal with Owsley credited as getting the final touch.

Jo Hunter then completed the result with 70 seconds remaining, tipping over the line after another strong corner sweep shot from Toman.

Ireland will conclude this campaign on Saturday at 3.30pm (Irish time, RTE Player and BT Sport) against Italy, a last competitive game for the side before Olympic selection.

“The reality is it is still a must win game and we have to approach it that way,” Dancer added.

Ireland: A McFerran, R Upton, N Evans, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, N Carroll, H McLoughlin, L Holden, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan
Subs: Z Malseed, M Carey, M Frazer, N Daly, H Matthews, D Duke, L Murphy

England: M Hinch, L Unsworth, S Evans, A Toman, S Townsend, E Rayer, G Ansley, L Owsley, G Balsdon, I Petter
Subs: E Burge, E Sanders, L Neal, J Hunter, C de Ledesma, F Crackles, S Heesh

Umpires: I Amorosini (ITA), S Wilson (SCO)

Irish young guns win 3-0 on opening night

Men’s international test match

Ireland 3 (I Stewart, C Empey, P McKibbin) Scotland 0

Ireland’s young guns produced a composed performance in their first senior international outing since 2019 to beat Scotland in the first of three uncapped fixtures.

Coach Mark Tumilty has named 14 new players in his panel for this series at Jordanstown with games to follow on Saturday and Sunday.

And two of those were on the mark. After a scoreless first half, Corinthian’s Ian Stewart broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half with a quick counter goal.

Conor Empey then converted a stroke soon after and Peter McKibbin – a relative veteran with one cap – finished off a corner slip move to make it 3-0.

Scotland came on strong in the closing quarter with Fergus Gibson doing well to repel a Scottish strike on goal before Sam Hyland’s corner running charged down a series of penalty corners to maintain the clean sheet.


Hawkshaw eyes new target as England tie nears

Women’s EuroHockey Championship, Pool C
Friday: Ireland v England, 10.30am (Irish time, RTE Player)
Ireland’s women need to bounce back quickly from Wednesday’s draw with Spain as they go in search of the last remaining World Cup ticket on offer from this week’s EuroHockey Championship in Amsterdam.

Ireland missed out on a semi-final berth on Wednesday on “goals scored”, having tied with Spain on both points and goal difference, meaning their sights are now realigned than the maiden semi-final they had hoped for.

The Green Army will meet England on Friday morning (10.30am Irish time, live on RTE Player) before taking on Italy on Saturday (3.30pm, Irish time).

Ireland carry their 1-0 win from the initial group stages against Scotland into this four-team pool from which the round-robin winner will be assured of a place next summer’s World Cup.

England also carry through three points courtesy of a 4-0 win over the Italians but find themselves in unfamiliar territory; this is the first time in 15 European Championships they will finish outside the top four. As such, it makes for a big psychological – as well as tactical and physical – battle on Friday.

Hannah Matthews said the players have to do their best to be “like a goldfish” and put things behind them quickly and refocus on a new target.

Flying midfielder Sarah Hawkshaw agrees but adds “it would be naïve to say it is easy to do. It was a huge opportunity and the closest we have been.

Picture: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

“At the time, it was very hard. But we have been in this Pool C before. We have come together, talked about it, had honest conversations about how we felt so we can move on from it.

“We are now really excited to push forward and play England. We have had a good few battles in the past few months against GB and most of the girls from that squad would be in the England squad and we have played some good hockey. And of course, the motivation is there to take them on.

“We do need to look at ourselves and our performance from that Spanish game. We need to to move the ball better. England are a good team, have a good defensive structure and work really hard. We have to move them and that comes from us, showing for the ball, giving good options, getting the ball to our high strikers.”

Aside from the immediate importance of the tie, there would also be historical significance in victory. Ireland have yet to do so in a world ranking event and each of Ireland’s seven previous meetings with England have seen the latter prevail.

But Hawkshaw says the side will take a lot of impetus from their 2019 campaign when they came similarly close to reaching the semi-finals but bounced back to beat Belgium and Russia in Pool C.

“We can take a lot of confidence from that. I only saw the video a couple of days ago of the last couple of seconds of the Belgian game counting down, Shirley [McCay] crossing the ball for Anna [O’Flanagan].

“It also shows how quickly the game can change. We need to get the ball into those areas which will be really important against England and something we haven’t got enough of. We have to get the ball into those areas because anything can happen.

“Huge confidence from that experience, we know what the stakes are. No room for error and we have to produce results. It is a situation England haven’t been in so we take that as a positive.”

, ,

Trevor Watkins elected new chair of Hockey Ireland board

Trevor Watkins is looking forward to taking on the role of chairperson of Hockey Ireland following his election at a board meeting on Wednesday evening.

Watkins takes on the role having been the chair of Leinster Hockey, President of Monkstown Hockey Club and chairman of Unifund VC, a venture capital company assisting graduate startups.

On the hockey front, he has been involved in many roles over five decades, including playing outdoor and indoor internationally, as well as coaching teams at Muckross, Avoca and UCD, interprovincially in Leinster, the national indoor team and the women’s Under-22s.

In business, Watkins has over 20 years experience in the Corporate Governance, Compliance and Regulatory environment and in developing a team culture to deliver success. He has been a director of Hockey Ireland since May 2019.

“I am delighted and honoured in being elected Chairperson of Hockey Ireland,” Watkins said. “This is an exciting time for hockey, not only in respect of national teams and junior age group development programmes but also for all our clubs ,players ,coaches, umpires and volunteers.

“Our sport is growing in popularity with nearly 50,000 women, men, girls and boys playing in clubs and schools across the island.

“My focus will be on driving a sustainable NGB and delivering on the challenges and opportunities we now have that will achieve the expectations we all have for hockey.

“I also look forward to working with Sport Ireland and Sport NI and respective governments in assisting us to achieve our aims.

“I hope to meet all the Irish Hockey family over the coming months and look forward to being pitch side soon.”

Hockey Ireland would like to thank Eric Brady who held the role of chairperson since July 2019 having first joined the board of Hockey Ireland in 2016. He will remain on the board where he will chair the High Performance Committee.

At the meeting, it was confirmed Keith Morrow will continue in his role as Hockey Ireland Finance Officer while Pamela Bastable was appointed company secretary.

** To read more about Hockey Ireland’s Board of Directors, click here

, , ,

Ireland denied Euro semi spot and World Cup ticket on goals scored after Spain draw

Women’s EuroHockey Championships
Pool A
Ireland 1 (R Upton) Spain 1 (B Garcia)

In the end, Spain’s late goal in a 7-1 loss against the Netherlands proved pivotal as Ireland missed out on a maiden European Championship semi-final on goals scored following their 1-1 draw in Amstelveen.

Róisín Upton’s early goal had the Green Army in the frame for the win they needed but a Begoña Garcia equaliser in the 12th minute meant Spain got what they required, leaving Sean Dancer’s side to contest Pool C.

It also denied Ireland’s first chance at World Cup qualification but they remain live in the tournament with fifth place overall still up for grabs which would earn their passage to the 2022 competition.

As such, Hannah Matthews says the side must deal with the “devastation” quickly ahead of crucial games on Friday and Saturday.

“For the next few hours, we will feel a bit miserable and sorry for ourselves,” the Loreto player said.

“But then we just have to pick a point tonight; put it behind us, be a goldfish, forget about it. There’s still a job to do; there’s still World Cup qualification on the line and there’s a lot of girls back home that we need to get qualification for next summer!”

It was an intense battle between two sides who have met so often on the big stages over the past five years, both rising almost simultaneously to seventh and eighth in the world, winning medals at the 2018 World Cup.

In the end, Spain – level with Ireland on points and goal difference but needing just a draw because of their superior goals scored earlier in the group – were savvy and smart to stymie Ireland a regular sight of goal despite a dream start.

Naomi Carroll tore down the right channel to draw a penalty corner in the second minute. Her Catholic Institute club mate Róisín Upton duly finished off the set piece, a bullet drag-flick into the bottom corner.

Spain, though, were back on terms in the 12th minute. It was a slick piece of work, a stepover gifting Maria Lopez time to pick out Begoña Garcia at the injector’s spot and she swept home from close range.

It became an absorbing contest after that with Spain enjoying the majority of the ball and looking to press on while Ireland went into a counter-attack mode.

It meant precious few chances between the second and third quarters with the greens not overly troubled during spells down to 10 players to a couple of green cards, likewise Spain when Lucia Jimenez went to the sin-bin.

Ayeisha McFerran got a strong stick to deny Lola Riera just before the end of the third quarter, keeping the tie very much up in the air for a high octane final 15 minutes.

Lopez’s heavily deflected shot clattered off the post and fell invitingly for Hawkshaw to start a brilliant counter which culminated in Anna O’Flanagan earning Ireland’s second corner. Shirley McCay’s shot, though, was well dealt with by the Spanish defence.

Upton produced some heroics to clean up a huge Spanish chance while McFerran swept up three more chances to keep hopes alive.

That golden opportunity never accrued for Ireland in a frustrating endgame. It means they will now contest Pool C where four teams will battle it out for the one remaining World Cup spot from this competition.

“Heartbroken for now,” Matthews added. “We know Spain so well and they know us. It was always going to be difficult to get the tactics right and exploit each other.

“We just didn’t create enough opportunities; it was partly our own doing, partly them closing down the centre. We needed to create a bit more around the outside; we only got two corners and didn’t create a whole lot of scoring opportunities.”

Matthews will now look to dig into her archive of experiences – this was her 150th cap – over the next few days before Friday’s next Pool C tie to try and bounce back.

“We’ve experienced every scenario that’s possible over the last eight years or so! We definitely draw on that; there’s lots of quality teams in the Europeans so it will be hard no matter what but we will draw on it.

“I kind of forgot about it [being my 150th]! Look, its more about the quality of the caps and today was a great match. I said it to Clo [Watkins], we are so lucky in the year that has gone past that we are playing in a high stakes match like this, butterflies, all that. Just so privileged to play on a stage like this.”

Ireland’s next tie will be on Friday morning at 10.30am (Irish time) against an opposition to be confirmed later today. The concluding game on Saturday is against Italy at 3.30pm.

Ireland: A McFerran, R Upton, N Evans, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, N Carroll, H McLoughlin, L Holden, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan
Subs: M Carey, M Frazer, C Watkins, N Daly, H Matthews, D Duke, L Murphy

Spain: M Ruiz, C Petchame, M Lopez, B Iglesias, L Riera, J Pons, B Garcia, X Gine, B Perez, G Oliva, L Jimenez
Subs: L Barrios, B Bonastre, C Mejias, A Torres-Quevedo, A Magaz, P Alvarez, M Garcia

Umpires: L Delforge (BEL), I Amorosini (ITA)

, ,

Green Army ready to take on “old enemy” with World Cup spot on line

Women’s EuroHockey Championship Pool A preview
Wednesday: Ireland v Spain, 11.30am (Irish time, Live on RTE 2)

Chloe Watkins said the make-up of Ireland’s group meant she always “kind of felt it was going to come down to the final pool game against Spain” as the Green Army take on their most frequent recent rival.

The two sides’ recent history has often been intertwined with Ireland edging out the Spanish in the 2018 World Cup semi-final in a shoot-out.

In so doing, they gained more than a modicum of revenge for a chastening 7-2 loss when the two sides met in the 2017 Europeans at this same Wagener Stadium venue where they will meet on Wednesday at 11.30am (Irish time).

Outside of those key meetings, Spain is Ireland’s most frequent haunt for training camps with trips to Valencia, Jaen, Malaga and Granada in recent times.

In January, Ireland edged a five-game, uncapped series with two wins and two draws to their credit but all with precious little between the sides.

Like Ireland, they have established themselves in the world’s top ten; they sit seventh, Ireland ranked eighth.

“The Spanish are the old enemy for us; they have been on a similar journey as ourselves over the years,” Watkins added.

“They are an incredibly good team and it will be a really tough challenge. Again, it will be very different to Scotland and the Dutch. They are very skillful and it will take a lot of hard work to break them down but I think if we just do our homework and focus, we’ve had good results against them in the past. But it will take a big effort, make no doubt about it.”

Her battle in the central exchanges with Gigi Oliva will be a pivotal one; Watkins has been lining out against the Spanish playmaker for the guts of 15 years since Under-16 level in a rivalry that has also traversed club contests in Spain and the Netherlands.

The age and cap profiles are also remarkably similar with many players at the apex of their careers, late 20s and closing in on the 200 cap mark. Ireland have 13 centurions, Spain have 12.

Victory for Ireland will bring a 2022 World Cup ticket along with assured entry to the top tier of the 2023 European Championships.

A draw, though, will not do as the Spanish nicked a consolation four minutes from full time against the Dutch in a 7-1 defeat which may prove vital; it leaves them ahead of Ireland on goal difference thanks to their earlier 4-1 defeat of Scotland.

For Spanish coach Adrian Lock – now in his ninth year as head coach – he says he does not expect the late goal to have too much of a material impact despite giving his side an extra buffer.

“That last goal doesn’t change too much other than it can be a draw but our mindset for the game doesn’t really change and we go to try and win it.

“We know Ireland pretty well, we know them individually like they know us. They are a team who has come a long way in the last few years in a similar way in which we have. It will be tough and the small details will tell in the scoreline.”

, ,

Carroll’s strike puts Ireland back in frame for World Cup qualification

Women’s EuroHockey Championships Pool A 

Ireland 1 (N Carroll) Scotland 0 

Naomi Carroll netted a 46th minute winner to put Ireland within one win of World Cup qualification as her single goal saw off Scotland on day two of the EuroHockey Championships in Amsterdam. 

She batted home her 25th international strike but a first goal since June 3rd 2018 – also against Scotland – before her ACL injury left her on the Green Army sidelines until this year. 

Carroll did not recall that previous strike but was suitably thrilled to be back in the mix on this stage and picking up all the points from a tricky battle in the seering heat. 

“I thought we started really well, created chances,” was the Cratloe woman’s assessment of the game.  

“As long as they held us at 0-0, it does get tougher. You try to stay patient and hope that it will come. But there’s times in the past when it didn’t come. We stayed calm, persevered and got those three points that we were after today.” 

The tie was a far cry from the opening group game against the world number ones the Netherlands, a tight physical contest between two closely matched sides. 

Indeed, there were echoes of 2017 when the two sides played out a 0-0 draw at the same stage of the same competition in the same stadium.  

And this one was looking to follow a similar pattern of Irish upper-hand but no killer touch until Carroll’s fateful intervention. 

And Nikki Evans said the side – with 10 players still in situ – learned enough from that day to see this one out. 

“We have experience among the team and a lot of that side from 2017 was there today. He just encouraged us to keep playing, keep playing, keep pushing. We did that and I am really proud of the girls for digging in deep.” 

She was celebrating her 200th cap, becoming just the sixth woman to do so after Nikki Symmons, Shirley McCay, Cliodhna Sargent, Chloe Watkins and Anna O’Flanagan. 

And she was grateful that restrictions had been lifted enough for her to be able to share the moment with her parents in the stands. 

“To get one cap for your country is a dream come true. To get 200 with some of my best friends, I am incredibly grateful for the memories and to have my parents here today was really special!  

“I was surprised to see them – I am not going to lie. I wasn’t sure of their whearabouts or what their plans were but I could spot them today from a mile away in the Monday morning crowd.  

“It is as much for my family and friends who have been there along the journey with me and I delighted to share it with them.” 

The first half saw the Green Army make the most telling inroads but the crucial touch was just out of reach on a number of occasions. 

Sarah Hawkshaw’s driving runs were a feature throughout while Carroll’s nimble feet were always a threat. Anna O’Flanagan was in the thick of things in the first minute from Carroll’s slip pass but Amy Gibson was out quickly to smother the chance.  

Evans was also denied an opening goal but she just could not get enough lift over Gibson when set through down the left.  

Scotland were sitting deep and playing a longer game, requiring Hannah Matthews to be on hand to pick off important late tackles. McKenzie Bell did almost prosper on the counter but for Duke covering back to block the chance. 

The second quarter followed a similar pattern with Hawkshaw racing down the right but her cross only got half a touch in front of goal; a Mullan cross took a Scottish stick and rolled wide. Ireland’s first penalty corner was won by Michelle Carey but no shot of note materialised. 

The third quarter brought the first corner chances, Lena Tice and Róisín Upton combining to clear Scotland’s first-up effort from Emily Dark before Ireland could not make full use of the three that came their way. 

From the fourth set piece – Hawkshaw again to the fore in its creation – the goal finally came as Carroll snapped up the chance at the second attempt. Róisín Upton’s drag was blocked by the first runner but her Catholic Institute club mate on hand to swipe home a vital goal from mid-circle. 

Evans came within millimetres of doubling the lead from a Watkins crash ball, meaning a tense finale. But the single goal was enough as Ireland withstood a late onslaught, including a corner with 36 seconds to go, to get over the line and three points on the board. 

The outcome means a win over Spain on Wednesday (11.30am Irish time, live on RTE2) should put Ireland through to the semi-finals for the first time and guarantee a World Cup ticket. 

“Coming into this, we kind of felt it was going to come down to the final pool game,” said midfielder Chloe Watkins.  

“The Spanish are the old enemy for us; they have been on a similar journey as ourselves over the years. They are an incredibly good team and it will be a really tough challenge.  

“Again, it will be very different today. They are very skillful and it will take a lot of hard work to break them down but I think if we just do our homework and focus, we’ve had good results against them in the past. But it will take a big effort no doubt.” 


Ireland: A McFerran, R Upton, N Evans, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, N Carroll, H McLoughlin, L Holden, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan 

Subs: M Carey, M Frazer, C Watkins, N Daly, H Matthews, S Hawkshaw, D Duke, L Murphy 

Scotland: A Gibson, J Eadie, L Swanson, B Ward, A Costello, S Robertson, C Watson, S Jamieson, E Dark, K Holmes, R Condie 

Subs: L Campbell, M Bell, B Shields, R Collins, F Burnet, F Semple, N Cochrane 

Umpires: S Bockelmann (GER), I Makar (CRO) 


McLoughlin relishing Euro experience as big Scottish date nears

Women’s EuroHockey Championships – Ireland v Scotland preview
Monday, June 7th: 11.30am (Irish time, live on RTE2), Wagener Stadium

Hannah McLoughlin says while there is no way to be satisfied with a 4-0 loss, there was enough in the Irish performance against the Netherlands to carry into their vital group game against Scotland on Monday.

“We’re 18 extremely competitive people so none of us will walk away being 100% happy with that scoreline,” the defender said as her side looks to bounce back and get back in the frame for a semi-final spot.

“After the initial emotions go away and we look back, there’s an awful lot of positives to take. Couple that with working on a few things that we didn’t do quite how we wanted, I think it will be a really exciting tournament for us.”

For McLoughlin, a graduate of Avoca and Loreto Hockey Clubs, Saturday’s tie was a first senior international tournament appearance and the latest step in a meteoric rise to prominence.

Last September she was on the fringes of the panel but a star performance in the Irish Senior Cup pushed her claims and a good winter has seen her be ever-present in training camps ever since.

“As cliché as it sounds, it’s been surreal; it’s the only word for it,” McLoughlin said. “I don’t want this experience to pass me by. I am with an amazing group of friends, doing what I love and all 18 of us have worked extremely hard and all deserve to be here.

“The atmosphere was unbelievable. I have never played in front of a crowd that big and a home tournament for the Dutch – you have to hit the ground running!”

The difference in opponent is stark between day one and two; from meeting the world standard bearers, they now meet the world number 22 who are the lowest rated of the eight teams in Amsterdam this week.

That rating, though, is often a false perspective as the Scots can only pick up a miniscule amount of ranking points in Olympic cycles as the minor party in Great Britain’s Olympic line-up.

It also means little can be drawn from the Green Army’s 4-1 and 5-1 victories over the Scots in Belfast last month. Three GB players – Charlotte Watson, Sarah Robertson and Amy Costello – are back in the fold since then as is goalkeeper Amy Gibson who plies her trade professionally in Germany.

What Ireland have seen, though, is the Scots opening game, a 4-1 defeat to an impressive Spanish outfit.

For Ireland, the good news is Lizzie Holden did not sustain a concussion from the ball that hit her head in the game against the Dutch and she should be available to play a part.

And the top two in the four-team group remains the first goal.

“Scotland is definitely a game to target three points and we are confident we can come out of it,” McLoughlin concluded.

“If we look back on the Dutch game, take the things we did really well and tweak the others we didn’t do to the best of our ability, we will get those three points another three against Spain.”


Mullan and Green Army embrace the rollercoaster after 4-0 defeat to world number ones

Women’s EuroHockey Championship, Pool A
Netherlands 4 (L Leurink 2, C van Maasakker, F Matla) Ireland 0

Katie Mullan says Ireland “know the rollercoaster of tournament hockey” and take a lot from their opening women’s EuroHockey Championship tie, falling 4-0 to an imperious Dutch side.

A double from Laurien Leurink along with goals from Caia van Maasakker and Frédérique Matla did the damage for the world number ones – who have lost just once in their last 100 fixtures and are reigning World, Euro and Pro League champions – who showed their class in spades.

Nonetheless, captain Mullan said it was a far cry from the 6-0 meeting when Ireland last met the Dutch in 2018’s World Cup final.

“I think anyone who watched both those games will see the improvement in us,” the Green Army captain said of the performance. “There’s a few little things defensively where we get caught as a full team; those are the moments where they dominate and score and that’s where the Dutch are so clinical.

“But there were times we really did have control, held the ball well and were able to accumulate passes. We’re in a good place going into the Scottish game.”

Katie Mullan on the attack. Picture: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

It was Ireland’s first competitive fixture since the 2019 Olympic qualifiers, enough time for Amsterdam restrictions to be lifted enough to allow over 3,000 fans to attend. With the happy hardcore music reverberating around the Wagener Stadium, Mullan added it was a great way to get back into action.

“That was an incredible atmosphere; when you have had two years out of international hockey, what a way to come back to tournament hockey, playing the Dutch in Amsterdam in a packed stadium. It was all orange and we really enjoyed it!

“How do you prepare a youngster for that?” she added, referencing the tournament debuts for UCD pair Hannah McLoughlin and Michelle Carey.

“We tried to build them up for it all week and I’m very proud of them; they did incredibly well and enjoyed it too. That’s the most important thing for them too; for your first 10 caps you have free reign. You just go out and enjoy it, getting up to that pace. I’m almost jealous they got to do it against the Dutch in that atmosphere.”

As for the game, Margot van Geffen had fired the first warning shot inside 45 seconds but the Green Army responded quickly. Some sweet interplay at the head of the D saw Mullan pick out Anna O’Flanagan and but for the faceguard of goalkeeper Josine Koning, Ireland would have had a shock lead.

The Dutch, however, capitalised on a loose defensive clearance in the ninth minute as Laura Nunnink pinched possession and drew a penalty stroke from Róisín Upton. Caia van Maasakker – in her 200th appearance – netted from the spot.

Moments later, Leurink got on the end of Felice Albers’ pull-back from the right and Ireland were two behind.

Ayeisha McFerran’s big boot limited the damage from a couple of Dutch corners but she could not keep out Frédérique Matla’s powerful corner as the hosts extended their lead to 3-0 by half-time.

Hannah McLoughlin in action in her first senior ranking tournament. Picture: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

The scoreline was compounded by a nasty head injury sustained by Lizzie Holden but she was thankfully able to take her place in the stands after being withdrawn from action.

Ireland were more compact in the third quarter with Hannah Matthews picking off numerous defensive interventions and McFerran sharp between the posts.

The fourth goal, though, did arrive with Leurink credited with the last touch after a goalmouth scramble. Ireland wanted to call for a video but the umpires deemed the request too late and so it was not referred upstairs.

Nonetheless, with Shirley McCay and Deirdre Duke also making bit blocks, Ireland were content to take the positives and head into Monday’s date with Scotland (11.30am, Irish time, on RTE2) in upbeat mood.

“We know for sure they will be a completely different team from the one we saw in Belfast a few weeks ago,” Mullan said of that challenge having run up two wins over the Scots recently.

“They have strong players and we will learn a lot from watching them play Spain. We know we have to control the game and the pace. If we take the energy we brought out there today against the Dutch, add a few more things to it in terms of our attack and we will be in a good place come.”

Ireland are back in action on Monday at 11.30am (Irish time) against Scotland before finishing their group on Wednesday against Spain.

Netherlands: J Koning, M Pheninckx, L Leurink, M Keetels, C van Maasakker, F Matla, P Sanders, L Stam, M van Geffen, E de Goede, F Albers
Subs: S Koolen, M Verschoor, L Nunnink, S van Gils, I Kappelle, P Dicke, A Veenendaal

Ireland: A McFerran, R Upton, N Evans, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, N Carroll, H McLoughlin, L Holden, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan
Subs: M Carey, M Frazer, C Watkins, N Daly, H Matthews, D Duke, L Murphy

Umpires: L Delforge (BEL), S Bockelmann (GER)

, , ,


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

4th June 2021 

The Irish government have issued further updates to the Covid-19 guidelines for Returning to Sport.

The following applies from 07th June 2021: 

  • Outdoor matches may recommence.
  • A maximum of 100 may attend organised outdoor events. This includes players, match officials and spectators.
  • Individual indoor training and one to one (player and coach) training is permitted. Please see detailed guidelines below for indoor training.

The following applies from 05th July 2021 (subject to public health guidance): 

  • A maximum of 200 may attend organised outdoor events.
  • Indoor hockey can recommence in pods of up to 6.

Indoor Training Guidance 

The Sport Ireland Return to Sport Expert Group have issued detailed guidelines for the return of indoor training. These guidelines are expected to remain in place until at least July 05th 2021 when restrictions may be eased further.

Please note: The following guidelines apply to Republic of Ireland only. For Northern Ireland, please find further details here: Return To Sport | Sport NI

Individual training is defined as: ‘Individual, physically distanced, non-contact activity, completed in a pre-defined area, within a controlled environment and without the sharing of equipment.

The following applies to indoor training:

  1. Staggered start and finish times combined with appropriate entry, exit and traffic management protocols to limit the interaction of participants at any one time.
  2. Prebooking of activity is essential. This includes the health screening of all participants (including coaches & support personnel). All personnel on-site should be recorded.
  3. Reduction in the overall duration of the activity.
  4. Participants arrive ready to train and leave immediately (no changing room or shower use).
  5. Additional signage, hand sanitisation stations and deep cleaning implemented.
  6. No equipment sharing in any circumstances.
  7. Activity should take place in a predefined area which is visually marked out and directionally signed.
  8. The space required in this area should reflect the nature and intensity of the activity.
  9. There should be in excess of 2m social distancing between each of the predefined areas.
  10. The Cleaning & Ventilation of facilities should be conducted in accordance with the Government’s most recent Work Safely Protocol. Additional information can also be found in the appendixes of this documents.

One to one (coach and player training – in line with safeguarding requirements – may proceed as follows:

  1. Any demonstration of equipment or technique should ensure that a minimum of 2m social distancing is maintained.
  2. Individual equipment should not be shared.
  3. In the case of fixed equipment, cleaning of such equipment must be completed immediately after demonstration and before the individual participant uses it.
  4. There should be no hands-on adjustments or physical contact during training sessions.
  5. Coaches and trainers are asked to refer to the HSE guidance on wearing of face coverings, which is available here: When to wear a face covering – HSE.ie

Additional Points:

  1. For clubs who wish to undertake one to one or individual training indoors, the above guidelines should incorporate the guidance outlined in this document into their existing Covid 19 Return to Training Policies and Procedures.
  2. The guidelines assume an ongoing allowance of indoor activity as dictated by the Public Health Situation and whether sporting facilities are open.
  3. The training must be supervised by a branch-registered Club Covid-19 Compliance Officer.

Clubs undertaking indoor activity must:

  1. Implement thorough and regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces. If disinfection of an area is required, it must be performed in addition to cleaning, never as a substitute for cleaning.
  2. Ensure contact/touch surfaces such as table tops, door handles and handrails are visibly clean at all times. Additionally, sports equipment should be cleaned before and after use.
  3. Provide coaches/ participants with essential cleaning materials to keep their own areas clean (for example wipes/disinfection products, paper towels and waste bins/bags).
  4. Records should be maintained for all cleaning.