Match Report. Ireland v Great Britain in Match 2 of SoftCo Series.

Ireland 2 (Watkins, Upton), Great Britain 1 (Unsworth).

The second match of the SoftCo Series in Queen’s University Belfast got underway this evening, with Great Britain bringing a noticeably faster start than the opening of yesterday’s match. However, Ireland remained strong from the off, with Lena Tice making a remarkable on the line save from a well targeted Unsworth shot. McFerran proved to be in strong form in the opening quarter keeping a chance from Rayer from allowing GB to get on the scoreboard, before following up by saving a penalty corner against Ireland shortly after.

The opening quarter held plenty of opportunities for both teams, with Deirdre Duke and Sarah Hawkshaw both finding themselves in the GB circle but failing to secure a goal. GB’s Jones and Ansley also created opportunities for themselves close to the Irish goal, but Jones scuffed her shot while Ansley was defended out. Meanwhile Beth Barr played strongly on the wing creating space and moving the ball up the pitch well.

Colvin and McLoughlin worked well together in the second quarter in midfield. An Owlsey and Robertson attack on the Irish circle resulted in a free out to Ireland. Hawkshaw made herself a nuisance to the GB defence on several occasions but the sides remained level. GB’s Owsley found a gap and went on a long attacking run, McLoughlin followed her and they were met by two more Irish defenders, however the defence resulted in a penalty corner to GB. Toman took the shot on McFerran who saved aptly.

Nikki Evans with possession, passing to Duke who provided Colvin with a real chance on Hinch in the GB goal, however it wasn’t to be and the score remained nil all. Watkins found a gap shortly after and smacked the ball down the pitch, however there was no on hand to receive it and the opportunity passed. A Mullan pass across the GB circle was intercepted by Ellie Rayer who showed serious speed to move it back down to challenge Ireland. GB’s Sarah Evans drove the ball across the Irish goal providing Laura Unsworth a chance to steer it past McFerran to give GB the lead.

A goal down Michelle Carey continued pressing from the left, while Hawkshaw continued from the right, with both intercepted by GB defence in short succession. A chance for Jones again in the Irish circle was scuppered as McFerran deflected out to Tice.

The second half brought high energy from both sides. A Colvin assist to Watkins saw a skilful reverse shot sail past Hinch and hit the backboard for the equaliser. Owsley and McCallin tried to re-instate GB’s lead shortly afterwards, but a McFerran booted the ball out of harms way to keep the sides level. McCay created an opportunity for Duke and Mullan in the GB circle which failed to produce a goal, while GB’s Owsley was kept out of Ireland’s circle by Roisin Upton as the third quarter came to a close.

The final quarter saw Liz Murphy see off a strong challenge from Rayer and Roberston. Nikki Evans secured a lovely play to move back towards the GB circle but was intercepted by Toman. With just over ten minutes on the clock Michelle Carey was given a Green Card, followed shortly after by Shirley McCay receiving a Yellow Card. Despite being two players down Ireland continued to press, with a Watkins attack leading to a penalty corner for Ireland. Watkins’ shot was on target from the penalty corner but Hinch kept the ball out of the GB goal before quickly saving another shot by Anna O’Flanagan.

To add to the drama of the final quarter, a second Yellow Card of the game was given, this time to GB’s Jones. Chloe Watkins providing the assist for Anna O’Flanagan saw O’Flanagan get taken down in the GB circle resulting in a penalty stroke. Mirroring yesterday’s performance, Upton secured another goal for Ireland getting the ball past Hinch giving Ireland a goal lead.

The energy continued in the final minutes of the game with both sides continuing to push each other. However, the final buzzer went with Ireland 2 – GB 1.

Speaking after the match, Captain Katie Mullan said “We’ve never beaten the GB team before, they’re current Olympic Gold Medalists, so to do it on home soil is special. I think the character of the girls, in the second half especially, was second to none and I’m so proud of their performance. 

At international level it’s the fine margins, but we stayed in it and we fought the tough fight in the first half. We came out all guns blazing in the second half, and I think there was nothing going to stop us in that second half. We’re delighted with the win today.”

The third match of the series takes place Tuesday at 15:00, and can be watched live on the BBC Sport NI website, the BBC iPlayer, and the RTE player.

Ireland:  A McFerran, N Evans, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, B Barr, C Watkins, L Colvin, H Matthews, S Torrans, A O’Flanagan; L Murphy, M Carey, R Upton, H McLoughlin, S Hawkshaw, N Carey, D Duke.

Great Britain: M Hinch, S Jones, S Evans, E Rayer, S Townsend, S McCallin, L Unsworth, L Wilkinson, L Neal, H Pearne-Webb, A Toman; S Robertson, I Petter, L Owsley, F Crackles, G Ansley.


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Match Report. Ireland v Great Britain in Match 1 of SoftCo Series.

13 March 2021

Ireland 1 (Upton), Great Britain 2 (Owsley, Roberston).

It’s been 497 days since the Irish women’s squad played their last international match on home soil, but on a cold and blustery day in Queen’s University, Belfast, the team returned to the pitch in excellent form.

Anna O’Flanagan brought a strong attacking energy from the get-go, creating several chances for Ireland in the opening quarter. A penalty corner to GB early in the first quarter was the only real opportunity to present itself for GB with Ireland the dominant team for the first half of the match. A deflection from Unsworth to Ansley was defended, with the rebound shot hitting the back board after an umpire whistle had gone keeping the sides nil all.

Upton put Ireland in the lead shortly after when a penalty stroke was award for a tackle on O’Flanagan in the circle. Grace O’Flanagan was strong in goal through the first half, with a shot from Roberston saved well. Michelle Carey and Sarah McAuley made their presence well known throughout the first quarter. GB’s Jones managed a lone run towards the Irish goal, however McAuley was on hand to push her back out in the last chance of the quarter for GB. Torrans and Carey continued to press at the opposite end of the pitch until the end of quarter buzzer.

Anna O’Flanagan was on fire again as the second quarter got underway, defending a GB attack on the Irish circle in the opening minute. Jones made another attempt to get a clear shot on the Ireland goal, however Hannah McLoughlin was on hand to keep her at bay. Lizzie Colvin provided Naomi Carroll the chance to take a reverse shot on the GB goal, which went just wide of the mark. A penalty Corner to Ireland saw a Barr deflection and Upton flick saved by Hinch. GB’s Owlsey was denied a chance as McLoughlin expertly stepped in to keep Ireland in the lead. Owsley returned again shortly after, this time managing to take a shot on the goal, and this time Carey prevented GB from getting on the score board.

The opening of the second half saw GB hit the post with a penalty stroke. It wasn’t long before GB were back along the left wing, shooting across the square with the equaliser secured from Ansley. Ireland were back attacking shortly after, with Malseed taking a reverse shot at the goal which went wide of the target.

GB were awarded a penalty corner 10minutes in to the second half, with Liz Murphy this time showing off her skill with an impressive save on the line. Malseed secured another opportunity for herself getting inside the GB circle shortly afterwards, but was defended off the goal. Upton continued to press but was forced out also.

A penalty corner to Ireland saw Carroll deflect to Matthews for a shot. The shot was saved, however the rebound resulted in a scuffle for the ball with Evans getting the ball across the goal to be tapped in although the umpire’s whistle had already gone.

Robertson secured the final goal of the game in the opening minute of the final quarter, giving GB the lead. GB became the more dominant of the two teams as the final quarter unfolded, creating more and more opportunities for themselves. Despite this, Ireland remained strong with O’Flanagan, Carey, and Hawkshaw all continuing to create chances near the GB circle.

Speaking after the match, Captain Katie Mullan said “It’s always a tight game [with GB], and we’ve come away a number of times thinking we should have won, and today would maybe be one of those days, where split second decisions where we’ve switched off and they’ve punished us. That’s what they do so well, and you just can’t afford to give them those opportunities in international hockey, so we’ve got to go back to the drawing board and learn from those tomorrow.”

The second match of the series takes place tomorrow at 17:00. Coverage starts from 16:30 on RTE2, and 16:50 on BBC Sport NI.

Ireland: G O’Flanagan; S McCay; S McAuley; H Matthews; K Mullan; R Upton; S Hawkshaw; L Colvin; N Evans; A O’Flanagan; N Carroll; L Murphy; H McLoughlin; B Barr; M Frazer; M Carey; Z Malseed; S Torrans.

GB: J Hunter, S Jones; S Robertson; S Evans; I Petter; S McCallin; S Townsend; L Owsley; L Unsworth; F Crackles; L Wilkinson; G Balsdon; G Ansley; H Pearne-Webb; A Toman; M Hinch.


Hockey Ireland Launch 2021-2024 Strategic Plan

Ambitious goals… Building on success… Supporting the clubs… These are some of the key themes underpinning the development of our new Strategic Plan.  Hockey Ireland are very happy to launch their strategic plan for the 2021 – 2024 period, a roadmap that will drive the sport of Hockey in Ireland forward.

The plan details five strategic goals:

  • Secure the future
  • Grow the Hockey Community
  • Win on the World Stage
  • Lead Our Sport
  • Engage Positively with our Stakeholders

With the success achieved by our national teams in recent years, we have seen a clear uptake and increased interest in the sport and the clubs are reporting a continued growth in membership.

Speaking on the Plan, CEO Jerome Pels, said “I am very happy to see this strategy launched. This strategy encompasses all areas of our sport from grassroots to high performance. We have seen the popularity and profile of our sport grow throughout the past numbers of years; with the Men qualifying for the Rio Olympic Games, and the Women winning a World Cup silver medal as well as qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics in front of a record breaking crowd.

This strategy will be a key document for the organisation as we continue the growth of Hockey across the island of Ireland. Hockey is going through unprecedented growth at grassroots levels and our ambition is to provide leadership in education and member services to drive growth in coaching, umpiring, infrastructure, clubs, and participation. In turn, this will allow us to develop higher standards of play at all levels, increasing chances of success at international level which again will inspire more people to take up the sport and increase the talent pool.

This document will ensure we lead and govern our sport as effectively as possible. The strategic goals outlined for the organisation complement each other throughout; success in one area enables us to achieve a greater amount across all our goals. This is an exciting time for our sport, this strategy is ambitious, focused and structured in order to reach the goals we have identified.”

You can read the full strategy here:



Irish Women’s Squad Announcement for SoftCo Series

The SoftCo Series, which will take place in Queen’s University Belfast this weekend with the Irish Women taking on Great Britain, will see a number of changes to the Green Army panel.

The panel will continue to see a mix of internationally experienced players, with several World Cup medallists included, while also incorporating more young and upcoming talent. The panel is as follows:

PLAYER                                                Region                  Position               CAPS

BARR, Beth                                           Ulster                    Defender                30

CAREY, Michelle                                 Leinster                 Midfielder             Uncapped

CAREY, Niamh                                     Leinster                Striker                    Uncapped

CARROLL, Naomi                                Munster               Striker                     111

COLVIN, Elizabeth                              Ulster                    Midfielder             196

DALY, Nicola                                        Leinster                Midfielder             189

DUKE, Deirdre                                     Leinster                Midfielder             141

EVANS, Nicola                                     Leinster                Striker                     198

FRAZER, Megan                                  Ulster                    Defender               136

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

McFERRAN, Ayeisha                          Ulster                    Goal Keeper         100

McLOUGHLIN, Hannah                     Leinster                Defender               14

MULLAN, Kathryn (C)                       Ulster                    Midfielder             193

MURPHY, Elizabeth                           Leinster                Goal Keeper          13

O’FLANAGAN, Anna                           Leinster                Striker                    207

O’FLANAGAN, Grace                          Leinster                Goal Keeper          36

TICE, Elena                                           Leinster                Defender                109

TORRANS, Sarah                                 Leinster                Striker                     26

UPTON, Roisin                                     Munster               Defender                 76

WATKINS, Chloe                                 Leinster                Midfielder              226

A notable absence to the squad is Zoe Wilson who picked up an ACL injury in the final game played against Spain earlier this year. She has undergone surgery and her recovery is progressing well. Caoimhe Perdue of Munster will also travel with the panel taking part in training sessions and gaining valuable exposure to senior international level hockey.

Head Coach Sean Dancer commenting on the updated panel said “These matches give us the opportunity to test an extended group of players against a world class team. Niamh Carey performed well as a late replacement on the Spanish tour in January and Sarah McAuley has shown competitiveness and composure in defence in recent inter squad matches. I look forward to getting back to high quality international matches with the squad at the weekend.”

All matches in the SoftCo Series will be available to view via streaming or broadcast. BBC Sport NI will be streaming all three matches on their website as well as the BBC iPlayer, while RTÉ will broadcast Sunday evening’s match live on RTÉ 2 with coverage starting from 16:30. Nigel Ringland will present BBC Sport NI’s coverage of the three matches and will be joined on commentary by former Ireland international Alex Speers; while Evanne Ní Chuillin will present RTÉ’s coverage, joined by Cliodhna Sargent and Gillian Pinder in studio, with match commentary from George Hamilton and Sarah Scott.

Match dates, times and where to watch:
Match 1: Saturday March 13th @ 2pm. BBC Sport NI website, BBC iPlayer. RTE Player TBC.
Match 2: Sunday March 14th @ 5pm. BBC Sport NI website, BBC iPlayer, RTE 2
Match 3: Tuesday March 16th @ 3pm. BBC Sport NI website, BBC iPlayer. RTE Player TBC.

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Ireland to take on Great Britain in SoftCo Series

Green Army to take on Great Britain in SoftCo Series

2 March 2021

Hockey Ireland is excited to announce the SoftCo Series which will take place in Queen’s University Belfast, with the Irish Women taking on Great Britain on Saturday the 13th, Sunday the 14th and Tuesday the 16th of March. The uncapped series matches against Great Britain are the first international matches for the team on home soil since the Olympic Qualifier in December 2019.

Hockey Ireland are delighted to announce that all the matches will be available to view via streaming or broadcast. BBC Sport NI will be streaming all three matches on their website as well as the BBC iPlayer, while RTÉ will broadcast Sunday evening’s match live on RTÉ 2 with coverage starting from 16:30. Nigel Ringland will present BBC Sport NI’s coverage of the three matches and will be joined on commentary by former Ireland international Alex Speers; while Evanne Ní Chuillin will present RTÉ’s coverage, joined by Cliodhna Sargent and Gillian Pinder in studio, with match commentary from George Hamilton and Sarah Scott.

The announcement comes today on the 125th anniversary of the first ever women’s international field hockey match. A year after the establishment of the Irish Ladies Hockey Association, the match took place on the 2nd of March 1896 at Alexandra College, with the Irish Women recording a 2 – 0 victory over England, with goals from Johnson and Merton sealing the win.

The matches will provide the Green Army with the opportunity to play high quality international matches ahead of an intense international summer. With the EuroHockey Championships now an integral aspect of the World Cup qualification process, the 2018 silver medallists will be keen to ensure they maximise every opportunity to allow them to perform this summer in Amstelveen not only as a warmup for the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games but also to secure their spot in the 2022 World Cup.

Speaking on the announcement, Captain Katie Mullan said: “Given the past 12 months we are really excited to play these international matches at home. The squad has been training hard throughout which showed in our recent matches against Spain. They are a strong team and we recorded two wins and two draws out of the five friendlies, putting us in a confident position going into our next block of training.

These matches against GB will be great preparation for the EuroHockey Championships this summer ahead of travelling to Tokyo. As current Olympic gold medallists GB are an experienced and strong team, so this is a really good opportunity for us to put all the training into practice ahead of this summer.”

Match dates, times and where to watch:
Match 1: Saturday March 13th @ 2pm. BBC Sport NI website, BBC iPlayer. RTE Player TBC.
Match 2: Sunday March 14th @ 5pm. BBC Sport NI website, BBC iPlayer, RTE 2
Match 3: Tuesday March 16th @ 3pm. BBC Sport NI website, BBC iPlayer. RTE Player TBC.

First International Women’s Hockey Match:

The match took place on the 2nd of March 1896 at Alexandra College, with the Irish Women recording a 2 – 0 victory over England, with goals from Johnson and Merton sealing the win.
Picture below is the team who recorded this historic match and victory.

L Martin, Alex College; GK Capt E. Sealey, Dundrum; I Shaw, Donnybrook; A. Boyd, Merton; E. Obre, Merton; J. Boyd, Merton; F. Henshaw, Alex College; D. Johnson, Alex College (1); M. Obre, Merton (1); F. Martin, Alex College; A. Bell, Donnybrook.

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Fundamentals of Umpiring Module 1 Q&A session 10th March 2021

We are pleased to announce the first online Q&A session as part of the Fundamentals of Umpiring Module 1 will take place on Wednesday 10th March 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 8th March.

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Saba Continue Support for Irish Women’s Hockey Team

The Saba Restaurant Group has announced renewal of their official partnership with Hockey Ireland.

Award winning Saba Restaurants and Saba To Go have announced that they will continue their Official Partnership with the Irish Women’s Hockey Team.

Saba will continue to fuel the teams training sessions and games as they prepare for the Tokyo Olympics 2021. For the last two years, the Saba team has worked closely with the team nutritionist and management to provide meals and nutrition for the players. At this level every detail matters.

Saba’s owner Paul Cadden has said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with Hockey Ireland at this exciting time. We have got to know this inspiring group really well and we are thrilled to be part of their journey fueling the Green Army towards the Tokyo Olympics 2021.”

Hockey Ireland’s CEO Jerome Pels has said: “It is fantastic to have the continued support of Saba Restaurants and Saba To Go as an Official Partner. The Saba team have worked with our team Nutritionist to ensure that the meals provided to the team are ideal for their training and recovery as they prepare for a very demanding summer of international hockey in 2021. With the European Championships and the Olympics to prepare for, we are delighted to continue this partnership knowing that high quality nutritious meals are being provided to help the team prepare.”

SoftCo, Park Developments & Saba Restaurants Host International Women’s Day Lunch To Celebrate The Irish Senior Women’s Hockey Team 6/3/2020. Pictured is Chloe Watkins, Katie Mullan and Deirdre Duke
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Rest In Peace Vivienne Clarke

It is with great regret that we announce the passing of our dear friend and colleague Vivienne Clarke. An extraordinary individual, Viv has been a central figure within Hockey Ireland for more than a decade and we will always remember her fondly. Her strength, optimism, hard work and brilliant sense of humour were a privilege to share over the years.

A beacon of knowledge and a delightful presence within the Hockey community, Viv’s passing is a great loss to the sport as a whole. We know she will be deeply missed by everyone within the hockey community.  

Our hearts go out to Viv’s family and friends at this difficult time. May she rest in peace.  

Pictured above, Vivienne Clarke far right of image in attendance at Áras an Uachtaráin for International Women’s Day with President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina with other members of Hockey Ireland staff.
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Interpro Competitions Cancelled

Following a meeting of the Inter-Pro working group with representatives from the Provinces, Competitions and High Performance on the 9th of February, Hockey Ireland has declared this year’s U16 & U18 inter-provincial competitions as cancelled due to the on-going restrictions related to COVID-19.

Hockey Ireland High Performance will continue to lead out on the junior age player development programmes at both National and Provincial level to ensure the provincial players remain on a development pathway – where possible scheduling challenge games between the provinces and subject to Government restrictions in late spring / early summer.

Hockey Ireland is in regular communication with Government authorities and international hockey bodies and is monitoring Government advice and restrictions on an ongoing basis.

The Inter-Provincial programmes will return in the 2021-22 season in a revised year-round competition format for the various junior age groups.

Hockey Ireland would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding during this time and appreciates the efforts many of the players who are training while at home.

Please keep safe. For further information on Covid-19: https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/coronavirus.html



If you have any further queries, please email info@hockey.ie

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President’s Newsletter February 2021

It is just over two months since the postponed 2020 Hockey Ireland Annual General Meeting which took place on 26th November 2020 and  I officially took over the honour of being President of Hockey Ireland. This was the first time in the history of Hockey Ireland that an AGM was held as a teleconference and it had a record number of over ninety voting and non-voting online attendees. New Board Directors, Aisling Keogh, Rosita Wolfe, Iain Kelly, Billy Pollock and Edward Simpson were appointed and welcomed and the retiring Directors, Imelda Brennan, Fiona Hanaphy, Frank Byrne, Peter Conway and Stuart MacDonald were thanked for their hard work and service over the years. Pamela Bastable was also welcomed as the new Secretary to the Board.

At this meeting two new Honorary Life Members of Hockey Ireland were announced and we congratulate Joan Morgan and Arlene Boyles for this accolade in acknowledgement of their exceptional, long-service and outstanding contributions to Hockey Ireland, especially at national level.

Our thanks go to Martin Canniffe for his dedication, service and enthusiasm in his 4 and a half years in office – 2 as Vice-President and 2 and a half years as President. Surely he will go down on record as being the longest serving Hockey Ireland President? Personally I have appreciated the help and advice he has given me and I have thoroughly enjoyed supporting him as Vice President. Martin was the Irish Hockey Association/Hockey Ireland’s 10th President since 2000, following Joan McCloy, John Smyth, Grace Redmond, Dixon Rose, Doreen Howe, the late Herbie Sharman, Daphne Hall, Richard Kendrick and Ivy Dennis. To follow on from Martin and these hockey legends is daunting but is a huge privilege. I look forward to my role and to John Dennis’s expertise and support as Vice President.

As we all are fully aware there has been no competitive hockey in all the provinces for several months with the gloomy prospect of games not returning in the immediate future. At the time of writing this, the EY Hockey Leagues have been abandoned for this season, as have all Ireland Schools’ competitions. Hockey Ireland and the provinces will keep monitoring the situation and subject to government guidelines in the ROI and NI, may be able to offer some form of competitions, to give players the opportunity to play at a later date. It is encouraging to read on social media how clubs are keeping up fitness programmes for individuals with step and charity drives.

Our best wishes go to the Women’s and Men’s squads which are able to keep up their training schedules at elite level. The Women are back from their five match build up in Spain and the organisers of the Olympic Games are hopeful that the Games will go ahead in July. We are all behind the team, coaches and support staff in their preparations for Tokyo.

Sadly, I end this newsletter with the news of the death of John McDonough on 27th January 2021. John was a widely respected and great supporter of hockey in Ireland and was a former Director of Hockey Ireland. Our thoughts are with his wife Margaret, son Andrew, daughter Jenny and their families at this time.

I hope that I shall be able to record some hockey action in my next newsletter. We are all hoping that life and hockey will be able to return to normal, soon. Many families have been affected in some way by this dreadful pandemic and our thoughts are with you all.

Stay safe.

Ann Rosa

President, Hockey Ireland