Junior Green Army find out new World Cup group

Ireland’s Under-21 women’s team will meet England, hosts South Africa and Ukraine in a reshuffled Junior World Cup group following a number of changes to the tournament line-up.

The Junior Green Army were originally due to play in the competition in Potchefstroom in December but it was put on hold due to the arrival of the Omicron variant but they can now put full focus on the tournament which runs from April 2nd to 13th in Potchefstroom’s North-West University.

“It’s great news that the Junior World Cup will go ahead after the late postponement in December,” said Irish head coach David Passmore of confirmation of the line-up and that the tournament will go ahead in a full 16-team format.

“The girls were devastated so we are indebted to the clubs for accommodating this through changes in EY Hockey League schedule along with Hockey Ireland and the FIH for striving to find solutions to the scheduling issues.

“While we have started to train with the same group of 20, each player knows the last selection was made on form and that they will need to maintain form to make the plane for South Africa.

“Given how hard the girls had worked in preparation for December and the uncertainty of whether Covid would allow for the event to proceed, they have had a six-week break but now we start to crank things up to perform at our best.”

In terms of form guides, the Junior Green Army impressed last summer with a series win over the Welsh senior team and against the Great Britain Development panel.

They also drew with England in December in a hastily arranged Four Nations tournament in Valencia, organised once the World Cup was put on hold. South Africa and Ukraine, though, will be new opposition at this level.

Ireland had originally been due to face the Netherlands, Zimbabwe and Korea in the opening group but a number of changes to the tournament line-up meant a reshuffle in opposition.

Since December, Belgium, Spain and Japan decided they could no longer participate with Ukraine, Malaysia and Wales the nations stepping in to take their place at the main event.

And coach Passmore says it makes for some new challenges compared to the ones originally envisaged.

“The trip to Spain in December highlighted some areas we need to develop and we will be working hard on some specific components with our play with some matches against the seniors, boys teams and a two-match series against England in March to assist with thanks to our main sponsors Uniphar, SoftCo and Park Developments.

“The pool we now face is obviously different from what we expected and provides different challenges in that we know little about South Africa or Ukraine but we know the home nation will present a stern test on home soil.

“Ukraine offer a different style of play to most European countries and can be hard to break down. Either way we will set our standards high and work hard in what is a great and exciting opportunity for those players who play.”

The fixture schedule will be confirmed in due course.

Elsewhere, the Irish senior women’s World Cup opponents will be confirmed on Thursday morning with the International Hockey Federation hosting the draw in Lausanne. It will be broadcast online via the FIH’s Watch-Hockey app.

FIH Women’s Junior World Cup, April 2-13, 2022 (all at NWU, Potchefstroom, South Africa)
Pool A:
Canada, Netherlands, USA, Zimbabwe
Pool B: England, Ireland, South Africa, Ukraine
Pool C: Argentina, Korea, Russia, Uruguay
Pool D: Germany, India, Malaysia, Wales


Latest Irish Under-18 boys squad named

The latest Irish Under-18 boys panel has been named with a view to their 2022 campaign. They will play in a five nations tournament in England in April before hosting Scotland for three games in early July. In mid-July, they will play in an international tournament in Germany.

* DEV denotes for Development

* TBA denotes To Be Assessed

Player    Province  Club  School 
Ben Pasley    Leinster  Three Rock Rovers  The High School 
Callum McCourt    Munster  Bandon HC  Bandon Grammar  
Charlie Rowe    Ulster  Banbridge Hockey Club  Banbridge Academy 
Cian Dorgan    Munster  Cork C of I  Ashton  
Conor Matthews    Ulster  Annadale  Sullivan Upper 
Harry Dagg    Leinster  Avoca  Templecarrig 
James Clark    Ulster  Annadale  Methodist College Belfast 
James Evans    Ulster  Banbridge Hockey Club  Banbridge Academy 
Jamie Spratt    Ulster  North Down  Regent House Grammar 
Josh Gill    Leinster  Three Rock Rovers  Wesley College 
Louis Rowe    Ulster  Banbridge HC  Banbridge Academy 
Mackenzie Connor    Ulster  Lisnagarvey Hockey Club  Friends’ School Lisburn  
Matthew McKee    Ulster  Banbridge Hockey Club  Banbridge Academy 
Matthew Stevenson     Ulster  Banbridge Hockey Club   Banbridge Academy  
Max Anderson     Ulster  Cookstown  Cookstown High School  
Patrick McElhinney     Ulster  Annadale HC  Methodist College Belfast 
Rex Dunlop     Leinster  Three Rock Rovers   The Kings Hospital  
Rhys Armah-Kwantreng    Leinster  Monkstown  St Andrew’s College 
Sam Hickmott    Leinster  Monkstown Hockey Club   St Andrew’s College 
Tiarnan Gaffney     Munster  Catholic Institute   Villiers School 
Tommy Dobson    Ulster  Banbridge Hockey Club Banbridge Academy  
Alex Lynch  DEV   Leinster  Three Rock Rovers  The High School 
Ben Pollock   DEV  Ulster  Banbridge Hockey Club  Banbridge Academy  
Mark Cuddy   DEV  Ulster  Cookstown Hockey Club  Cookstown High School  
Sam Dale  DEV  Munster  Cork Harlequins   Bandon Grammar  
Allen Lyons  TBA   Ulster  Annadale   Royal Belfast Academical Institution 
Peter Keappock  TBA  Munster  Waterford Hockey Club  Newtown School, Waterford 
Callum Ullah  GK – TBA  Ulster  Instonians   Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI)  
Conor Murphy  GK – TBA  Leinster  Avoca  Newpark Comprehensive 
Malachy Shute  GK – TBA  Munster  Waterford Hockey Club  Newtown School Waterford 
Robbie Duffy  GK – TBA  Leinster  Monkstown Hockey   Newpark Comprehensive 
Scott Hosick   GK – TBA  Ulster  Lisnagarvey hockey club  Friends’ School Lisburn  
Sam Chapman GK-TBA Leinster YMCA Hockey Club Wesley College

Irish Under-16 boys panel named ahead of busy year

Twenty-seven players have been named in the first Irish Under-16 boys squad for 2022 ahead of a busy schedule.

Their schedule currently  features a five nations tournament in the Netherlands in April, a series against Scotland in early July and a further tournament in Germany in mid-July.

1  Tom  Archbold  Ulster 
2  Harvey  Begg  Ulster 
3  Matthew  Carry  Munster 
4  Max  Caulwell  Leinster 
5  Ethan  Clotworthy  Ulster 
6  John  Cunningham  Ulster 
7  Sean  Curtin  Munster 
8  Jack  Fairmaner  Leinster 
9  Denver  Golbey  Ulster 
10  JJ  Holley  Ulster 
11  Scott  Kenny  Leinster 
12  Sam  Mahoney Doyle  Leinster 
13  Matthew  McAreavey  Ulster 
14  Adam  McKee  Ulster 
15  William  McMullan  Ulster 
16  Lukas  Moles  Ulster 
17  Zac  Moloney  Munster 
18  Peter  Montgomery  Leinster 
19  Oskar  Nielsen  Leinster 
20  Rob  Olden  Munster 
21  Josh  Osborne  Ulster 
22  George  Palmer  Ulster 
23  Hamish  Scott  Leinster 
24  Zach  Silverman  Leinster 
25  Harry  St Leger  Leinster 
26  Ben  Thompson  Ulster 
27  Liam  Walsh  Leinster 
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Ulster shine to reach girls interpro finals

Ulster’s inteprovincial girls teams both confirmed their place in this season’s finals, setting up final dates with Leinster at Under-16 level and Munster in the Under-18 competition.

At Under-16 level, Ulster who secured their place in that showdown with a 3-0 win over Munster from their winner-takes-all encounter. Rebekah Lennon scored a hat-trick in the success as they completed the group stages unbeaten.

Leinster were 2-0 winners over Leinster South with Orla Young Hughes and Sarah Byrne getting the goals which propelled the blues to the top of the table and a place in the final on April 3.

In the Under-18 competition, Ulster produced a remarkable comeback from 2-0 down to defeat Munster 3-2 in what was a precursor for this competition’s final showdown in April.

Amy Connolly and Robyn Murphy put the southern province two goals up but Gabriella Scott fired a double with Sophie Kidd on the mark, the winner coming on the final hooter.

That result meant Ulster topped the round-robin phase on 10 points with Munster on 8 with both advancing to the decider.

Leinster edged out Leinster South 3-1, coming back from 1-0 down to land the result for their first win of the campaign.

Michelle Cashman’s penalty stroke gave South the lead but replies from Ella Pasley, Emma Montgomery and Alex Gallagher turned the tie their way. The two sides ended their group on four points.

Girls Interprovincial results
Leinster 2 (O Young Hughes, S Byrne) Leinster South 0; Ulster 3 (R Lennon 3) Munster 0

Under-18: Ulster 3 (G Scott 3) Munster 2 (R Murphy, A Connolly); Leinster 3 (E Pasley, E Montgomery, A Gallagher) Leinster South 1 (M Cashman)


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Three Rock win back men’s National Indoor title

Men’s National Indoor Trophy final
Three Rock Rovers 5 (J Hosking 2, B Ryder J Walker, J Althusmann) Railway Union 3 (J Pillow, B Parsons, K Carroll)
Three Rock Rovers won the men’s National Indoor Trophy title for the fifth time in six attempts as Jody Hosking’s late double and a last minute Ben Whelan stroke save proved the difference.

That save came with the game poised at 4-3 for Rovers with Railway seaching for an equaliser but the goalkeeper got a strong glove to Roland Schneider’s effort to keep the narrow. And in the final three seconds, Hosking finished off the win with left-board flick into an unguarded net to land the spoils.

Early on, Railway had the edge in a cagey first quarter with Jake Pillow scoring the only goal, ghosting around the back and finding a great finish from the right of the D.

Rovers fought back in Q2 with Ben Ryder levelling the game when he dragged into the goal from Ali Haughton’s pass and James Walker put his side in front, stepping in front of his marker to finish off a classy move via Jonas Althusmann and Eckart Geyer in the right corner.

Althusmann made it 3-1 at half-time with a spectacular flick from a corner rebound but Railway got back on track in Q3 with Brendan Parsons producing a direct corner goal from the top of the D.

And it was level at 3-3 when Carroll did likewise to set up a cracking finish to the contest. Rovers ran up a couple of corners in the closing minutes and from the last of them, Hosking whipped in a powerful shot for 4-3.

Ben Ryder in action for Three Rock against Cookstown. Picture Max Fulham (click image for more pics)

Railway stormed back, Eoin MacArthur’s shot hitting a body on the line but Whelan stood tall for his key intervention before Hosking added that extra gloss to the scoreline. 

In the semi-finals, Three Rock had a comfortable passage through to the final with hat tricks for Ross Canning, Hosking and Althusmann in a 9-3 win over Cookstown. Railway were taken to the wire by Banbridge who cut the gap to 4-3 and won a string of late corners but the Dubliners held on for a final berth.

Three Rock Rovers: S Davey, E Geyer, B Ryder, R Canning, J Hosking, J Althusmann

Subs: B Whelan, J Walker, J Pabsch, D Shirley, A Haughton

Railway Union: S O’Keeffe, K Carroll, M Fulham, J Pillow, R Abbott, E MacArthur

Subs: F Keaveney, R Schneider, B Parsons, R Forrest, D Curley, J McKeever


Semi-finals: Three Rock Rovers 9 (R Canning 3, J Hosking 3, J Athusmann 3) Cookstown 3 (C Anderson, J Haycock, B Nelson); Banbridge 3 (J McKee 2, A Tinney)  Railway Union 4 (K Carroll 2, B Parsons, E MacArthur)

Third place playoff: Cookstown 3 (C Anderson, J Haycock, B Nelson) Banbridge 2 (J McKee, N Glassey)

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Railway retain women’s National Indoor Trophy crown

Women’s National Indoor Trophy final
Railway Union 7 (S Patton 2, L Lloyd 2, M Carey, O Fox, O Patton) Ards 3 (A Desneaux 2, A Benson)
Railway Union won the women’s National Indoor Trophy for the third successive edition as their international stars proved too hot to handle for Ards at Gormanston Park.

They were out of the blocks quickly with Orla Fox producing some very smart individual skills to go around two tackles, zig-zagging in before whipping her shot.

Ards forced a couple of good stops form Mary-Kate Tierney in the Railway goal soon after while Caroline Adams cleaned a Sarah Patton shot off the line in a lively, end-to-end spell.

Patton did double the lead in the second quarter, finishing off an excellent move via Fox and Kate McKenna and they held that 2-0 advantage into half-time with Jenny Long’s corner effort disallowed after a post-hooter discussion.

Ards fought back in the second half with Amy Benson surging through the middle to cut the gap in half. 

But some quickfire work from Railway soon had the game spinning their way. Michelle Carey’s driving run ended with her rounding the goalkeeper and popping in for 3-1. Next time, she laid off a pass to her right out of traffic to Lily Lloyd who scored.

Railway Union’s Michelle Carey on the attack. Picture: Max Fulham (click image for more from the day)

Holly Jenkinson set the fifth in motion, passing to Patton who squared to Lloyd to tap in her second. Andrea Desneaux pulled one back from a corner but both Orla and Sarah Patton scored for Railway to make it 7-2. 

Desneaux got another corner late on but Railway were well clear to continue their run as national champions.

Earlier in the day, Ards made it through to the final in dramatic style as they edged out Muckross 2-0 in a shoot-out after normal time had ended 3-3 with Desneaux grabbing a late equaliser.

Railway had a more comfortable passage to the final with a 10-3 win over Galway. Muckross took third place with a 7-4 win over Galway.

Ards: N McKnight, K Kimber, A Desneaux, N Grundie, A Benson, C Adams

Subs: E Robinson, B Kirk, F Brown

Railway Union: M-K Tierney, H Jenkinson, O Fox, O Patton, L Lloyd, S Patton

Subs: K McKenna, K Lloyd, M Carey A Long, J Long, H de Burgh White


Women’s National Indoor Trophy results

Semi-finals: Ards 3 (A Benson, K Kimber, A Desneaux) Muckross 3 (J Balcerzak 2, S Barnwell), Ards win shoot-out 2-0; Railway Union 10 (S Patton 3, L Lloyd 2, K Lloyd, H Jenkinson, H de Burgh Whyte, O Fox, K McKenna) Galway 3 (R Dillon, E Carey, A Manley)

Third place playoff: Muckross 7 (J Balcerzak 2, S Barnwell 2, E Kiely 2, C Montino Mena) Galway 4 (F Kelly 2, E Carey, A Manley)

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Pembroke in seventh heaven with key women’s EYHL victory

Women’s EY Hockey League – day 11 round-up

Catholic Institute 3 (R Upton, H Kelly, E Ryan) Old Alex 1 (D Duke)

Catholic Institute maintained their place in second with another significant win in their pursuit of an EY Champions Trophy place as they saw off Old Alex who started the day in third.

Alex did start in roaring fashion, forcing a goal line save from Roisin Upton while Deirdre Duke also drew a good stop from former Old Alex keeper Pamela Smithwick, keeping it 0-0 in Q1.

Q2 began with Upton going to the sin-bin on a green card but immediately on her return, she ran straight into the circle, met Naomi Carroll’s pass, stopped and slotted into the top left corner.

The Dubliners were level within two minutes with a quick free finding Duke in a good shooting position and she found the bottom corner. Parity, though, only lasted just over a minute as Hannah Kelly slapped in from the second phase of a corner to make it 2-1, a lead they held until half-time.

Eimear Ryan had to save another off the Insta line and a couple of Alex corners in another strong start to a period from the visitors but the Limerick side started to get more on the ball with Carroll to the fore. 

And the third goal arrived from an impressive move, Christine O’Shea finding Aoife Hickey who sent the ball square to Ryan who pulled on a first time rocket, 3-1. The visitors attacked in waves in the fourth quarter but that momentum was slowed when Lena Tice was shown a yellow card and Insta stayed clear for another important win.

Loreto 1 (S O’Brien) Pembroke 2 (A Naughton, L McGuire)

Pembroke overcame a tough hurdle to land their seventh win in succession in the women’s EY Hockey League to maintain their five-point lead at the top.

Loreto had beaten Pembroke 6-1 in the Jacqui Potter Cup just a few weeks ago and they took confidence into the early stages with Hannah Matthews’ corner shot and Yasmin Pratt going close.

They took the lead when Siofra O’Brien burst through the centre of the circle and turned the ball home with an upright reverse-stick shot, Pembroke’s calls for an earlier foot falling on deaf ears.

In response, Pembroke earned four corners but could not find a way past Liz Murphy until the 30th minute. Tori Wensley had two bites from the right of the D, her first shot coming back her way and her second landing at Aisling Naughton on the back post for a simple finish.

Pembroke’s Aisling Naughton celebrates with Rachel O’Brien and Martha McCready. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Six minutes into the second half, Pembroke took the lead from another corner, Leah McGuire taking her time before smashing home as Loreto’s corner defence only went halfway to shut down the shot.  

Loreto fought back, creating a string of chances in the aftermath with Matthews slapping a shot inches wide; O’Brien took in a loose overhead on the edge of the circle but could not get a clean shot off while Lisa Mulcahy also went close.

Pembroke steadied, though, and they were the side who went closest to adding the scoring in the final quarter, Sinead Loughran inches from a spectacular third as she slid full length to deflect the ball onto the bar.

Railway Union 3 (S Rooney, S Hawkshaw, Z Delany) Cork Harlequins 0

Railway Union moved into the top four with a healthy win over Cork Harlequins at Park Avenue. They started well, dominating the first quarter and going two goals up. 

The first was a break instigated by Zara Delany who passed to Sarah Rooney – making her EYHL debut for Railway along with sister Hannah – who slotted home. The second came from a corner; Holly Jenkinson’s sweep was saved by Lorna Bateman in the Quins goal but Railway captain Sarah Hawkshaw made no mistake with the rebound. 

While the hosts dominated possession in the 2nd quarter they failed to finish the moves, with the Cork visitors defending well and making a few forays forward.

The third quarter continued in similar vein with Railway getting their third goal, Zara Delany poking the ball in after a good cross in by Hawkshaw. Bateman in the Quins goal made a number of good saves from sisters Kate and Lily Lloyd to keep the score at three. 

The final quarter was a more even affair with Cliodhna Sargeant and Yvonne O’Byrne pushing forward for Cork Harlequins while Beth-Anne O’Farrell and Ruby Walsh were showing good skills up front. However, neither team could find the net and the score remained 3-0.

Belfast Harlequins 0 Pegasus 3 (S McCay, A Speers, T Doherty)

Pegasus won the Ulster derby to kickstart their new year push for EY Hockey League laurels, getting the best of Belfast Harlequins 3-0 at a blustery Deramore Park. Shirley McCay and Alex Speers brought their wealth of experience to bear, netting their first two goals before Taite Doherty completed the scoring.

It was a really exciting encounter with end to end hockey although Harlequins will rue not having at least one goal from good pressure and two penalty corners in the first quarter.  The second quarter saw Pegasus pressurise more consistently which brought some great goalkeeping from Suzie Taylor and an eventual corner which led to a stroke from a foot on the goal line. McCay  powered the ball high just out of the keeper’s reach to leave Pegasus 1-0 up at half time.

Railway Union’s Kate Lloyd crosses. Pic: Max Fulham

It was more of the same in the second half with both teams hitting the attacking circle. Pegasus’ Alex Speers had a simple tap-in from some clever work along the back line by Lucy McKee. 

Quins had their chances to bring one back and set up an exciting finish and even after Pegasus found the net again through Taite Doherty, Harlequins forced a corner and some strong circle play but were ultimately frustrated not to convert from their chances. Therein lies the difference but definitely an entertaining game and a good example of top level hockey.

UCD 3 (K Egan 2, S McAuley) Muckross 1 (K Fitzgerald)

The league’s top scorers UCD came back from a goal down to defeat Muckross and move into the last of the playoff places after their 10th match of the season. Katie Fitzgerald put the visitors into the lead just before the end of the first quarter.

But Katherine Egan celebrated her international call up with an equaliser in the second quarter and it was 2-1 by half-time courtesy of Sarah McAuley. Egan settled the tie in the 50th minute with her second of the game.

Lisnagarvey move back to the top of men’s EYHL

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 11 round-up

Lisnagarvey 4 (M Nelson, O Kidd, A Williamson, J Lynch) Annadale 1 (R Davidson)

Lisnagarvey returned to the head of the men’s EY Hockey League, leaving just one point covering the top three in what is shaping up to be an epic second half of the season.

For Lisnagarvey, it was a sterner test than the final score suggests though they did have the best of the early exchanges with Matthew Nelson pouncing on a rebound after a right-wing cross bounced up invitingly and he bounced in a shot to take the lead.

James Lorimer hit the post via a crucial touch from Sam Hamill in the Dale goal but the visitors have impressed this term and, after steadying the ship in a quiet Q2, they were back on terms via Robbie Davidson early in the second half.

It owed a huge amount to Tim Cross’s tenacity and skill, haring down the left baseline and chipping the ball beyond a few tackles before squaring with Davidson getting enough power to shoot home.

Ollie Kidd, however, restored the advantage from an outstanding pitch-length move, started off from a free out and worked through three passes down the right sideline with the forward sliding in to touch in.

Hamill made a cracking save from Ben Nelson to keep Dale in touch but they could not make use of their only corner while Andy Williamson nailed his corner drag. And when Dale did not take two opportunities to clear, Jonny Lynch completed a strong win.

Banbridge (D Finlay, S Farson) Three Rock Rovers (B Johnson 2)

In the late game, Banbridge led twice but were unable to shake off a Rovers side who were reduced to nine players on occasion but rallied with two fine Ben Johnson goals.

David Finlay slapped in a first minute goal for the hosts for a dream start but Rovers were back on terms via Johnson after an initial save from Luke Roleston.

A corner on the half-time whistle, though, ended with Sam Farson restoring the advantage. Q3 saw both sides endure multiple sin-binnings before the game was ultimately settled when Johnson got a diving touch to Jody Hosking’s powerful ball across goal.

Bann could not take advantage of a corner in the last few minutes, meaning they have been pegged back by Monkstown into a share of fourth spot, seven points off leaders Garvey.

YMCA 1 (S Ruttle) Glenanne 4 (S Boucher 2, S O’Donoghue, P Byrne)

Understrength Glenanne got over a potential banana-skin as they got the best of YMCA to move into a share of second place with four second half goals at Wesley College.

They were without Ian Marron, Rowland Rixon-Fuller, Jason Rogan and captain Brad Venter but two late goals gave the final score a bit of gloss after a close-run battle between the two Leinster rivals.

The Glens had the best of the first quarter with YM absorbing a lot of pressure with Sam Hyland and Jakim Bernsden on corner defence keeping out the pressure. YM were much better in Q2, forcing a string of corners of their own which David Lawless did well to keep out, leaving it scoreless at the interval.

The Glens, though, made their move in the third quarter with Shannon Boucher opening the scoring in the 38th minute and Shane O’Donoghue doubled up from the penalty spot.

A cracking piece of work from Scott Ruttle got YM back into the tie with 10 minutes to go but Glenanne made sure of the points when Boucher got his second with four minutes left. In the final minute, Paul Byrne – in a rare first team appearance – snagged the fourth.

UCD 1 (S Byrne) Corinthian 2 (P Caruth 2)

Corinthian picked up their first win since early October to move four points clear of the relegation places thanks to a double from Peter Caruth. He fired them into the lead in the first quarter from a penalty corner and put a bit of extra daylight between the sides in the third quarter.

Sam Byrne pulled one back for the students in the closing quarter but the reds held on for a precious victory.

Monkstown 4 (M Gibbons 2, G Sarratt, D Carson) Pembroke 1 (J Dale)

Monkstown started the new year with a strong win over Pembroke, coming back from an early concession to strengthen their playoff chances.

For Pembroke, it leaves them in the relegation places and needing to get something from their upcoming games, facing four sides in the top half in their next four games.

The visitors did go in front in the first few minutes with a powerful drag-flick from Julian Dale as Pembroke got off to a good start. Town, though, soon began to create chances with Guy Sarratt hitting the post and Davy Carson and Mark Gibbons both had openings kept out by goalkeeper Ilko Dartsch.

The sky blues were level when Lee Cole – who was excellent in defence – powered into the centre, allowing the ball to pop invitingly for Gibbons to flick in. He got another moments later when Keith Kenning crossed from the right flank and the striker was in the right place to guide in from close range.

Pembroke did carry a threat through the second and third quarter with Dave Fitzgerald making big saves from Dale’s drag and twice from Isaac Johnson. But the game went out of sight when Sarratt dragged in the third and Carson got a deserved goal for a lively performance, latching onto a ball from Sam Hohn.

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EYHL returns as playoff chase heats in earnest

The EY Hockey League returns on Saturday, kickstarting the final chase for places at the EY Champions Trophy which will take place at Banbridge in April.

Pembroke’s women and Three Rock Rovers in the men’s competition had the edge over the Christmas break but it is all to play for as the games come thick and fast in the coming weeks.

In the women’s league, Pembroke have been the season’s sensation, building a five-point lead. The Ballsbridge club have never reached the playoffs before but they look the clear favourites now to land the regular season title and take one of the EY Champions Trophy semi-final spots on offer.

Coach Gavin Groves has been growing his panel year on year and the latest additions have been hugely influential. Irish international Ellen Curran has added an extra level of dynamism to the midfield since her move from UCD while Isy Delamer’s arrival from Trinity complements their defensive options.

At the back, they have been outstanding with goalkeeper Emma Buckley conceding just five times in 10 outings while Leah McGuire, MIllie O’Donnell and Amy-Kate Trevor have ensured no side has an easy ride against them,

Further up the field, the gameplan is all about pace with Sinead Loughran, Aisling Naughton and Sinead Loughran scaring the life out of their opponents with Orla Macken pulling the strings. Gillian Pinder oozes class in a well-rounded team and their run of six successive wins has seen them emerge from the pack.

Their first assignment sees them face a Loreto side who they beat well in the EYHL earlier this season but, in Leinster’s Jacqui Potter Cup, turned the tables in January with a 6-1 success.

For Loreto, four of their panel have been called into the Irish setup and it shows they will be more than dangerous in the second half of the season with a number of established stars back in the fold.

Catholic Institute jumped into second place in the table in January when they won well against Railway Union in a back match and if they can match that when they face third place Old Alex, they will put themselves in prime position for a playoff run.

Alex have endured a number of injuries and absences but still find themselves in the top three with Deirdre Duke, Lena Tice and Nikki Evans having limited availability initially but should play a fuller role in the new year. Goalkeeper Holly Micklem has impressed to get a call into Sean Dancer’s national panel.

Alex are level on 18 points with Pegasus – the Champions Trophy holders – who were the pace-setters until that Pembroke setback but look like they will still have plenty of say in the season’s shake-up with Shirley McCay and Alex Speers being huge influences.

They will be favourites when they meet eighth placed Belfast Harlequins although the Deramore Park club are significantly bolstered by the return of Katie Larmour to the club following the completion of her spell at Rutgers University. On the downside, up and coming player Imogen Graham is out for the timebeing following a knee injury.

There looks to be a major scrap for the top six places which will bring a playoff spot in the new format this term. Loreto overcame a mixed start to rise to fifth, level with Railway Union. 

UCD are just outside the playoff places in seventh after a tough run of form without the injured Olympian Hannah McLoughlin who remains the competition’s top scorer despite missing the last few rounds. She has been back in the fold in the Leinster cup and will be a key figure against Muckross on Saturday. 

Railway Union, meanwhile, welcome Cork Harlequins who have seen Cliodhna Sargent come back into their panel to try and help them rise off the foot of the table.

TRR’s Ben Johnson shoots under pressure from Banbridge’s Sam Farson. Pic: Max Fulham

The men’s competition has already been a rollercoaster with the lead changing hands on an almost weekly basis in the past month with Glenanne, Lisnagarvey and Three Rock all taking turns at the top.

After 10 rounds, the three sides are covered by just two points with Rovers something of a surprise package despite winning the last three EY Champions Trophy crowns.

That is because many of their stars are now playing professionally in Europe with a new breed making their mark. They go to Banbridge with former captain Harry Morris available having only played once before Christmas due to a work break in the US but Ali Empey has moved the other way across the Atlantic for an Erasmus stint.

For Bann, Peter Brown returns from injury having missed November and December with Josh Moffett also available after hamstring problems.

Ulster U-18 players Tommy Dobson and Matthew Stevenson moved to Bann from Portadown just before Christmas and will push hard for EYHL squad places.

Elsewhere, it is derby days all round. Lisnagarvey meet Annadale at Comber Road. For Garvey, they had their own run of six wins in succession which saw them hit top spot before falling 4-3 to Monkstown and drawing 2-2 with Banbridge slowed their progress.

Ben Nelson has been the fulcrum of their attack from play while James Lorimer’s corner expertise has been a vital feature. James Milliken has excelled between the posts.

Annadale are seventh following a productive first half of the season. They landed their first win in several years in the top tier when they beat UCD 4-0 and backed that up with a 4-0 victory against Pembroke. 

Michael and Callum Robson’s return from Germany and Tim Cross’s move from the Dutch Hoofdklasse where he played with Tilburg has been crucial for them. Twice this campaign, they have managed to come back from three goals down to secure points.

Glenanne had made the early running with five successive wins to start the season with ace marksman Shane O’Donoghue leading the way. He has 15 goals to his name already.

They face a tricky tie against YMCA who knocked them out of the Leinster Senior Mills Cup and are buoyed by African Cup of Nations winner Paebo Lembethe in their line-up.

YMCA are just inside the playoff places thanks to an amazing closing salvo to the pre-Christmas schedule. They came back from 2-0 down to beat Pembroke 3-2 for a second successive win.

Monkstown, in fifth, are something of an enigma. Their performances have managed to knock Three Rock, Glenanne and Lisnagarvey off top at different stages of the campaign, picking up seven points out of nine against the top three.

But they have only picked up nine points from their other 21 available to stymie a push for the very top of the table. Their next assignment is against a Pembroke side who sit in ninth place and in the relegation places, one point below Corinthian.

The reds, meanwhile, are in eighth place and while they were disappointed to draw 4-4 last week against Annadale from a 4-1 lead, it did end a run of five defeats in a row. 

They face bottom side UCD who have just one point so far. It has been a steep learning curve for them following a late turnover of players during the summer and while they have been competitive, they only have a draw with YMCA on their record while the departure of Sam Walker on Erasmus also makes things tricky. Kevin O’Dea, though, has been a star man for the Belfielders.

Elsewhere, Sunday sees four more inteprovincial matches going to Grange Road with Munster facing Ulster and Leinster playing Leinster South in both Under-16 and 18 girls competitions.

NUIG meet Avoca in the women’s Irish Hockey Trophy, a tie postponed from before Christmas.


Saturday 5th February 2022


EYHL Division 1: Banbridge v Three Rock Rovers, Havelock Park, 4.15pm; Lisnagarvey v Annadale, Comber Road, 3pm; Monkstown v Pembroke Wanderers, Rathdown, 2.15pm; UCD v Corinthian, Belfield, 2.50pm; YMCA v Glenanne, Wesley College, 2.15pm


EYHL Division 1: Belfast Harlequins v Pegasus, Deramore Park, 2.30pm; Catholic Institute v Old Alexandra, Rosbrien, 1pm; Loreto v Pembroke Wanderers, Beaufort, 1pm; Railway Union v Cork Harlequins, Park Avenue, 1.30pm; UCD v Muckross, Belfield, 1pm

Irish Hockey Trophy: NUIG v Avoca, Dangan, 1.50pm

Sunday 6th February 2022


Irish Under 16/18/21 Inter Provincials 

U16 Interpros: Munster v Ulster, Grange Road, 2.45pm; Leinster v Leinster South, Grange Road, 5pm

U18 Interpros: Munster v Ulster, Grange Road, 4.45pm; Leinster v Leinster South, Grange Road, 3pm

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Jerome Pels to step down as Hockey Ireland CEO

Jerome Pels has taken the decision to step down as Chief Executive Officer of Hockey Ireland to pursue a new job opportunity.

It follows five years in the role, joining the governing body in January 2017 with the sport enjoying significant growth and development both on and off the pitch.

During his tenure, Hockey Ireland enjoyed historic moments when the women’s senior team enjoyed success with World Cup silver. Olympic qualification was achieved in groundbreaking fashion with Donnybrook hosting 13,000 fans while the development of a new training base at Abbotstown, in conjunction with support from Sport Ireland, have significantly raised standards.

It has led to increased sponsorship and greater levels of supports for the game with the installation of a full-time coach education manager and more regional development officers as well as the return of a High Performance Director.

The introduction of a new membership system will also provide a more secure financial model for the sport to pursue its goals and support the game at club, school and international level.

“Whilst I am excited by the challenges that lie ahead at my new role as CEO for another NGB in England, it is with a heavy heart that I am leaving Hockey Ireland,” Pels said of his decision to stand down.

“I would like to thank my staff, the board and the Hockey Ireland community for the support over the last five years. It has been a privilege to have been part of the successes of Hockey Ireland and the significant growth in the sport. I also thank Sport Ireland and Sport NI for helping make the sport make meaningful progress in Ireland.

“I feel, having established a strong organisational structure at Hockey Ireland with a clear strategy agreed, the organisation is in a good shape and ready for a bright future.”

Paying tribute to Pels, Hockey Ireland chairman Trevor Watkins added: “During a period of significant change, opportunity and potential pitfalls, Jerome has been a calm and steady influence on Hockey Ireland and helped navigate the sport to a number of significant milestones.

“Hockey is undergoing a really exciting time and he has been at the helm during a time when the sport made big inroads into the Irish public conscience and we look forward to building on those solid foundations with ambition and optimism.”