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Junior Green Army edged out by England on World Cup debut

Women’s Junior World Cup
Ireland 1 (C Perdue) England 2 (M Giglio, V McCabe)

The Junior Green Army were left frustrated from their first ever Junior World Cup fixture as they came up against an English defensive penalty corner brick wall to deny them in Potchefstroom.

In a late volley of attacks, Ireland ended up with eight penalty corners but goalkeeper Millie Welch and her defensive team repelled everything Ireland could throw at them to secure a precious victory.

David Passmore’s side had started brilliantly, taking the lead in just the fourth minute through co-captain Caoimhe Perdue but strikes from Millie Giglio and Vikki McCabe in the second half saw the English prevail 2-1.

“You can be the better team and play the better hockey for much of the game, particularly the last quarter, but it is about taking your chances,” Passmore reflected afterwards.

“I was really pleased with how we started because it was a historic day, our first performance at a World Cup. England had already got their tournament nerves out of the way yesterday.

“The English corner defence was excellent and, hands up, the better team won in that respect. Overall, really happy with the performance and conviction of the team – we will come back fighting on Monday to get a result against South Africa.”

With this group shortened due to Ukraine’s inability to travel, it means England are assured of top spot thanks to a 3-0 win over host South Africa on Friday. Ireland need a draw or better to join them in the last eight.

“South Africa have to come out to win it and there’s no way we will just come out to draw,” Passmore added. “That’s not our mindset or mentality. Being a host can be a great thing other than when you are under real pressure so we have to exert more pressure on them!”

Early on, Ireland got off to a dream start when Wesley schoolgirl Mikayla Power drove through the middle to win a penalty corner which Perdue slapped powerfully, taking a wicked ricochet into the top corner.

The advantage did not last long, though, as Katie-Jane Marshall was deemed to have pushed Maddie Axford in the circle illegally and Giglio stepped up to score from the penalty spot.

England had the best of the second quarter with Ellie McLoughlin making some key blocks down low while Claudia Swain deflected over the bar.

But were unbowed and they built a lot of momentum in the second half with Aoife Taaffe’s direct approach drawing some big fouls. There was panic stations when Emma Paul and Anna Horan corner shots spun and bounced and led to melees with England twice left scrambling the ball off the goal line as the chance would not stick.

Rachel Kelly also could not take in a ball when well placed as England clung on for their win and Ireland face a big Monday showdown.

Ireland: E McLoughlin, E Paul, S O’Brien, M Power, C Perdue, A Elliott, Y Pratt, C Hamill, L Mulcahy, S McAuley, K-J Marshall
Subs: H Micklem, E Reid, A Taaffe, S Murdoch, R Kelly, A Horan, C Sherin

England: E Wood, E Guckian, S Martin, L Mackenzie, B Alexander, M Giglio, B Brough, M Axford, E Burnley, K Curtis, M Long
Subs: M Mason, E Allroggen, M Welch, T Butterworth, V McCabe, G Gardens, C Swain

Monday, 4th April: Ireland v South Africa, 10am, Potchefstroom

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England first up for Junior Green Army in South Africa

After four months delay, what is another day as the Junior Green Army will belatedly get their World Cup campaign up and running on Saturday afternoon against England.

In this frequently adjusted tournament, David Passmore’s side had been due to play Ukraine on Friday morning but, despite their Herculean efforts to take part, this week saw those hopes formally end. It means Ireland are now in a three-team group with two to advance to the quarter-finals. 

** You can read more about Ukraine’s efforts to take part in Mary Hannigan’s Irish Times article here

“We are delighted to be here in this beautiful venue and excited to get going,” said Passmore ahead of the event. “It is such a disappointment that Ukraine won’t be here and we send our best wishes and support for them. 

“Our aim while we are here is to be the best we can, individually and collectively, and if we can, who knows where it will take us. Of course, we want to win every game!”

The first fixture is now against a reasonably well known opponent, Ireland having travelled to England for a training camp a couple of weeks ago and having enjoyed a series win over GB last summer.

But just 10 of the 20 players were named for the December date for this World Cup, showing quite a turnaround in the interim with 13 teenagers involved.

South Africa, in the final group game, will be a more experienced line-up and some well-known opponents with Kayla de Waal, Tamlyn Kock and Olympian Edith Molikoe part of the indoor tour party to Gormanston in February.

“It is a massively important event for the development of these players,” Passmore added of the special opportunity to test their mettle on such a stage and against different style of opposition. 

“They have been in our system for three or four years but developing outside of Europe and playing teams from all around the world on a different continent, only then can you establish and understand where they are going in hockey.” 

Domestically, it’s phase one of the women’s EYHL2 playoff series with Corinthian up against Cork C of I and Queen’s hosting UCC.

In both cases, the hosts will be the favourites. Corinthian built up for the date with a good value 3-2 win in midweek against Monkstown, ending the sky blues perfect record in Leinster and EYHL2 competition.

Cork C of I, though, have won their last two trips on the road – at NUIG and Lurgan – which ultimately saw them through. 

UCC go to Queen’s without the services of key player, the Potchefstroom-based Caoimhe Perdue. 

Saturday 2nd April 2022

Women

Junior World Cup

Pool A: Ireland v England, Potchefstroom 4pm

EYHL Division 2

Quarter-Final: Corinthian v Cork C of I, Whitechurch Park, 1.15pm; Queens University v UCC, Malone Playing Fields, 12.45pm

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Whelan helps Rovers take men’s EYHL title down to last day

Ben Whelan’s brick wall performance saw Three Rock Rovers withstand a Glenanne onslaught to edge a 2-1 win on Thursday night and make sure the men’s EY Hockey League title goes down to the final day.

The result lifts Rovers to within two points of Lisnagarvey who go to Banbridge on Saturday while the Dubliners have a match-up at Rathdown against Monkstown.

In the Thursday win, Glenanne made most of the early running but could not find a way through with Harry MacMahon somehow blocking a full power Shane O’Donoghue shot from mid-circle on the right post. 

Against the run of play, a deflected crash ball was blocked by goalkeeper Alex Henry but only as far as Ben Johnson (pictured) who slapped in the only goal of a first half, marked by a number of cards.

In their second half, the Glens got level when a baseline foul led to a stroke which O’Donoghue flicked high into the goal. Three Rock replied quickly, Jody Hosking left with plenty of time to smash in a corner which had been blocked by the number one runner with nine minutes gone in the second half.

After that, it was one-way traffic with Glenanne pushing on, needing a win to keep up their chances of making the top two. But they could not find a way beyond Whelan who made a plethora of good stops as the Glens ran up seven corners, the pick of them from a Richie Shaw sweep from the injection area and, with two minutes left, plucking an O’Donoghue drag out of the top corner.

It means the destination will not be determined until Saturday but Garvey hold the aces at this stage, a draw likely enough when they go to Bann. It is a meeting of two sides in strong form with the Hillsborough club on a five game winning streak while Banbridge have not lost since early October.

The Havelock hosts are guaranteed a home quarter-final in the playoffs and a win would give them a potentially easier draw on paper.

At Rathdown, meanwhile, Monkstown are hoping to become the first side other than Lisnagarvey to beat Three Rock this season; indeed, Rovers have not lost to anyone else since November 2019.

Outside of the top table, there are lots of other issues to be decided. Relegation is a straight contest between Corinthian and Pembroke. With a 12-goal advantage on goal difference over Pembroke, it looks like a draw might be enough for the reds when they host YMCA at Whitechurch Park.

Pembroke’s game against UCD starts 45 minutes before Corinthian get under way and so will potentially set a target midway through the final fixture. Both of the relegation-threatened sides have only won once since the turn of the year.

Annadale and YMCA are intertwined in pursuit of sixth place and the final playoff place. YM are in the box seat with a one-point advantage and that game against Corinthian. Dale go to Glenanne, needing a result to have a chance of a quarter-final spot.

The promotion playoff series also kicks off in earnest. Clontarf face a hasty rematch against Cork Harlequins, aiming to reprise their 6-1 win from three weeks ago. Quins were understrength that day due to Covid issues while the Bulls had a slightly tricky midweek 2-1 win over Dublin North.

Instonians host Bandon at Shaw’s Bridge with a number of the west Cork side hoping to add to a memorable week, the likes of Ian Perrott, Angus Seigne, Callum McCourt and Harry Forsey part of the All-Ireland schoolboys winning side.

Thursday 31st March 2022

Men

EYHL: Three Rock Rovers 2 (B Johnson, J Hosking) Glenanne 1 (S O’Donoghue)

 

Saturday 2nd April 2022

Men

EYHL Division 1: Banbridge v Lisnagarvey, Havelock Park, 2.45pm; Corinthian v YMCA, Whitechurch Park, 3.15pm; Glenanne v Annadale, St Andrew’s, 2.30pm; Monkstown v Three Rock Rovers, Rathdown, 2.30pm; Pembroke Wanderers v UCD, Serpentine Avenue, 2.30pm

EYHL2 Play-offs – Quarter-Finals: Clontarf v Cork Harlequins, Mount Temple, 3pm; Instonians v Bandon, Shaw’s Bridge, 3pm