EY League Round 2 Preview

The EY League continues this weekend where we will see 20 teams go head to head.

Friday 23rd September

Men

Instonians v Annadale

20:00 PM At Shawsbridge Sports Complex

Saturday 24th September

MEN

Glenanne V YMCA

13:30 PM At St. Andrews College

Banbridge V Cookstown

14:45 PM At Havelock Park

Lisnagarvey V Monkstown

15:00 PM At Lisnagarvey

Pembroke Wanderers V Three Rock Rovers

16:00 PM At Serpentine Avenue

 

WOMEN

Loreto V Monkstown

13:15 PM At Loreto Beaufort School-Rathfarnham

Old Alex V Catholic Institute

13:30 PM At Alexandra College

Railway Union V UCD

13:30 PM At Park Avenue

Pembroke Wanderers V Pegasus 

14:00 PM At Serpentine Avenue

Belfast Harlequins V Ards

14:30 PM At Deramore Park

EY League Round 1 Recap

Week 1 of top hockey has gotten underway with a full slate of action.

Here’s everything you need to know from Week 1:

MEN

YMCA V Banbridge 4-4

Goals (YMCA: A Walker, Scott Ruttle, Tevin Kok x2; Banbridge: Jonny McKee x3, Sam Farson)

Cookstown V Lisnagarvey 0-4

Goals (Lisnagarvey: A Williamson, M Aughey x2, O Kidd)

Annadale V Glenanne 1-2

Goals (Annadale: F Gibson; Glenanne: S O Donoghue x 2)

Three Rock Rovers V Instonians 4-3

Goals (TRR: P Lynch 2, A Empey, R Spence; Instonians: R Kelly, S Kelso, T Orr )

An even game the whole way through saw YMCA and Banbridge draw 4-4 in a goal filled fight to the end. The first quarter saw neither team able to find the net but with lots of pressure on both sides it was sure to be the start of an exciting fixture. Both goalkeepers made fine saves with Banbridge putting pressure on with the first couple of Penalty corners but it was Adam Walker whose drag flick finding the back of the goal that started the flurry of scores. The third quarter started 3-2 to YMCA but Banbridge held on and after a one v one with the keeper made it 3-3. Tevin Kok rounded off the final goal for YMCA and with minutes to spare David Finlay scored the last goal to keep it at a draw 4-4.

Lisnagarvey took the fixture against Cookstown by the hand from the 10th minute with a penalty corner hammered home by Andrew Williamson. Cookstown fought hard for the next 30 minutes but could not find the opposite goal and in the third quarter Garvey number 19 Oliver Kidd with a great touch made it 2-0. Matthew Aughey finished the match off with two goals in the 48th and 56th minute to see last years Champions first win in this new season.

Annadale faced Glenanne at Lagan in a close fixture where both sides showed their skills. A number of Penalty corners started the match off with Glenanne after a couple of attempts finding the back of the goal from Shane O Donoghue’s strike. Passions struck high with cards on both sides but no more scores in the first half. Passions continued high with O Donoghue converting a penatly stroke giving Glenanne a 0-2 lead which remained until the forth quarter. Annadale had some close chances for a goal but the Glenanne defence held strong until the 62nd minute when Fergus Gibson broke through for Annadale only goal of the match.

Three Rock Rovers won their opening game of the men’s EYHL season as they held off a big late comeback from Instonians to win 4-3. Ali Empey’s sixth minute volley gave Rovers an early lead when he latched onto Matteo Romoli’s long overhead ball down the middle. Peter Lynch – on his return to the club from UCD – notched the next two from close range before setting up Ryan Spencer for a 4-0 advantage in the third quarter. Inst got back in the mix when Ross Kelly scored a stroke with seven minutes left and Tommy Orr and Stephen Kelso both scored in the 67th minute to make it lively but Rovers held on for the points.

WOMEN

Catholic Institute V UCD 1-2

Goals (Catholic Institute: M Barrett; UCD: M Carey x 2)

Pegasus V Railway Union 0-0

Ards V Loreto 1-3

Goals (Ards: A Carson; Loreto: S Torrans, C Sherin, R Kelly)

Pembroke Wanderers V Belfast Harlequins 6-1

Goals (Pembroke Wanderers: C. Moroney, S. Campbell, E. Beatty, O. Macken, R. O’Brien, M. Fulton; Belfast Harlequins: J. Hong)

UCD travelled down to Limerick to face off against last years Irish Senior Cup winners Catholic Institute with the journey proving successful for them taking home a 1-2 win over Catholic Institute. With the first goal coming in the 9th minute, Michelle Carey knocking it in at the back post, the bar was set for a feisty fixture. Carey with a direct shot from the top of the circle made it 0-2 at the end of the first quarter. Another attempt by UCD was blocked and cleared by Laura Foley and then the second quarter became a possession match with no clear scoring opportunities for either team. The third quarter saw a great bit of play by Naomi Carrol saved but Michelle Barrett was in there to follow up the save and score Catholic Institutes opening goal of the season. The rest of the match saw a flurry of long and penatly corners, cards, frees and skills but with no more scores the match finished 1-2 to UCD.

A minutes silence to mark the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth started the season for Pegasus Hockey Club and Railway Union. A tight game between the two sides saw the match end 0-0, chances on both sides to break the score but strong defences saw off any challenges from the forwards.

The 2022-23 season sees Ards back in the top flight division after winning the EYHL 2 last season. They put up a fight in this first round of the EYHL but Loreto came out the stronger team in the end. Sarah Torrans taking the first goal from play in the first quarter and Caitlin Sherin making it 0-2 from a penalty corner in the second quarter. Rachel Kelly bagged the third goal for Loreto in the 36th minute from play but after a some strong play from Ards with one minute to go in Ally Carson found the back of the goal to make it 1-3 to Loreto.

Pembroke Wanderers, last seasons Champions, welcome Belfast Harlequins to Serperntine Road for the first round of the 2022-23 season.  A strong first quarter for Pembroke saw them take the lead in the 3rd minute with a goal from play by Ciara Moroney. Sally Campbell scored the only goal in the second quarter taking it to 2-0 for Pembroke and then the goals kept coming. Two goals from play in two minutes saw Emily Beatty and Orla Macken, with a stellar backstick, join the score sheet. The final quarter saw a bit of tension with two green cards for Pembroke but then a goal by Rachel O Brien to settle things back down. Belfast Harlequins never gave up though and Jiwon Hong responded almost immediately to score the opening goal of the season for the Ulster club and with a final goal by Milla Fulton the final score was 6-1 to Pembroke. A strong start to the season.

 

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EY League Round 1 Preview

The EY League is about to start. The players are ready. The clubs are ready. Are you?

17.09.2022

MEN

YMCA V Banbridge 

14:45 PM At St Andrews College

Cookstown V Lisnagarvey

14:30 PM

Annadale V Glenanne 

13:00 PM At Lagan College

Three Rock Rovers V Instonians

15:30 PM At Grange Road

 

WOMEN

Catholic Institute V UCD

13:00 PM At Rosbrien

Pegasus V Railway Union

14:30 PM At Queens University

Ards V Loreto

14:00 PM At Londonderry Park

Pembroke Wanderers V Belfast Harlequins 

14:30 PM At Serpentine Avenue

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EY Ireland extends sponsorship of Hockey League

Dublin, 13 September 2022: EY Ireland has announced it will continue as official sponsor the Irish Hockey League, Irelands highest performing hockey competition on the island of Ireland for a further three years.

The EY Irish Hockey League (EYHL) with ten men and ten women’s teams from around the Island of Ireland coming together to compete. Matches are scheduled to take to the pitch for the first round of the Men’s and Women’s EYHL this weekend on Saturday 17th of September, while the EYHL 2 returns to action on the 12th of November.

Covering all four provinces, the all-island EYHL will see twenty of Ireland’s top male and female clubs battle it out to become league champions over 20 weeks of exciting, fast-paced hockey.
The top six in each competition advance to the EY Champions Trophy where the ultimate champion for the season is determined at an end of season festival, showcasing the men’s and women’s grand finals on an equal basis.
The sponsorship also supports the EY Hockey League Division 2 (EYHL2), which will also feature 10 men’s teams and ten women’s teams, the top two of which will win promotions to the EYHL for the following season via an end of season playoff series.
The EYHL and EYHL2 showcase some of Ireland’s top players and has provided a vital stage for club players on their road to the international arena and, notably, the World Cup and Olympic Games.
EY Ireland has been the primary sponsor of the Irish Hockey League since 2016 with the formation of the EY Hockey League and its subsequent expansion to feature a second tier in 2019 The competition has since become universally known as the EYHL, a measure of the intrinsic link between sponsor and competition and provides an elite hockey competition on an equal basis to male and female players.

Frank O’Keeffe, Managing Partner for EY Ireland: “We are proud to announce EY Ireland’s continued sponsorship of the Irish Hockey League for a further three years. Hockey embodies strong team building and a great commitment to inclusion, diversity, and equality, values that are integral to EY. This partnership highlights our commitment to building the highest performing diverse teams and to celebrating the amazing men and women who participate in this incredible sport at a national level. We look forward to the continued success of all of the teams in the league over the coming three years as we have proudly done since 2016.”

 

Ronan Murphy, CEO of Hockey League Ireland: “We are delighted to have the continued support of EY Ireland for another three years. The support over the past seven years has been game-changing for clubs in Ireland, enabling them to hone their skills and match their ambition at an elevated level of competition. EY Ireland’s sponsorship is invaluable to raising the game, assisting with the organisation and promotion of the EY Hockey League, its high quality of matches, and ensuring clubs across the island are able to compete at the highest levels. It is no coincidence that our international teams have enjoyed an almost unprecedented run of success in the last decade, with Olympic and World Cup qualification for both genders. We are really looking forward to some top-class matches taking place over the coming season as we embark upon what promises to be a highly competitive 2022/23 season.”

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Lisnagarvey in dreamland with part two of potential treble

Men’s EY Champions Trophy
Lisnagarvey 2 (J Lorimer, D Nelson) Banbridge 2 (J McKee, E Magee), Lisnagarvey win shoot-out 3-1

Daniel Nelson and James Milliken combined to send Lisnagarvey into raptures as they broke home Havelock Park hearts with a shoot-out win over Banbridge in the men’s EY Champions Trophy final.

Nothing separated the sides in their two league encounters and there was absolutely nothing between the sides once more following a cracking contest in front of a large Co Down crowd.

In normal time, Lisnagarvey led twice in the first half with James Lorimer’s drag-flick and a gorgeous Daniel Nelson finish putting them 2-1 up at half-time, Jonny McKee’s individual effort getting Bann on the board.

The hosts fought back brilliantly in the second half and forced a shoot-out when Eugene Magee volleyed in a corner rebound, sending the game to a shoot-out. Garvey, though, held their nerve and scored three of their four attempts, Nelson spinning to turn in the winning goal.

For Banbridge, it continues their frustration on finals day with the club losing out on the national stage for a fifth time in the last decade since their 2011 success. They will travel to Europe next season as Ireland’s second seed with Garvey the top seed and they will look to complete a treble next weekend in the Irish Senior Cup final against Monkstown.

For Daniel Nelson, the eldest of three brothers in action, he could not contain his excitement: “Unbelievable! Can’t put it into words. We lost this playoff three years ago and then with Covid, it has been a long time coming to get back to this point and this opportunity.

“To score in normal time, get the winning shoot-out, it is just unbelievable. Full credit to all the other boys – I get the glory but we wouldn’t be there without them and without all James Milliken’s fantastic saves. We are over the moon.”

For Garvey, it saw them add to the EY Hockey League title won three weeks ago on the final day of the season. Had it not been for Covid, that would have been three in a row as the curtailed 2019/20 season denied them that title when only a miracle would have seen them not finish first.

That scenario has added to the emotion of this success.

“We had a fantastic league win [in 2019] and were doing fantastically well in 2020 and then Covid hit; obviously bigger things came along than hockey. We always call this a 2.5-peat rather than a three-peat.

“To win these two trophies and a massive test against Monkstown next week, to have that opportunity for the treble is fantastic. An Ulster Cup final and a European trip after that! Everyone thinks our season is done but we still have a month to go!”

For Bann’s Alex Tinney, it was a unique occasion. Along with Garvey’s James Corry, it was the first time both clubs in the final had been captained by Donegal men.

The Banbridge home support. Pic: Max Fulham

“A tough defeat and a shoot-out is an unfortunate way to go out but we gave it our best shot,” Tinney said.

“The first five games, we only had five points and there was a lot of doubt in the squad nevermind the management. No one would ever thought we would be here but we will be back next year and fighting.”

Garvey made most of the early moves with Matthew Nelson’s spin shot bouncing just wide while Luke Roleston made an outstanding scrambling save.

The goal came in the 14th minute from their second penalty corner with James Lorimer’s drag having too much gas for Roleston into the left corner.

Garvey levelled, though, from their first major attack as Jonny McKee brilliantly robbed the ball on the right sideline. He drifted further and further left to get free before eventually unleashing a brilliant shot into the top corner.

The Hillsborough side, however, returned to the lead just before half-time in stunning fashion. Bann had a corner charged down which Lorimer filtered out to Ben Nelson. He had options left and right, picking his older brother Daniel who calmly feigned to pass across goal before lifting the ball in at the near post for 2-1.

Banbridge duly stepped up their press and intensity in the second half and it paid dividends with most of the play. Garvey were standing firm for the most part, Jonny Bell picking up huge amounts of ball in defence.

The pressure eventually told in the fourth quarter from their fifth corner, Philip Brown’s drag drawing a save from Milliken but only as far as Eugene Magee who controlled and volleyed in.

It sent the game to a shoot-out where Garvey soon took control, moving 2-0 up in the first two rounds with Milliken saving twice. McKee did get Bann on the board but they missed out in round four, allowing Daniel Nelson the chance to spin and whip home the clinching goal.

Lisnagarvey: J Milliken, J Lynch, J Bell, M McNellis, J Corry, A Williamson, D Nelson, A Edgar, M Nelson, T Chambers
Subs: P McKibbin, R Getty, O Kidd, H Morris, B Nelson

Banbridge: L Roleston, L Witherow, A Tinney, J McKee, Pe Brown, D Finlay, E Magee, Ph Brown, S Farson, M Cowan, C Rowe
Subs: H McShane, J Moffett, B Pollock, O Magee, M McKee

Umpires: B Bale, I Strange

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Brilliant Pembroke land their first ever women’s EY Champions Trophy title

Women’s EY Champions Trophy final
Pembroke 4 (S Loughran, A Griffin, E Horan, M McCready) Catholic Institute 1 (N Carroll)

Pembroke produced a perfect all-round team performance to add a first EY Champions Trophy title to the regular season crown to the regular season league title won a month ago.

Again, the season’s other breakout club Catholic Institute were runners-up who have to console themselves with a place in Europe and a quick revenge-mission next Saturday in the Irish Senior Cup final.

It was a win built around an outstanding first 10 minutes in which Sinead Loughran and Ali Griffin both netted and while Naomi Carroll got one back with a late goal of the season contender, Eanna Horan made it 3-1 at half-time before Martha McCready sealed the deal.

“It feels pretty incredible. It is an amazing journey we have been on for the last couple of years,” said Pembroke captain Gillian Pinder. She became a unique figure in club history, winning national honours with three different clubs following success with Hermes and UCD.

She said it was quite the journey for Pembroke who were competing in their first national final of any description in eight years. With the EY Hockey League title last month their first since 1975, they now have two in the bag and a potential treble in the pipeline when they meet Institute against next Saturday in the Irish Senior Cup final at Belfield.

“To take ourselves from flirting with relegation to mid-table and now into the top couple of teams, to be trophy winners is unbelievable and a dream come true for a few years of hard work.

“We haven’t had that experience before. We did really well to win the league as a consistent side but this is do-or-die and, yesterday, Loreto find themselves in finals weekends year-in, year-out. We did incredibly well to stay composed and do the same thing again today against Catholic Institute. We are delighted with a double and have our sights on a triple next week.”

For Insta’s Róisín Upton – named afterward as the player of the season – she said: “Tough way to bow out in the final but Pembroke were super clinical, catching us on the break in that first quarter. We dug deep and fought back but it just wasn’t meant to be.

Naomi Carroll on the attack. Pic: Max Fulham

“When we reflect on the season, we are delighted. A final of the Champions Trophy and a final of the cup, it is a fantastic achievement for our little club in Limerick.”

The final itself was guaranteed to produce a first time winner with Pembroke’s 3-1 win over Loreto and Insta’s 3-2 success against UCD meaning both clubs reached the final in their first attempt at the playoffs.

Pembroke got off to a flyer in normal time with Loughran striking just four minutes in from a cracking counter-attack move and it was 2-0 with Ali Griffin netting again in the ninth minute.

Insta got back into the contest when Upton’s glorious overhead found her partner in crime Naomi Upton at the right post to bat in a head-high volley, cutting the gap to 2-1.

But no sooner had they halved the deficit than Pembroke bounced back. Emily Beatty made all the inroads before laying the ball off to Eanna Horan and she swiped home a reverse-stick shot by Pam Smithwick.

Smithwick’s brilliant save from Aisling Naughton in the second half kept Insta alive as the speedy forward caused all manor of havoc but the game was done and dusted when Rachel O’Brien got around the right baseline. She slipped a great pass to Martha McCready to push in her second goal of the season, a clincher with 12 minutes to go.

Pembroke: E Buckley, L McGuire, A-K Trevor, S Loughran, E Beatty, O Macken, E Curran, R O’Brien, A Naughton, I Delamer, G Pinder
Subs: E Horan, A Griffin, H O’Donnell, C Foley, M McCready

Catholic Institute: P Smithwick, C O’Shea, N Carroll, R Upton, L Clery, L Foley, C Moloney, H Kelly, E Ryan, M Barrett, A Horan
Subs: A Hickey, B Murphy, A Bourke, L Ryan, J Clein

Umpires: A Keogh, E Duffy

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Insta, Pembroke, Lisnagarvey and Banbridge through to EY Champions Trophy finals

Dramatic late goals were the order of the day as both Catholic Institute and Lisnagarvey scored in the last 10 seconds of their EY Champions Trophy semi-finals to reach Sunday’s decider.

For Institute, it put them through to the women’s final, bringing with it a first ever European place in 2023 as they beat UCD 3-2 at Banbridge’s Havelock Park.

Carroll finished off a hotly contested move with UCD claiming two indiscretions in the lead-up to the goal but, after a long umpire’s consultation, the goal stood and the Limerick side added another big milestone to their breakthrough season.

Earlier, the tie was scoreless before a mad spell of four goals in six minutes in the third quarter ratcheted up the intensity.

Hannah Kelly opened the scoring for Insta but her twin sister Rachel, in UCD colours, levelled almost immediately. Laura Foley’s penalty corner deflection was cancelled out by a Hannah McLoughlin stroke in a mad-cap spell.

It remained that way until the very last play when Carroll finished off with just two seconds showing on the venue’s clock, leaving UCD crest-fallen.

In the first semi-final, two goals within a minute of each other were vital for Pembroke as the regular season champions beat Loreto 3-1.

An even first half saw Lisa Mulcahy score her first EY goal of the season to cancel out Claire Foley’s opener for Pembroke.

But Rachel O’Brien and Emily Beatty both netted just before the end of the third quarter for a lead they would never relinquish.

Pembroke will now hope to complete part two of a potential treble on Sunday at 2.30pm when they meet Catholic Institute in the final at Havelock. Either way, the competition will have a new winner with both sides contesting this national final for the first time.

In the men’s semis, Lisnagarvey produced an outrageous comeback in the last three minutes to deny outsiders Monkstown a place in the final with a 2-1 success.

It was scoreless until 12 minutes from the end when Town took the lead through Davy Carson. But they were unable to hold onto that advantage as Andy Williamson smashed in an equaliser with three minutes left on the clock.

And they were not finished yet with Matthew Nelson swopping following a brilliant run and spin-pass from his brother Ben to snatch the vital goal with nine seconds to go.

The regular season winners will now play Banbridge who dethroned Three Rock Rovers who had held the trophy since 2017.

It went to shoot-out after normal time ended 2-2 with all the goals coming before half-time. Luke Witherow finished off a Mark Cowan assist four minutes in as the hosts started off brilliantly and it was 2-0 courtesy of Josh Moffett, youngster Matthew McKee making the initial inroads.

Rovers fought back, though, and scored twice despite James Walker being in the sin-bin with Ben Johnson and Evan Jennings tying it up.

In the second half, Rovers had the best openings to win it in normal time but they could not further use of a series of penalty corners.

Bann, meanwhile, kept their nerve better in the shoot-out to win 3-1 and advance to Sunday’s final, an all-Ulster affair.

Women’s EY Champions Trophy semi-finals: Pembroke 3 (C Foley, R O’Brien, E Beatty) Loreto 1 (L Mulcahy); Catholic Institute 3 (H Kelly, L Foley, N Carroll) UCD 2 (R Kelly, H McLoughlin)

Men’s EY Champions Trophy semi-finals: Lisnagarvey 2 (A Williamson, M Nelson) Monkstown 1 (D Carson); Three Rock Rovers 2 (B Johnson, E Jennings) Banbridge 2 (L Witherow, J Moffett), Banbridge win shoot-out 3-1

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Women’s EY Champions Trophy stage set as Loreto and UCD join final four

The line-up for the women’s EY Champions Trophy semi-finals was completed on Wednesday evening with Loreto and UCD both landing 1-0 wins in their respective quarter-finals.

They go through to face Pembroke and Catholic Institute in the semi-finals with the question now how well the sides have coped with their contrasting preparations.

For the two sides already assured of semi-final spots, they have been waiting to know their opponents for three weeks, the plus side being the extra rest and focus.

For Loreto and UCD, the quick turnaround and managing three games in five days is a big ask but there is also a potentially big residual benefit from the Junior World Cup.

Both sides had large contingents from that event and being part of a full-time athlete setup for the duration could well elevate those involved’s performance. Alternatively, the comedown from Potchefstroom could be sharp given the exertions that went into the event – which way the cookie crumbles remains to be seen.

For Loreto, Yasmin Pratt carried on her excellent form from the Junior World Cup to impudently nick the ball off the last Old Alex defender and score in the 16th minute.

It proved the only goal of their game at Beaufort and it continued their excellent run of form, going seven games in the regular season without defeat to move up from seventh spot into fourth.

Loreto’s Aoife Taaffe celebrates. Pic: Adrian Boehm

They advance to play EYHL regular season champions Pembroke, a fourth meeting between the clubs this term. Pembroke swept aside Loreto 3-0 in the second week of the season and then picked up a crucial come-from-behind win just after Christmas with Leah McGuire striking three times in those meetings.

That second win came just a week after the Beaufort side had won 6-1 in the Jacqui Potter Cup and, in the end, it proved vital as Pembroke had a tricky second half to the season, winning four of their eight league games.

Pembroke’s manifesto is mainly built around a strong defence, letting in just 14 goals all season with Emma Buckley enjoying a fine season with Hayley O’Donnell, McGuire, Amy-Kate Trevor and Isy Delamer a mean outfit.

Catholic Institute’s Roisin Upton and Naomi Carroll have combined for over 30 goals. Pic: Adrian Boehm

It has helped them run up seven single-goal victories over the campaign despite only being the league’s seventh highest scorers. Such is the spread of scorers, meanwhile, in a share of 15th, midfield maestro Gillian Pinder and Aisling Naughton are their highest on the goal charts but, with 16 different players on the mark, the danger can come from anywhere.

For Loreto, JWC stars Siofra O’Brien (8 goals), Aoife Taaffe, Christina Hamill (both 7) and Hannah Matthews account for the majority of their tally. The aforementioned Pratt and Sarah Torrans, countering Sinead Loughran, Emily Beatty and Naughton, means this is a contest absolutely rammed with speed merchants and could flow quickly from end to end.

“We feel like we are in a good place to be able to perform this weekend,” said Pembroke coach Gavin Groves. “We know we have a spot secured in Europe after the League success but the challenge of this playoff weekend is one that we are really excited about. It’s an early start against a really good team but it’s a contest that hopefully bring the best out of us.”

His Loreto counterpart Paul Fitzpatrick added: “There are four really good teams there this year and it should make for an exciting weekend. A tough game on Wednesday against Old Alex was good preparation for Saturday and if we can manage the challenges of the week and weekend, we have a chance.

“Most importantly the team have worked and dealt really well with the challenges this season brought and know looking forward to playing some good quality hockey.”

The second semi-final at 12.30pm features newcomers Catholic Institute who are in the playoffs following what was their first complete season in the women’s EYHL.

It follows an immaculate home run of eight wins in succession and just an opening day draw to disrupt their perfect record. The side that did break that chain was UCD, their Saturday semi-final opponents.

Insta’s prowess was not solely down to their sand-based home advantage as they did raid UCD for a 3-2 success in November with Róisín Upton scoring a hat trick. Along with fellow Olympian Naomi Carroll, the international duo have provided over 30 goals between them across league and cup and occupy the top two positions on the goalscoring list.

Neutralising their threat will be the big challenge for the likes of Sarah McAuley, KJ Marshall and Emma Paul at the heart of the students’ defence in front of fellow JWC player Ellie McLoughlin.

Hannah McLoughlin got the only goal for UCD in their midweek quarter-final win over Pegasus that has them in this position as they go in pursuit of the title they won back in 2017. Of that vintage, only Gillian Pinder and Leah McGuire will be in action this weekend in Pembroke colours.

UCD team talk. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Indeed, Loreto have nine of their 2018 winning side still in situ and are the only side to have players to win the title for their current club. Naomi Carroll, Sally Campbell, Sinead Loughran and Ellen Curran all won in 2016 with Hermes.

It makes for a fascinating and hugely competitive weekend with plenty of new winners picking up national glory for the first time, no matter which club prevails.

Sunday’s final will be live-streamed via the Hockey Ireland Youtube channel.

Women’s weekend fixtures
Saturday, April 23rd
EY Champions Trophy Semi-Finals:
Pembroke v Loreto, Havelock Park, 10,30am; Catholic Institute v UCD, Havelock Park, 12.30pm

Sunday, April 24th
EY Champions Trophy Final:
Havelock Park, 2.30pm

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Banbridge’s men hoping to shine at Havelock home in EY Champions Trophy

Banbridge are hoping a large local support can propel them to EY Champions Trophy glory for the first time as they welcome Three Rock Rovers, Lisnagarvey and Monkstown’s men’s teams along with Pembroke, Catholic Institute, Loreto and UCD for the grand finale of the club season.

For Bann, they will bring in the evening crowd for their 5pm against Three Rock in what promises to be a cracker with the two sides playing out a thrilling 2-2 draw in February with plenty of fire thrown at either end.

It is a repeat of the 2019 match-up with Rovers prevailing that day 4-2 but there has been a huge regeneration in both squads in terms of players.

And for Bann coach Scott McCandless, he cannot wait to see what happens: “After the recent disruption, this season has been highly enjoyable return and we look forward to competing in the EYHL Champions Trophy Weekend.”

His side started the campaign slowly, taking just five points from their first five games, but have since gone unbeaten since October.

“After an injury disrupted start to the league, we have gradually raised performances to a desired level. The squad this season is a spilt of youth and experience with the seasoned players providing excellent guidance & leadership to a talented bunch of youngsters that have excelled as the season has progressed.

“Eugene Magee has nonchalantly moved to centre back and alongside Captain Alex Tinney, Peter Brown, Sam Farson, Luke Witherow and Jonny McKee forms the heartbeat to the Bann performance. Owen Magee, Phillip Brown, Hugh McShane and Josh Moffett play key roles in the support act, whilst recent signing from Kilkeel David Finlay has started to regularly add EYHL goals and assists to go alongside his blistering pace.

“Charlie Rowe, Mark Cowan, Chris Curry, Louis Rowe and Matthew McKee have been the stand out youngsters to date with other Schoolboys Ben Pollock, Aaron Baxter and recent Portadown signing Tommy Dobson all having several notable EYHL performances.”

They are up against a Three Rock side who are going for a fourth successive EY Champions Trophy title having won the last three editions to be played in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Amazingly, just five of the 2019 vintage are in situ this time around – Jody Hosking, Ross Canning, Harry MacMahon, Shane O’Brien and Harry Morris (though he is an injury doubt).

Three Rock Rovers Ben Johnson. Picture: Adrian Boehm

Like Bann, youngsters now abound with Evan Jennings, Ben Ryder, Rex Dunlop and Ben Whelan coming through the ranks while experienced stars like Ali Haughton, Mick Maguire and Peter Blakeney have come back into the fold.

Rovers come into the tie off the back of an excellent league run of five successive wins as well as the Leinster Mills Cup title but the EHL Cup last weekend in Spain was a tough one. They beat Austrian side Post SV with something to spare but came unstuck against elite sides HC Rotterdam (6-0) and Hampstead & Westminster (7-1).

How they recover from those three games in four days will be their big test as coach Elun Hack reflection: “I think they did give a good account of themselves against Rotterdam, despite of the score. In phases we were good but, against good sides, you get punished for errors.”

“We played in Spain at a much higher intensity than we would on some weekends at home, so I’m hoping that we can bring that to next weekend. Of course, we are facing quality sides, so we will need to be at our best.”

The first of the men’s semi-finals pits Monkstown against EYHL regular season winners Lisnagarvey with the Dubliners the last team to beat the sky blues in the competition.

Since then, however, Garvey picked Town apart in the return fixture at Comber Road 5-1 and will hope that freshness of mind will serve them well as they bid to pick up a second EY Champions Trophy, winning the first edition in 2016.

It will be one of two meetings between the two clubs in the next eight days with the Irish Senior Cup following next week at Belfield.

Lisnagarvey celebrate during the Irish Senior Cup semi-final. Picture: Adrian Boehm

For captain James Corry, reckons his side has grown as the season has developed and have the options to make a difference.

“The depth in the squad; we have had a lot of players out with injury and Covid and have used about 22 boys. When people aren’t stepping up, others have stepped up to the task.

“We were missing James Lorimer and Andy Williamson for the Three Rock games, our two flickers, but Ollie Kidd and Andy Edgar stood up and got one each. The younger boys have that bit more experience and can deal with the pressure.”

Monkstown’s issue has been consistency of players available with a large number of injuries leading to some erratic scorelines. They have plenty of experience of the big stage with Geoff Cole, Jazze Henry, David Fitzgerald, Lee Cole, Stephen Cole, David Nolan, Davy Carson, and David Cole playing a role in their three in-a-row series between 2013 and 2015.

Carson and strike partners Jeremy Duncan and Mark Gibbons both hit form late in the campaign while academy graduates Theo Kohlmann, Josh O’Neill, Callum Hewat and Sam Hickmott are all vying to play a part on this stage for the first time.

“This is the weekend all teams want to be involved in at the start of the season so we are exactly where we want to be, in with a chance to win the play-offs and to earn a European spot,” said captain David Cole.

“The last time Monkstown played in the finals weekend was in 2017 so we’re delighted to be back playing at this level.

“The team is raring to go and have been training hard for the last two weeks since the game against Glenanne. We are expecting Saturday to be an incredibly tough battle against the league champions, Lisnagarvey. The games in the regular season between the two teams were very high paced and physically demanding and we anticipate Saturday to be no different.

Monkstown’s Karl Lynch. Picture: Adrian Boehm

“Obviously, we had a poor result versus Garvey last month and we’re excited by the opportunity to play them again this weekend. Hopefully we can be successful in Saturday’s match and will have a final to look forward to on the Sunday.”

Saturday’s semi-final winners will meet in the final on Sunday at 4.45pm. There will also be a playoff between Avoca and Belfast Harlequins at 11.30am for the final place in men’s EYHL Division 2 next season.

Saturday 23rd April 2022
Men
EY Champions Trophy Semi-Finals:
Lisnagarvey v Monkstown, Havelock Park, 3pm; Three Rock Rovers v Banbridge, Havelock Park, 5pm

Irish Hockey Challenge – Semi-Finals: Midleton v Portrush, National Sports Campus, 1.30pm; Waterford v Saintfield, National Sports Campus, 3.15pm

Sunday 24th April 2022
Men
EY Champions Trophy Final:
Havelock Park, 4.45pm
EYHL Division 2 playoff: Avoca v Belfast Harlequins, Havelock Park, 11.30am

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Cookstown and Ards claim EYHL2 season’s medals

Cookstown and Ards completed their EYHL2 campaigns with the medals following their Sunday wins over Instonians and Monkstown, respectively, at Whitechurch Park.

With promotion to the top tier assured by virtue of Saturday’s semi-final success, the EY2 title was up for grabs with the men’s final first to hit the turf between Cookstown and Instonians.

It was a tight affair with Greg Allen putting Cookstown in front when he finished off after Paul Thompson laid the ball into his path. Tommy Orr equalised when Mikie Watt brought out his bag of tricks to spin between a couple of challenges and then lay the ball into his team mate’s path.

It remained at 1-1 through the third quarter before youngster Mark Cuddy won the contest in the closing quarter, scoring the deciding goal with nine minutes to go.

“Absolutely chuffed; the main priority was to get promoted so we are delighted with that and obviously, coming out for a final, we were here to win it,” captain Thompson said afterwards.

“[For the semi-final] We had seen Clontarf’s results and knew it would be a tough game and it was a slog. When it went to shoot-out, we have Josh McCabe – he’s brilliant and we practice them an awful lot!”

In the women’s final, Ards got off to a flyer with Malseed thumping in from the top of the circle twice within minutes of each other for a 2-0 lead.

Fellow Olympian Chloe Watkins cut the gap in half when she jinked one way and then back onto her open side with a quality shot but Ali Carson put Ards two clear at half-time, making it 3-1.

Monkstown were right back in the mix when a Watkins backhand shot was guided in at the right post by Sophie Moore, setting up a grandstand finish.

But the Ulster side held firm to take the gold medals and a breathless Malseed said it was a perfect end to a long season.

“It was a tough day, physically taking its toll as you can hear!” she said with a grin.

“Yesterday was the final we were building toward all season so anything after that was an enjoyable moment. We came out knowing this was going to be a great game, knowing they have performed consistently all season.

“We started off going two up and surprised ourselves a bit! From there, it was about trying to keep the foot on the pedal to the end.

“With last season a write-off, this seems like a long-time coming and we have been building toward this for a while. We’ll definitely celebrate tonight!”

EYHL Division Two finals
Men
: Cookstown 2 (G Allen, M Cuddy) Instonians 1 (T Orr)
Women: Ards 3 (Z Malseed 2, A Carson) Monkstown 2 (C Watkins, S Moore)