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Green Army bow out with heads held high in Tokyo

Women’s Olympics – Pool A
Ireland 0 Great Britain 2 (S Townsend, H Martin)

Ireland’s quarter-final hopes came to a formal end as they could not find the victory they needed to continue their involvement in the women’s Olympic hockey competition.

India’s 4-3 win over South Africa earlier in the day left a simple equation against the reigning champions – win or bust.

But, despite a performance packed with resilience and endeavour, Britain kept the Green Army at bay. Susannah Townsend swooped to score from their fifth penalty corner in the second quarter and Irish hopes of a major upset faded when Hannah Martin guided in Ellie Rayer’s exceptional cross a minute into the second half.

Ireland pushed on in the closing quarter, swapping out goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran – who impressed once again – for an extra outfielder for the closing stages. But GB defended resolutely to get the result which also assured their progression to the last eight.

For Ireland, it meant a fifth place finish in the group stages to their maiden Olympic campaign, outside the top four required to advance.

Despite the low-key end, it brought to a close what was a ground-breaking tournament, a first for Irish women’s hockey and, indeed, for women’s team sports at the Games.

It brought a first win last week on debut when South Africa were beaten 2-0, Róisín Upton etching her name into the record books as first Olympic goalscorer.

“It is raw emotion,” Hannah McLoughlin said in the immediate aftermath, looking back on the tournament. “Firstly not getting to the quarter-finals which I think we were more than capable of. Secondly, knowing this is probably a few of our players last games. It is not the send-off any of us wanted to give them.

“But we have broken the ceiling, coming to the Olympics and for those of us fortunate enough to keep going, we want to push on for Paris and then go for quarters and semis.

“Even before coming out here, getting on any plane, regardless of any result, we were bursting with pride for my friends, family and all the people I represent, the other 18 players here with me. The few words we did have after the match, although disappointment was quite a big thing, pride came up an awful lot.

“Although the result was not what we wanted, no one has any regrets about today – we gave it our all, it just wasn’t to be.”

Coach Sean Dancer concurred: “We are here on the field, trying to hold our head up high with what we have achieved and where we have got to. We will take a lot of lessons from the journey and experience. We are competing against the best in the world in the pinnacle of our event.

“For women’s sport and Irish hockey, it’s certainly something to be very proud to be part of. The girls have done all the hard work over the last four years, getting that silver medal and in a good position for this tournament. Very proud of all their performances.

“Those girls should be very proud of the performances they put in and what they have achieved. There will be a few tears and some celebrations over the next few weeks when they get a chance.”

A number of players will likely formally hang up their international sticks in the wake of the event but McLoughlin says they have laid the base for a new agenda and belief.

“The lucky ones of us who get to carry on are just going to use this as motivation to push on, train harder. We have proven we can compete with the best countries in the world. This is my first taste of that and I am going to take that forward, not play with any fear.

“The thing I took from the Olympic Village was how other people are so intrigued by us. We are out on the grass, not caring what we look like, having fun and others start to join in, saying ‘God, we just love the Irish’.

“It’s only this tournament I really notice there is no other team in this tournament or the world who I would want to be part of; one that’s as open, as fun, as accepting as this 19 individuals. The whole experience has been unbelievable.”

Ireland: A McFerran, S McAuley, S McCay, R Upton, L Tice, C Watkins, K Mullan, A O’Flanagan, S Hawkshaw, D Duke, S Torrans
Subs: H McLoughlin, H Matthews, L Holden, Z Malseed, N Daly

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

Umpires: C de la Fuente (ARG), E Yamada (JPN)

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Dream start for Green Army in Tokyo with 2-0 win over South Africa

Olympic Games – Women’s Pool A
Ireland 2 (R Upton, S Torrans) South Africa 0

Ireland made a dream start to life as a women’s Olympic hockey team as they got the best of South Africa in their debut on this stage at the Oi Stadium.

Róisín Upton’s powerful low drag-flick in the ninth minute meant they held the lead from the outset, an advantage they eventually strengthened before the end of the third quarter via Sarah Torrans.

“You could see the smiles when we walked out,” Torrans said after the win, scoring in what was her first senior ranking tournament game.

“It was just fun; it was a long day waiting to get out on the pitch and it still feels so surreal. To do it with this group of girls is incredible It is just a pity we can’t do it with family and friends but hopefully we are doing them proud. It is nice to get on the score sheet in the first game; it is what an attacker dreams of and hopefully we can bring that into the next few games.

“Netherlands next, the best in the world. It’s always a fun game but we will come out fighting.”

Ireland got off to a fast start with Torrans and Nicci Daly storming down the right flank. Deirdre Duke’s trickery duly earned the first penalty corner of the match which Upton duly whipped into the left corner past the stick of Phumelela Mbande.

After that, it was a case of when rather than if Ireland would score again as they held the vast majority of the play against South Africa, the lowest ranked side in the tournament at number 16.

Three more corner chances came and went in the first half while Naomi Carroll pinged the post with a rasping shot from close range.

The African champions showed their threat in fits and starts with Nomnikelo Veto the danger player.

But it was the Green Army who always looked the more likely to push on. Torrans missed out from a great chance created by Katie Mullan’s driving run and diagonal ball into the danger zone. Anna O’Flanagan also stung the pads of the goalkeeper and Sarah Hawkshaw chipped one over.

The insurance goal eventually arrived in the 44th minute when Loreto team mates Hannah Matthews and Torrans connected. The former provided the pace on the ball into the circle which saw the ball deflected high in the air and Torrans instinctively batted down and into the net.

After that, there were further corner chances which went incomplete but goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran never looked unduly troubled in a composed defensive outing. Matthews was denied a third by Mbande’s brilliant diving stop but Ireland content to win 2-0.

Ireland next meet the Netherlands on Monday morning (2am Irish time). The Dutch eased to a 5-1 win over India with four second half goals.

** Full tournament details here: https://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/olympic-games/en/results/hockey/olympic-schedule-and-results.htm

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

South Africa: P Mbande, C Seerane, N Walraven, K Paton, R Johnson, O Zulu, L-M Deetlefs, E Hunter, L du Plessis, Q Bobbs, T Glasby
Subs: E Molikoe, T Mallett, N Veto, C Maddocks, L Mahole

Umpires: E Yamada (JPN), K Hudson (NZL)

Fixture list (times Irish):

July 24: Ireland 2 (R Upton, S Torrans) South Africa 0

July 26: Netherlands v Ireland, 2am

July 28: Germany v Ireland, 4.15am

July 30: Ireland v India, 3.45am

July 31: Ireland v Great Britain, 12.45pm

August 1-6: Knock-out matches

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Where to watch The Green Army at Tokyo 2020

To get behind the Green Army and enjoy all the fanfare of the Olympic hockey tournament, there are a number of ways to watch their journey in Tokyo.

RTE2 will broadcast the Irish women’s hockey team’s Olympic debut as part of their overall coverage of the Games.

RTE – as Ireland’s primary rights holder – will show each of the Irish games LIVE on RTE2, starting with the game against South Africa on Saturday with play getting underway at 1.15pm.

Darragh Maloney and Peter Collins will be the presenters for the coverage with analysis from Gillian Pinder and Kate Dillon. Commentary duties will be from Ger Canning and Des Curran with Sarah Scott providing co-commentary analysis from all five group games.

BBC will have coverage of the competition with Nigel Ringland and Gavin Andrews bringing post-match reaction to each game while BBC Newsline will also carry hockey coverage. Keep an eye on BBC1 and the iPlayer for further coverage information throughout the Games.

For hockey fans keen to catch all the other games in the competition, Eurosport is the official streaming partner for the Olympic Games and will be the hub for all other hockey fixtures.

This service is available online via Discovery Plus at the following link: https://www.discoveryplus.co.uk/olympics/home. This service costs €6.99 for one month’s access. You can cancel this subscription at any stage.

For live scores, the most comprehensive outlet for play-by-play updates is via the Olympic website on the following page: https://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/olympic-games/en/results/hockey/olympic-schedule-and-results.htm

Whilst a match is in play, a number of live statistics will be available throughout the match. By clicking on a live match, you will find four tabs: Starting Line-up, Player Statistics, Team Statistics and Play by Play. More information about what these tabs will provide can be found below.

For even more content, the International Hockey Federaion launched their Daily Tokyo Hokkē Show today. Every day, from 22 July to 6 August, a stellar line-up of internationally renowned guests – including David Harte – from the world of hockey will join host Sarah Juggins, FIH Media Coordinator, for the Daily Tokyo Hokkē Show.

Insights, discussions and debates centred around the hockey competitions playing out at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will delight and engage fans from across the globe, bringing them closer to the story as it unfolds on the pitch.

 

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“Anything can happen” as Green Army settle into Olympic groove

Safely installed in the Olympic Village, Hannah Matthews knows “anything can happen” over the next two weeks as the Irish women’s hockey team close in on their Olympic debut in Japan.

Matthews was the last to arrive to the party on Saturday, linking up with the side in Tokyo direct from Dublin while the rest of the panel enjoyed a memorable holding camp in Iwate, the country’s “cabbage capital” 500 kilometres to the north.

There, the panel were “treated like celebrities” according to Michelle Carey as their bus ride into town at 6.30am drew large crowds along the road; silage bails were wrapped in Irish livery and traditional dance troupes greeted the tuning-up training sessions.

It helped capture the spirit of 2018’s World Cup run, a journey into the unknown but a journey the Green Army was keen to embrace every moment of as if it were Christmas Eve.

That same good vibes have carried through to the first few days in the Olympic Village and the initial sessions at the Oi Stadium and Loreto’s Matthews says it is at the right pitch for the challenges ahead.

“We are going in there with very little pressure, not knowing what to expect and absolutely anything can happen. On our day, we can take it to the top teams,” she said.

“There are 12 teams in the tournament. We’re ranked ninth in the world. It’s not like we are up in the top five. I’d say we are relatively under the radar but obviously not as much as in the World Cup when we turned a few heads. Teams would definitely be more aware of us but there is more pressure on other teams.”

Ireland start their campaign on Saturday (1.15pm Irish time, RTE2) against South Africa, the tournament’s lowest ranked side at 16 before meeting world  number one side the Netherlands on Monday.

Germany (ranked 3rd) are up in game three next Wednesday before back-to-back fixtures against India (10th) on Friday, July 29 and Great Britain (5th) a day later – five games in eight days.

 

 

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The first target is a top four finish to earn a quarter-final spot, making the South African tie an important one in that context, particularly with the three medalists from 2016 waiting in the wings.

The Green Army have a good record on that front, winning all three of their series against South Africa in Stellenbosch in February 2020. Ireland were due to return for more matches last March before the pandemic struck.

South Africa have not played any formal fixtures since then as a result while only nine of the players that featured back then are in the Olympic panel – 13 of Ireland’s are in situ – so form lines are hard to read.

Like Ireland, there has been evolution. Where Sean Dancer has introduced Carey, Zara Malseed and Sarah McAuley, SA have uncapped trio Edith Molikoe, Charné Maddocks and Lerato Mahole.

On the flip side, there is a mountain of experience in Lisa-Marie Deetlefs – a double Olympian from Beijing and London – Lilian du Plessis, Quanita Bobbs and Celia Seerane (née Evans).

Ireland do have the distinct benefit of their European Championship campaign in June; ultimately, ambitious targets of a maiden semi-final spot and an assured World Cup ticket came up just short.

In hindsight, it was a par performance, beating the two side ranked below them – Scotland and Italy – with clean sheets – drawing with Spain directly above them and losing to two sides in the world’s top five (Netherlands and England).

“I think we definitely feel disappointed,” she says about the Euros. “We felt like we didn’t represent how well we have been playing and how well we have been training.

“That was definitely a major frustration. But put it in context and the Europeans are a brutal tournament. You just can’t afford to make mistakes and you are playing against quality sides so I think we can take a lot of positives. We have played against brilliant teams.”

Having that bank of game time is likely to be invaluable, particularly with so many other new experiences floating around them.

“We’ve had just the best preparation for the Olympics you could ask for and we’ve seen the mistakes we’ve made and we can work on them. So we have a lot to improve on and we know that now.

“This is all very new to us. We have never been to an Olympics before. We are one of the few teams in the tournament that haven’t been to an Olympics before and we are also going into a climate that we are not very used to where a lot of other teams have done.

“We have nothing to compare it to but everyone is so excited to be at our first Olympics and, the year that’s in it, every time you get to play at a high level, whether it is high stakes or not, everyone is so appreciative of it.

 

“Team spirit will be massive. It’s an intense tournament and with Covid restrictions as well, there might be a little more cabin fever. So it’s really important the team sticks to our culture. That’s something that comes very naturally to us so we won’t over think that.

“South Africa and India are probably our closest in terms of ranking. But in tournament hockey anything can happen. So it’s managing our emotions as we go.

“We’ve all plenty of experience of playing in front of absolutely no one,” says the Irish defender in self-deprecation. “It’s something we are used to. I don’t think it will affect us. We’ll be fine.”

** The International Olympic Committee made a number of hockey-specific amendments to the tournament regulations. Teams can now select 16 players from a wider panel of 18 players.

 Additional updates mean if a side cannot field – primarily due to Covid – for a particular game, a 5-0 loss will be recorded but they will not be defaulted from the competition as a whole. Where two teams cannot field, a 0-0 result will be recorded but no points will be allocated. 

 Full document here:  https://fih.ch//media/13453096/2021-07-09-tokyo-2020-ssr-hockey.pdf

Ireland women’s squad for Olympic Games – July 24-August 6, 2021, Oi Stadium, Tokyo, Japan (club/caps):
Ayeisha McFerran (SV Kampong, 105) – goalkeeper
Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute, 115)
Lizzie Colvin (Belfast Harlequins, 201)
Nicci Daly (Loreto, 194)
Sarah Hawkshaw (Railway Union, 38)
Hannah Matthews (Loreto, 152)
Shirley McCay (Pegasus, 311)
Hannah McLoughlin (UCD, 19)
Katie Mullan (Ballymoney, 198) – captain
Anna O’Flanagan (Muckross, 212) – vice-captain
Lena Tice (Old Alex, 1114)
Sarah Torrans (Loreto, 26)
Róisín Upton (Catholic Institute, 81)
Chloe Watkins (Monkstown, 229)
Deirdre Duke (Old Alex, 146)
Sarah McAuley (Muckross, 1)

Michelle Carey (UCD, 5)
Zara Malseed (Ards, 2)

Travelling reserve:
Lizzie Murphy (Loreto, 13) – goalkeeper

Fixture list (times Irish):

July 24: Ireland v South Africa, 1.15pm

July 26: Netherlands v Ireland, 2am

July 28: Germany v Ireland, 4.15am

July 30: Ireland v India, 3.45am

July 31: Ireland v Great Britain, 12.45pm

August 1-6: Knock-out matches

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President’s Newsletter July 2021

Excitement is mounting with the departure of the Women’s team for the Tokyo Olympics on Friday 9th July. We wish the players all the best of luck for their matches. This is a marvellous achievement and we thank them for their commitment, drive, determination and for the time they have given to prepare for this amazing experience. Our sympathy goes to the players who have played a large part in the build-up over the last few years and missed out. We know how disappointed they must be. By following the team’s 37-hour journey on social media, they have received a great welcome in Iwate and have started training there. Our thanks go to all their sponsors and especially to Park Development, Softco and Saba.

Their match schedule is, with times for Ireland/UK viewing: –

Saturday 24th July v. South Africa at 1.15pm (21.15 JST)

Monday 26th July v Netherlands at 2am (10.00 JST)

Wednesday 28th July v Germany at 4.15am (12.15 JST)

Friday 30th July v India at 3.45am (11.45 JST)

Saturday 31 July v Great Britain 12.45pm (20.45 JST)

The EuroHockey Championships in Amsterdam at the beginning of June were challenging and the draw was tough. However, the girls held their heads up high, producing commendable performances against the Netherlands, Scotland and Spain in the group section and against Great Britain and Italy in the play-off games, finishing 6th overall with two wins, one draw and two losses.  One of the highlights was Deidre Duke being awarded the goal of the tournament.

Mark Tumilty and his Men’s team continue with their preparations for their European Division B matches in Gniezno, Poland from 15th – 21st August. They are drawn in Pool A against Italy, Poland and Croatia. With several new players in the squad, they have played warm-up games against Great Britain and Scotland. We look forward to supporting them in further pre-tournament games against England at Lisnagarvey on 4th, 5th, 6th & 7th August.

With restrictions on spectators easing, I was able to enjoy watching my first official games as President, when the Ireland Under 19s played Wales at The University of Ulster, Jordanstown on 9th & 10th July. Four exciting games resulted in four wins for Ireland: The Girls winning 6-0 and 5-0 and the Boys 1-0 and 5-3. I look forward to supporting the Ireland Under 23 Girls when they play Wales Senior Women from 16th to 18th July and Wales U23 Girls from 21st to 23rd July. Further matches for the Under 19 Boys and Girls will be held at UUJ on 24th and 25th July. This is a busy programme for the players and coaches and it is great experience for all in their build-up to Senior matches.

I was invited by Lisnagarvey Hockey Club on 26th June to watch Under 15 Cup Finals for a tournament that the club had organised. The Girls’ tournament was won by Armagh who defeated Lisnagarvey and, in the Boys’ Final, Lisnagarvey defeated Portadown. It was great to see young players and their families enjoying exciting hockey on a sunny afternoon. I would like to congratulate and thank Lisnagarvey Hockey Club for their excellent organisation for this event and their compliance with Covid 19 regulations.

Our third Pilot Communication Session took place on Wednesday 16th June with Clubs from Armagh, Belvedere, Blackrock, Bray, Club KV, Cork Wanderers, Malahide Fingal, Newry and Parkview taking part. Topics discussed included how clubs were planning to get players back into hockey after this long Covid break; had they approached schools nearby to attract more members and what was the relationship between their Club and local schools; where they see their club in terms of Hockey Ireland’s priorities; had they applied for a grant and if so, how successful was their application. A follow up session on all three meetings is planned for early in the new season. My thanks go again to John Dennis and Linda Monaghan for their help and support in these meetings.

On Sunday 27th June I chaired an online meeting of the Four Provinces Advisory Committee and welcomed H.I. Vice President, John Dennis and representatives from the Four Provinces – Kevin Keane, Connacht, David Curran, Leinster, Colette Coomey, Munster and Christine Reid, Ulster.  This was an introductory session to get this committee meeting again, look at the Terms of Reference and arrange a further meeting on Monday 19th July.

In my last newsletter, I mentioned that we were pleased to support Inez Cooper’s candidature for election to the Executive Board of the Federation Internationale de hockey (FIH). The FIH Congress was held online on 24th & 25th May, with a strict voting procedure which required practice sessions. Inez narrowly missed out in the election to the 2 sitting members. She is a candidate for Female Vice President of EHF, with the Congress due to take place in Prague on 19th August.  I was delighted, on behalf of Hockey Ireland, to write her supporting letter.

Finally, again I end on a sad note with the passing of Nora Smith on 24th May. In recognition of her international career, Nora was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 and was an Honorary Life Member of Hockey Ireland. After her playing career as an outstanding centre-half, she became the Irish Women’s first ever coach from 1973 to 1976. Our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.

Ann Rosa

12th July 2021

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Hockey Ireland Announces Three Year Sponsorship with AIB and Hockey Ireland’s Junior Age Group Girls

Hockey Ireland today announced a three-year long sponsorship with AIB and Hockey Ireland’s Junior Age Group Girls.

Hockey Ireland’s Junior Age Girls Group programme is comprised of the Under 18 and Under 16 squads that together form an important part of the sport’s high-performance pathway, enabling some of Ireland’s most talented young hockey players reach their full potential.

AIB Head of Corporate, Institutional and Wholesale Banking Cathy Bryce said:

“AIB is delighted to be sponsoring Hockey Ireland’s Junior Age Group Girls programme. At AIB we want to enable young people to achieve their true potential, and this sponsorship enables us to provide support to a key element of Irish hockey’s high performance programme.

“Few teams have brought as much joy and inspiration in recent times as the women’s senior hockey team and we are delighted to be able to support those who aspire to match their incredible achievements in future years.”

Hockey Ireland Performance Director Adam Grainger added this is a huge boost for the stars of the future:

“Hockey Ireland Junior Age Grade girls’ teams welcome AIB onboard and look forward to its sponsorship of the upcoming series Four Nations Development Series starting this weekend. This AIB and Hockey Ireland partnership adds extra impetus to immediate programme plans and further afield towards Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Olympic qualification.”

Hockey Ireland CEO Jerome Pels added:

“AIB has a strong connection with hockey as a sport and we very much look forward to working together in the coming years at supporting our junior players which is at the heart of the young hockey players’ development programme.”

The announcement comes ahead of this month’s Under-19 Four Nations Development Series with England, Scotland and Wales which will run over three consecutive weekends with six rounds of matches in total for both boys and girls.

Ireland will host Wales at Jordanstown for their double-header next weekend before travelling to England on the weekend of July 16 and 17 at Lilleshall. The series finishes off with a return to Jordanstown against Scotland on July 24 and 25.

The series is the highlight of their summer for the teams as Ireland’s JAG teams get back into action for the first time since February 2020. It follows the cancellation of their European Championship campaign last summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic and so the players will be raring to go for this new challenge.

Four Nations Development Series 
Saturday, July 9: Ireland U-19 girls v Wales, 2pm; Ireland U-19 boys v Wales, 4pm (both at University of Ulster Jordanstown)
Sunday, July 10: Ireland U-19 girls v Wales, 10am; Ireland U-19 boys v Wales, 12.15pm (both at University of Ulster Jordanstown)

Saturday, July 16: Ireland U-19 girls v England, 2pm; Ireland U-19 boys v England, 4pm (both at Lilleshall)
Sunday, July 17: Ireland U-19 girls v England, 2pm; Ireland U-19 boys v England, 4pm (both at Lilleshall)

Saturday, July 24: Ireland U-19 girls v Scotland, 2pm; Ireland U-19 boys v Scotland, 4pm (both at University of Ulster Jordanstown)
Sunday, July 25: Ireland U-19 girls v Scotland, 10am; Ireland U-19 boys v Scotland, 12.15pm (both at University of Ulster Jordanstown)

** To read more about the JAG Under-19 squad, click here

** Further info on the JAG Boys Under-19 squad is here

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Women’s development panel take on GB at Jordanstown

A 28 player Irish women’s national development squad will take on their Great Britain counterparts in four games this week as part of an eight-day camp at University of Ulster, Jordanstown.

The aim of this panel is to develop the next group of senior internationals, a key task with the likely evolution of the panel for the World Cup qualifier in October and a EuroHockey Championship qualifier in 2022.

The squad incorporates the Irish Under-21 group who will play in their European Championships next summer along with one Irish Under-19 player, Charlotte Beggs.

The squad in this current format has been in existence since 2018 and has seen many players progress to the senior setup with Serena and Bethany Barr, Michelle and Niamh Carey, Ellen Curran, Sarah Hawkshaw, Sarah McAuley, Hannah McLoughlin, Lizzie Murphy and Sarah Torrans among them.

This series will be used to select a panel for a Five Nations in Barcelona, Spain from July 5-10 which also features Belgium, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. The squad will also play games against the Welsh seniors and Under-23s in July.

Speaking about the setup, head coach Dave Passmore said: “After a long year of lockdown where physical training has dominated much of what we have done, this is an ideal camp environment with matches to develop these players further.

“Under the direction of new S&C Coach Cliodhna O’Connor, the players have worked really hard to push their physical levels over the past six months. This is such a key feature in the women’s game and essential in allowing players to progress to the Green Army.

“It was great to get away to the south of Spain last week where we included five of the Under-19s due to play in the Under-19 Four Nations in July but this is the first time we can get most of the National Development Squad together in a camp environment and the matches will be ideal given the lack of competitive hockey in the past 15 months.

“While we were competitive against the Spain Under-21 and Development teams, it was clear most of our players lacked competitive match play so these matches will allow us to build on that and select the team for the Five Nations next month”

“We are delighted to have the support of Park Developments along now with two other new program supports in PrimeCore and Cantor Fitzgerald who will support our trip to the 5 Nations in Barcelona.”

Fixture schedule (all at Jordanstown)
Tuesday, June 22:
Ireland v Great Britain, 4.15pm
Wednesday, June 23: Ireland v Great Britain, 4.15pm
Friday, June 25: Ireland v Great Britain, 2pm
Saturday, June 26: Ireland v Great Britain, 10am

Irish women’s national development squad: Roisin Begley (Catholic Institute/Munster), Charlotte Beggs (Pegasus/Ulster), Nadia Benallal (Beeston/Ulster), Niamh Carey (UCD/Leinster), Ellen Curran (UCD/Leinster), Sophia Cole (UCD/Leinster), Amy Elliott (UCD/Leinster), Katie Fearon (Railway Union/Leinster), Laura Foley (Catholic Institute/Munster), Gemma Ferguson (GK, Ulster Elks/Ulster), Erin Getty (Queens/Ulster), Christina Hamill (Loreto/Leinster), Anna Horan (UConn Huskies, USA/Munster), Jane Kilpatrick (Loughborough Students/Ulster), Orla Macken (Pembroke/Leinster), KJ Marshall (UCD/Leinster), Ellie McLoughlin (GK, Muckross/Leinster), Jess McMaster (Queens/Ulster), Lisa Mulcahy (Loreto/Leinster), Siofra Murdoch (Monkstown/Leinster), Siofra O’Brien (Loreto/Leinster), Sara Patton (Railway Union/Leinster), Caoimhe Perdue (UCC/Munster), Ellen Reid (Banbridge/Ulster), Yasmin Pratt (Loreto/Leinster), Millie Regan (GK, Railway Union/Leinster), Abbie Russell (Old Alex/Leinster), Muireann Scanlon (UCC/Munster), Caitlin Sherin (Loreto/Leinster)

Not Available: Hannah Humphries (GK, Catholic Institute/Munster)

Management:
Head coach: David Passmore
Manager: Lorraine McGowan
Coach: Steven Arbuthnot
Coach: Una McCarthy
Assistant coach: Niamh Small
Physio: Thomas Murray
S&C: Cliodhna O’Connor
Physiology support: Lauren Daey
GK coach: Iain Hughes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trevor Watkins elected new chair of Hockey Ireland board

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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