Presidents Newsletter September, 2022

President’s Newsletter

From 15th May 2022

It has been a very enjoyable and busy four months. On Sunday 15th May, I attended the last Interprovincial Final at Three Rock Rovers, when Leinster and Munster contested the Under 21 championship. Following the round robin stage of the competition all 3 teams finished on 6 points with 2 wins each, which meant that goal difference, which is a factor for U21s and Adult competitions, was required to determine the final placings. Leinster ended up on +2, Munster on 0 and Ulster on -1. After a closely contested match in the first three quarters where Leinster were just one goal up, they ended up coming out worthy winners 3-0. Our thanks go to Ann Ronan and the Interprovincial Working Group for all their hard work during the season to get all the matches played.

This was the start of a very sad week when we learnt of the passing of John Flack on 18th May and Dixon Rose MBE on 19th May. I attended both funerals. John gave hockey in Ulster and Ireland a great profile in the media and will be sadly missed. Dixon was Hockey Ireland President from 2006 to 2008 and a Hockey Ireland Honorary Life Member. He had a very distinguished career as an international player, captain and umpire and was widely respected for his love and work for hockey in Ulster and Ireland. Our thoughts were with both families at this sad time.

I attended Hockey Ireland’s Annual General Meeting, which was held online on Thursday 19th May.

My congratulations go to three members of the Hockey Family who received Honours from the Queen in the Birthday Honours, announced on Thursday 2nd June. Dr Shirley McCay, Ireland’s most capped female sports person was recognised for services to hockey and the community in Northern Ireland with an award of the MBE as was Eilish Rutherford (nee Mackin) for her services to sport and her charity work in Northern Ireland. Eilish is a former Chair of the Mary Peters Trust.  Ronnie Smyth was recognised also. Ronnie, a stalwart of Ulster and Annadale hockey, was awarded a British Empire Medal for his services to hockey. For over 50 years Ronnie has been an inspiration to many hockey players and continues to be known as the ‘Godfather of Coaching’.

On Saturday 4th June, I was honoured to be a guest at Newry Olympic Hockey Club’s Dinner and make a presentation to three Ireland players who had not received their caps. I would like to thank Nevin Gray for his help in organising this and for gathering the very relevant facts from Steven Hiles, who has worked hard on a database, with match details on all the capped players.  We recognise how the game has changed over the years with the number of international matches increasing – it is much quicker now in 2022 to chalk up several caps than it was in 1957 when an 18-year-old Newry Grammar schoolboy, made history for his club and school when he became the first Newry Olympic hockey player to play for the Ireland Senior men’s team. Bob Poots played 4 times for Ireland in that year. Unfortunately Bob was not present at the dinner to receive his cap as he divides his time by living in England and France. It is worth reading a very interesting article about Bob on the Club’s website.

Erroll Lutton first played for Newry Olympic in 1986-87 and he won the “4th XI player of the year”. In the next season, 1987-88, he was the “Young Player of the year”.  From 1993 to 2001 he had 52 Irish caps while playing for Newry and from 2001-2003 33 more while playing at Lisnagarvey – a total of 85 caps. Erroll captained Ireland on 12 occasions and scored 3 goals. Unfortunately, Erroll was not present to receive his first Irish cap and his 50th cap as he was in Copenhagen with Lisnagarvey at the EuroHockey Challenge Cup tournament. However, there is still a strong Lutton connection with Erroll’s, brother Ivor and his nephews Jonah, Noah and Corey playing for the club. We were pleased that Corey was present to receive Erroll’s caps.

Ivan Steen played for Newry Olympic Hockey Club for 10 years. He was the “Young player of the year” within the club for four consecutive years, from 1991 – 1994 and won 27 caps for Ireland scoring five goals. His first cap was on 8th August 1998 against Belgium in Dublin and he had 18 more international appearances to 2000 while at Newry Olympic. This was followed by nine more Irish caps when he was playing for Surbiton in England.

Ivan Steen receiving his Irish cap.

I was following the two Irish teams in their European competitions in June and would like to congratulate Loreto and Lisnagarvey on winning their respective tournaments.

I was at Lisnagarvey Hockey Club on Friday 10th June, to support the Ireland Senior Men play Italy in the first match of a three-match series.  Italy took lead and were ahead at halftime but the Irish men came back much stronger in the 3rd and 4th quarters and when Conor Empey and Johnny McKee scored two goals in quick succession in the 49th/50th minutes, Ireland came out winners 2-1. The following day I watched the second match in this series, which Ireland won 3-0, before going to Queen’s Playing fields, Upper Malone to support the Under 23 girls in their practice game against Scotland.

On Sunday 12th June, the Hockey Ireland Board meeting was held at the Carlton Hotel in Blanchardstown. This was the second meeting that was not held online and it was great to see everyone in person. Trevor Watkins welcomed all and especially the four new Directors, Rachel Berry, Niamh Byrne, Ursula Kilkelly and Dan McCormack. After the business part of the meeting, Rea Walshe, representing Carmichael, took us through Board Induction Training.

On Monday 13th, I was at Queen’s Playing Fields, Upper Malone to watch Under 23s in their final practice game against Scotland, as part of their preparation for the Uniphar 5 nations tournament.

The AGM of the Olympic Federation of Ireland took place, online, on Wednesday 15th June and I represented Hockey Ireland at this meeting.

As Hockey Ireland President, I was invited to the Centenary Dinner for Ards Ladies Hockey Club on Saturday 18th June in the Stormont Hotel. Over 130 members past and present were welcomed by their President Norma Gartside, who is an Honorary Life Member of Hockey Ireland. The speaker was Gillian Murphy who had gone to great lengths to research the history of the club and give an excellent comprehensive talk on the 100 years of hockey at Ards. The teams have celebrated their centenary also on the pitch during the year by winning the Under 16 Indoor Championship, the Ulster Premier League and coming out on top in EYHL 2, to gain promotion to EYHL 1 for next season.

The Lord Mayor of Ards & North Down Craig Blaney, Norma Gartside, President of Ards Ladies Hockey Club & George Wilson, Ulster Hockey President

On Sunday 19th June, I was at UCD for the opening games in the 5 Nations Uniphar Series.  We had teams from three continents stretching right across the globe – Europe, North America and Asia, with The Netherlands, Ukraine and India, joining Ireland in this Uniphar 5 Nations Tournament. We also had our senior women playing in a four match SoftCo sponsored series against Japan, as part of their final preparations for the World Cup in Amsterdam.

 

At the reception on Thursday 23rd June, it was my pleasure to welcome guests to UCD. We were pleased that Josepha Madigan, Minster of State with responsibility for Special Education and Inclusion and Senator Emer Curry were able to join us.

 

Minister of State, Josepha Madigan, Senator Emer Curry & Ukrainian Vice President.

 

I acknowledged and thanked the tournament sponsors, Uniphar for their tremendous support, not only sponsoring this 5 Nations tournament but also helping enormously in the money raised to bring the Ukrainian team to Dublin. David Passmore was also very grateful to a private donor and all the parental donations in this very sporting gesture, to bring Ukraine here.  They were so pleased to be in Dublin and could not thank me enough when through Michael, their interpreter, their Vice President spoke to me as I left the pitch after a presentation on the previous Sunday.  I must admit I found the conversation very emotional and mentioned that we were meant to play them in the Junior World Cup in South Africa, but due to the horrendous conflict in Ukraine, the girls could not take part. We felt their plight and were delighted to have them here with us. We wondered what some of them were heading back to in Ukraine when they left Ireland.

 

We had our sponsors at the reception. I thanked Susan Spence and SoftCo, the kit sponsors to both the Senior and Under 23 teams for their continued support and for sponsoring this Senior series against Japan. The girls were just back from Japan and were hosted there for their Olympic stay. Friendly relations have been developed over the past 18 months and it was great to have the Japanese team here. Our thanks were also expressed to Angela Cotter and Park Developments for their great support for the Under 23 and Senior programmes and to Alan Cadden from Saba who are the senior women’s food partners and provided all the dinners for the U23s during this tournament.

 

Sponsorship – what does it do for our sport? Success of the women in the World Cup put Ireland right at the top of the world. We have followers all over Ireland who would not have supported hockey in the past, new clubs especially in Connacht and increased membership in clubs. Unfortunately, the European Hockey Federation conference due to take place in Prague last summer had to go online – I was asked to speak on behalf of Hockey Ireland at it – “Inspiring a Nation – the inspiration of the women’s team reaching the Olympics”. The partnership that we have with all the sponsors has definitely helped to put us there.

 

Sponsorship of the Under 23 programme is vital and we can see the transition of the young players from this level to Senior level – congratulate David Passmore and his team for their hard work and commitment and it is great to see Sarah McAuley, Caoimhe Perdue, Christina Hamill & Siofra O’Brien, who were in the JWC squad for the tournament in South Africa, now in the senior squad.

 

I do not know if everyone knew that the Indian team arrived in Dublin but their hockey sticks didn’t and the girls lent them some so that they could play – this was true international sportsmanship.

The Ireland and Ukrainian teams

In the first match of the Uniphar tournament, the Netherlands came out 4-2 winners against the USA before Ireland took on India in their first match. Our girls played well but the Indian girls got stronger as the match progressed and came out winners 4-1.

I was back at UCD for the Play-offs and Final on Sunday 26th. An Ireland Development team had a good win against Ukraine in the first game before the Ireland Under 23 team lost narrowly to the USA in the bronze medal game. The final was won by the Netherlands who had a decisive win over India. We were pleased that representatives from the Sponsors, Uniphar took part in the trophy and medal presentation. Sally Ann Fanagan, Hockey Ireland Staff and the very large team of volunteers did an amazing job in organising and staging this event. They are to be congratulated and thanked for this.

After the Ireland Ukrainian game on Thursday 23rd, the Senior women played Japan in another build up game for the World Cup. They were just back from practice games in Japan. Just after the teams lined up with the umpires, members of the team made a presentation to the 5 Irish international players who had retired.

  • Grace O’Flanaghan, goalkeeper, has 36 caps, with her first cap on 26th July 2016. She is a World Cup Silver Medallist and an Olympian.
  • Lizzie Colvin, midfielder, 206 caps with her first one on 4th July 2008. Lizzie is a World up silver medallist and an Olympian.
  • Nicci Daly, midfielder, has 200 caps, with her first one on 5th February 2010. She is also a World Cup Silver Medallist and an Olympian.
  • Hannah Matthews, defender, has 157 caps, with her first one on 26th June 2014. Hannah is a World Cup Silver Medallist and an Olympian.
  • Shirley McCay, defender, the most capped athlete across all sports in Ireland with 316 caps. Her first cap was on 15th January 2007. She is a World Cup Silver Medallist and an Olympian.
  • An amazing total of 915 Irish caps, well done Girls.

During the half-time break, with the help of Sally Ann Fanagan, the tournament director, I had the honour of presenting Hockey Ireland’s two new Honorary Life Members, Inez Cooper and Brian Caruth, with their pins. An Honorary Life Member of Hockey Ireland is conferred to recognise an individual’s exceptional, prolonged and voluntary contribution to Hockey Ireland, especially at national level.

Inez Cooper has a long and distinguished history of involvement in Irish Hockey. She has contributed in a multitude of ways, filling significant roles at club, provincial, national and international levels. Photos

As an experienced project manager, in 2019 she successfully chaired the LOC for Ireland’s hosting of the Women’s FIH World Series Finals in Banbridge and followed this by leading the extremely successful Tokyo Olympic Games, FIH Women’s Qualifier Series in Donnybrook, Dublin. This ‘Donnybrook Event’ twice broke the previous record for the largest attendance at a Women’s International match in any sport in Ireland and culminated in ensuring that the Irish team became the first ever Women’s team to qualify for an Olympic Games. he has served for eight years on the Executive Board of the European Hockey Federation (EHF). During this time, she has held the position of Chair of the EHF Education Committee and has also acted as the of Chair of the EHF Officials Committee. In 2019 she was a speaker at the first European Hockey Female Leadership Forum where the EHF’s strategic goal, to advocate, support and build desires for equal female leadership opportunities, was to the fore. Last year Inez was elected Female Vice President of the EHF. This is very well deserved and a marvellous achievement.

He served a term on the Board of the IHU and then two further terms on the Board of Hockey Ireland. In total, he has served 12 years on the Boards and was Chair of the Board for 3 years.
In addition, he continues to co-ordinate HI competitions, convene the HI Competitions Committee and Chair the Competitions Committee. As well as being a dedicated volunteer, Brian is a great supporter of all the Irish National teams. He was a supporter even before his son, Peter, was involved with the Irish men’s side. He continues to support the teams now that Peter is no longer involved. In recent years, he has travelled to Rio to support the men’s team in the Olympics, London for the women’s World Cup, Canada for the men’s Olympic play-off, Cardiff for the Men’s EHF World Qualifiers and the indoor internationals against Scotland.

The Under 16 and Under 18 Boys played international matches against Scotland at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown at the beginning of July.  I watched the matches on 2nd July, when the Under 16s won 3-0 and the Under 18s won 4-1.  After their final matches on 3rd July, both teams had won all their games in the series – well done!

We knew when the draw was announced for the Women’s World Cup that we had a very tough pool with the Netherlands, Germany and Chile and we were not wrong when Germany and the Netherlands reached the semi-finals and the Dutch were World Cup winners. Chile were the unknown opponents and the girls were very disappointed when they narrowly lost that game. However, a good win against South Africa and a narrow defeat against China improved their world ranking from 13th to 11th. It was just wonderful to look around the stadium and see a sea of green with the support the team got from Softco Sponsors Susan Spence and Daragh Byrne, our Interim CEO Nick McElwee, Directors, Honorary Life Members, Family Members and Club players. We knew it would be a challenging tournament and appreciated that Grace O’ Flanaghan, Lizzie Colvin, Nicci Daly, Hannah Matthews and Shirley McCay had retired.  I felt very honoured to be there and cheer on our team.

 

While the women were in Amsterdam our Senior men won a 4 nations Invitational Tournament on July 3rd in Uddingston as part of their preparations for their EuroHockey qualifiers in Calais.

The Under 16 and Under 18 girls were in Terrassa in Spain for their European 8 Nations Tournament with the Under 16s finishing in 6th place. Both squads attended the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup, which were being played at Terrassa.

The Under 16 boys were in Hanau, Germany finishing 5th in a European Six Nations tournament while the Under 18 boys played in an Eight Nations Tournament in Frankfurt.

The Under 21s were in action in EuroHockey Junior Tournaments with the women retaining their place in the top division coming 6th and the men winning the EuroHockey Junior Champions Division 2, to gain promotion into the top division for 2024.

Following on from the ID tournament, which was staged here last November, we sent a team to the EuroHockey ID event in Amsterdam at the beginning of July. It is great to see progress in the expansion of hockey ID in Ireland.

Ireland ID Team

I attended the Euro Qualifying event at the Sport Ireland Campus from 18th – 21st August between Ireland, the Czech Republic, Poland and Turkey, with one team going through to play in Munchengladbach next year. At the reception before Ireland’s first game against Poland I welcomed Minister of State Jack Chambers, representatives from Sport Ireland, Ambassadors from the Czech Republic, Poland & Turkey, EHF representatives’ Inez Cooper and Graine Corry, our sponsors SoftCo, Park Developments, Uniphar & Saba and invited guests and thanked them for joining us. I also acknowledged and welcomed the EHF delegates and officials; many had already been on duty in the first match, Czech Republic and Turkey.

This was a very notable event as it was the first time that an international hockey tournament was played at the Sport Ireland Campus. I acknowledged all the hard work in the planning and organisation of this event, thanks to great teamwork between Sport Ireland and Hockey Ireland. The reception was held in the extension of the pavilion which has just been completed a few days earlier and I thanked all involved for making this possible. We had experienced a taster event there in the last 2 weeks, when the women played games against France and the men played Chile and Austria. I watched the games on Saturday 6th August when the weather was superb and the setting perfect for players, officials and spectators with the stands on either side of the pitch, a Media Centre, PA system and live streaming of all the games. Other facilities had been brought in for this occasion. Well done to Sport Ireland, John Flannery, Nick McElwee and the Hockey Ireland organising committee for all the work they put into making this possible.

The tournament was a great success with Ireland coming out on top with three wins, 3-0 v Poland, 1-0 v Czech and 7-0 v Turkey and qualify for the Europeans in Munchengladbach next year. Well done to all and special congratulations to Ayeisha McFerran on becoming Ireland’s most capped female goalkeeper.

I followed the live streaming of the Men’s Qualifiers in Calais, where Ireland Men’s team were drawn against Lithuania, Turkey and France. Despite a mammoth 19-0 victory over Lithuania and a decisive 9-0 win over Turkey, a 4-1 defeat against France meant that the Ireland men finished runners-up in the tournament and will play in the second tier of the European Championships next summer.

On the umpiring scene, we continue to be very proud of the development of our young umpires and especially Alison Keogh, who umpired the bronze medal match in the World Cup when Germany played Australia and has received her golden whistle for officiating in 100 international matches. Another umpire, Bruce Bale, was prominent in the Commonwealth Games as an umpire and as a video referral umpire.

It was my pleasure to chair the Annual General Meeting of the Irish Hockey Umpires Association online, on Wednesday 31st August. My thanks go to Rob Argent, Jim Butler and Alison Keogh for their help during the meeting and I would like to congratulate all volunteers on the committee for their hard work and comprehensive reports. The meetings are always extremely well organised as all the information and reports have been sent out by Secretary Jim Butler, well in advance. Well done to you all. Thanks also go to Sedgwick for their continued support, which has enabled the umpires to conduct a number of activities focussing on development over the past year.

All these achievements could not be possible without the great funding and support that Hockey Ireland receives from Sport Ireland, Sport Northern Ireland and our sponsors, SoftCo, Park Developments, Uniphar and SABA.

I look forward to enjoying games at the start of the new season.

Ann Rosa, President, Hockey Ireland

6th September 2022

 

 

 

,

PRESIDENT’S NEWSLETTER – MAY 2022

Looking back since my last newsletter, it has been a very busy five months. With the traditional Boxing Day and New Year’s Day hockey matches postponed across the provinces, it was great that the Indoor Internationals against Scotland was going ahead at the Antrim Forum on 28th & 29th December. These were the first indoor internationals to be played in Ireland since 1987. Three matches for both teams were played across the two days, with Scotland coming out on top in both. Our men improved their performances on day 2 and our women tied the series but agreed to play a shoot-out competition to decide the cup winners.

The games were great preparation for the Ireland Women’s team who played in the EuroHockey Indoor Tournament in Ourense, Spain from 21st to 23rd January where they faced Poland, Lithuania and Scotland and gained much from this experience.

The indoor scene continued on Sunday 9th January when I was invited by Ulster Hockey to present the trophy to the winners of the Girls Under 16 Indoor Tournament, sponsored by BDO at the Antrim Forum. Very close matches were played all afternoon with an exciting Co. Down final ending the day between Ards and Bangor, with Ards coming out winners.

The Under 16, 18 and 21 Interprovincials continued to be played throughout the season. On Sunday 16th January, I called in at Havelock Park, Banbridge to watch Ulster play Leinster in their Under 16 match, before heading to Three Rock Rovers to see Connacht and Leinster compete in the final of the Girls’ Under 21 Interprovincial competition. This was a closely contested first two quarters with the score scoreless but after the halftime interval, Leinster got two quick goals which changed the game and led to a Leinster victory 5-2.

On Sunday 30th January, I had the pleasure of attending the final of the Leinster Schools’ Senior Cup at UCD, between Holy Child Killiney and Newbridge College, with both schools competing in the final for the first time. This turned out to be a close, exciting game in front of a full stand of supporters, with Holy Child coming out winners 2-0. Hold Child Killiney will represent Leinster in the Kate Russell Tournament in Galway on 24th & 25th of March.  My thanks go to the Leinster Schools’ Organising Committee, under the leadership of Stephanie Murphy for their welcome and hospitality.

On Saturday 12th February, I watched the Women’s EYHL match between Pegasus and Railway Union in Belfast, with Pegasus coming out winners.

I was invited by Sean Dancer to the Sport Ireland Campus at Abbotstown on 15th February to observe the Senior Women’s squad training and playing against the Under 21s who were preparing for their Junior World Tournament in South Africa. It was great to see the results of hours of training and work that the girls are putting in to prepare for their next World Cup tournament in Amsterdam in early July, where they will face the Netherlands, Chile and Germany in their pool games.

Boyne Valley Hockey Club hosted the first-ever Leinster Intermediate Girls Indoor Hockey competition at Gormanston College in Co. Meath on Sunday 20th February. Club President, Audrey Gallen invited me to watch the games and present the prizes. The competition was open to all Leinster Clubs for 14–16-year-olds and the organisers were pleased that 12 teams took part. The A division was won by Boyne Hockey Club with Monkstown 2 winning the B division.

Gormanston College was again the venue for the 5 match Indoor International Series where the Ireland Women took on South Africa. South Africa is currently ranked 14th in the world and this gave our girls a wonderful opportunity to play against world-class opposition. I attended the matches on Tuesday 22nd and Friday 25th and joined a capacity crowd to cheer on the Irish team. Ireland won the first match on Monday 21st but didn’t manage to win the next 4, despite putting up excellent performances. Thanks go to all who made this possible and especially to Graham O’Connor from Spar South Africa for sponsoring the event and Rob Abbott and his team behindindoor rejuvenation in Ireland, not forgetting all from Hockey Ireland who helped out to make this series a very special one.

On Sunday 27th February I was at Three Rock Rovers to watch the Boys’ Interprovincial matches Munster v Ulster at Under 21, Under 18 and Under 16 levels. These were exciting games with the Ulster teams coming out on top in all three.

To mark International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8th March, I accepted an invitation from Sport Ireland Chief Executive Dr Una May to join female leaders in Sport at an International Women’s Day Breakfast at 8.30 am in the Sport Ireland Campus Conference Centre. This was a networking event to meet, share stories and celebrate the day withwomen who are making a difference in gender equality.

I attended the final of the Belfast Telegraph Ulster Senior Schools’ Cup on Wednesday 9th March between Royal School Armagh and Methodist College. Fortunately, the dreadful weather in the morning cleared for the match, which turned out to be a very close encounter with Methodist College holding on to their goal scored in the third quarter to win this prestigious final. They will join Holy Child, Killiney, Kilkenny College, Crescent Comprehensive and Salerno Secondary in the Kate Russell Tournament in Galway.  I was honoured to be invited to the dinner in the Wellington Park Hotel that evening to celebrate the school’s success in reaching the final of an important sporting competition.

The Kate Russell Tournament on the 24th & 25th of March turned out to be a great event with superb hospitality, closely contested matches, very sporting players and glorious weather.  It is quite unusual in a round-robin tournament for the winners to be decided in the last match. At the end of the first day, 3 schools, Holy Child Killiney, Salerno Secondary and Methodist College were on equal points at the top of the leader board. Going into the last match, Methodist College needed a draw against Salerno to win the title. Salerno took an early lead, Methody equalised, Salerno scored again and in a nail-biting finish, Methody got the goal to draw and win the Kate Russell. Salerno took the silver medals with Crescent Comprehensive, the bronze.

Ella Armstrong & Anna Pim receive the Kate Russell Trophy

During my visit to Galway, I attended a meeting with the Mayor, Colette Connolly, Councillors and representatives from Connacht Hockey to discuss the need for improved facilities at Dangan Park and in Galway. It is amazing that hockey is growing so well in the area on only one Astra-turf pitch.

Back Row: Dermot Nolan, Chair Galway H.C., Tanja Schafer, Connacht Hockey, Cllr Clodagh Higgins, Donal Dempsey Galway H.C.

Front Row: Ann Rosa, Kevin Keane, President & Chair Connacht Hockey, Mayor Collette Connolly, June Smith, Connacht Hockey & Aisling Keogh, Connacht Hockey.

The Ireland Schoolboys’ tournament was played over the season with the semi-finals and finals taking place on Wednesday 30th March in Dublin. In the semi-finals of the Tasmanian Shield Midleton College played Banbridge Academy with Banbridge comfortable winners by 4 goals to nil. The second semi-final was a much closer match between Kings Hospital School and Bandon Grammar with Bandon edging into the final 2-1. In the semi-finals of the Herbie Sharman competition, Wesley College and St. Andrews reached the final defeating Friends School and High School respectively.   Both the finals of the Herbie Sharman and the Tasmanian Shield went into a shoot-out competition with Wesley coming out winners of the Herbie Sharman and Bandon Grammar taking the Tasmanian Shield back to Munster after a 17-year gap. The competition will be back to the normal format next season and will be held in Munster.

Bandon Grammar, winners of the Tasmanian Shield

The men’s EYHL League had an exciting finish on Saturday 2nd April with Banbridge hosting Lisnagarvey in the final game of the season; a game that would decide the league winners. Going into the match Lisnagarvey was sitting at the top of the table, with Banbridge in 3rd place. Garvey needed a draw to secure the title and after a very closely played match, managed to hold on to a 4-4 result, to come out winners of the title. I had the pleasure of presenting the EYHL Winners’ trophy to James Corry, captain of Lisnagarvey.

I was at Grange Road for the Finals of the Under 16 and Under 18 Girls Interprovincial on Sunday 3rd April, with Ulster the holders of both from 2019. The Under 16 final between Leinster and Ulster was a game of two halves, with Leinster dominant in the first half before Ulster game out top in the second half to win 2-1. The Under 18 Final saw Munster take on Ulster in another close game but Ulster proved dominant and won 2-0. These matches were played over five months, to avoid overnight accommodation costs and will be condensed next season and be played before Christmas. Well done to all involved and especially the girls, coaches and family supporters with travel.

While these exciting games were taking place on home grounds, the Ireland Junior Green Army Women were putting up sound performances in the Junior World Cup in South Africa. Close defeats against England and South Africa denied the Irish girls a place in the quarterfinals but after the play-offs and great wins over Canada, Malaysia and Austria, they finished in 9th place. Our congratulations go to the team and coaches and also to Alison Keogh who umpired the final of this tournament between the Netherlands and Germany.

The John Waring All- Ireland Schoolboys Under 14 Tournament was played at Lisnagarvey Hockey Club on Wednesday 6th April with Wesley College and St Andrew’s College representing Leinster, Bandon Grammar and Midleton College, Munster and Banbridge Academy and Bangor Grammar, Ulster. The teams played five games in this round-robin tournament with Wesley College coming out on top with four wins and a draw, followed by Bangor Grammar in second place and Banbridge Academy in third. It was great to watch the future of Irish hockey play these matches in a very sporting manner and welcome Brian Waring to present the trophy to Tommy Cullen, the Wesley College captain.

I attended the All-Ireland June Smith Schoolgirls Under 14 Tournament that was played in Armagh on Thursday 7th April with Seamount College Galway representing Connacht, Dominican College, Muckross Park, Leinster, Mount Mercy College, Munster, Loreto Secondary Kilkenny, the South East and Royal School Armagh, Ulster. In this great round-robin competition, Royal School Armagh came out clearly on top, winning all four matches. The runners up were Loreto Secondary, Kilkenny and the bronze medallists, Dominican College Muckross Park.  Awards were presented to Hazel Cleere from Loreto Secondary as the goalkeeper of the tournament and to Daisy Costello from Dominican College, as the player of the tournament.

                       Joni Cunningham, Royal School Armagh with the June Smith Cup

It was a busy weekend on 9th and 10th April with the Interprovincial Finals for Boys’ Under 16 and Under 18 Finals taking place at Monkstown and the EYHL 2 Finals at Corinthian’s. I watched the Interprovincials where Ulster played Leinster in both and came out on top, with the Under 16s winning 4-1 and the Under 18s 4-2. Our thanks go to Sarah Horsefield and Monkstown for hosting the event and to Ann Ronan for Chairing the Interprovincial Working Group and making sure that all these important fixtures were up and running again during the season.

On the 23rd and 24th April, I attended the semi-finals and final of the EY Champions Trophy which was hosted by Banbridge Hockey Club. Close matches on Saturday resulted in Catholic Institute and Pembroke going through to the final of the women’s trophy and Banbridge and Lisnagarvey to the men’s final. In the finals, Pembroke and Lisnagarvey came out on top as EY Champions and all four finalists will represent Ireland in Europe next season. Our thanks go to the Executive Committee and volunteers of Banbridge Hockey Club for hosting an excellent festival. They have proved again how well they organise a large event, with every detail in the planning, preparation and organisation are taken into consideration. Thanks also go to the Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Glenn Barr for hosting a lunch at the Club on Sunday.

The finals of the Irish Senior trophy were played at UCD on Saturday 30th April with the same teams as in last week’s final, Catholic Institute and Pembroke competing. In this match the honours were reversed with the Limerick Ladies coming out on top,1-0, in a very close game. At the awards, I presented Roisin Upton with the Jimmy O’Connor trophy for player of the tournament in the EY Champions trophy.

On Sunday 1st May, I went to UUJ to watch the second in a three-game series, Ireland women v Scotland. The teams had played the day before with Scotland winning 2-1. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Ireland’s game as they lost 4-1 but they put up a pleasing result two days later, winning that match quite convincingly. We send the team our best wishes as the girls prepare for the World Cup, In Amsterdam in July.

Lisnagarvey played Monkstown in a repeat of last week’s very exciting and close semi-final but the Hillsborough men were too strong and were worthy winners, to complete an amazing season, winning the EYHL league, the EY Champions Trophy and the Irish Senior Cup. Our congratulations go to Lisnagarvey on these great results and their remarkable season.  It was a historic occasion for two more reasons. Alison Keogh became the first female to umpire a men’s senior cup final after a very exciting few weeks when she umpired the final of the Women’s Junior World Cup, Pro League internationals between Germany, Spain and the United States and the Euro Hockey League Final. This is a tremendous achievement by Alison and she is such an inspiration to young umpires.

It was also Warren McCully’s last umpiring match. Warren’s umpiring career started when he was 13 and then progressed to umpire men’s matches at the age of 17, while still at school. That was 30 years ago and, in that time, Warren has umpired 67 international matches along with numerous EYHL games and the Irish Senior Cup Finals in 2003 and 2011. He was Chair of the Irish Hockey Umpires Association for over 8 years and his immense work and contribution to Irish umpiring have been outstanding.

On Saturday 7th May I was back in Banbridge in more great weather, for three Hockey Ireland finals. Queens University won the Irish Hockey Trophy against North Down, Bangor Ladies were too strong for NICS in the Irish Hockey Challenge and Cookstown was victorious over Annadale in the Irish Junior Cup.

Queens University, winners of Irish Hockey Trophy

UCD was the venue for the remaining three Irish Cup finals on Sunday 8th May. I watched Corinthian defeat Pembroke in the Irish Women’s Junior Cup Final, Avoca come out on top against Raphoe and in the Irish Hockey Trophy and Waterford take home the Hockey Challenge Cup after their win over Portrush.

Avoca, winners of the Irish Hockey Trophy

It has been an exciting and busy few months for everyone and it has been great that hockey matches, cup finals and tournaments have been played without any disruption.  My thanks go to the staff of Hockey Ireland, the Technical Officials, Umpires and volunteers who have made these events possible and also to Linda Monaghan for her superb organisation and support.

Ann Rosa

President.

 

, , ,

PRESIDENT’S NEWSLETTER – DECEMBER 2021

It has been a busy schedule since my last newsletter. On Wednesday 13th October, I was invited by the Minister of Communities, Deirdre Hargey, to a reception in the Great Hall Parliament Buildings, Stormont, to celebrate the achievements of Northern Ireland’s athletes in the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Out of the 12 athletes present, four were members of the Ireland Women’s Hockey Team – Katie Mullan, Shirley McCay, Lizzie Holden and Zara Malseed. Katie and Shirley were interviewed and spoke very well about their experience.

It was time for the European Hockey Federation World Qualifiers and on Thursday 21st October I travelled to Cardiff to support the Ireland Men in their tournament. I stayed in the Village Hotel, as did Ireland squad, which was approx. a 20–25-minute journey to Sophia Gardens.

Ann Rosa at Stormont with the Irish Olympic contingent

The players and support staff were in a bubble, ate their meals in a separate area and we just met if we were in the reception area at the same time. As a result, I was not able to congratulate and present Johnny McKee with his 50th cap on Thursday 21st and Shane O’Donoghue with his 200th cap on Sunday 24th. The team conducted themselves impeccably well during their stay and were a credit to Hockey Ireland.

In their first match, they played very well against a strong Russian team and were clear winners, 2-0. The Russians were only allowed to field 11 on-field players due to Covid restrictions, but this did not take away from the Irish victory. Our men deserved the win. The Irish players were quietly confident going into the Welsh game on Saturday, knowing that the winners would secure a place in the World Cup. However, it wasn’t to be and Wales won the shoot-out competition after an unfortunate umpiring decision.

The match to decide 3rd and 4th places took place before the final on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, after taking the lead the Irish men could not hold off strong Austrian attacks. They had their chances, but another shoot-out competition, decided their 4th place. Wales came out winners of the tournament, beating France in a closely contested final.

As we cheered on the Irish men, we were wondering how we were going to be able to watch the women’s match online from Pisa. Sarah Campion, Hockey Ireland’s Media Officer, had the answer – she brought her lap-top to the side of the pitch and as she was multi-tasking and keeping Twitter feeds going, we were able see the women in action against Wales. We were delighted when the Irish girls held on to win and qualify for the World Cup.

On 30th & 31st October, I attended the WISE Hockey ID Festival at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus in Abbotstown where seven teams took part. Harbourne and Wakefield travelled from England with teams from Botanic, Monkstown, Railway Union, Three Rock Rovers and Wicklow joining the event. Players and officials were delighted to meet the Irish Minister of State for Sport, Jack Chambers, who came to support the event on the Saturday morning.

As part of the event, there was a FIH Hockey ID Coaching Course with Norman Hughes, Grahame Mansell-Grace, Hans Pieter van Beek and Hugh Santos working with coaches over the weekend. Our thanks go to Dwyne Hill for organising this event and to all the volunteers who made it such a memorable weekend for all.

The Under 16, Under 18 and Under 21 Interprovincials are being played under a different format for this season only. On Sunday 14th November, I travelled to Three Rock Rovers to watch the Connacht Under 18 and Under 16 teams take on Ulster. Two very exciting games were played. Ulster came out winners of both matches with the Under 18s winning 4-0 and the Under 16s winning 7-0. The Connacht girls played very well in both matches and did not give up until the final whistle.

As President of Hockey Ireland, I was invited to Stormont on Wednesday 24th November, to celebrate the commencement of Ulster Hockey’s 125 celebrations and the launch of Ulster Hockey’s Strategic Plan, hosted by the Minister of Communities, Deirdre Hargey. The theme was ‘The Past, The Present and the Future’ and guests listened to speeches from Joan McCloy, and Terry Templeton who talked about key events in the past, Shirley McCay and Conor Savage the present, and Marc Scott, Ulster Hockey’s Executive Manager who outlined the future with the key elements of the Strategic Plan.

It was very disappointing for the Ireland Women’s Under 21 team when the new Covid variant resulted in the postponement of the Junior World Cup that was scheduled for Potchefstroom in South Africa from 5th – 16th December. So much work has been put into preparing the squad and producing a detailed and amazing online programme of 88 pages. It was an honour to write the introduction for this programme. We hope that it can be rescheduled in the not-too-distant future. The team travelled to Spain instead for a quickly arranged Four Nations tournament in Valencia from Wednesday, December 8 to Sunday, December 12.

I was an observer at Hockey Ireland’s EGM which was held online on Thursday 25th November.

On various weekends, I have enjoyed watching matches closer to home. On 16th October I watched the first half of Irish Trophy game between NICS and Queens at Stormont with Queens leading, then made my way to Lagan College to see the second half of the Irish Senior Cup match Annadale playing Pembroke. There was a good crowd of supporters for both teams, with Queens and Pembroke coming out winners.

With CEO Jerome Pels and Minister of State for Sport, Jack Chambers

On 20th November, I looked in at the EYHL 2 game at Queens Playing Fields to watch the home team play UNIG and come out winners 3-0, then went to Newforge to see a very close game with Pegasus drawing 3-3 with UCD in their EYHL 1 match. On 4th December, on a bitterly cold afternoon at Deramore, I watched a closely contested game between Belfast Harlequins and Muckross, with the home side coming out on top with a winning score of 2-1. On Sunday 5th December, after the online Hockey Ireland Board Meeting, I called into Lisnagarvey Hockey Club to see the Under 21 Interprovincial game between Ulster and Leinster with Leinster coming out the stronger side to take their chances in the circle and win 3-1.

A great crowd of supporters braved a damp and cold afternoon on Wednesday 8th December for the McCullough Cup Final, to watch a close and exciting match between Banbridge Academy and Wallace High School. Wallace took an early lead but Banbridge came back strongly and won this prestigious cup 3-1.

In a post-match chat, I was talking to one of the school Principals who congratulated Ulster Hockey and Hockey Ireland for the continuation of hockey in the current pandemic situation, as events like these are important to be kept running in the school calendar. I arrived home in time to tune in to the webinar for the Olympic Federation of Ireland’s EGM, as the voting delegate for Hockey Ireland.

Last Sunday, 12th December I was delighted to attend the opening of the newly surfaced hockey pitch at Dundalk Grammar School with Trevor Watkins and Shane O’Donoghue. Our thanks go to the Principal, Mr Jonathan Graham and to the Board of Governors for making us very welcome. We enjoyed watching the Senior Girls play against Boyne and must congratulate both teams on a very sporting and skilful game of hockey. A timelapse, showing the tremendous work that had gone into removing the former playing surface, that had lasted 27 years, to the laying of the new pitch, was an excellent idea and a two-minute video, shown during refreshments, summed up the work very well.

From Dundalk I travelled to the Antrim Forum to watch indoor matches and present the winners of the Under 18 Girls’ Tournament, Coleraine with the trophy. My congratulations go to all the teams that took part during the afternoon. I look forward to returning to the Antrim Forum on 28th and 29th December Ireland’s men and women in their international matches against Scotland.

Unfortunately in the build up to the festive season, we are back to online meetings but let us hope that our matches can continue uninterrupted.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a healthy and enjoyable 2022.

Ann Rosa

19th December 2021

At the opening of Dundalk GS’s new pitch

,

President’s Newsletter – October 2021

It is great that hockey is going again and restrictions have eased. Schools and Clubs are back in action, the EYHL matches are underway and leagues in the provinces have commenced.

After watching exciting games, during the Olympics in July, we are proud of what the girls achieved as great sporting ambassadors for hockey in Ireland. They had tough matches against South Africa, the Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain and were unlucky against the surprise team, India. However, they can draw on their experience and prepare for their world qualifying tournament in Pisa from 21st to 24th October. Our best wishes go to Sean Dancer and his squad of players.

I enjoyed watching the build-up games for the Men’s Senior team when they played a Great Britain Development team in 4 games at Lisnagarvey from 4th to 8th August. Mark Tumilty played a young squad as part of the preparation for the European Division B tournament in Gniezno, Poland and finished the series with four very sound wins. The tournament in Poland was live-streamed and we were able to see the men reach the semi-finals and qualify for the World Qualifying Tournament in Cardiff, where they will fae Russia in their first game on 21st October.

In super sunny weather, the Celtic Cup Masters Tournament was played at Civil Service Sports Association pitches at Stormont from 27th to 29th August. Unfortunately, the French teams were unable to travel, but teams from NICS, Instonians and Ulster Over 55s played instead of them in friendly games. I must congratulate all the players for their incredible levels of fitness – playing three 75-minute matches in three days in hot temperatures; very well played everyone!  The winners of the Over 60s age-group were Scotland, with Wales as runners-up. Ireland won the Over 65s, with Scotland runners-up and Wales came out winners of the Over 70s, with Scotland as runners-up.

On 1st September I chaired the IHUA Annual General Meeting online. My thanks go to the Committee and IHUA Chair, Rob Argent for all the background work and reports that had been circulated prior to the meeting. This made chairing the AGM a much easier task for me.

The Four Provinces Advisory Committee has been meeting since 27th June. After an introductory meeting, Kevin Keane gave a presentation to the Provincial representatives and past President, Martin Canniffe, on understanding the function of the Provincial entity versus the function of the National entity.   Kevin then gave the same talk to Board Directors on Sunday 26th September.

Our first face to face Board Meeting, for many months, was held in the Clayton Hotel, Liffey Valley on Sunday 5th September. It was good to meet new and standing Board Members in person as many of us felt that we were ‘zoomed out’ with online meetings. Board Chairman, Trevor Watkins, is aiming for every other meeting to be held in person.

The European Hockey Federation Congress was planned to take place in Prague on 20th August; I had been asked to represent Ireland and give a talk on how the Irish Women’s World Cup silver medal and Olympic qualification had inspired the nation, but it had to be postponed due to the latest Czech Government’s travel regulations. However, I was the voting delegate for Ireland when the Congress was held online on Saturday 18th September and we were delighted when Inez Cooper was elected Female Vice-President of the Executive Board of the EHF.

President George Millar presenting Bangor’s Centenary Plaque.

A weekend of celebrations took place on 17th & 18th September for Bangor Hockey Club’s centenary. I was invited to the book launch in the North Down Museum and to the dinner in the Clandeboye Lodge Hotel the following evening. Bangor Hockey Club’s President George Millar presented a plaque and the centenary book to Hockey Ireland. There is a close link between Monkstown Hockey Club and Bangor with several Monkstown members attending the dinner. Gordon Watkins made a presentation to the Bangor from Monkstown.

On Saturday 25th September I watched the EYHL game with Lisnagarvey playing Corinthian. The result was a 3-1 win for the home team.

On Friday 1st October the traditional lunch for Hockey Ireland’s Honorary Life Members took place. This special occasion was started by Ivy Dennis and continued by Martin Canniffe when they were H.I. Presidents. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, it didn’t take place last year. A very good meal was enjoyed in the Talbot Hotel, Stillorgan and I was delighted to present new Honorary Life Members, Arlene Boyles and Martin Canniffe with their pins.

Ann Rosa is pictured presenting Arlene Boyles and Martin Canniffe with their pins. Featured in group shot are, Back row: Ray O’Connor, Ivy Dennis, John Smyth, Douglas Grey, Dixon Rose, Arlene Boyles, John Dennis, Martin Canniffe, Ann Murray & Gladys Ruddock Front row: Sally Ann Fanagan, Brian George, Doreen Howe, Daphne Hall, Joan Priestman, Ann Rosa (H.I. President), Irene Johnston & Grace Redmond

It was great to talk to Joan Priestman (née Horne) at the event. The photograph below shows Joan wearing a blazer that she had for the 1965 Great Britain and Ireland team (called the BGITTs) that played against the USA. She will travel to Wales this month for a reunion.

The tour was approved by the Women’s British & Irish Hockey Boards but was self-financed by the players. The squad comprised of 15 players: four from England, Scotland and Wales and three from Ireland, plus a manager Mrs Hopkins, the mother of the Ulster representative Thelma Hopkins. They had no coach, physio or other support staff.

Back row: Jennie Braham (England); Joan Horne (Ireland); Maureen Short (E); Helen Weir (Scotland); Bridget Cannel (E); Thelma Hopkins (I); Valerie Sinclair (S). Sitting: Mary Hyland (Wales); Janice Mitchell (S); Joyce Hunter (S); Mrs Hopkins, Manager (I); Nan Thomas (W); Ellen Toulson (E); Helen O’Neil (I). Kneeling: Barbara Stacey (W); Janet Morgan (W)

On 5th & 6th October, I supported the Ireland men in their matches against Malaysia at Lisnagarvey Hockey Club.  The Malaysian men are the currently ranked 11th in the world and gave 14th-ranked Ireland strong opponents in the lead-up to their important World Cup qualifier event. The ‘Speedy tigers were on a European Tour, playing games against France and Wales and English Clubs. Ireland came out on top 3-1 in the first game but Malaysia were clear winners in the second game 4-2. Apparently, the visitors have really enjoyed their Irish visit and look forward to coming back.

After so little hockey match activity last season, I am looking forward to watching many more games in the next few months.

Ann Rosa

President, Hockey Ireland

October 2021

, ,

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

, ,

President’s Newsletter May 2021

It is great to see that hockey and outdoor sport can start again across the 4 provinces. It has been a long period of restrictions with no games to watch or events to attend.  I must admit I had never experienced meetings on zoom in March 2020, but this has become a daily way of hockey life over the last 14 months.

With no hockey matches and events, John Dennis, Vice-President, Linda Monaghan, National Development Manager and I were keen to communicate with smaller clubs; those that have a maximum of 3 adult teams, are not involved in EYHL and ideally have a developing youth section and have organised pilot communication meetings with these clubs.

We held our first session was on 18th March, when we were joined by club representatives from Antrim, Ashton, Crescent, Dungannon, Dungarvan, Greenfields, Kilkenny, Kinvara, Midleton, Mullingar, Priorians and Tullamore. We were pleased to welcome Eric Brady, Chair of Hockey Ireland’s Board of Directors. Topics discussed included how clubs were coping with the Covid restrictions and the impact on their Youth/Underage section; where did their Club see itself in terms of Hockey Ireland’s priorities; how did their club see a role for your Club in supporting the Women’s team for the Olympics and how was their Club coping financially, coupled with the importance of participation in National Competitions?

A second session was held on 29th April when we were joined by Eric Brady and club representatives from Abbeyleix, Athlone, Ballynahinch, Carlow, Catholic Institute, Clonakilty, Galway, Gorey, Limavady, Limerick, Naas, Raphoe, Saintfield, Tipperary and Wicklow. Over a two-hour chat, topics discussed were how had their club coped with the Covid restrictions and in particular the impact on their Youth/Underage section; how was their club keeping the link between players of all standards, leaving school and continuing to play hockey at 3rd level education; has their club a pathway for developing Under 16 players into adult hockey and would their club be interested in joining a workshop to get advice on grant applications?

We plan to continue with this project with our 3rd meeting on Wednesday 2nd June and hopefully organise a Forum at the start of the new season to feedback on questions that came up in the 3 sessions. My thanks go to John, Linda and Eric for their help, support and enthusiasm with the meetings.

When only our elite hockey players could carry on with their preparations the 3-game series that the Women played against GB in March gave us all the chance to watch live hockey on TV. The Irish women played exceptionally well and showed great determination and drive to level the series with a win, a draw and a defeat. The squad have played another series against Great Britain and continued with practice games against Scotland on 15th & 16th May before the European Championships in the Netherlands in June.

Mark Tumilty, the Senior Men’s Coach, is pleased with the progress being made by the players currently involved with the Senior Men’s Programme. Regional sessions are taking place in Leinster, Munster and Ulster midweek, with national sessions happening at the weekend. The focus in the coming weeks will be preparing for the European B division in Poland, in August. Mark hopes to confirm warm-up games against Scotland and Great Britain during June and July. It has been a difficult 12 months with many unknowns, but hopefully things are becoming clearer and the players are excited to get playing competitive matches again.

We are delighted to support Inez Cooper’s candidature for election to the Executive Board of the Federation Internationale de hockey (FIH). Inez has a long and distinguished history of involvement in hockey in Ireland and has filled significant roles at Club, Provincial and International level. In July 2021 she will celebrate eight years on the Executive Board of the European Hockey Federation (EHF). The election will take place on 22nd May.

Soon after writing my first newsletter, we heard of the passing of Vivienne Clarke, a stalwart of Hockey Ireland. Vivienne will be sadly missed as she went out of her way to help everyone. With the restrictions on travel and funeral service attendance, we were unable to join Vivienne’s family at her funeral service but were able to watch the service online and hear the very fitting tributes and joy that she brought into the life of so many. A minute’s silence, before the start of Ireland’s Sunday match against Great Britain at Queens University’s Playing Fields, enabled the hockey community to remember Vivienne.

More sad news arrived when the death of Cees Koppelaar on 26th April at the age of 81 was announced. Cees was Ireland’s first external appointment as Senior Men’s Coach from 1987 to 1997 and later became an Honorary Life Member of Hockey Ireland. He brought a new dimension to the game in Ireland, based on his vast experience in identifying young talented players in Holland. He established a network of key coaches at Interprovincial level and was a regular visitor to the provinces, where he ran training sessions for existing and potential international players. Behind his affable and friendly approach to all was a steely resolve to achieve. This focus for success was reflected in the Senior Men competing in the World Cup in Lahore in 1990 and finishing fifth in the European Championships in 1995. Tributes to him say that he “put Ireland on the map in European and World terms”.

 

Ann Rosa

, ,

President’s Newsletter February 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe.

Ann Rosa

President, Hockey Ireland

,

President’s Message September 2020

Martin Canniffe  –  Final Presidents Message

My term as President of Hockey Ireland should have finished on May 16th last when our AGM was due to be held but because of Covid-19 restrictions this has not taken place and as  per the constitution I am officially unable to hand over the Presidency to incoming President Ann Rosa until this meeting takes place.

However, I wish to say what an honour and privilege it has been for me for the past number of years, representing Hockey Ireland at Tournaments and Congresses both within the country and abroad.

I wish to thank the Branches and Clubs for all their support to during my term. It was indeed a great pleasure to meet so many people from all around the country. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic all hockey activities ceased earlier on in the year which put a stop to my travelling and this is to be regretted.

There were many highlights throughout my term, but the highlight has to be the Silver Medal won by the Women’s team  at the World Cup held in London in 2018 and this was followed closely by their qualification for the Tokyo Olympics, which then had to be postponed due to the Covid19 Pandemic.

Hopefully, these Games will go ahead in 2021. Unfortunately, on the Men’s side, it was disappointing to lose our “A Division” status at the Europeans but hopefully we will be back where we belong at the top division in a few years.

I would like to thank the Chief Executive and the staff of Hockey Ireland for all their help and assistance. I also wish to thank the Chairman and the Board of Directors for their support and I wish them well in future years.

Finally, to your new President, Ann Rosa, every success in her term of office and I must thank her for her support over the last two years, particularly during my enforced absence for a short period of time.

Best wishes,

Martin Canniffe

, ,

President’s Newsletter July 2020

Presidents Newsletter July 2020

Following the ups and downs of the International sides in their quest for Olympic Qualification, it was back to domestic hockey for the 2019/20 with the EYHL now in full swing when the Men started in September while the Ladies league started later, on November 9th due to the Ladies Olympic Qualifier in Energia Park, Donnybrook in early November.

Seven rounds were played before year end when there was a winter break during December and January when the Indoor game came to the fore with the provincial leagues taking place and the qualifiers from these took part in the National Finals which were held this year in the Kingfisher Club, NUIG, Galway on February 2nd,2020. There was a feast of Indoor hockey in this magnificent facility where the pitch size was at the maximum allowed and it took some getting used to as all the players previously played their league games in much smaller halls.

At the end of a very entertaining days hockey, the double was achieved by Railway Union where the Men defeated Three Rock Rovers in a shoot-out (1-0) following a 3-3 draw at the end of normal time and the Ladies defeated Muckross on a score-line of 2-0, ensuring both secured a place in Europe for 2021. The finals this year were streamed live on the Euro-Hockey Channel and the commentator was “the voice of Hockey in Europe”, Nick Irvine.

On Wednesday March 4th, I was invited by the Ulster Branch to attend the Final of the Belfast Telegraph Senior Schools Cup Final in Lisnagarvey between Belfast Royal Academy and Friends School Lisburn. It was a bright sunny spring day and we were entertained by two very good hockey teams in an excellent final where BRA excelled and  were deserved winners on a 4-2 score-line. This was the first time that they have won the Cup since 1974.

After this competition things changed in the world with the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic which necessitated the cessation of all aspects relating to hockey. First to be hit were the schools with the cancellation of the Schoolboys All Ireland (John Waring), All Ireland Schoolgirls (Kate Russell), June Smith competition and latterly the Junior Inter-pros in May. Both the EYHL and EYHL2 competitions were stopped as per a HI communication on April 9th and declared null and void as there were too many games left to play to determine a fair final ranking for the season. The Champions Trophy was also cancelled.

The Hockey Ireland Annual General was also postponed from May 16 and has now been rescheduled for August 22nd.

, ,

President’s Newsletter December 2019

The new hockey season is now in full swing but let me start this Newsletter by going back to June of this year when the FIH World Series Finals for the Road to Tokyo both for the Women and the Men took place during this month.

The Women’s team were first out of the blocks when the tournament was held at Banbridge Hockey Club from June 8th to June 16th. A very big thank you to Banbridge Hockey Club for hosting this tournament at short notice when there wasn’t a suitable venue available in Dublin. Following a very gruelling schedule of pool matches both Ireland and Korea came top of their groups and came together in the Final on June 16 where Korea got the better of Ireland on a score line of 3-1. Both teams then qualified to go forward to the next phase for the qualifiers to take place in November.

A special mention must go to all the members of Banbridge Hockey Club along with all the other volunteers from the various clubs in Ireland. A special mention must also go to Inez Cooper and Joan Morgan for steering the ship for this event. During the event there was also a reception by the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council which was attended by various dignitaries.

The Men’s team had to travel to Le Touquet, in France for their World Series Tournament which overlapped with the Women’s event in Banbridge. In this event both Ireland and France topped their respective pools and played of for the No 1 spot and this honour went to France on a score of 3-1 in a very tough encounter. However, both France and Ireland advanced to the Olympic Qualifiers to be played in October.

August was the month for the European Championships which were held this year in Antwerp, Belgium which unfortunately due to illness, I was unable to travel to at the last minute. The Women’s team had a very satisfactory tournament finishing a very credible 5th position. However, the same can’t be said of the Men’s side who unfortunately lost their Division 1 status and will be fighting hard over the next number of years to regain this position.

On August 31st I was invited to Mossley Hockey Clubs annual dinner where they were celebrating their 90th year in existence. It was a very special occasion and a very enjoyable evening where the speeches weren’t too long but very entertaining. The dinner was held in the Old Mill and the evening ended with a lot of the guests returning to the Clubhouse to finish off their evening.

September saw both the Boys and Girls Interpros taking place with the Boys competing in Belfast where the Ulster boys were victorious in the U16 competition with Munster taking the honours in the U18 event. In fact, this was the first time that Munster won these Interpros since 2005 where the Harte brothers David & Conor were represented on this team.

The Girls Interpros took place this year in Garryduff, Cork where Ulster had a clean sweep in both the U16 and U18 competitions taking regaining the honours from Leinster who won both in 2018.
On September 7th as President I was invited to chair the AGM of the IHUA which was very well attended this year.

On October 14th I was invited to attend the Cork City & County Youth Awards where the month of September winner was a hockey player. Kevin O’Dea of C of I hockey club and Ashton School was the recipient of this award for captaining the Munster U18 team who brought the trophy back to Munster for the first time in fourteen years. Kevin was also the Captain of the Irish U18 team which competed in the Europeans in 2018 which were held in the Mardyke in Cork.

Later in October the All Ireland Schoolboys Championships took place this year in Dublin where seven venues were used during the three day competition. The weather was magnificent for the first two days but unfortunately on the Friday of the tournament the rain was incessant as both semi finals were played in atrocious conditions, however the four teams put on a magnificent display of hockey despite the weather. The final took place later that afternoon, still in bad conditions, at Columbus College between High School and St Andrews when after a magnificent comeback by High School in the second half they forced the game to a Shootout which they subsequently won on sudden death with a score of 7-6 to take the Tasmanian Shield back to High School for the very first time.

This year also saw the introduction of a Plate Competition for the inaugural Herbie Sharman Shield, which was presented by Kilkenny College. Herbie was a former teacher in the College for 27 years and was also a coach for the school and was manager of many underage Leinster and Irish teams as well as being President of Hockey Ireland from 2010/2012. This competition is played for by the runners up in the 4 pools and this year’s final was between two Cork sides, Ashton and Bandon, with Bandon winning out on this occasion with a score line of 1-0.

November was a big month for Irish Hockey with both the Men’s and Women’s teams playing their respective Olympic Qualifiers for a place in Tokyo 2020. Both teams were drawn against Canadian opposition, with the men playing away in Vancouver and the women playing at home in Energia Park in Donnybrook.

At the end of the second leg in Vancouver, the game finished in controversial circumstances with the Irish team coming out the wrong end of a very unusual umpiring decision. As a result of this the Men’s side will not now, due to this unfortunate incident be going to the Tokyo Olympics next year.

The Ireland Women’s team played Canada on a specially laid an International Hockey pitch to the same standard as the Tokyo Olympic Polytan pitch on a rugby ground in Energia Park in Donnybrook, Dublin. This was achieved with the help of 57 local volunteers with over 350 hours over three sessions to deliver this project. Having drawn the first leg 0-0 in atrocious conditions the stage was set for an intriguing second game. On a much better night for hockey watched by over 6137 people in the stadium and a peak live audience of 397,000 watching on TV. Again, after a nail biting finish, not the best hockey game we’ve seen, it again finished in stalemate at 0-0. So, we went to the dreaded shoot outs. After the first three rounds Ireland were down 1-3….. enter goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran to once again make two crucial saves (as in last year’s World Cup) while Beth Barr and Chloe Watkins both scored and to set up a sudden death scenario. Roisin Upton stepped up to take the first shoot out and squeezed the ball into the net from a very acute angle while Ayeshia went on to thwart the Canadian player. The Canadian player came forward to take her shoot out but failed to score within the 8 seconds allowed.

And so, the celebrations could begin, the Irish team made history by becoming the first Women’s Hockey team to make an appearance at an Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. Many congratulations to Coach Sean Dancer and all the backroom staff on a magnificent achievement.

On Saturday November 9th I, along with my wife Anne were invited guests to the 125th Anniversary Dinner of Monkstown Hockey Club. This event was held at The Pavilion, Leopardstown where 220 guests sat down to an excellent meal which was followed by dancing until the early hours. I spoke on behalf of Hockey Ireland to respond to a toast to Ireland. A very enjoyable night was had in excellent company.

I want to take this opportunity of wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and peaceful 2020.

Martin Canniffe, Hockey Ireland President.