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Irish Squad No Longer Travelling To Malaysia

The recently announced Irish Squad trip to Malaysia has been cancelled as of this morning. Over the past two weeks Hockey Ireland and their key stakeholders have been working tirelessly to provide the opportunity to travel to Malaysia for heat and humidity training and competition. Having constantly monitored the situation throughout this period, due to changing conditions in the past 24 hours, the difficult decision has been taken not to travel.

Speaking on the decision, Head Coach Sean Dancer said, “We informed the squad early this morning, and everyone is disappointed that we will not be able to make this opportunity happen.

“At this point in our build up to Europeans and the Olympics, the health and wellbeing of our staff and players is paramount. Weighing up the potential performance benefit of heat and humidity versus the uncertainties we live with at this time globally, particularly with travel and quarantine periods, has been incredibly difficult.

“I am confident we can control our build up well in Ireland to put the team in the best position to compete this summer.”

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Ireland Women Squad travel to Malaysia for Match Opportunities in Tokyo-like Conditions

The Irish Women’s squad will travel to Malaysia tomorrow as part of their preparation for the conditions they will face in Tokyo this summer. A twenty strong squad will travel on the 9th of April and return on the 28th, basing themselves out of Malaysia National Hockey Stadium, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur while there.

Also travelling will be recent opponents Great Britain, similarly, hoping to use the trip as an opportunity to prepare for conditions expected at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. The Irish women are scheduled to play Great Britain at least four times throughout the period, while also taking on hosts Malaysia. These matches will all be uncapped.

The squad travelling is as follows:

CAREY, Michelle                                 Leinster                 Midfielder             Uncapped

CARROLL, Naomi                                Munster               Striker                     111

COLVIN, Elizabeth                              Ulster                    Midfielder             196

DALY, Nicola                                        Leinster                Midfielder             189

DUKE, Deirdre                                     Leinster                Midfielder             141

EVANS, Nicola                                     Leinster                Striker                     198

HAWKSHAW, Sarah                           Leinster                Midfielder             33

MALSEED, Zara                                   Ulster                    Striker                   Uncapped

MATTHEWS, Hannah                        Leinster                Defender               147

McAULEY, Sarah                                 Leinster                Defender               Uncapped

McCAY, Shirley                                    Ulster                    Defender                306

McLOUGHLIN, Hannah                     Leinster                Defender               14

MULLAN, Kathryn (C)                       Ulster                    Midfielder             193

MURPHY, Elizabeth                           Leinster                Goalkeeper          13

O’FLANAGAN, Anna                           Leinster                Striker                    207

O’FLANAGAN, Grace                          Leinster                Goalkeeper          36

TICE, Elena                                           Leinster                Defender                109

TORRANS, Sarah                                 Leinster                Striker                     26

UPTON, Roisin                                     Munster               Defender                 76

WATKINS, Chloe                                 Leinster                Midfielder              226

Notable absences from the squad include Ayeisha McFerran who remains on duty with Dutch Hoofdklasse club SV Kampong.

Speaking on the trip announcement, Performance Director Adam Grainger said, “This is a great opportunity for this squad ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer. We had hoped all along to be able organise a warm weather training camp or arrange for matches to take place in a climate similar to what the team will experience in Tokyo.

It’s been a challenging process with so many moving parts; the changing restrictions and ensuring we are minimising the risk of COVID to our athletes and their families while also providing them with the best opportunity to perform at the Olympics this summer.

With the work that has gone into the organisation of this trip, and with Great Britain also travelling to Malaysia during this time frame, we’re confident that we’re providing the squad with the best chance to play in those humid conditions as well as athlete safety being paramount.”

 

Match dates and times:

Remain TBC.

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Watkins Perspective on GB Win and Big Summer Ahead

Chloe Watkins says Ireland’s recent victory over reigning Olympic gold medalists Great Britain is both hugely important and unimportant at the same time as the Green Army mount up for a big summer ahead.

She played a starring role in central midfield as Ireland beat GB for the first time ever, landing a 2-1 success in an overall drawn three-game series, scoring the equalising goal in that tie.

But she is wary of getting too far ahead of herself with a European Championships in June – which doubles as a World Cup qualifier – and the Olympics following six weeks later.

“It was a big scalp for us so that was obviously a huge positive,” she said this week in her role as an FBD ambassador, one of Team Ireland’s (the Olympic Federation of Ireland) sponsors.

“But, at the same time, we are aware it was a friendly series and we are still a couple of months out.

“We are not looking to peak yet and there’s a lot of work and preparation to go. It was a good temperature check after a long period of training to say things are going in the right direction. It’s nice to see things gelling in matches which you have been working on in training. All in all, a positive experience for us.”

Indeed, after precious few international fixtures, it was a relief that things were on track. In a normal year, Ireland’s women could expect to play between 30 and 40 capped fixtures; Watkins has in excess of 200 caps.

As such, with just a January series against Spain under their belt in the past year, there was no idea of what to expect.

“I was apprehensive going into the GB series. I didn’t know where we would stand and often a March series is a tough one because you come off the back of a long training period and there is fatigue.

“You are not necessarily peaking for a tournament so sometimes it can go wrong. It was great to get good results, good performances most importantly and feeling like we controlled things in a way we hadn’t done before against them. We can take that confidence into the next few months.”

It was also the first time the Irish team were seen on the big screen since qualifying for Tokyo back in November 2019.

At the time, they were riding high on the crest of a wave with the 2018 World Cup silver medal also fresh in the mind.

The GB series was live-streamed on both RTE and BBC Northern Ireland with RTE2 carrying one of the games on a Sunday evening; helping to get the wheels back onto the bandwagon after a year training away mainly behind closed doors.

“Publicity is not too much at the front of our minds but we had a lot of momentum from the qualifiers coming into the Olympic run-in in 2020.

“Confidence, interest, excitement was high – all that stuff so getting some of that momentum and generating interest and excitement again in the team is always a good thing. Getting confidence up in the squad in good performances will always help.”

One element will be missing in Tokyo, however, this summer with confirmation no overseas fans can attend. It was such a strong feature of the 2018 World Cup when more than half of the 15,000 Lee Valley Stadium in London was bedecked in green.

“It is hard for them,” Watkins says as her family members have to scrap what plans they had in place.

“This was going to be a high point for them as well as us. From a squad’s perspective, we are happy to be able to go out there and compete. Obviously, [our fans] all wanted to be able to go out there but I have no doubt they will be loud and in full-green from head to toe, finding ways to celebrate at home.”

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Match Report. Ireland v Great Britain in Match 3 of SoftCo Series

16 March 2021

Ireland 1 (Upton), Great Britain 1 (Petters).

The third and final match of the SoftCo Series took place this afternoon in Queen’s University Belfast, seeing an even performance from both GB and Ireland. Both teams having a large number of close opportunities in the circle throughout the match.

GB’s Owlsey got the game off to a fast start, passing to Rayer in the Irish circle, but Ireland defended well and created an opportunity shortly. O’Flanagan had the first real opportunity for Ireland, with Hinch’s save rebounding just out of Zara Malseed’s reach. Both sides brought plenty of energy to the game, seemingly relevantly evenly matched in the opening quarter. Some nice skill from Michelle Carey brought the ball right up the pitch create chance for O’Flanagan, however Hinch prevented her from putting Ireland on the score board.

There was some strong play seen in the backline from Tice and McCay pushing the ball up the pitch, with McFerran quickly clearing it away some of the GB opportunities that got through the Ireland defence. Strong running by Malseed saw Ireland awarded the first penalty corner of the game but Tice’s deflection was defended by GB. A challenge on the Irish circle saw Upton coming through with strong interception, running it up to Carroll winning a penalty corner by pulling it into a GB foot. Tice took the shot again, this time resulting in another penalty corner being awarded, with the following penalty corner also being kept out.

Owsley’s challenge on the Irish circle provided a penalty corner opportunity for GB, with Pearne-Webb’s shot finding Mullan’s foot and awarding a second penalty corner opportunity. A similar play saw the ball kept out and the first quarter ended 0 – 0.

An intense second quarter saw both teams challenging each other but neither being able to finish off the plays. Megan Frazer gave some strong passes down the line towards the forwards. Matthews managed to pass the ball to the top of the circle, allowing Daly to take it on the reverse, however it was a strong save from Hinch again. GB countered this with a fast-paced play, entering the Irish circle but McFerran slid under the ball and cleared it, while Frazer soared over her unable to slow her pace in her commitment to defend the goal. Ireland used the backline a lot opening up the game, but GB continued to try forcing them out left for most of the play. A McCay pass gave Watkins a long shot up the middle of the pitch towards a quite GB circle, however it was just out of reach of Naomi Carroll before going out of play. McCallin followed up with challenged on McFerran who calmly booted the ball out via the wing. Michelle Carey received the first green card of the game with some fumble tackles with 90 seconds left of the clock. Both teams continued to challenge each other throughout, with good approach play, however, strong defence denied the final touches for both sides. The half-time buzzer went, and the sides remained nil all.

GB got the second half underway with an aerial seeing the first free hit go to Ireland. After a bit of pressure on the Irish defence with GB pressing into the circle, Daly managed to enter the GB circle. Despite finding GB defence, it supplied Watkins with another opportunity on goal, but the ball just slipped past the post.

Frazer continued showing a strong front, reading the game well taking a bit of pressure off the defence as GB managed to take a couple of chances at getting into the circle. Torrans slipped the ball up to the GB circle where GB take back possession. An interception by Watkins sees a free to Ireland taken quickly by Daly who wins a penalty corner for Ireland. The ball is played into Tice tipping off a GB player awarding Ireland another penalty corner. Yet another penalty corner is awarded, with the final one deflected out wide and moves back down the pitch.

GB respond by pushing the ball back down the pitch, giving them control for a spell, with a few attempts at entering the circle but a strong defence saw Tice clearing the ball up towards Mullan in the GB circle, who dives to it but slides under the ball missing it slightly as it goes wide of the goal.

Ireland were awarded another penalty corner, with Upton with the drag flick, which is saved by Hinch bring it into one of her own players awarding Ireland another penalty corner. Upton again, this time Hinch controls it pushing it wide. GB putting the pressure back on McFerran again but McFerran swiping under and clearing the ball. Tice also showing a strong front not allowing GB in again pushing it out the wings. The last 30 sec see Ireland defending their goal with some nice passing between Tice and McCay.

After an intense penultimate quarter, both sides come back to the pitch fighting for a goal. The first penalty corner of the final quarter goes to Ireland. Daly interjecting, to Upton and Watkins at top shooting but the ball is saved again by Hinch. Frazer received a green card, but O’Flanagan finishing off the play by winning a PC. The shot comes in for McCay but is deflected wide.

While Ireland is down to ten players, GB’s Ansley continues to put the pressure on. Upton remains solid in defence, pushing GB away from the goal putting the ball up to Mullan, seeing Daly securing another penalty corner. The ball is fumbled at the top but taken under control, out to Upton, before another penalty corner is secured. The ball is stopped on the line under the body of Hinch after a scramble at the mouth of the goal looking like one of the Carey’s had gotten it across. A penalty stroke is awarded to Ireland and Upton steps up to secure the lead for Ireland, putting her third shot past Hinch in three games.

GB seemed to bring a renewed energy to the final few minutes to gain an equaliser. Robertson received a green card in the last five minutes putting GB down to ten players. Despite being a player down, Townsend presses on the circle, McCay takes back possession for Ireland in the home circle before being intercepted by Petters who steps up on the reverse stick beating McFerran, putting it into the corner giving GB the equalizer.

A yellow card for Watkins saw GB putting immense pressure on Ireland in the last few minutes. GB stretched the pitch rolling the ball around the back attempting one or two shots but remained denied another goal. Upton showing strong, keeping calm and controlling the ball denying GB any entry to the circle. A chance for Costello is shot across the circle and goes out wide. GB forced the ball into the circle in the last few seconds, but Ireland defends well seeing the game finish Ireland 1 – 1 GB.

Speaking after the match, Roisin Upton said “Immediate response is disappointment to the third game, the opportunity was there to win it by a couple. But in general, it’s been a fantastic four days, and we’ll take a lot of confidence into whatever comes next.

We’ve been training hard over the last eight months after we came out of lockdown in September, so it’s been great to have these games to get tested against the best. They’re the reigning Olympic Champions and we’ve got three fantastic games in the bag now that we can reflect on and look back on. There’ll be a lot of take away, it’s been a good four days.”

Ireland:  A McFerran, Z Malseed, R Upton, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, N Carroll, C Watkins, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan, S McAuley; M Carey, M Frazer, G O’Flanagan, N Daly, H Matthews, S Torrans, N Carey, D Duke.

Great Britain: S Robertson, I Petter, L Owsley, F Crackles, G Ansley, J Hunter, S Evans, E Rayer, S Townsend, S McCallin, L Unsworth, L Wilkinson, G Balsdon, H Pearne-Webb, A Costello, M Hinch, S Heesh, E Burge.

 

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Match Report. Ireland v Great Britain in Match 2 of SoftCo Series.

Ireland 2 (Watkins, Upton), Great Britain 1 (Unsworth).

The second match of the SoftCo Series in Queen’s University Belfast got underway this evening, with Great Britain bringing a noticeably faster start than the opening of yesterday’s match. However, Ireland remained strong from the off, with Lena Tice making a remarkable on the line save from a well targeted Unsworth shot. McFerran proved to be in strong form in the opening quarter keeping a chance from Rayer from allowing GB to get on the scoreboard, before following up by saving a penalty corner against Ireland shortly after.

The opening quarter held plenty of opportunities for both teams, with Deirdre Duke and Sarah Hawkshaw both finding themselves in the GB circle but failing to secure a goal. GB’s Jones and Ansley also created opportunities for themselves close to the Irish goal, but Jones scuffed her shot while Ansley was defended out. Meanwhile Beth Barr played strongly on the wing creating space and moving the ball up the pitch well.

Colvin and McLoughlin worked well together in the second quarter in midfield. An Owlsey and Robertson attack on the Irish circle resulted in a free out to Ireland. Hawkshaw made herself a nuisance to the GB defence on several occasions but the sides remained level. GB’s Owsley found a gap and went on a long attacking run, McLoughlin followed her and they were met by two more Irish defenders, however the defence resulted in a penalty corner to GB. Toman took the shot on McFerran who saved aptly.

Nikki Evans with possession, passing to Duke who provided Colvin with a real chance on Hinch in the GB goal, however it wasn’t to be and the score remained nil all. Watkins found a gap shortly after and smacked the ball down the pitch, however there was no on hand to receive it and the opportunity passed. A Mullan pass across the GB circle was intercepted by Ellie Rayer who showed serious speed to move it back down to challenge Ireland. GB’s Sarah Evans drove the ball across the Irish goal providing Laura Unsworth a chance to steer it past McFerran to give GB the lead.

A goal down Michelle Carey continued pressing from the left, while Hawkshaw continued from the right, with both intercepted by GB defence in short succession. A chance for Jones again in the Irish circle was scuppered as McFerran deflected out to Tice.

The second half brought high energy from both sides. A Colvin assist to Watkins saw a skilful reverse shot sail past Hinch and hit the backboard for the equaliser. Owsley and McCallin tried to re-instate GB’s lead shortly afterwards, but a McFerran booted the ball out of harms way to keep the sides level. McCay created an opportunity for Duke and Mullan in the GB circle which failed to produce a goal, while GB’s Owsley was kept out of Ireland’s circle by Roisin Upton as the third quarter came to a close.

The final quarter saw Liz Murphy see off a strong challenge from Rayer and Roberston. Nikki Evans secured a lovely play to move back towards the GB circle but was intercepted by Toman. With just over ten minutes on the clock Michelle Carey was given a Green Card, followed shortly after by Shirley McCay receiving a Yellow Card. Despite being two players down Ireland continued to press, with a Watkins attack leading to a penalty corner for Ireland. Watkins’ shot was on target from the penalty corner but Hinch kept the ball out of the GB goal before quickly saving another shot by Anna O’Flanagan.

To add to the drama of the final quarter, a second Yellow Card of the game was given, this time to GB’s Jones. Chloe Watkins providing the assist for Anna O’Flanagan saw O’Flanagan get taken down in the GB circle resulting in a penalty stroke. Mirroring yesterday’s performance, Upton secured another goal for Ireland getting the ball past Hinch giving Ireland a goal lead.

The energy continued in the final minutes of the game with both sides continuing to push each other. However, the final buzzer went with Ireland 2 – GB 1.

Speaking after the match, Captain Katie Mullan said “We’ve never beaten the GB team before, they’re current Olympic Gold Medalists, so to do it on home soil is special. I think the character of the girls, in the second half especially, was second to none and I’m so proud of their performance. 

At international level it’s the fine margins, but we stayed in it and we fought the tough fight in the first half. We came out all guns blazing in the second half, and I think there was nothing going to stop us in that second half. We’re delighted with the win today.”

The third match of the series takes place Tuesday at 15:00, and can be watched live on the BBC Sport NI website, the BBC iPlayer, and the RTE player.

Ireland:  A McFerran, N Evans, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, B Barr, C Watkins, L Colvin, H Matthews, S Torrans, A O’Flanagan; L Murphy, M Carey, R Upton, H McLoughlin, S Hawkshaw, N Carey, D Duke.

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

 

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Match Report. Ireland v Great Britain in Match 1 of SoftCo Series.

13 March 2021

Ireland 1 (Upton), Great Britain 2 (Owsley, Roberston).

It’s been 497 days since the Irish women’s squad played their last international match on home soil, but on a cold and blustery day in Queen’s University, Belfast, the team returned to the pitch in excellent form.

Anna O’Flanagan brought a strong attacking energy from the get-go, creating several chances for Ireland in the opening quarter. A penalty corner to GB early in the first quarter was the only real opportunity to present itself for GB with Ireland the dominant team for the first half of the match. A deflection from Unsworth to Ansley was defended, with the rebound shot hitting the back board after an umpire whistle had gone keeping the sides nil all.

Upton put Ireland in the lead shortly after when a penalty stroke was award for a tackle on O’Flanagan in the circle. Grace O’Flanagan was strong in goal through the first half, with a shot from Roberston saved well. Michelle Carey and Sarah McAuley made their presence well known throughout the first quarter. GB’s Jones managed a lone run towards the Irish goal, however McAuley was on hand to push her back out in the last chance of the quarter for GB. Torrans and Carey continued to press at the opposite end of the pitch until the end of quarter buzzer.

Anna O’Flanagan was on fire again as the second quarter got underway, defending a GB attack on the Irish circle in the opening minute. Jones made another attempt to get a clear shot on the Ireland goal, however Hannah McLoughlin was on hand to keep her at bay. Lizzie Colvin provided Naomi Carroll the chance to take a reverse shot on the GB goal, which went just wide of the mark. A penalty Corner to Ireland saw a Barr deflection and Upton flick saved by Hinch. GB’s Owlsey was denied a chance as McLoughlin expertly stepped in to keep Ireland in the lead. Owsley returned again shortly after, this time managing to take a shot on the goal, and this time Carey prevented GB from getting on the score board.

The opening of the second half saw GB hit the post with a penalty stroke. It wasn’t long before GB were back along the left wing, shooting across the square with the equaliser secured from Ansley. Ireland were back attacking shortly after, with Malseed taking a reverse shot at the goal which went wide of the target.

GB were awarded a penalty corner 10minutes in to the second half, with Liz Murphy this time showing off her skill with an impressive save on the line. Malseed secured another opportunity for herself getting inside the GB circle shortly afterwards, but was defended off the goal. Upton continued to press but was forced out also.

A penalty corner to Ireland saw Carroll deflect to Matthews for a shot. The shot was saved, however the rebound resulted in a scuffle for the ball with Evans getting the ball across the goal to be tapped in although the umpire’s whistle had already gone.

Robertson secured the final goal of the game in the opening minute of the final quarter, giving GB the lead. GB became the more dominant of the two teams as the final quarter unfolded, creating more and more opportunities for themselves. Despite this, Ireland remained strong with O’Flanagan, Carey, and Hawkshaw all continuing to create chances near the GB circle.

Speaking after the match, Captain Katie Mullan said “It’s always a tight game [with GB], and we’ve come away a number of times thinking we should have won, and today would maybe be one of those days, where split second decisions where we’ve switched off and they’ve punished us. That’s what they do so well, and you just can’t afford to give them those opportunities in international hockey, so we’ve got to go back to the drawing board and learn from those tomorrow.”

The second match of the series takes place tomorrow at 17:00. Coverage starts from 16:30 on RTE2, and 16:50 on BBC Sport NI.

Ireland: G O’Flanagan; S McCay; S McAuley; H Matthews; K Mullan; R Upton; S Hawkshaw; L Colvin; N Evans; A O’Flanagan; N Carroll; L Murphy; H McLoughlin; B Barr; M Frazer; M Carey; Z Malseed; S Torrans.

GB: J Hunter, S Jones; S Robertson; S Evans; I Petter; S McCallin; S Townsend; L Owsley; L Unsworth; F Crackles; L Wilkinson; G Balsdon; G Ansley; H Pearne-Webb; A Toman; M Hinch.

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Irish Women’s Squad Announcement for SoftCo Series

The SoftCo Series, which will take place in Queen’s University Belfast this weekend with the Irish Women taking on Great Britain, will see a number of changes to the Green Army panel.

The panel will continue to see a mix of internationally experienced players, with several World Cup medallists included, while also incorporating more young and upcoming talent. The panel is as follows:

PLAYER                                                Region                  Position               CAPS

BARR, Beth                                           Ulster                    Defender                30

CAREY, Michelle                                 Leinster                 Midfielder             Uncapped

CAREY, Niamh                                     Leinster                Striker                    Uncapped

CARROLL, Naomi                                Munster               Striker                     111

COLVIN, Elizabeth                              Ulster                    Midfielder             196

DALY, Nicola                                        Leinster                Midfielder             189

DUKE, Deirdre                                     Leinster                Midfielder             141

EVANS, Nicola                                     Leinster                Striker                     198

FRAZER, Megan                                  Ulster                    Defender               136

HAWKSHAW, Sarah                           Leinster                Midfielder             33

MALSEED, Zara                                   Ulster                    Striker                   Uncapped

MATTHEWS, Hannah                        Leinster                Defender               147

MCAULEY, Sarah                                                 Leinster                Defender                    Uncapped

McCAY, Shirley                                    Ulster                    Defender              306

McFERRAN, Ayeisha                          Ulster                    Goal Keeper         100

McLOUGHLIN, Hannah                     Leinster                Defender               14

MULLAN, Kathryn (C)                       Ulster                    Midfielder             193

MURPHY, Elizabeth                           Leinster                Goal Keeper          13

O’FLANAGAN, Anna                           Leinster                Striker                    207

O’FLANAGAN, Grace                          Leinster                Goal Keeper          36

TICE, Elena                                           Leinster                Defender                109

TORRANS, Sarah                                 Leinster                Striker                     26

UPTON, Roisin                                     Munster               Defender                 76

WATKINS, Chloe                                 Leinster                Midfielder              226

A notable absence to the squad is Zoe Wilson who picked up an ACL injury in the final game played against Spain earlier this year. She has undergone surgery and her recovery is progressing well. Caoimhe Perdue of Munster will also travel with the panel taking part in training sessions and gaining valuable exposure to senior international level hockey.

Head Coach Sean Dancer commenting on the updated panel said “These matches give us the opportunity to test an extended group of players against a world class team. Niamh Carey performed well as a late replacement on the Spanish tour in January and Sarah McAuley has shown competitiveness and composure in defence in recent inter squad matches. I look forward to getting back to high quality international matches with the squad at the weekend.”

All matches in the SoftCo Series will be available to view via streaming or broadcast. BBC Sport NI will be streaming all three matches on their website as well as the BBC iPlayer, while RTÉ will broadcast Sunday evening’s match live on RTÉ 2 with coverage starting from 16:30. Nigel Ringland will present BBC Sport NI’s coverage of the three matches and will be joined on commentary by former Ireland international Alex Speers; while Evanne Ní Chuillin will present RTÉ’s coverage, joined by Cliodhna Sargent and Gillian Pinder in studio, with match commentary from George Hamilton and Sarah Scott.

Match dates, times and where to watch:
Match 1: Saturday March 13th @ 2pm. BBC Sport NI website, BBC iPlayer. RTE Player TBC.
Match 2: Sunday March 14th @ 5pm. BBC Sport NI website, BBC iPlayer, RTE 2
Match 3: Tuesday March 16th @ 3pm. BBC Sport NI website, BBC iPlayer. RTE Player TBC.

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Ireland to take on Great Britain in SoftCo Series

Green Army to take on Great Britain in SoftCo Series

2 March 2021

Hockey Ireland is excited to announce the SoftCo Series which will take place in Queen’s University Belfast, with the Irish Women taking on Great Britain on Saturday the 13th, Sunday the 14th and Tuesday the 16th of March. The uncapped series matches against Great Britain are the first international matches for the team on home soil since the Olympic Qualifier in December 2019.

Hockey Ireland are delighted to announce that all the matches will be available to view via streaming or broadcast. BBC Sport NI will be streaming all three matches on their website as well as the BBC iPlayer, while RTÉ will broadcast Sunday evening’s match live on RTÉ 2 with coverage starting from 16:30. Nigel Ringland will present BBC Sport NI’s coverage of the three matches and will be joined on commentary by former Ireland international Alex Speers; while Evanne Ní Chuillin will present RTÉ’s coverage, joined by Cliodhna Sargent and Gillian Pinder in studio, with match commentary from George Hamilton and Sarah Scott.

The announcement comes today on the 125th anniversary of the first ever women’s international field hockey match. A year after the establishment of the Irish Ladies Hockey Association, the match took place on the 2nd of March 1896 at Alexandra College, with the Irish Women recording a 2 – 0 victory over England, with goals from Johnson and Merton sealing the win.

The matches will provide the Green Army with the opportunity to play high quality international matches ahead of an intense international summer. With the EuroHockey Championships now an integral aspect of the World Cup qualification process, the 2018 silver medallists will be keen to ensure they maximise every opportunity to allow them to perform this summer in Amstelveen not only as a warmup for the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games but also to secure their spot in the 2022 World Cup.

Speaking on the announcement, Captain Katie Mullan said: “Given the past 12 months we are really excited to play these international matches at home. The squad has been training hard throughout which showed in our recent matches against Spain. They are a strong team and we recorded two wins and two draws out of the five friendlies, putting us in a confident position going into our next block of training.

These matches against GB will be great preparation for the EuroHockey Championships this summer ahead of travelling to Tokyo. As current Olympic gold medallists GB are an experienced and strong team, so this is a really good opportunity for us to put all the training into practice ahead of this summer.”

Match dates, times and where to watch:
Match 1: Saturday March 13th @ 2pm. BBC Sport NI website, BBC iPlayer. RTE Player TBC.
Match 2: Sunday March 14th @ 5pm. BBC Sport NI website, BBC iPlayer, RTE 2
Match 3: Tuesday March 16th @ 3pm. BBC Sport NI website, BBC iPlayer. RTE Player TBC.

First International Women’s Hockey Match:

The match took place on the 2nd of March 1896 at Alexandra College, with the Irish Women recording a 2 – 0 victory over England, with goals from Johnson and Merton sealing the win.
Picture below is the team who recorded this historic match and victory.

L Martin, Alex College; GK Capt E. Sealey, Dundrum; I Shaw, Donnybrook; A. Boyd, Merton; E. Obre, Merton; J. Boyd, Merton; F. Henshaw, Alex College; D. Johnson, Alex College (1); M. Obre, Merton (1); F. Martin, Alex College; A. Bell, Donnybrook.

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Saba Continue Support for Irish Women’s Hockey Team

The Saba Restaurant Group has announced renewal of their official partnership with Hockey Ireland.

Award winning Saba Restaurants and Saba To Go have announced that they will continue their Official Partnership with the Irish Women’s Hockey Team.

Saba will continue to fuel the teams training sessions and games as they prepare for the Tokyo Olympics 2021. For the last two years, the Saba team has worked closely with the team nutritionist and management to provide meals and nutrition for the players. At this level every detail matters.

Saba’s owner Paul Cadden has said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with Hockey Ireland at this exciting time. We have got to know this inspiring group really well and we are thrilled to be part of their journey fueling the Green Army towards the Tokyo Olympics 2021.”

Hockey Ireland’s CEO Jerome Pels has said: “It is fantastic to have the continued support of Saba Restaurants and Saba To Go as an Official Partner. The Saba team have worked with our team Nutritionist to ensure that the meals provided to the team are ideal for their training and recovery as they prepare for a very demanding summer of international hockey in 2021. With the European Championships and the Olympics to prepare for, we are delighted to continue this partnership knowing that high quality nutritious meals are being provided to help the team prepare.”

SoftCo, Park Developments & Saba Restaurants Host International Women’s Day Lunch To Celebrate The Irish Senior Women’s Hockey Team 6/3/2020. Pictured is Chloe Watkins, Katie Mullan and Deirdre Duke
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Green Army Return from Friendly Spain Series

Ireland Women Return from Murcia Recording 2 Victories, 2 Draws, and 1 Defeat Against World Ranked Number 7 Spanish Side.

18/01/2021

 

Ireland Women’s Hockey Team return from Murcia after a short warm weather camp which saw them take on Spain in a series of friendly matches.

Ireland took an early lead in the five match friendly series with a 4 – 1 win over their hosts. Spain scored in the opening quarter, however Evans hit the back post for the equaliser before half time. A steal from Mullan in the third quarter provided Duke the opportunity to give Ireland a goal lead. A Daly and O’Flanagan build up saw Duke further Ireland’s lead in the final quarter, before O’Flanagan’s strike from the top of the circle sealed a fourth and final goal of the match.

The second match of the series saw the hosts take the win by a single goal. Ireland went a goal up early in the first quarter with a strike from Niamh Carey after a turnover from Evans. Spain secured an equaliser from a penalty corner after an initial save from McFerran. A second penalty corner to the hosts gave them a 2 – 1 lead over the Irish team. A rebound from another penalty corner in the second half gave Spain a further lead, with Duke scoring for Ireland in the final quarter to bring the score to Spain 3 – 2 Ireland.

In a quick turnaround, the following day saw Ireland take a 2 goal victory with 2 late goals from O’Flanagan after a tight game. Ireland had a lot of circle entries but outcomes evaded them until the final five minutes. A strong Spanish side pressed aggressively but the final score remained Spain 0 – 2 Ireland after hard work on a hot day.

The fourth match in the series resulted in a draw between the two sides. A strong start from Ireland with a goal from Zara Malseed gave an early lead. A penalty corner to Spain in the second quarter gave them an equaliser, however Malseed delivered again in the third quarter with the assistance of Hannah McLoughlin to reclaim Ireland’s lead. The equaliser came again in the final quarter from Spain’s Gigi to close the match Spain 2 – 2 Ireland.

The final match of the series saw the sides draw level again. Spain secured the first goal of the match in the opening quarter. While the second quarter of the game became a goal fest. A goal from Spain’s Gigi after some great skill in the circle Ireland was met with an almost immediate response from Malseed. Spain secured a penalty corner strike a minute later. Ireland responded again with a tap in from Duke after a great build up from Malseed and O’Flanagan. Spain replied again with another penalty corner strike. After 5 goals from the sides within 6 minutes the half time score was Spain 4 – 2 Ireland. A penalty corner for Ireland saw Lena Tice reduce the hosts lead in third quarter, before securing the equaliser in the final quarter with another flick from a penalty corner.

Speaking about the matches, Head Coach Sean Dancer said, You can train all you want, but nothing beats playing International hockey again. Not just for the competition, but also the mindset of the group. It has been a tough year for everyone, everywhere and we are very lucky that we are able to continue some quality development towards our Tokyo goals.

We travelled with our full current squad, providing all players the opportunity to get some game time again. Even though our performances where not consistent, we did shows periods of high quality play, including scoring field goals in every game. Always pleasing to see development in key areas that you are working hard on.

We will review the series and reassess the programme for our next steps, taking away some good lessons from our Spain series, not just on the field.”

Performance Director Adam Grainger said “A huge amount of planning and effort went into making sure these matches could go ahead. Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland have been essential to the organisation of this trip. Each member of the team was tested prior to leaving for the camp, followed by an isolation period before travelling, and will face testing again on return to Ireland.

It was great to see the team back on the pitch playing international hockey, there’s a great energy in the group. The whole squad have been meticulous in following the appropriate COVID protocols which has allowed us to do this successfully.”

The matches were played as part of a friendly unofficial series and were therefore uncapped matches. Spain are currently ranked 7th in World just above Ireland. The sides will face each other at European’s later this year.