Women’s National Development Squad Program Update

The Easter and summer programme of development (U23) and U21 matches have been postponed or cancelled due the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic. These included a trip to play Great Britain three times at Easter, a busy June period with warm weather camp in North Carolina which included 6 matches against the USA and a home 6 Nations Tournament (with Canada, Chile, Germany, India and Netherlands) at UCD. The EHF have now also confirmed the cancellation of their U23 six nations that was scheduled for Cardiff in mid August.

Commenting on the programme Head Coach David Passmore commented “while completely understandable given the current priorities we had put a lot of work into developing a programme for the year that would prepare a group to move into the senior squad post Tokyo. The health of everyone is, and should be, our priority right now and these measures are appropriate. The management team and I have been exceptionally impressed with the attitude of the athletes during the past 6 weeks and each has pushed hard to develop the physical side of their game under the auspices of our talented S&C Coach Orlaith Curran. We will give the athletes a short break once the lock down is over and then hope to start preparing for some matches in the late autumn once we have the domestic calendar confirmed”.

The 6 Nations U23 tournament planned for UCD 20-27th June will now take place in June 2021 and all teams have indicated they would still like to take part. The squad also plan to go to America in 2021 as was planned this year and discussions with US hockey are ongoing. With the Tokyo Olympics also moving by a year this will provide an ideal platform for development of this talented group of youngsters for the post games period. An U21 team has also been entered into the Indoor Europeans set for Croatia in January which provides a further stimulus for the group.

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Hockey Ireland Statement on Postponement of Tokyo 2020 Olympics

A decision has been made by the IOC to postpone the Summer Olympic Games to 2021, considering the current global crisis.

“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.”
The full statement is available here: https://www.olympic.org/news/joint-statement-from-the-international-olympic-committee-and-the-tokyo-2020-organising-committee

The Olympic Federation of Ireland have welcomed the call while also acknowledging the complexities involved in postponing the Games. Their focus remains on “protecting and safeguarding the Irish athletes over the coming months and ensuring that they can bounce back to full training and be in peak condition for a successful Games in 2021.” The full statement can be found at: https://olympics.ie/news/19149-confirmed-olympic-games-to-be-postponed-to-2021.html

Head Coach of the Irish Women’s team, Sean Dancer had the following to say on the postponement of the Tokyo Games, “We really appreciate the tough decisions all parties involved have had to make in recent weeks. The decision to postpone the Games not only puts athlete’s welfare first, but also the welfare of much wider communities and countries. These are unprecedented times, and while incredibly stressful for so many, the decision to postpone the Games is one we support.

Our athletes are continuing to train as much as possible given the current circumstances, and we really look forward to being able to train together as a group again when it is appropriate to do so.”

Speaking on the decision, Katie Mullan, Captain of the Irish Women’s team said “As players we are gutted with the announcement to postpone the games as our excitement has been building, however we totally understand why this decision has been made. What matters most is players health and wellbeing, as well as our families and friends, and we hope everyone is staying safe and healthy at this difficult time.

As a team it has been strange doing so much individual training, but everyone has been pushing on with home-gym programmes and trying to increase their fitness with running and cycling. This is a big change for so many people, but everyone is the same situation. We’ll be doing our best to use this as an opportunity.”

In addition to these comments, High Performance Director, Adam Grainger added, “that Hockey Ireland support the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and TOCOG (Tokyo Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) in this decision making, and can appreciate how hard the postponement decision would have been to make.

Hockey Ireland also understands how difficult this postponement must have been for the Japanese people, with our local hosts Iwate town for example having already invested so much time and effort into successfully hosting Hockey Ireland. Our Senior Women’s team are committed to travelling to Iwate town in 2021 and working with the OFI, Sport Ireland, Sport NI and our sponsors to ensure the best preparation possible for our players and staff.”

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Hockey Ireland Statement on Postponement of Tokyo 2020 Olympics

A decision has been made by the IOC to postpone the Summer Olympic Games to 2021, considering the current global crisis.

“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.” The full statement is available here: https://www.olympic.org/news/joint-statement-from-the-international-olympic-committee-and-the-tokyo-2020-organising-committee

The Olympic Federation of Ireland have welcomed the call while also acknowledging the complexities involved in postponing the Games. Their focus remains on “protecting and safeguarding the Irish athletes over the coming months and ensuring that they can bounce back to full training and be in peak condition for a successful Games in 2021.” The full statement can be found at: https://olympics.ie/news/19149-confirmed-olympic-games-to-be-postponed-to-2021.html

Head Coach of the Irish Women’s team, Sean Dancer had the following to say on the postponement of the Tokyo Games, “We really appreciate the tough decisions all parties involved have had to make in recent weeks. The decision to postpone the Games not only puts athlete’s welfare first, but also the welfare of much wider communities and countries. These are unprecedented times, and while incredibly stressful for so many, the decision to postpone the Games is one we support.

Our athletes are continuing to train as much as possible given the current circumstances, and we really look forward to being able to train together as a group again when it is appropriate to do so.”

Speaking on the decision, Katie Mullan, Captain of the Irish Women’s team said “As players we are gutted with the announcement to postpone the games as our excitement has been building, however we totally understand why this decision has been made. What matters most is players health and wellbeing, as well as our families and friends, and we hope everyone is staying safe and healthy at this difficult time.

As a team it has been strange doing so much individual training, but everyone has been pushing on with home-gym programmes and trying to increase their fitness with running and cycling. This is a big change for so many people, but everyone is the same situation. We’ll be doing our best to use this as an opportunity.”

In addition to these comments, High Performance Director, Adam Grainger added, “that Hockey Ireland support the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and TOCOG (Tokyo Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) in this decision making, and can appreciate how hard the postponement decision would have been to make.

Hockey Ireland also understands how difficult this postponement must have been for the Japanese people, with our local hosts Iwate town for example having already invested so much time and effort into successfully hosting Hockey Ireland. Our Senior Women’s team are committed to travelling to Iwate town in 2021 and working with the OFI, Sport Ireland, Sport NI and our sponsors to ensure the best preparation possible for our players and staff.”

Irish Women no Longer to Travel to South Africa

Having monitored the situation over the previous weeks and given the escalation of measures being taken here in Ireland to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Hockey Ireland Irish Senior Women’s team management has taken the decision to cancel the women’s upcoming trip to South Africa.

The squad had originally been scheduled to travel to South Africa for warm-up matches against South Africa, England, and China early next week for a block of warm weather training and exposure to match play in conditions similar to those expected in Tokyo later this summer.

The squad will no longer be travelling to South Africa and will therefore fall under the Hockey Ireland COVID-19 policy guidelines which were issued to the Hockey Ireland community last night.

Commenting on the decision Hockey Ireland Performance Director, Adam Grainger, said: “After a robust and productive conversation with players and staff today, management have decided to cancel the Senior Women’s upcoming trip to Durban.

While it could be argued that the performance benefits still outweigh the risks of traveling to Durban, the concern expressed by players and staff combined with ‘Coronavirus unknowns’ made the decision to cancel this travel the best solution.

This decision was not taken lightly, and Hockey Ireland would like to thank the squad for their patience on this matter. We will now review and seek to amend the programme plan for the squad for the next few weeks.

Green Army Sponsors Host Star-Studded Lunch for IWD2020

Official Hockey Ireland sponsors, SoftCo and Park Developments, and official partner, Saba restaurants, hosted an International Women’s Day lunch to celebrate the Irish Senior Women’s Hockey Team and spotlight their incredible journey on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games.

The Irish Women’s Hockey team, and management attended the event, as well as the sponsors and their clients and some of Ireland’s top influencers. The team who are busy preparing for the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo this summer were delighted to take a break from their busy training schedule to enjoy a celebratory lunch in their partner’s restaurant, Saba, with their sponsors SoftCo and Park Developments, who have built an incredible support network around the team.

The lunch was accompanied by a Q&A hosted by sports journalist and television presenter, Evanne Ni Chuilinn. Evanne interviewed four time Olympian, Olive Loughnane, Sport Ireland Institute Head Performance Psychologist, Kate Kirby and Irish Women’s Hockey Head Coach, Sean Dancer. They discussed the team’s preparation for Tokyo 2020, what they can expect of the Olympic experience and the importance of having a winning mentality and resilience heading over to the Games.

Speaking at the event, Olive Loughnane (OLY) said: “The Olympics is the absolute pinnacle for high performance athletes who get to represent their country on the biggest stage of them all. There is nothing that can fully prepare you for the actual Olympic experience itself, it is truly special and unique and will be a dream come true to this group. My advice would be to just enjoy every minute of it and be present. These women have made a huge amount of sacrifices to be where they are today and it was a real privilege to be invited here to share my own experiences.”

The Q&A was followed by a panel discussion from members of the team who gave an insight into their preparation and training schedule as they get ready to travel to South Africa for warm-up matches against South Africa, England and China. There was a great sense of optimism and belief in the room as the team and staff reiterated their goal of going for gold at the Olympics.

Irish Women’s coach Sean Dancer said: “I would like to thank SoftCo, Park Developments and Saba for their continued support of this incredible team and our journey. Their support has been fundamental to our Olympic preparations and without it our current training programme would not be what it is. It is great to have the opportunity to all get together today and celebrate the journey we have all been on and the memories this incredible group of women have given us as they continue to push the boundaries and inspire those around them to chase their dreams.”

Rob Abbott Indoor Season Recap 2019/2020

For many years Rob Abbott has been the driving force of Indoor Hockey as chair of the Indoor Competitions. His hard work is paying off as you can read below in the article summarising a very exciting season! He’s provided us with a recap of the whole Indoor season. Thanks Rob!

Starting off with the Provinces.

Leinster

Leinster saw its biggest League to date, with 22 Senior teams featuring, 12 on the Women’s side and 10 on the Men’s. After 8 days of group games and knock out stages. The semi-finals on the Women’s side were won by Muckross, who defeated UCD 3-2 in a shootout after an epic 5-5 draw, with Sophie Barnwell stealing the show with a hat-trick for Muckross. In the other semi-final Railway Union defeated North Kildare 4-0. The final was won by an experienced Railway side, who defeated Muckross 2-1. Lilly Lloyd and Lisa McCarthy scoring, Charly flavin scoring for Muckross – who missed a late stroke.

The men’s semi-finals saw Three Rock Rovers (TRR) defeat Monkstown 3-2 in a sudden death shoot out after a 5-5 draw in play, with Darragh Walsh netting an overtime corner to take it to a shootout. In the other semi-final Railway overcame a youthful YMCA side, they were trailing 4-2, but fought back to win 6-4. The men’s final was a goal fest, with TRR prevailing 14-7. All finalists from Leinster qualified for the HI finals.

Leinster also hosted a senior girls school tournament in which, Kings Hospital defeated Mount Temple in the final. On weds 26th January, their was a u14 school-girls tournament hosted by Drogheda Grammar, who went on to beat Muckross 6 -2 in the final. In March a senior boy’s tournament is to be hosted by Columba’s College.

Portrane hosted their under 14 tournament throughout January. A huge thanks to the Henchy Family and all the volunteers who make this a cracking event, with more and more teams entering each year.

Connacht

Connacht also ran a successful Women’s competition in which Galway hockey won. They defeated NUIG in the final 7-3, with Emma Glanville standing out. Galway qualified for the national finals.

Munster

Munster were the last of the provinces to make an Indoor come back after years away from the game. This year they run a Men’s competition in which Limerick defended their title. They won all 4 of their matches, racking up a total of 29 goals! Unfortunately, no Women’s competition was run, but with a few new volunteers on board – I hope to see a return of a Women’s Indoor comp next year as well as more growth on the Men’s side.

Ulster

Ulster Hockey, as usual, ran 2 very successful underage tournaments, u15 and u18s for both boys and girls, with a senior competition also organised.

Ards were successful on the Women’s side coming top of a 4-team group. Banbridge prevailed on goal difference on the Men’s side. Both teams qualified for the National finals.

National Finals

The National Finals were hosted in the Kingfisher, NUIG. All the matches throughout the day were live streamed on the Eurohockeytv platform, with the voice of hockey Nick Irvine on commentary. Viewing figures for the day were just shy of 4000 – with 49 countries tuning in.

Railway Union Women’s retained their title for the 2nd year in a row by beating Muckross 2-0 in the final, Hannah de Burgh Whyte and Emma Smyth both scoring.

Railway’s Men defeated champions of the previous 4 years TRR in a dramatic shoot out. after the game finished 3-3. Bjorn Dasse standing out, by netting a hat-trick for Railway who came from 3-0 down.

Both Railway teams, will now go on to Represent Hockey Ireland in euro club competitions in Feb 2021.

Mens results

Railway 7 Limerick 1

TRR 10 Banbridge 2

Final – TRR 3 Railway 3, Railway won 1-0 in a shoot out

Women’s Results

Railway 3 Galway 0

Muckross 3 Ards 1

Final- Railway 2 Muckross 0

 


International teams

Women’s – 2019 /20 season saw the return of the International team, for the 1st time since 1990. The Women’s ventured down to south Africa for a 6-test series, which was great practice for their European venture. On the trip, they ran South Africa very close, but could not get a victory.

Their European campaign was a huge success though, they finished in 2nd spot in Bratislava, bringing home the silver medal and promotion to European 2nd division – in Jan 2022. They won 5 of the 6 games, beating Finland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Denmark, and Portugal. Losing to Spain. The team were coached by Dave Passmore and Mike Hughes, with Gareth Myburg as manager. Over the season, 17 women became senior International Indoor players.

Men’s – the Men returned to International action for the 1st time since 1987. Their European campaign was in Santander, Spain. In which they finished 3rd and bought home the Bronze Medal. Unfortunately for the men, 3rd spot was not enough for promotion. They drew with Wales and beat Slovenia in the group, losing to Spain and Scotland. In the bronze medal match we beat Wales 2-1. The team were coached by Kenny Carroll and Craig Stewart, with Rob Abbott as Manager. 12 players earned International caps.

European Club Indoor

Three Rock Rovers men ventured to Alanya, Turkey for the Euro Club Trophy. It was the first time in 27 years that were had a team in the B league. TRR managed to finish 6th out of 8th and maintain Hockey Ireland’s status in the league for 2021. After losing their first 3 games against English, Croatian and Dutch teams, TRR drew against Lousada (Portugal) meaning that they had to beat Swiss Champions Rotweiss Wettigen (only relegated to the league last year) in the final game to stay up. They managed to put in their best performance of the week with a 5-4 win. Stephen West saving a last-minute stroke!

Well Done to Liam Canning and Scott Crombie who coach the side, and Fraser Morris as manager.

Railway Union Women’s ventured to Porto, Portugal for the Euro Challenge 1 event. The finished in 2nd place and earned promotion to the Trophy for 2021. They beat Swedish, Portuguese, and Welsh opposition, drawing with Georgians and losing to eventual winners Dundee from Scotland. Orla Fox and Kate Dillon both featured in the top 5 scorers of the tournament.

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Eugene Magee Officially Retires from International Hockey

Having made his debut for Ireland in 2005 against Belgium, Magee since received 295 caps for Ireland before officially deciding to retire from International Hockey. With over 60 goals scored for Ireland, and a self-described career high of scoring against Germany in the Olympics in Rio 2016, Magee informed team-mates and management of his decision late last week.

Men’s Head Coach, Mark Tumilty, who has also worked with Eugene for a number of years with Banbridge Hockey Club, described Eugene as “a fantastic servant to Irish Hockey, [having] played a key role in the success of the team over the last decade. Eugene will rightly be regarded as one of the best to have worn the green shirt.

An exceptional hockey player, team-mate and person. It has been a pleasure to work with Eugene at club and more recently at international level and I wish him and his family all the best with his retirement from international hockey.”

Magee retires as Irish Hockey’s most capped Men’s player. He was an integral part of Ireland Men’s historic return to competing in the Olympics in 2016, as well as their return to the World Cup last year having failed to reach that level since 1990. He scored twice in the Olympic Qualifier sudden death shootout in Canada last year, as well as scoring in a famous 4-2 win over England at the European Championships back in 2015.

“After much consideration, I have decided to retire from international hockey,” said Eugene, “I have enjoyed 15 years as part of the Irish Men’s hockey team and it has been my privilege to represent my country among so many talented players.

To be able to play hockey with your friends is one thing but to compete on an international scale takes a huge amount of work from a lot of people and to them I am truly grateful. To all the coaches, players, physiotherapists, doctors, psychologists, physiologists, nutritionists, strength and conditioning coaches, managers, hockey Ireland background staff, equipment sponsors, financial sponsors, employers, home hosters and the wider hockey family, I would like to say huge thank you.

I would also like to publicly acknowledge my support network at home, particularly my parents and my wife Aoibhne, without whom I would not have enjoyed the career I have had.

Through many years there have been ups and downs but overall, I have loved the experience. International hockey has been a huge part of my life and although it will feel strange to retire, I feel very privileged to have gained all the experiences I have had and to have played my part for the team. I now look forward to exciting times ahead with a young family and watching the incredible talent in this team develop.

It has been an honour to wear the Irish shirt.”

Eugene’s advice to young hockey players over the years has been “Play with freedom, hard work and a smile and the rest will take care of itself.”

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Hockey Ireland Signs MOU with Iwate Delegates for Pre-Games Camp

Hockey Ireland met with Japanese delegates from Iwate this morning to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties for Hockey Ireland’s pre-Games Holding Camp this summer.

Iwate is located two hours North of Tokyo and will provide an ideal base for acclimatisation ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games as a key Hockey town in Japan and a brand-new pitch for the pre-Games preparation.

Performance Director, Adam Grainger, said “The Hockey Ireland Holding Camp partnership with Iwate Town is a very welcome addition to the Senior Women’s programme as the team prepare for Tokyo 2020. This Holding Camp offers, a superb location for environmental acclimation and final preparation for The Games themselves, while also offering an opportunity to further develop the longstanding hockey relationship between Ireland and Japan.”

The squad will arrive in Iwate in early July, two weeks ahead of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, with the aim of the holding camp to adapt to playing conditions.

“Iwate Town is the perfect pre-games training base for the Irish Olympic Hockey team. While in Tokyo in December myself and Adam were welcomed to the town by Mayor Sasaki on a visit there, and we were very impressed with both the welcome and set up, and the high-class hockey facilities. We are confident that the Team Ireland hockey athletes will be looked after well and be able to prepare appropriately for the Games”, said Team Ireland Chef de Mission for the Tokyo Games, Patricia Heberle, was present at the MOU signing this morning.

Hockey Ireland CEO Jerome Pels said, “This is a very exciting time for us in Hockey Ireland. We are delighted to meet the Iwate delegates and look forward to the team travelling to Japan later this year. Mayor Sasaki and his delegation have already made us feel very welcome and it is only February!”

Image L-R: Hockey Ireland Performance Director, Adam Grainger; Team Ireland Chef de Mission, Patricia Heberle; Hockey Ireland CEO, Jerome Pels; Mayor Koji Sasaki of Iwate Town, Japan; Irish Women’s Hockey Player, Anna O’Flanagan; Tom Matsuoka, Interpreter for delegation, Sport Unity; and Assistant Manager of Social Education for Iwate Town, Naoki Osawa.

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Tumilty Contract Extended to end of Olympic Cycle

A decision has been made by Hockey Ireland to extend Mark Tumilty’s contract as Head Coach for the Irish Men’s Squad. Tumilty will continue as the Men’s Head Coach, in a full-time capacity, until December 2020 the conclusion of the Olympic Cycle.

Speaking on the announcement of his extension, Mark said “I am delighted to be given the opportunity to continue in the role for 2020. I am really look forward to working with a very talented group of players and support staff. We need to grow the depth of our squad and to ensure all players fulfil their potential. I want to play an attacking and exciting brand of hockey, with our goal to get the Irish Men moving up the world rankings again.”

Hockey Ireland will advertise the full time Head Coach position after the conclusion of this Olympic cycle. Hockey Ireland wish to offer an opportunity for all suitable candidates to apply at the end of an Olympic cycle. The Head Coach position will therefore be advertised in late 2020 and at this juncture all suitably experienced Irish and international coaches with the relevant skills and experience are encouraged to apply.

Women Finish 2nd at EuroHockey Indoor Championships III

Following the success of the Irish Men’s Indoor team earlier this month, the Irish Women were also on form in Bratislava as they too returned to international tournaments with the EuroHockey Indoor Championships III.

The squad had an impressive record of 5 wins from 6 matches, with tournament winners Spain the only team to best the Irish side. With several players receiving their first international caps at this tournament, the squad also achieved promotion to next year’s EuroHockey Championships II.