Mitch Darling Retires From International Hockey

Mitch Darling has today announced his retirement from international hockey following more than a decade at the top of the game. Darling earned 183 international caps, the first of which came shortly after his 18th birthday against England in Poland and scored 51 goals for the Green Machine. He has been a Three Rock Rovers man from the start and has been heavily involved in much of the clubs most successful periods. Over the years, Darling has plied his trade amongst the best in the Dutch league with successful stints with clubs such as Rotterdam, Den Bosch and SCHC.

Darling was cognisant to recognise the coaches at all levels who played a role in his successful career “I want to thank the coaches who contributed significantly to my development during the early years from Wesley College and Three Rock Rovers. I’m eternally grateful to the Irish support staff and management, both past and present, who went above and beyond to help us perform on the pitch. As a player I think I really flourished under the tutelage of Paul Revington and Craig Fulton; incredible men and detailed coaches that revolutionised both the game and the players in Ireland”

Mitch Darling has been a constant figure for many of the Green Machine’s most memorable moments over the last several years including a European bronze medal in 2015 and historic Olympics Games and World Cup appearances. “When I got my first cap in 2006 I could never have dreamed reaching the heights we did. I am definitely privileged to have played with some of the best players to ever wear a green shirt. Being involved in such a special era holds some amazing memories and undoubtedly the biggest career defining moment was the Rio Olympics, an experience to be cherished forever”.

Head coach Alexander Cox paid tribute to Darlings’ contribution to the Green Machine “I want to congratulate Mitch on an amazing international career with The Green Machine. He has had an important influence on the successes that the team has enjoyed over the last 10 years. Not only because of his outstanding qualities as a player, but also as a great person in the group, we will miss him. As a new chapter in his life starts, I wish him all the best with his family and professional career”.

Darling concluded by thanking all those who played a role off the pitch “Thanks to everyone who has supported the team over the years, the supporters undoubtedly helped propel the team to where they are today. Thank you to Hockey Ireland and all the sporting bodies who supported us during the years. A huge thank you to my wife Erika, Mum, Dad, my brothers and sister for their unconditional support all along the way.

Finally, I just want to wish both the men’s and women’s teams all the very best for the upcoming qualification for Tokyo 2020”.

Hockey Ireland wants to thank Mitch for all he has done for the Green Machine and wish him every success for the future.

Green Army 0-3 India

Ireland 0

India 3 (N Kaur, R Khokhar, G Kaur)

2 goals in the opening half and a third in the final minute were the undoing of Ireland as India took their chances in another even contest.

Both teams opted for the direct route in the early phases with Anna O’Flanagan sending the ball towards goal but couldn’t find a team mate to get the vital deflection inside the opening minutes. India, proving clinical throughout, got the scoreboard ticking before the end of the opening quarter from a well worked move down the left. Navjot Kaur did well to control the pass across the circle to her before sending a bobbly ball into the goal on the reverse. Nicci Daly and Sinead Loughran were both showcasing their speed and skill to evade the Indian defence but the eventual shot spun just wide of the goal. Katie Mullan was next to cause the India defence some trouble as she evaded her marker to send a crash ball into the circle but again the final touch was missing. Bethany Barr continued to impress following her recent debut in Chile and won the Green Army’s first penalty corner but a mis-trap at the top saw the chance go a begging. India got their second on the edge of half time as Liz Murphy saved the initial penalty corner shot but Reena Khokhar pounced on the loose ball and dispatched the rebound.

The Green Army continued to create chances early in the second half as Nikki Evans linked up smartly with Lizzie Colvin to win a penalty corner but a questionable foul on Lena Tice gave India the chance to clear their lines. Shirley McCay and Mullan were next to test the India resolve with a crash ball across the circle followed by another penalty corner but a good save and clearance kept India’s two goal cushion intact despite the chances building for Ireland. In a move that perhaps unfortunately epitomised Ireland’s day, Evans picked up a pass following great play from Mullan and Daly but saw her shot hit the inside of the post before ricocheting out. The final minute of the tie saw India put the game firmly to bed as Gurjit Kaur sent a powerful drag flick low into the right corner.

Starting: E Murphy, S McCay, L Tice, R Upton, Y O’Byrne, B Barr, K Mullan (captain), L Colvin, A O’Flanagan, S Torrans, N Evans

Subs: E Buckley, H Matthews, H McLoughlin, S Barr, E Beatty, N Daly, S Loughran

Schedule (all times listed are local):

1/2/19 4:30pm Ireland 1vs1 India in Hockey Santomera pitch, Murcia

3/2/19 11am Ireland 0vs3 India in Hockey Santomera pitch, Murcia

4/2/19 6:30pm Ireland vs Spain in Armilla Hockey, Granada

6/2/19 12:30pm Ireland vs Spain in Armilla Hockey, Granada

7/2/19 11am Ireland vs Spain in Armilla Hockey, Granada

Path Laid Out For Green Machine In 2019

The Green Machine path is well laid out for 2019 with FIH Series Finals in Le Touqet in June and Olympic Qualification then firmly coming into focus, there is also the Eurohockey Championships to look forward to in Belgium this August.

Ireland’s men will begin a series of training camps in the coming weeks, utilising a panel of 30 players as they prepare for the FIH Series Finals. While pools for that tournament are yet to be confirmed, they could face Chile, Egypt, France, Korea, Scotland, Singapore and Ukraine. Their first international fixture of the year will take place in Kampong against Japan in April, a side on the rise as they were crowned champions at the Asian Games last year.

Similar to last year, the Green Machine will welcome USA to Dublin in May for 2 competitive fixtures on May 24th and 26th, acting as fitting preparation with the FIH Series Finals the following month. A top two finish in Le Touqet will secure Ireland’s place at the Olympic Qualifiers in October/November (date TBC) but before sights can shift to Olympic qualification, the Eurohockey Championships in Antwerp awaits. There are no easy games at the highly competitive continental championships and Ireland sit in a challenging pool with the Netherlands, Germany and Scotland. Preparation for the Euro’s is likely to come in the form of a 4 Nations tournament in Santander in early August.

Speaking about the year ahead, head coach Alexander Cox said “I am delighted to have committed my future to Hockey Ireland and to continue working with the Green Machine at such an exciting time for hockey in Ireland. We learnt a lot from the World Cup in India and are looking forward to getting back on the pitch together and begin working towards Olympic qualification, which is our main goal for this year.

It will be a great opportunity for Irish fans to see the Green Machine at home in May when we face the USA and we are expecting 2 high quality games from an ever-improving side. We are working as a large panel of 30 at the moment which increases the competition in our selection and will begin our training camps shortly”.

Squad:

1. David Harte

2. David Fitzgerald

3. Mark Ingram

4. Jamie Carr

5. Jonathan Bell

6. Conor Harte

7. Paul Gleghorne

8. Luke Madeley

9. Stuart Loughrey

10. Matthew Bell

11. Lee Cole

12. Stephen Cole

13. Shane O’Donoghue

14. Michael Robson

15. Callum Robson

16. Kirk Shimmins

17. Sean Murray

18. Daragh Walsh

19. Chris Cargo

20. Matthew Nelson

21. Jeremy Duncan

22. Eugene Magee

23. Owen Magee

24. Alan Sothern

25. Ben Walker

26. Johnny McKee

27. Peter Caruth

28. John Jackson

29. Julian Dale

30. Neal Glassey

Upcoming 2019 Fixtures:

24/4/19 Ireland vs Japan in Kampong

24th & 26th May Ireland vs USA in Dublin

15-23 June FIH Series Finals in Le Touqet, France

1/8/19-7/8/19 4 Nations in Santander (TBC)

17/8/19 Ireland vs Netherlands Eurohockey Championships in Antwerp

18/8/19 Ireland vs Scotland Eurohockey Championships in Antwerp

20/8/19 Ireland vs Germany Eurohockey Championships in Antwerp

22-25/8/19 Classification Matches Eurohockey Championships in Antwerp

Green Army 1 vs 1 India

Ireland 1 (Hawkshaw)

India 1 (Kaur)

With only one place in the world rankings between Ireland and India this was always likely to be an evenly contested clash. The Green Army welcomed back Lizzie Colvin and Shirley McCay to the fray for the first time since their historic World Cup final and Colvin was quick to make an impact in mid field; pulling defenders away to create space before releasing passes to the wings. India won an early PC and netted a goal in the opening quarter, but it was rightly disallowed after hitting an India foot. Recently capped Serena Barr was distributing the ball with ease in the Irish midfield while Hannah Matthews was on hand to dispossess the Indian attackers as they opted for the direct route. It was a powerful penalty corner drag flick from Gurjit Kaur that broke the deadlock in the first half.

Katie Mullan led the chase as Ireland searched for an equaliser with a powerful pass across the face of goal, but Aisling Naughton’s deflection went just wide of Rani’s goal. Matthews was pulling the strings in the backline and sent a pinpoint pass to Ali Meeke who calmly found Sarah Hawkshaw in front of goal for the equaliser. The experienced Indian side tested Emma Buckley on several occasions but the Racing keeper frustrated the strikers with several fine saves. Ireland had the opportunity to put the game to bed in the final moments from a penalty corner won by Anna O’Flanagan following a great team move from Sinead Loughran, Hawkshaw and Leah McGuire but the eventual effort was cleared and the sides shared the spoils in an even contest.

Starting: E Buckley, R Upton, C Brown, K Mullan, S Loughran, H McLoughlin, L Colvin, H Matthews, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan, E Curran,

Subs: E Murphy, A Naughton, S McCay, S Barr, D Duke, A Meeke, L McGuire

Schedule (all times listed are local):

1/2/19 4:30pm Ireland 1vs1 India in Hockey Santomera pitch, Murcia

3/2/19 11am Ireland vs India in Hockey Santomera pitch, Murcia

4/2/19 6:30pm Ireland vs Spain in Armilla Hockey, Granada

6/2/19 12:30pm Ireland vs Spain in Armilla Hockey, Granada

7/2/19 11am Ireland vs Spain in Armilla Hockey, Granada

Hockey Wins Big At Belfast Telegraph Awards

Hockey was well represented at the Belfast Telegraph Awards with Eugene Magee, Shirley McCay and Ayeisha McFerran all picking up awards.

Special Recognition Award sponsored by O’Neill’s: Eugene Magee
Banbridge Hockey Club hero Eugene Magee has picked up an astounding 277 caps for Ireland in a stunning career. He realised his boyhood ambition by playing at the Olympic Games in 2016, won European bronze with Ireland and also played at this year’s World Cup finals.At club level, he has helped Banbridge to All Ireland league and cup trophies as well as Ulster success in the Premier League, Anderson Cup and Kirk Cup.”I was a hurling man and it was only going to Banbridge Academy that I discovered a hockey stick. I’m thankful that I did,” said the man who took up the sport at 14.”I’ve got (the 2020 Olympics) in Tokyo in mind now and we’re training hard for it. We’ll see what happens.”This is a brilliant honour.”

Malcolm Brodie Player of the Year (Gold) sponsored by Celerion: Ayeisha McFerran
The winner of the gold award for amateurs is Ireland Hockey goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran, who was named Goalkeeper of the Tournament, coming through two penalty shoot-outs on her side’s run to the World Cup final. It’s the second piece of recognition for the Ireland girls’ efforts tonight as they became the first Ireland side in any sport to reach the World Cup decider. “Sorry I can’t be there – I’m in Chile with the rest of the Ireland girls,” she said via a pre-recorded video.”It’s a massive honour to be considered among the sporting talents to come out of Northern Ireland. Thank you to everyone who considered me for the award.”

Game Changer Award sponsored by Electric Ireland: Shirley McCay
The winner of this award, to recognise the impact of a woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the local sporting landscape, is Ireland hockey hero Shirley McCay, who helped her side reach the World Cup final and won the Ulster Shield with Pegasus.Also nominated: Kirsty Hegarty, Cathy McAleer, Sinead Reel “Being the underdog, nobody rated us,” she said of Ireland’s run to the World Cup decider. “We were ranked 15 out of 16 and we were a lot more prepared to face the other teams than they were to face us. It never gets tiring watching the success we had. When we look back, it had come after a combination of a few years of failures.”Whatever my decision is (about retirement), I’ll either miss the girls or I’ll be back with them. The friendships you make are for life.” About her goal at the World Cup: “I don’t talk about mine as much as Gerry Armstrong talks about his.”

Saba Restaurants and Saba To Go announced as Official Partner

Award winning Saba Restaurants and Saba To Go have been announced as Official Partner to Hockey Ireland. With over 13 years of success in the restaurant industry, Saba are delighted to support Hockey Ireland as an Official Partner.

The Saba team are working with Hockey Ireland to provide the perfect meals and nutrition for the players on the national women’s team. Saba will be fuelling the Ireland’s women’s team at their training sessions and games in Ireland as they prepare for upcoming competitions and qualifications for the Olympics in Tokyo 2020.

Saba are currently celebrating their annual ‘Caveman Month’. During January, Saba offers a healthy and nutritious paleo inspired menu available in both Saba restaurants and our three Saba To Go takeaways. With health and fitness at the top of our customers minds at the start of the New Year, Saba are delighted to announce this partnership with Hockey Ireland, so they too can enjoy Saba’s healthy and nutritious authentic Thai and Vietnamese food.

Saba’s Owner Paul Cadden has said: “We are very proud to partner Hockey Ireland for the upcoming years and support this inspiring group of players. They have had an amazing year reaching the World Cup Finals, a first for any Irish team and also winning RTE Sports Team of the Year and Graham Shaw winning Manager of the Year. This team are very ambitious, and we are delighted to play our part to help them achieve their goals and inspire the next generation of players. In a game where small margins can improve performance, we hope Saba’s food gives them that extra 1%, fuelling the Green Army towards the Olympics in Tokyo 2020.”

Hockey Ireland’s CEO Jerome Pels has said: “We are delighted to have Saba Restaurants and Saba To Go come on board as an Official Partner. Saba offers high quality, nutritious meals that are ideal for our senior women’s team while they prepare to compete on the world stage. Saba chefs have been working closely with our management and nutritional staff to ensure the Green Army will be fuelled to the highest standard. We very much look forward to working together over the coming years”.

Match To Celebrate Gormleys Career To Take Place In Pembroke

One of Ireland’s greatest players of all time is to play one last game in the green jersey with Ronan Gormley’s career set to be celebrated on January 5.

A special match between an Ireland select team and a Pembroke selection will take place at Serpentine Avenue at 3pm on the day, offering a great occasion for the Irish hockey public to pay tribute to a true great.

He retired from international hockey earlier this year following 13 years in the Irish setup earlier in 2018 having played 256 times for Ireland, captaining the side 121 times.

Gormley was part of the first Irish team to medal at the European Championships in 2015 as well as playing at the Rio Olympics in 2016 among many highlights.

For the celebration, an array of Gormley’s teammates from throughout his playing career will turn out for one last time and all are welcome for what promises to be a fitting send.

The list includes players from All-Ireland winning days at Pembroke and history-making days with the Green Machine as well as his illustrious club career on the continent which saw him win an EHL silver medal with Madrid’s Club de Campo.

The game will involve both current and past Irish internationals who are all looking forward to a fun yet competitive day out.

The game will be played at 3pm on January 5 at Pembroke Wanderers, Serpentine Avenue and all are welcome.

The organisers are encouraging kids to bring sticks as they will be welcome on the pitch at half-time and face painting and a bouncy castle will make this a great family occasion.

McFerran and Tice Nominated For FIH Hockey Stars Awards

Green Army members Ayeisha McFerran and Elena Tice have been nominated for 2018 FIH Hockey Stars Awards following an historic year. McFerran is nominated for FIH Goalkeeper of the Year alongside Ye Jiao (CHN), Maddie Hinch (ENG), Rachael Lynch (AUS), and Maria Ruiz (ESP). While Tice is nominated in the Rising Star category against Nike Lorenz (GER), Ambrosia Malone (AUS), Marijn Veen (NED) and Lucina Von der Heyde (ARG). The winners are determined by a combination of peer and public vote, so make sure to vote for McFerran and Tice before the voting closes on January 18th 2019. CLICK HERE TO VOTE

SoftCo extends Sponsorship of the Green Army

SoftCo, the leading global Finance Automation Software provider, today announced the extension of its main sponsorship agreement for the Ireland Women’s Hockey team up until at least 2021. The partnership with Hockey Ireland will incorporate the 2019 European Championships and the team’s qualification campaign to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

SoftCo, who are involved with grassroots hockey for 15 years, were delighted to support the Green Army during the recent World Cup in London where the team defied the odds to become the first Irish Senior team to reach the final of a World Cup, in any field sport. These achievements were recognized recently as the silver medal winning team and manager, Graham Shaw, were announced as 2018 Team and Coach of the Year at the RTE Sports Awards.

Preparations for the Tokyo 2020 qualifying campaign will begin with a competitive match series in Santiago, Chile in January. In June 2019, the team will be part of an eight-team FIH Hockey Series Finals event in Dublin with two teams progressing to a head-to-head Olympic qualification event in October/November 2019.

Commenting on the announcement, Jerome Pels, CEO, Hockey Ireland said:

“SoftCo’s support of the Green Army was of real benefit in the immediate run up to the World Cup and at the tournament against the best teams in the world. We are now looking to build on that success with the immediate goal being qualification for the Olympics. We are delighted to once again have SoftCo’s support during an extremely important time for the team”.

Commenting on the announcement, Susan Spence, Co-Founder, SoftCo said:

“We were so proud of the team in their run to the World Cup final during the summer. An Irish team achieving success on the world stage was a true inspiration to us all. This is a further significant investment to assist the team to reach its ambitious goals. We are delighted to be extending our support”.

FIH Announce new rules of Hockey

The FIH has announced a number of amendments to the Rules of Hockey that will come into force on 1 January 2019 for international sides.

Hockey Ireland will adopt the changes domestically from the start of the 2019/20 season.

• Introduction of the match format of four quarters as standard
In international matches, teams have been playing four quarters for some years and it is felt that uniformity in match formats can be achieved when all match formats are based on a four quarter principle. Like in international matches, time is stopped between the awarding of a penalty corner and the taking of that penalty corner. Other than in international matches, where this is covered by FIH Tournament Regulations, time is not stopped to celebrate goals as this was introduced primarily for television coverage. The four quarters has additional advantages at junior levels of the sport in which coaches often umpire youth/school matches and the additional breaks provide for coaching opportunities.

• Removal of Goalkeeping privileges for substitute field player
A mandatory experiment, with effect from 1 January 2019, taking out the option for teams to play with a field player with goalkeeping privileges. Teams have now two options: they either play with a goalkeeper who wears full protective equipment comprising at least headgear, leg guards and kickers and who is also permitted to wear goalkeeping hand protectors and other protective equipment, or they play with only field players. Any change between these options should be treated as a substitution. It is hoped that this experimental rule will enhance safety as field players will no longer have goalkeeping privileges so will not be entitled to use their body to stop shots at goal and it also enhances the promotion of the sport by eliminating the issue of outfield players wearing other shirts to indicate goalkeeping privileges.

• Defending free hits within 5 meters of the circle
The explanation for how to treat free hits for the attacker close to the circle has been changed in Rules 13.2.f. It has now been made clear that players other than the attacker taking the free hit must be at least five meters away, including when they are in their circle. If the attacker however chooses to take the free hit immediately, then defenders who are inside the circle and within five meters from the ball may shadow around the inside of the circle as per the explanation of the rule before 2019. This has the advantage of not preventing the quickly taken free hit which has been widely welcomed by coaches and players, whilst maintaining the 5m rule used everywhere else on the pitch to provide space for the free hit taker.

• Free hits awarded inside the defensive circle
As in Indoor Hockey a defender may now take a free hit awarded in the circle anywhere inside the circle or up to 15 meters from the back-line in line with the location of the offence, parallel to the side-line.

• Completion of a penalty corner
Rule 13.6 that described the completion of a penalty corner for substitution purposes and for a penalty corner at the end of a period, has been deleted. The option that a penalty corner is completed when the ball travels outside the circle for the second time, no longer exists.

These detailed revisions to the Rules of Hockey will be available from Friday 21st December on the FIH website.