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Senior Men defeat Scotland to win the 4-Nations in Uddingston

Four Nations Invitational tournament

Ireland 5 (L Madeley 3, C Robson, T Cross) Scotland 3 (C Golden, J Golden, A Forsyth)

A Luke Madeley hat trick saw Ireland’s men win the Four Nations Invitational tournament in Uddingston as they beat hosts Scotland in the final 5-3.

Callum Robson opened the scoring when he picked out the top corner 12 minutes into the contest but the hosts bounced back to lead 2-1 with brothers Cameron and Jamie Golden both netting.

Tim Cross, however, levelled it at 2-2 at half-time and Ireland took control in the third quarter with Madeley firing carbon copy corner goals.

Alan Forsyth hit back with 11 minutes to go but the Green Machine finished off strong with Madeley completing his hat trick.

It is their second series win of the summer thus far as they continue to build to August’s target event, the EuroHockey qualifiers in Calais.

Prior to that, Mark Tumilty’s side will face Austria and Chile at the National Sports Campus in four weeks time.

 

Ireland: J Carr, L Madeley, T Cross, J McKee, D Walsh, K O’Dea, K Marshall, S Murray, B walker, S Hyland, N Page

Subs: L Witherow, C Robson, N Glassey, J Duncan, M Robson, B Johnson, M Ingram

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Mullan, Dancer and Perdue reflect on World Cup opening night against Netherlands

Women’s World Cup

Ireland 1 (R Upton) Netherlands 5 (F Matla 2, Y Jansen, S Plonissen, M Verschoor)

Ireland’s new look side put in a fearless performance but ultimately came unstuck against the Netherlands at a rocking Wagener Stadium, putting it up to the reigning World Cup, Olympic and European champions.

 

In the end, the Dutch ran out healthy winners with their set piece work – two corner goals, two from strokes – proving pivotal.

 

But Ireland were right in the contest in the third quarter when Róisín Upton’s long drag found the net. It was their first goal in their last eight meetings with the Oranje, dating back to 2005, cutting the gap to 2-1 for a spell.

 

“The scoreline doesn’t necessarily tell the tale of the game,” said captain Katie Mullan afterwards.

 

“We had them at 2-1 and were under their skin. We dominated in patches and I am extremely proud of the defensive effort out there and there are so many positives for us to take from it into the next one.

 

“There’s obviously moments we didn’t win but there were moments we did win and those are the ones to go away and learn from.

 

“Right now, it’s back to the drawing board but I am extremely proud of the girls. We have four debuts today and what a spectacle to do it in. they should be so proud of their performances. They were fantastic and played as if they had far more than zero!”

AMSTERDAM 2022 Women’s World Cup Spain & Netherlands
05 Netherlands v Ireland (Pool A)
Picture: Katie Mullan
WORLDSPORTPICS COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK

 

Indeed, coach Sean Dancer can take plenty of heart from a tie which saw Caoimhe Perdue, Charlotte Beggs, Katie McKee and Christina Hamill all make their international debuts in an orange cauldron.

 

“It’s really special for the four girls to get their first cap against the Olympic and world champions. What an opportunity; I was really proud of them. They stood up and showed they can handle themselves on the big stage.

 

“It’s great when you can see young kids come in and make an impact from the start against world class players. I am really excited about the future ahead for them.”

 

As for Perdue, the Tipp woman was able to reflect on a special moment despite the scoreline: “It was incredible. A packed stadium like that, I have never experienced anything like it before and the atmosphere was electric.

 

“They are an amazing team and that is the standard we want to be at. Playing the best, we worked hard on our defence and we want to build on that for our next performances.

 

“The music was pretty loud in the stadium! It is really difficult and you have to be switched on the whole time. We are yelling at each other; it is hard to hear but we are getting those messages across!”

 

In the early phases, the world number one side – buoyed by a full house, buzzing on happy hardcore pre-match music – set their stall out early with Felice Albers and Lidewij Welten going close.

 

They were denied by the outstanding work of Ayeisha McFerran who made numerous full length saves while she was back up by Sarah Torrans’ brave running down the barrel at corner time. Sarah McAuley coolly cleared a number of dangerous moments while, at the far end, Torrans fired into the side-netting from Ireland’s best moment.

 

As such, the Netherlands were unable to make any of their seven first half corners count due to the compact lines being run. They did, however, eke out a stroke from an intricate move with Yibbi Jansen slipping the ball under her arm to Maria Verschoor who was upended.

 

Frédérique Matla stepped up and while her shot was not the cleanest, it found the left corner. It remained that way through to the second half when the Dutch stepped up the pressure.

 

Yibbi Jansen doubled the lead in the 35th minute from a ripping drag-flick down the glove-side before Ireland got right back into the contest. Michelle Carey’s driving runs were a feature throughout and she won the set piece from which Upton added another to her international scrapbook.

 

But just as they sniffed an upset, the Dutch broke again and won a corner which Sabine Plonissen swept home from the top of the D.

 

Matla converted another stroke with seconds to go in the third quarter after Albers was felled for 4-1. And the victory was completed when Verschoor unleashed a perfect backhand shot to the bottom left corner seconds into the final quarter.

 

Ireland now have two rest days before their vital Tuesday meeting against Chile. The South American side lost 4-1 to Germany.

 

Ireland: A McFerran, R Upton, H McLoughlin, E Curran, L Tice, C Perdue, M Carey, S Hawkshaw, K Mullan, S Torrans, D Duke

Subs: S McAuley, Z Malseed, N Carroll, C Beggs, K McKee, C Hamill, L Murphy

 

Netherlands: A Veenendaal, S Koolen, L Leurink, X de Waard, F Albers, L Welten, F Matla, P Sanders, L Nunnink, M van Geffen, R van Laarhoven

Subs: F Moes, M Keetels, M Verschoor, E de Goede, S Plonissen, Y Jansen, J Koning

 

Umpires: H Y Kang (KOR), M Giddens (USA)

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EuroHockey ID Championship – Team announcement

Hockey Ireland is delighted to announce the names of the squad members going to play in the EuroHockey ID (Intellectual Disabilities) Championship in Pinoke Hockey Club, The Netherlands from 6th / 9th July 2022. With the finals being played in the Mecca for hockey, the Wagner stadium!

This is the 3rd edition of the EuroHockey ID Championships that Ireland will participate in. The First once was in 2017 when TRRHC sent a club side and since then the growth of Hockey ID has meant that in 2019 club representatives from Monkstown and TRRHC travelled. There was no event in 2021 due to COVID, but this year it’s a true testament to the work from the clubs that we now have a team with representatives from 5 clubs, Three Rock Rovers, Monkstown, Wicklow, Railway Union and Botanic.

“We are thrilled to send a strong squad to The Netherlands with many players getting their first cap for Ireland. This has given a fantastic lift to the whole Hockey ID community and we know that the whole team will do us proud” said Rachel Kelly, Team Manager, Irish Hockey ID Team.

For more information or requests for player interviews please contact: Rachel at: +353 85 777 7643

All athletes had to be over 16 and the team is mixed gender.

Follow @eurohockeyorg on Instagram and Twitter for updates of the event.

Team Ireland

Players (10)

Cameron Ward, Botanic
Charlie O Reilly, Monkstown
Joe Whelan, Three Rock Rovers
Louis Mitchell, Monkstown
Louis Olden, Monkstown
Mark Sullivan, Monkstown
Matthew Burke, Three Rock Rovers
Niamh Kiernan, Railway
Sofia Finnegan, Botanic Hockey
Tony Ryan, Wicklow Hockey

 

Coaching and Management Team (4)

Ann Murray, Botanic
Klaas Jan de Vries, Wicklow
Rachel Kelly, Monkstown
Scott Mulligan, Three Rock Rovers

 

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Curran riding crest of wave ahead of World Cup

As weeks go, Ellen Curran says there have been few better for her. Just a few hours after her inclusion in the Irish World Cup side, college results landed – a first class honours in her masters of Biomedical Engineering.

 

“Pretty much the same day – it’s been a really good week for me!” she said during the SoftCo Series against Japan, admitting the journey has not been plain sailing.

 

She earned her call-up to the Green Army in November 2016 as a teenager but found it tricky to settle in the panel. For both the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Olympic qualifiers, she was in the shake-up for selection until late in the day but missed out.

Again, at the start of 2020, she was an ever-present in the Olympic preparation camp in South Africa before Covid fell.

“It was a really difficult period. During Covid, I picked up a niggle and it impacted my performance and I did have a lull for about a year. I wasn’t really in contention for the Tokyo squad.

 

“Post-Tokyo, I was gunning for that spot at the qualifiers, made it for that tournament and subsequently took a break from the setup. I just put my mental health and it worked.

 

“I went back to my club Pembroke – becoming EY Champions and ISC finalists – and was back to finally enjoying it. I got the opportunity to come back into the setup and am now playing the best hockey I ever have.

 

“For me, personally, it’s been the most comfortable I have been in the setup. For a long time, I probably struggled with confidence within the group but I think I am really coming into it now. Maybe it just took from going from midfield into right back which is new for me but a great experience.”

 

As for the SoftCo Series, Curran has been heartened by the performances from the young Irish side against the world number 10 side who recently won the Asia Cup.

 

“We do want to win games for confidence but where we really want to win games is at the World Cup and that is the target. With this new group, we have made such progress from being in Japan to this series. The vibe is really positive, everyone is playing well and we are starting to gel at a nice time.

 

“I was surprised at the numbers of fans who have been here, given Wednesday was a 5pm start on a Wednesday! It’s brilliant to see so many people out and taking an interest before we head to the World Cup and hopefully we will see many of them over in Amsterdam.”

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SoftCo Series – Ireland v Japan & Uniphar Series

Ireland 1 (K McKee) Japan 2 (S Oikawa, M Toriyama)

Ireland’s women look set for a rousing send-off on Thursday evening at Belfield in their final warm-up fixture of the SoftCo Series, closing out a four-game run against Japan.

 

The visiting Japanese side edged out the Green Army on Wednesday evening 2-1 with Shihori Oikawa’s penalty corner and a late Mai Toriyama finish outdoing Katie McKee’s neat finish.

 

It played out in front of a healthy home crowd, a far cry from the final preparations for the now famous 2018 World Cup edition.

 

Back then, Ireland played their final warm-up games – also against Japan – at the Mardyke with scarcely 40 people in attendance but this week has seen the UCD grandstand fill and it looks likely to hit full capacity.

 

“It’s chalk and cheese,” said captain Katie Mullan. “A lot more people know we are going to a World Cup this time!

 

“I remember getting on the plane then and being asked if we were going to play in a rugby tournament. It’s fantastic to have a home crowd before we head away and it does get a buzz going, especially the number of the kids on the sideline.”

 

In terms of Wednesday’s outcome, they were not able to build on last Sunday’s win over the Asian champions when they ended Japan’s 14-game winning streak.

 

The Green Army made the opening waves, winning a couple of corners and McKee almost forced home from close range.

 

Oikawa, however, caught them cold from their second penalty corner, clipping into the bottom left corner for 1-0. McKee – who will make her formal debut in Amsterdam – snatched a great equaliser from Naomi Carroll’s cross, controlling and flicking home.

 

But the game was settled seven minutes from time via an incisive right wing move, squaring for Toriyama to flick in from close range.

 

“We are not as happy with our performance today as Sunday,” Mullan added. “We finished strong on Sunday so there is plenty to take into tomorrow and hopefully put Japan under more pressure and see where that leaves us. This is all about performance and learning and when we do that, it will put us in a good shape for Amsterdam.”

 

Earlier in the day, Ireland’s Under-21s lost 5-1 to Junior World Cup champions the Netherlands in their second fixture of the Uniphar Five Nations tournament.

 

The Dutch side held sway, building a 4-0 lead by the third quarter with two goals from Elzemiek Zandee before Emma Paul slammed home an excellent penalty corner shot.

 

Filiz Tuzgol closed out the win for the Dutch to lift them to seven points from three games where they are level with India at the head of the table. In the day’s first game, India were 3-0 winners over Ukraine.

 

Thursday looks set to be an emotional game for Ireland as they face Ukraine at 5pm – a match-up that should have been their Junior World Cup opening game before the Russian invasion.

 

It takes place at 5pm with the Irish senior women on next at 7pm at Belfield.

 

Ireland: A McFerran, S McAuley, Z Malseed, M Carey, R Upton, S Hawkshaw, K Mullan, H McLoughlin, S Torrans, L Tice, K McKee

Subs: N Carroll, C Beggs, C Perdue, S O’Brien, D Duke, E Curran, C Hamill

 

Japan: E Nakaumura, N Matsumoto, E Nishikori, M Suzuki, Y Nagai, S Oikawa, M Kozuka, M Segawa, K Mori, M Kawamura, A Shimada

Subs: Y Asai, M Tsubouchi, H Nagai, K Tanaka, A Tanaka, S Omoto, M Toriyama

 

Wednesday 22nd June 2022

Women

SoftCo Series: Ireland 1 (K McKee) Japan 2 (S Oikawa, M Toriyama)

Uniphar Under-23 series: India 3 (N Toppo, M Chorisya, B Dungdung) Ukraine 0; Netherlands 5 (E Zandee 2, I Kroot, B van den Broek, F Tuzgol) Ireland 1 (E Paul)

 

Thursday 23rd June 2022

Women

SoftCo Series: Ireland v Japan, Belfield, 7pm

Uniphar Under-23 series: India v USA, Belfield, 3pm; Ireland v Ukraine, Belfield, 5pm

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The 2022 FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup Squad announcement

Five Uncapped Players Set To Make Debut in a Fresh Faced Side.

The Ireland Women Hockey coach, Sean Dancer has named his panel for July’s World Cup campaign which gets under way on July 2nd at Amsterdam’s Wagener Stadium.

It is a fresh-faced side with five uncapped players set to make their official debuts in the competition as the post-Olympic evolution of the Green Army continues apace.

Irish Under-21 captain Caoimhe Perdue, Christina Hamill and Siofra O’Brien all starred in the Junior World Cup in April and impressed – alongside Katie McKee and Charlotte Beggs – in recent challenge matches against Scotland and in Japan to land their place in the line-up.

At the other end of the spectrum, the side features five players from the groundbreaking 2018 run to the World Cup final with Katie Mullan reprising her role as captain.

Ayeisha McFerran was named goalkeeper of the tournament in London and they are among the leaders in the group along with Lena Tice, Róisín Upton and Deirdre Duke. 

“The team are excited about our progress and the opportunities that lie ahead over the next month, and know that anything is possible at a World Cup,” Dancer said of the selection.

“Our entire group, players and staff have been working extremely hard over the last month, on the basics that a new group has to do. This has been a tough but a very enjoyable period.”

Ireland start off on July 2nd against the hosts and current world number one side, the Netherlands, with the 9,500-strong venue already sold out. 

Next on the agenda is a July 5th date against tournament debutantes Chile (world rank: 17) before concluding the group stage on July 6th against Germany (world rank: 5).

Top spot in the group advances direct to the quarter-final stage with the second and third place nations, facing an extra game to reach that stage in the crossover playoffs. Fourth in the group will go into the 9th to 16th place playoffs.

Ireland’s initial run of fixtures take place in Amsterdam and if they can emulate their 2018 run, the semi-final and final will be played in Terrassa, Spain.

“The World Cup is always a tough tournament but what a great challenge to be playing the best team in the World, 1st game up, in front of their home crowd,” Dancer added.

“We have set our sights firmly on a positive result versus Chile, and will approach the playoff games day by day, when we get to that point. 

“We are very grateful for the continuous support from our sponsors SoftCo, Park Developments and Saba along with Sport Ireland and Sport NI as well as and the hockey community. We would simply not be able to do without.”

The side conclude their preparations for the World Cup at Belfield this week with the SoftCo Series with Ireland taking on Japan four times. The first game is on Saturday, June 18th (4pm) with the subsequent games on Sunday, June 19th (4pm), Wednesday, June 22nd (5pm) and Thursday, June 23rd (7pm).

The series runs parallel to the Uniphar Under-23 Five Nations tournament with all tickets available via the Hockey Ireland website (https://hockey.ie/buy-tickets/)

 

Ireland senior women’s team for the World Cup; July 1st to 17th in Amsterdam, Netherlands and Terrassa, Spain (club, caps):

Ayeisha McFerran (goalkeeper, SV Kampong (NED), 113)

Elizabeth Murphy (goalkeeper, Loreto, 13)

Caoimhe Perdue (UCC, 0)

Charlotte Beggs (Ulster Elks, 0)

Christina Hamill (Loreto, 0)

Deirdre Duke (Old Alex, 154 )

Ellen Curran (Pembroke, 27)

Erin Getty (Queen’s, 11)

Hannah McLoughlin (UCD, 26)

Katie McKee (Pegasus, 0)

Katie Mullan (captain, Ballymoney, 206)

Lena Tice (Old Alex, 122)

Michelle Carey (UCD, 10)

Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute, 121)

Roisin Upton (vice-captain, Catholic Institute, 89)

Sarah Hawkshaw (Railway Union, 46)

Sarah McAuley (UCD, 9)

Sarah Torrans (Loreto, 33)

Siofra O’Brien (Loreto, 0)

Zara Malseed (Ards, 7)

 

Group A schedule (all at Wagener Stadium, Amsterdam; times IRISH)

July 2nd: Ireland v Netherlands, 6.30pm 

July 5th: Ireland v Chile, 1pm

July 6th: Ireland v Germany, 3.30pm

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Junior Green Army name squad for Uniphar 5 Nations

Belfield welcomes the Uniphar Five Nations tournament this week with Ireland’s Junior Green Army taking on Under-21 sides from the Netherlands, India, Ukraine and USA.

The tournament runs from Sunday, June 19th to Sunday, June 26th in tandem with the SoftCo Series where the Irish senior line-up face Japan in four challenge matches at the same venue.

The event is a key event in the lead-up to July’s European Championships in Ghent. Ireland will feature 13 of the side that travelled to Potchefstroom, South Africa, for the Junior World Cup in April.

 

“While the bulk of the squad  was at the Junior World Cup a few of the players narrowly missed out and will be keen to show their value for European selection,” Passmore said ahead of the selection.

“We have chosen to go with an all U21 selection because we have lost players since South Africa and with the proximity of a top flight European tournament In July..  It’s great that we have four schoolgirls in the selection, three of whom will carefully manage game play around their final Leaving Certificate exams.

“We can not thank sponsors Uniphar enough for the support their have provided for us to have a home tournament and especially in hosting the Ukraine squad who we missed out on playing in the South Africa.

“The tournament is ideally placed and provides much needed tournament experience for the likes of Lucy Crowe and Alex Purcell who haven’t played in major tournaments and do not have Under-18 experience.

“We are working to address the areas for improvements from the JWC and  help the team build towards the Europeans in July in Ghent where we will aim to qualify for next year’s Junior World Cup in Chile.”

 

Ireland U21 Team Announcement

No

Player

Position

1

Ellie McLoughlin

UCD

Goalkeeper

2

Holly Micklem

Old Alex

Goalkeeper

3

Caoimhe Byrne

UCD

Defender

4

Lucy Crowe

Railway Union

Defender

5

KJ Marshall (Co-capt)

UCD

Defender

6

Emma Paul (Co-capt)

UCD

Defender

7

Ellen Reid

Loughborough Students

Defender

8

Siofra Murdoch

Harvard University

Defender

9

Sophia Cole

UCD

Midfield

10

Amy Elliott

UCD

Midfield

11

Anna Horan

Catholic Institute

Midfield/Defender

12

Lisa Mulcahy

Loreto

Midfield/Defender

13

Ali Griffin

Pembroke Wanderers

Midfield/Forward

14

Alex Purcell

Monkstown

Midfield

15

Leah O’Shea

Cork Harlequins

Forward

16

Aoife Taaffe

Loreto

Forward

17

Niamh McIvor

Pegasus

Forward/Midfield

18

Laura Noble

Trinity

Forward

19

Rachel Kelly

UCD

Forward

20

Mikayla Power

Old Alex

Forward

 

Eva Lavelle is sadly unavailable due to a broken toe.

Management:

  1. David PassmoreHead Coach

  2. Lorraine McGowan Manager

  3. Steven Arbuthnot Coach

  4. Una McCarthyCoach

  5. Niamh SmallCoach

  6. Ian Hughes GK Coach

  7. Amy PhelanATT / Physio

  8. Aaron PassmoreAnalyst

  9. Cathal SheridanPerformance Coach

  10. Ciaran CarthyPhysiology

 


Uniphar 5 Nations Fixtures at the National Hockey Stadium, University College Dublin, Belfield.

Sunday 19 June

12:00  Uniphar U23 5 Nations: Netherlands v USA

14:00 Uniphar U23 5 Nations: Ireland v India

 

Monday 20 June

14:00  Uniphar U23 5 Nations: USA v Ukraine

16:00 Uniphar U23 5 Nations: Netherlands v India

 

Wednesday 22 June

13:00 Uniphar U23 5 Nations: India v Ukraine

15:00 Uniphar U23 5 Nations: Netherlands v Ireland

 

Thursday 23 June

15:00  Uniphar U23 5 Nations: India v USA

17:00  Uniphar U23 5 Nations: Ireland v Ukraine

 

Saturday 25 June

09:00  Uniphar U23 5 Nations: Netherlands v Ukraine

11:00  Uniphar U23 5 Nations: Ireland v USA

 

Sunday 26 June: Uniphar U23 Tournament Play-offs

10:00  5th v Ireland Development

12:00   Uniphar U23 5 Nations: Bronze Play-off  4th v 3rd

14:15   Uniphar U23 5 Nations: Final:  1st v 2nd

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Watch the Irish Women’s Team in action before the World Cup.

The Irish Women’s Senior team is back in action this weekend, and you can watch them take on Japan in the SoftCo series before they head off to Amsterdam for the World Cup.

This will be your last chance to see them —and it’s also an excellent opportunity to see some up-and-coming talent as well!

The SoftCo series will run side by side with the U23 Uniphar 5 Nations, which showcases young players from around the world.  You can catch these games at UCD.

Tickets can be bought here.

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Fresh-looking Irish men win series over Italy at Lisnagarvey

The Irish men picked up two wins and a draw from their three-game series against Italy at Lisnagarvey as they continue their summer schedule, building experience and knowledge ahead of the European Championships qualifiers in August.

Coach Mark Tumilty was “pleased with the progress” over the weekend with four new players making their international debuts amid a 2-1 win on Friday, 3-0 on Saturday and a 1-1 tie on Sunday morning.

“Friday was the one which we struggled which we need to be wary of when it comes to opening games of tournaments,” Tumilty said of the series.

“Saturday I was pleased with how we started but we need to maintain that. We grew into this one and getting that consistency is what we need to get at the minute. Can we play for the four quarters?”

It is part of a busy phase for the Irish men with an upcoming four nations tournament in Scotland with Wales and USA also featuring while Austria and Chile come to Dublin in the coming months. The main event is in Calais in late August with a ticket to next year’s European Championships the target.

Picture: Adrian Boehm

Having so many games is key for Tumilty and he was happy with how 17-year-old Charlie Rowe, Rory Patterson, Ben Johnson and Johnny Lynch performed.

“Charlie should be very pleased with his two performances but it doesn’t surprise me. He has that mentality; we didn’t give him a lot of instructions, just let him play and that is often how it should be with younger players.

“I was happy in general with the new caps and how they settled, getting good competition in the squad which is important.”

Getting that extra game time is also crucial with a young panel, many of whom still making their way in the international game after a low-key two years during the Covid-19 break.

“That was a key objective – to get 25 to 30 games in. The more players we can get from 50 to 100 caps, the better. The top nations have so many between 150 and 200 and so we have to get them that exposure. We do have a good balance of meeting higher-ranked nations and those below us who we need to win against.

“This year, it took a while to get our program in place but I am pleased with what we were able to get in place to get us through to Paris [2024 Olympic qualifiers].

“Our staff is in place and we do have an opportunity to grow physically to compete all the way through next year. I am happy where our support is – although obviously, I would like more money to compete with the big nations!”

*** Game reports ***

Friday Ireland 2 (C Empey, J McKee) Italy 1 (T Keenan)

Two goals in the 49th minute saw Ireland’s men come back to win 2-1 and continue their long unbeaten run against Italy.

It dates back to 2013 and spans 11 games now as Conor Empey and Jonny McKee scored within seconds of each other to overturn a first half Thomas Keenan effort.

Keenan – whose grandfather hails from Cork before moving to Argentina – swooped to net a penalty corner rebound which had given the 27th ranked Italians a surprise win in the first of three capped matches at Comber Road this weekend.

But the Green Machine camped in the visitors’ half for much of the second half and eventually broke through via some McKee 3D magic, unlocking the door for Sean Murray to lift the ball over Francesco Mitrotta with Empey getting the final touch.

McKee then got one of his own mere seconds after the restart to transform the result. The tie saw Rory Patterson and Johnny Lynch earn their first formal Irish caps

Saturday: Ireland 3 (J McKee 2, C Empey) Italy 0

Jonny McKee’s double helped make it two wins from two for Ireland in their three-game series against Italy at a rain-soaked Comber Road.

The Banbridge man augmented Conor Empey’s second minute opening strike with a super revese-stick strike before completing the win in the closing stages.

The tie also served as a first cap for Ben Johnson and Charlie Rowe – another Banbridge man – 17 days shy of his 18th birthday. Indeed, Rowe had captained the Irish Under-18s in a win over England and he felt he took the step up in his stride.

“It is really nice to get the first cap at my age, clean sheet and a win,” Rowe said afterwards. “It’s exciting and hopefully more to come. I wasn’t too nervous about it, just got on and played away. Once I got into it, I didn’t really worry about it too much!”

In this one, they got off to a flyer with Ben Walker slipping the ball into the path of Empey who rounded on the ball, cracking home his second goal in two games on the turn.

Goal two followed soon after with Luke Madeley’s long overhead pass finding McKee beyond the last defender. He controlled it brilliantly before flipping the ball onto his backhand and picking out the bottom corner.

Madeley could have made it three but cleared the crossbar from a penalty stroke as Ireland dominated the first 10 minutes before the Italians settled. The visitors held sway for parts of the second and third quarter on a slow pitch but found clear chances at a premium.

But Ireland closed out the contest on the up, working an excellent overload move via McKee and on to Jeremy Duncan. His first shot was parried by Roberto Broere but McKee followed up to kill off the chance.

Sunday: Ireland 1 (B Johnson) Italy 1 (M Mondo)

Ben Johnson netted his first international goal but the overall feeling was one of frustration as Ireland were unable to make the most of a plethora of chances in their closing test match against Italy at Comber Road.

The Waterford native flicked in from the right of the D in the 40th minute to cancel out Manuel Mondo’s first half drag-flick.

Mark Tumilty’s side subsequently laid siege to the visitors goal but, despite, new numerous near misses could not find the crucial touch.

Ireland did start heavily on the front foot with Jeremy Duncan, Conor Empey and Ben Johnson all forcing good saves from Francesco Mitrotta.

Italy, though, hit the front from their second attack in earnest in the 26th minute when Mondo whipped home a penalty corner.

It made it 1-0 at half-time. The second half was one-way traffic with Italy offering minimal threat, often sitting with 11 men behind the ball, as Ireland piled on the pressure.

The breakthrough came when Callum Robson’s shot was blocked by Mitrotta into the path of Johnson who scored his first international goal – in his second cap – with a composed flick.

The pattern continued through the final quarter as Italy’s goal lived a charmed life but no further goals accrued, leaving Ireland to settle for a draw.

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Job Alert – Commercial Partnership Manager

#JobFairy – Hockey Ireland is recruiting a Commercial Partnership Manager to join our dynamic team.

Job description here: https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/view/3098326825

Closing date 5 pm Monday 13th June 2022.