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Adam Grainger steps down as Hockey Ireland Performance Director

Adam Grainger has stepped down as Hockey Ireland’s High Performance Director to pursue a new work opportunity with Kitman Labs.

It follows a successful period since joining Hockey Ireland in 2017 with both the Irish men’s and women’s senior international sides contesting World Cups with the latter winning silver in London 2018 before going on to qualify and compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

“Adam has made defining and lasting contributions to our high-performance programme and can be very proud of all the achievements during his time with us,” said Hockey Ireland chief executive Jerome Pels.

“We wish him the very best and thank him for all the support and his service to the sport of Hockey in Ireland.”

For Adam’s part, he said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Hockey Ireland and I am extremely proud of the work that Hockey Ireland, the wider hockey community, Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland have undertaken together.

“I believe hockey is in a strong place in Ireland and it is my hope that Hockey Ireland can now build upon the successes we have all created during both the Rio and Tokyo Olympic cycles.

“I would like to specifically recognise the passion, time and effort given to me by the Hockey Ireland Board, the Hockey Ireland High Performance Committee and the wider Hockey Ireland staff.

“Similarly, thanks to Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland high performance units for their ongoing support.

“Lastly, I want to acknowledge the support being provided by coaches and volunteers in clubs and leagues across the country, particularly at the junior age grade level.

“I am looking thoroughly looking forward to starting my role with the fast growing and ambitious performance science company Kitman Labs and will, of course, be keeping an eye on Hockey Ireland results in years ahead.”

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Banbridge’s Havelock Park the host venue for EY Champions Trophy

Banbridge’s Havelock Park has been confirmed as the venue for the EY Champions Trophy, the marquee club event of the 2021/22 Hockey Ireland club season.  

The event will take place on Saturday, April 23 and Sunday, April 24, 2022, bringing together the top four men’s and women’s club sides from around the island to crown the national champions. 

The club and the venue has played host to a string of memorable events, including the most recent edition of the EY Champions Trophy in 2019 as well as the FIH World Series Finals in the same year. Havelock Park was also the venue for the first – and only to date – visit of the Euro Hockey League to Ireland in 2016.

Frank O’Keeffe, Managing Partner, EY Ireland said: “This has been an incredibly exciting league so far and all the more precious given the challenges presented by ongoing pandemic.

“We are very much looking forward to the event and seeing which of the league’s high performing teams will ultimately come together to vie for the EYHL Champions Trophy. I’m delighted EY’s sponsorship of the league continues and this event will certainly be an excellent opportunity to celebrate the fantastic talent, teamwork and leadership displayed throughout the league.”

The host club’s president Mark Evans added: “Banbridge are delighted to once again have to opportunity to host the EY Champions Trophy weekend at Havelock Park,”

“Following the enforced cancellation of the event these past two seasons due to Covid-19, we are looking forward to showcasing the best of club hockey in Ireland over the weekend of April 23 and 24, 2022. 

“As a club we pride ourselves in our hosting capabilities and will work closely with Hockey Ireland to ensure that the standards we have set are matched and hopefully surpassed this time round.” 

Welcoming the agreement, Hockey Ireland CEO Jerome Pels added: “We are delighted to confirm Banbridge as the host club for the 2021/22 EY Champions Trophy. 

“With their army of enthusiastic volunteers, the club and the town will once again provide a perfect showcase for our players and our sport along with a top fan experience.”  

The line-up of competitors for the EY Champions Trophy will be confirmed following the conclusion of the regular season of the EY Hockey League (EYHL) and the subsequent quarter-finals which are scheduled to take place on April 9, 2022. 

Next Saturday sees Corinthian meet Annadale in a back-match from before Christmas. The EY Hockey League returns in full for the new year on February 5th with a full schedule of matches on the agenda.

** To keep up to date with the EYHL, go to: https://hockey.ie/competitions-2/eyhl/

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Abbott “immensely proud” of Irish women’s efforts at Euro indoors

Irish women’s indoor coach Rob Abbott said he was “immensely proud” of his side’s efforts at the EuroHockey Indoor Championship II in Spain in their first appearance in a tournament of this level for 30 years.

Ultimately, they fell to five defeats out of five to end the competition in last place but, with a tournament restructure for 2024, Abbott says there will be plenty of take from this series when they compete at the same level in two years time.

“Immensely proud of how the girls played,” Abbott said after the tournament. “I certainly can’t fault the commitment, heart or morale. The camaraderie on and off the pitch has been great fun. Big learning curve; we have to improve in areas but overall I deem this a success. They represented Irish indoor hockey pretty well.”

After defeats to Poland and Belgium on Friday, Ireland started well on Saturday against world number seven side Switzerland, leading early on through Orla Patton and they went in level at half-time.

But a penalty stroke decision early in the second half proved a momentum shifter as Sofie Stomps put the Swiss in front and despite a Lily Lloyd goal, it ended with a 5-2 final outcome.

Against Scotland, Ireland were level twice in the first half with Orla Macken scoring her first international goals but Fiona Semple’s 18th minute effort proved the winner.

That made it 3-2 before half-time and despite an end-to-end second half, no further goals accrued.

The tournament concluded with Ireland facing the hosts Spain who needed a win to land the title and promotion to Europe’s top tier.

The coaching team of Ross Willis, Gareth Myburgh, Amy Phelan, Rob Abbott and Aaron Passmore

But they knew they were in a game early on as Ireland defended well before landing a couple of corners and created a couple of other chances. They were left to rue not taking one of those as the game turned in the 100 seconds before half-time with Spain going 1-0 up through the legendary Rocio Ybarra before Maider Altuna added another in quick succession.

It ended 4-0 to the delight of the noisy home support who celebrated their title but Abbott was pleased with how his side showed up against more resourced and experienced opponents.

“The atmosphere in the arena was superb. Loads of youngsters, bells, hooters going off. Being the last game of the tournament, every other player and staff was there and, being the underdog, they were all cheering us on which was great.

“The noise at the end was out of this world and I told the girls ‘half of that applause is for you’ because of how well we played. Spain knew they were in a game there.

“Disappointed not to get a result as I felt we deserved one or two, especially against the Swiss and Scotland. It might sound a little crazy for the Swiss game when we lost by three but it was the best we played with the ball, the most chances we created. The stroke was a big momentum swing.

“We are going back to this level in two years time. We need to be more flexible and adaptable when we have the ball, certainly more clinical and improve the way we look to score goals. Off the ball, we were quite comfortable at this level; we found a few styles of play that suited us and didn’t concede many field goals other than in the Belgium game.

“We need to improve some technical skills but we are a new indoor nation. There’s a bit of indoor naivety and experience in managing games.

“One thing we were superb at was, before today, we hadn’t conceded when we were down a player. Our structure and organisation in understanding the game off the ball has been pretty impressive for the time we had together.

“Experiencing it as a coach, it is demanding – I am absolutely shattered. My voice is nearly going with all the noise in the hall and that Spanish game was electric. You don’t sleep much because you are constantly working. I have had a blast; I’ve learnt a lot myself from the staff with me who were all superb and the girls have been a joy to work with.”

Ireland: E Buckley, S Patton, S Barnwell, O Fox, O Patton, O Macken, M Regan, H Jenkinson, M Power, H Kelly, L Lloyd, A Benson

EuroHockey Indoor Championships II

Friday results: Ireland 1 (H Kelly) Poland 4  (P Slawinska 2, A Katerla, S Tatarczuk); Ireland 1 (O Patton) Belgium 9 (J Peeters 3, M Ronquetti 2, C vander Gracht, M Vouche, D Gose, C Closset)

Saturday, January 22: Ireland v2 (O Fox, L Lloyd) Switzerland 5 (S Stomps 3, N Pohler, C Heselhaus); Ireland 2 (O Macken 2) Scotland 3 (E Dark, S Hinds, F Semple)

Sunday, January 23: Spain 4 ((R Ybarra, M Altuna, A Civera, L Bruguera) Ireland 0

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Women’s indoor side endure tough opening day in Spain

Women’s EuroHockey Indoor Championships – day one round-up

Ireland endured a tough opening day at the women’s EuroHockey Indoor Championships II in Ourense, falling to both Poland and Belgium in the six-team round-robin group.

The first tie, though, was a heartening one against the world number six Poles. Hannah Kelly’s penalty corner goal had Ireland 1-0 up at half-time and it was level until four minutes from time courtesy of disciplined, deep defence.

But Poland stayed patient and eventually converted a couple of late corners to run out 4-1 winners. 

Game two against Belgium was a rougher outcome with a Joanne Peeters’ hat trick underpinning a 9-1 result. Orla Patton’s direct flick had Ireland in the tie at 2-1 going into the second quarter but six second half goals saw the Belgians turn on the style.

“Obviously, it was a tough day but there was lots to learn,” Patton said of this Ireland side’s first taste of this level of competition. 

“We were really pleased with our first game this morning, particularly against such a class opposition, going one up. 

“Disappointed with the afternoon game but there are positives to take into tomorrow. Our penalty corners are working well and there is a lot of hockey left to play. 

“We’ll be looking for good games tomorrow against Switzerland (9am, Irish time) and Scotland (3.15pm) and definitely feel like we can get results from both. Looking forward to it!” 

Scotland and Switzerland drew 3-3 to sit just above Ireland in the table after two games each with Belgium and Spain on six points with two wins.

 

Ireland: E Buckley, S Patton, S Barnwell, O Fox, O Patton, O Macken, M Regan, H Jenkinson, M Power, H Kelly, L Lloyd, A Benson

EuroHockey Indoor Championships II

Friday results: Ireland 1 (H Kelly) Poland 4  (P Slawinska 2, A Katerla, S Tatarczuk); Ireland 1 (O Patton) Belgium 9 (J Peeters 3, M Ronquetti 2, C vander Gracht, M Vouche, D Gose, C Closset)

Saturday, January 22: Ireland v Switzerland, 10am; Ireland v Scotland, 4.15pm

Sunday, January 23: Spain v Ireland, 1pm

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Irish women take on Euro indoor second tier challenge in Spain

The Irish women’s indoor compete this weekend at their highest level since 1990 as they contest the EuroHockey Indoor Championship II in Ourense, Spain.

It promises to be a real baptism of fire for the fledgling panel who only returned to the international game in late 2019 after a long absence as they start their campaign on Friday against world number six side Poland before facing Belgium.

Also in the mix are Switzerland (seven in the world), Scotland and Spain who beat Ireland to third tier gold in early 2020.

As such, Ireland are self-professed “underdogs” in this six-team competition but coach Rob Abbott is thrilled about the prospect of facing such illustrious opposition.

“It’s exciting times,” he said on Tuesday evening. “It will be a huge challenge and we are playing some very established indoor nations. We are still developing, only back on the court for a couple of years.

“We start off against Poland, world ranking number six so we will give it a go but we are underdogs.”

In preparation, Ireland did get in a highly competitive three-game series against Scotland just before the turn of the year, winning one, drawing one and losing one of those fixtures.

In total, seven of that side made their international debuts with Emma Buckley, Mikayla Power and Lily Lloyd all keeping their spot of the newcomers from those games in Antrim.

Captain Orla Fox, sisters Orla and Sarah Patton, Amy Benson and Sophie Barnwell all retain their sport while there are four players coming into the fold.

Millie Regan joins Buckley on goalkeepeing duties while Holly Jenkinson, Hannah Kelly and Orla Macken are all coming in to make their indoor debuts.

For Jenkinson, it will be her third different international cap having represented Ireland already in netball and tag rugby.

“Haha, I am trying to get as many international caps while I still can,” she says of the unique record and she says her previous experience will help her out when she hits the board.

“The whole setup of any international tournament – the travel, the training, the circumstances you are under, the competition, the pressure; all that is replicated in high performance sport and how you react is the same throughout. With netball and tag rugby, I can’t say it is the same skillset but it is still high performance which is similar!”

“I can’t say playing indoor for Ireland is something I dreamed about because I didn’t know if it is something that could or would exist until a few years ago.

“But since we have put a squad together and started to enter competitions, it was definitely a goal of mine. It’s different to outdoor and can be tough on the body, very fast paced so I wasn’t sure if I could make it but I have been aiming for it for some time and that’s why I am so excited.”

On the debit side from the Antrim games, Chloe Brown – top scorer in the series against Scotland – will be a big loss as she is unable to travel due to work commitments. Becky Maye, Katie Kimber, Becky McMullen and Laura Graham also miss out this time.

“The Europeans will be a very different challenge,” Abbott added. “Dave [Passmore] and the team in 2020 in Bratislava were exceptional, finishing runners-up in the C Division, bringing a medal home and, more importantly, promotion.

“Going up to the B division, it’s a different kettle of fish. First game, Poland ranked 6th, the Swiss have a world ranking of seven; the Belgians were preparing for the World Cup in February and then you have Scotland who we played the other week.

“It will be a great challenge and we will see if we can learn from every game. As long as the team improves and we come back with more knowledge, we can further improve the game of indoor here.

** All games will be streamed via: https://www.eurohockeytv.org/en-int/page/home-ehf-hockey

Ireland indoor panel for Euro Hockey Indoor Championship II; Ourense, Spain (club/caps)
Emma Buckley (Pembroke, 3)
Millie Regan (Old Georgian’s, 10)
Sarah Patton (Railway Union, 9)
Sophie Barnwell (Muckross, 13)
Holly Jenkinson (Railway Union, 0)
Orla Macken (Pembroke/North Kildare, 0)
Mikayla Power (Old Alex, 3)
Orla Fox (Railway Union, 15)
Orla Patton (Railway Union, 15)
Hannah Kelly (Catholic Institute, 0)
Lily Lloyd (Railway Union, 3)
Amy Benson (Ards, 14)

Euro Hockey Indoor Championship II (Ourense, Spain)
Friday, January 21: Ireland v Poland, 12.30pm; Ireland v Belgium, 5.30pm
Saturday, January 22: Ireland v Switzerland, 10am; Ireland v Scotland, 4.15pm
Sunday, January 23: Spain v Ireland, 1pm

Head Coach: Rob Abbott
Assistant Coach: Ross Willis
Manager: Gareth Myburgh
Physio: Amy Phelan
Video technician and analyst: Aaron Passmore

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Leinster land U-20 intepro crown as U-18 and 16 competitions hit high notes

Leinster took the Under-21 interprovincial title with a 5-2 victory over Connacht at Grange Road following a cracking contest with all the goals coming in a wild second half.

It was a scarcely predictable final scoreline after a scoreless first half in which the western province enjoyed plenty of the game.

But Leinster struck first in the 44th minute and followed up with two more in a blistering four minute spell to transform the look of the game. Lauren Johnston set them on their way, swooping to push in the first on her forehand to pop home and she added the second with a backhand flip after Orna Bools’ right-wing burst.

Zoe Watterson rebounded for the third in the 49th minute as Leinster suddenly were out of sight. Bools added a fourth with an audacious upright backhand shot but Connacht had plenty of fire and they got on the board with Fiona Kelly’s powerful hit.

Blues’ captain Bools swept in a corner switch for 5-1 before Jenny Buttimer completed the scoring with eight minutes to go.

In the Under-18 competition, Ulster dropped their first point of the competition thus far but the shoot-out bonus against Leinster is enough to put them into the final of the competition where they will meet Munster.

Leinster carried the lead into the half-time break with Alex Gallagher’s penalty corner goal putting them 1-0 up but Ulster replied in with Gabriella Scott getting the vital equaliser.

They went on to win the shoot-out 3-1 and now move up to eight points in the group alongside Munster who they meet in their last group game on February 6.

For Leinster, it was their first point of the series; they will meet Leinster South in their last group game, also on February 6.

Leinster South got their first win of the competition with a 1-0 win over Connacht at Wilson’s Hospital, Eva Sterritt striking from a corner.

At Under-16 level, who reaches the final is very much up for grabs with four teams still in the mix. Leinster are best placed after they picked up a shoot-out bonus against Ulster to continue their unbeaten run to date.

Ulster and Leinster both held the lead in a lively first half with Isobel Field putting Leinster 1-0 up before Annie Cunningham and Grace Cowden turned things around, 2-1 to the northern province. Field’s second of the day, though, came in the 40th minute saw Leinster earn a draw and they followed on win the shoot-out 2-1.

Leinster lead the way on eight on eight points with three sides on five points going into the final round of fixtures on February 11.

Ulster are one of them while Leinster South remain unbeaten run with a 1-1 draw against Connacht. Emily Quinn put the western province into the lead at half-time; Emer Sweetnam equalised in the 43rd minute and her side got the bonus 4-3 in the shoot-out.

Women

Interprovincial series

Under-16: Leinster South 1 (E Sweetnam) Connacht 1 (E Quinn), Leinster South won shoot-out 4-3; Ulster 2 (A Cunningham, G Cowden) Leinster 2 (I Field 2), Leinster won shoot-out 2-1

Under-18: Leinster South 1 (E Sterritt) Connacht 0; Ulster 1 (G Scott) Leinster 1 (A Gallagher), Ulster won shoot-out 3-1

Under-21 final: Leinster 5 (L Johnston 2, O Bools 2, Z Watterson) Connacht 2 (F Kelly, J Buttimer)

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Insta hit Railway for six in women’s EYHL

Women’s EY Hockey League

Catholic Institute 6 (H Kelly 2, N Carroll, R Upton, C Moloney, L Hickey) Railway Union 1 (L Lloyd)

Catholic Institute hit Railway Union for six as they produced a remarkably clinical performance to jump up to second place in the women’s EY Hockey League.

It was a performance of attacking precision as they built a 3-0 lead in the first three quarters despite Railway having plenty of the game before the Limerick side cut loose in the closing quarter.

The visitors were without Orla Fox while Grace O’Flanagan for her first game of the season with Riona Norton out injured. They had a couple of early corners – they ended up with eight in total to Insta’s two – but Pam Smithwick and her defensive team were well organised.

And the hosts took the lead from their first major attack with Laura Foley drawing two good saves from O’Flanagan only for Naomi Carroll to clean up and fire home.

In the second quarter, Aebhfhinn Bourke laid on the cross for Hannah Kelly to guide home after a couple of waves of attacks. Railway felt they were still very much in it as Kate Lloyd’s cross somehow did not find the touch as it rolled across goal.

Almost instantly, Insta countered with Róisín Upton – imperious stepping out from midfield – drove to the baseline, won a corner and dragged it home herself. Again, Railway were frustrated as Sarah Hawkshaw’s snapshot hit the base of the post as the Dubliners peppered the Insta circle but found no joy.

They scored their second corner despite a mistral, Upton gathering to find space to put the ball into the dangerzone and Ciara Moloney got the touch into the backboard.

Christine O’Shea’s gutsy tackle from another Railway corner set the base for number five. Upton duly smacked the ball 70-metres to Carroll who was in behind the last defender and she selflessly squared to Kelly for her second of the day. 

Sarah Patton denied Jenny Clein off the line before number six came, Carroll again with some sublime skills before she unselfishly squared to Aoife Hickey. Lily Lloyd flicked into the top corner in the last minute of the game but it was scant consolation.

It is the sole match to be played in January with the next round of matches being played on February 11.

 

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Insta and Railway vye for second as interpros reach business end

A number of high quality fixtures are on the agenda this weekend with the women’s EY Hockey League tie between Catholic Institute and Railway Union takes place on Saturday while Sunday sees five female interprovincial fixtures.

Indeed, in the interpro series, the first final of the season will take place at Grange Road with Leinster facing Connacht at 3pm. The two sides played out a close-run meeting in October with the blues prevailing 2-0 while both sides subsequently picked up 1-0 wins over Munster.

At Under-18 level, Ulster can potentially confirm they will join Munster in that competition’s final if the northern province can get by the challenge of Leinster at Havelock Park.

Leinster South will hope to keep their outside chances of nicking a final berth alive when they meet in Mullingar where they meet Connacht who are aiming for their second win of the campaign.

In the Under-16s, it is very much all to play for with four provinces currently covered by three points with two rounds of matches to be played. The match-ups are the same and should Leinster win against Ulster, they will be assured of a final spot but Ulster, Munster and Leinster South are all very much in the hunt.

In the EYHL, Catholic Institute and Railway Union can both potentially move into second place in the women’s table on Saturday at Rosbrien.

It is a position Insta’s Róisín Upton sometimes has to pinch herself to confirm is real as the Limerick club has leaped forward in recent years.

“As the weeks go on, you just want to shake some of the girls!” she said in a recent media outing in her role as a GOAL ambassador.

“I hope some of them realise just how good they are and how good they can be. That’s one of the most exciting things; how keen the girls are to learn and how hungry they are for success.

“Success for us is being in the EYHL Division One, it’s finishing higher than our seventh place from a few years ago. It’s small steps and there is a great buzz.
“Our goal is just to finish higher than we did two years ago. It would be great to get into the playoffs and we also have our first ever Irish Senior Cup quarter-final to look forward to up in Banbridge.”

For Railway, they are in sixth place on 15 points but just three points off second placed Pegasus and Old Alex, tied on 18. That second spot is all-important as it would assure progression straight through to the EY Champions Trophy semi-finals with third to sixth destined to the quarter-finals.

Saturday 15th January 2022
Women
EYHL Division 1:
Catholic Institute v Railway Union, Rosbrien, 2pm

Sunday 16th January 2022
Women
Interprovincial series
Under-16:
Leinster South v Connacht, Mullingar, 1pm; Ulster v Leinster, Havelock Park, 12pm
Under-18: Leinster South v Connacht, Mullingar, 3pm; Ulster v Leinster, Havelock Park, 2.30pm
Under-21 final: Leinster v Connacht, Grange Road, 3pm

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Hockey Ireland implements new FIH Rules for 2022 with immediate effect

Hockey Ireland and the Irish Hockey Umpires Association will implement the new FIH Rules of Hockey for January 2022 with immediate effect for all competitions.

The updated rulebook can be found here: https://www.irishhua.com/handbook/handbook119.pdf?20220110120903

The two main changes relate to Rule 4.2 (removal of PC protective equipment) and Rule 9.10 (aerial balls). The other updates to the rules are cosmetic.

**

Rule 4.2 was changed to allow for defending players using Penalty Corner (PC) protective equipment to continue to play the ball outside the circle following completion of a penalty corner (i.e. when the ball travels more than 5m outside the circle).

Players should continue to remove facemasks as soon as possible after a PC but they can continue to wear the facemask whilst playing within the defending 23m area. The aim is to remove the award of PCs for players playing the ball with their mask on. 

The additional text states: “Players should remove their penalty corner equipment as soon as they are able to do so after the penalty corner is completed. If no suitable opportunity to remove equipment arises, they can continue to wear it whilst they are within the 23m area without penalty. All players must remove all protective equipment before they leave the 23m area or when instructed to by the umpire.”

**

Rule 9.10, the wording around aerial balls has seen the following phrase added for clarification:

“Players must not approach within 5 metres of an opponent receiving a falling, raised ball until it has been received, controlled and is on the ground. The ball may be intercepted within 5 metres but outside of playing distance provided it is done safely.”  

It was changed to allow for the playing of what is commonly designated as Aerial Balls. The previous text did not cover for the possibility for players to safely intercept a falling ball, which is now seen as both legitimate and positive to the development of the game. Aerial Balls will continue to be closely monitored by all stakeholders so that player safety can be maintained.

The way it is umpired in top-flight competitions will not largely change from the interpretations that have been employed in the last year. Officials do not want to have engagement or a contest in the air, so when the ball is 20m away, if there is a clear receiver they have priority. Safety remains the priority for the umpire’s judgement.

But if someone steps in front from outside of playing distance from the clear receiver and intercepts the ball in what is deemed by the umpire to be a safe manner, then this will be allowed.

For an example of when this specifically occurs, check out the following video:

The FIH umpires briefing can be found here: http://www.fih.ch/inside-fih/our-official-documents/fih-umpires-and-umpire-managers/umpire-managers/. It offers additional guidance and information on the interpretations of key rules.

For more information on umpiring in Ireland, please go to: https://irishumpires.com/
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SoftCo expand sponsorship to support Irish men’s team on equal basis

SoftCo and Hockey Ireland have agreed a ground-breaking deal with the former becoming the main sponsor of both the Irish men’s and women’s national teams on an equal basis.

For SoftCo – leaders in financial automation software – it is a significant expansion of their long-standing support for hockey.

They will become the main sponsor to the men’s senior and development programs ahead of a busy 2022 and their ultimate pursuit of Olympic qualification for Paris 2024 for the Green Machine.

It means both the Irish men and women’s teams will enjoy the same level of support, aligning perfectly with hockey’s pursuit of gender-equality of opportunity and ambition, becoming one of the first sports in Ireland to enjoy such parity from a sponsor.

“We are delighted to extend our successful partnership with Irish Hockey. It is an exciting time to team up with the Men’s Senior and Development Squads with so much talent and ambition in the squad,” commented, Susan Spence, Co-Founder, SoftCo.

“We have had fantastic fun over the last four years with the Women’s Team and hopefully we can replicate that success. We are especially grateful to the wider hockey community for their wonderful support and will use the sponsorship of both the Men’s and Women’s international teams to help hockey at grassroots level.”

Irish men’s Head Coach Mark Tumilty said of the sponsorship: “I am thrilled to see SoftCo coming on board at a vital phase in our development. We have seen the huge impact their support and engagement has had on the women’s team and we are looking forward on building that relationship.

“We have a young side that has grown quickly in 2021 after 18 months out of action with Covid and this is the perfect boost to our program to add serious momentum.”

Shane O’Donoghue, foreground, with Irish senior men’s team mates Sean Murray and Jamie Carr. Picture: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

In 2022, the “Green Machine” will compete in August’s EuroHockey Championship qualifiers in Calais, France as well as making their debut in the FIH Nations Cup. The events are key stepping-stones in the qualifying process for the Olympics.

SoftCo have supported the women’s team for the past four years and the women’s development program since August 2021 as well as supporting a number of grassroots initiatives.

In that time, the company has become synonymous with the team and its success, including an historic 2018 World Cup silver medal and an Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games. The Green Army has qualified once again for this summer’s World Cup which will be played in July 2022.

Speaking about the latest expansion of support for the Irish international teams, Hockey Ireland CEO Jerome Pels said: “SoftCo continue to be incredible partners for Hockey Ireland, helping to reach new heights on the world stage.

“This unique dual-sponsorship ties in perfectly with hockey’s ‘equally amazing’ charter, promoting the sport on a gender-equal basis.”

About SoftCo
For over 30 years, SoftCo has delivered finance automation software that streamline processes, reduce costs, and ensure full financial control, compliance, and visibility. SoftCo is a global organization with offices in the USA, Ireland, the UK, and the Nordics. SoftCo is SOC2, ISO 27001 and SAHKE2 certified in addition to being a Microsoft Gold Partner and AWS Advanced Technology Partner. Over two million business users worldwide across all industry sectors use SoftCo solutions including SunnyD, the Finnish Government, Primark, Patagonia and PwC. For more information, please visit www.softco.com