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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
EYHL Division 1:
Catholic Institute v Railway Union, Rosbrien, 2pm

Sunday 16th January 2022
Interprovincial series
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

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Scotland take laurels after spectacular final series in Antrim

Men’s Indoor International Series – game three
Ireland 7 (R Canning 4, O Kidd, J Jackson, J Duncan) Scotland 8 (J Golden 5, C Golden 2, P Christie)

Scotland snatched two goals in the final minute to land a series clean sweep against the Irish men at the Antrim Forum, grabbing the win despite trailing for 33 minutes of the contest.

Ireland looked in good shape for much of the contest as Jeremy Duncan’s drive and finish put the hosts one up in the first four minutes and Ross Canning first of four penalty corner goals doubled up.

Golden brothers Cameron and Jamie have been stand-out performers this week and they levelled matters by the 15th minute only for Canning to reply in kind with his second, ekeing out a 3-2 half-time lead.

Canning added another and Oliver Kidd nicked in to make it 5-2 but it proved a slender lead as Scotland regrouped with the Golden boys getting one each to cut the gap.

Indeed, Stephen O’Keeffe was enjoying a remarkable game between the posts for Ireland, sweeping one off the line having jack-knifed his body to clear the danger.

John Jackson’s breakaway goal again kept Ireland just in front as Patrick Christie got another back for Scotland; 6-5 at the three quarter mark.

Canning’s fourth was slightly delayed as he pinged the crossbar before finding the top corner from a set piece for a 7-5 lead. But Scotland finished the strongest with Jamie Golden scoring three in the last five minutes to turn things around in spectacular fashion.

He closed the gap from a corner and when Ireland went down to five players, he weighed in with two more in the closing minute for a personal tally of five.

It meant a third successive win for the Scots in this comeback series, the first in Ireland indoors since 1987.

Ireland: S O’Keeffe, J Jackson, R Canning, C Robson, N Glassey, J Duncan
Subs: R Patterson, J Haycock, D Howard, O Kidd, R Couse, M Crooks

Scotland: G McKenzie, M Ross, A McAllister, A Lochrin, C Golden, J Golden
Subs: P Christie, J Stephen, S Stewart, G Amour, A Wilson, M Taylor

Women’s Indoor International Series – game three
Ireland 5 (A Benson 3, O Fox, C Brown) Scotland 5 (E Dark 2, S Hinds, C Watson, R Blaikie), Scotland win shoot-out 3-1

Scotland took the final laurels in suitably dramatic style as they edged out Ireland in a shoot-out following a rollercoaster 5-5 draw in the best of three decider at the Antrim Forum.

It was end to end from minute one, Amy Benson’s looping lob opening the scoring only for Ruth Blaikie to equalise and Chloe Brown to retake the lead within seconds of each other. That gave Ireland a 2-1 lead which Benson augmented but Sophie Hinds’ neat finish had it close at 3-2 at half-time.

Benson completed her hat trick early in the second half but Scotland proceeded to grind away at that lead with two Emily Dark corners making the game level and they looked to have done enough to win it when Charlotte Watson made it 5-4.

Irish captain Orla Fox, though, equalised in the closing minute for 5-5, sending the series down to a shoot-out to decide the winners. There, Scotland were faultless in attack and Carmin Dow made the crucial save.

“I don’t know what we were expecting but the first indoor games in 34 years, we will look back on this in a few weeks and it will be really positive. It was annoying to lose on shoot-outs but we progressed really well throughout the series.” Buckley reflected on a dramatic week, citing the second game as one to take a lot from.

“With indoor, you can score in a matter of seconds. It just worked out we scored two goals straight after that save. The girls kept pushing and to get eight goals against a side ranked eight places above us is fantastic.

“The Euros are coming up pretty quickly and we have Scotland in our opening game! It’s something to really look forward to.”

Ireland: E Buckley, S Patton, S Barnwell, C Brown, A Benson, L Graham
Subs: O Fox, O Patton, R McMullen L Lloyd, M Power, B Maye

Scotland: L Camlin, M Steiger, R Blaikie, M Justice, E Wilson, E Dark
Subs: C Watson, C Hay, S Hinds, F Semple, K Stott, C Dow

Tuesday, December 28:
Ireland 3 (M Crooks, R Patterson, R Canning) Scotland 7 (J Golden 3, C Golden 2, P Christie 2); Ireland 7 (R Canning 4, O Kidd, J Jackson, J Duncan) Scotland 8 (J Golden 5, C Golden 2, P Christie)
Wednesday, December 29: Ireland 4 (O Kidd 3, R Canning) Scotland 5 (C Golden 2, G Amour 2, J Golden);

Tuesday, December 28:
Ireland 2 (S Patton, M Power) Scotland 3 (E Dark 2, M Justice)
Wednesday, December 29: Ireland 8 (C Brown 5, L Lloyd 3) Scotland 3 (M Steiger, E Dark, M Justice); Ireland 5 (A Benson 3, O Fox, C Brown) Scotland 5 (E Dark 2, S Hinds, C Watson, R Blaikie), Scotland win shoot-out 3-1

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Brown and Lloyd fire up women’s win; Irish men denied in nine-goal thriller

Women’s Indoor International Series – game two
Ireland 8 (C Brown 5, L Lloyd 3) Scotland 3 (M Steiger, E Dark, M Justice)

Chloe Brown and Lily Lloyd inspired Ireland to a blistering 8-3 win over Scotland to make it all level going into the third and final meeting of the sides at the Antrim Forum.

It came courtesy of a ferocious final quarter which they nailed four goals having earlier trailed 3-2 but also owed a huge amount to Emma Buckley’s diving penalty stroke save when the game was still in the balance.

Millie Steiger popped in a rebound off the post in the first minute to give Scotland a great start but Brown swapped the lead around by the end of Q1 with a pair of corners.

Emily Dark’s audacious dummy and corner got Scotland back on terms by half-time and they started the second half well, going in front when Margery Justice swooped on a loose ball.

Lily Lloyd equalised with a smart finish from a corner rebound and Brown’s third had Ireland with a slight edge going into the final quarter, 4-3, with Sophie Hinds denied by the post.

But the game blew open in a wild fourth quarter in which Dark pinged the crossbar and Lucy Camlin denied Lloyd an outrageous goal. Lloyd, though, did score her second from play for 5-3 before Buckley had to dive low to keep out Justice’s stroke.

It was a turning point as Brown and Lloyd both scored within 30 seconds of that stroke save, a potential 5-4 scoreline now reading 7-3. Brown closed out the scoring in the 34th minute, completing a run of four goals in two minutes of game time with that stroke in between.

Ireland: E Buckley, S Patton, S Barnwell, O Fox, O Patton, A Benson
Subs: K Kimber, C Brown, L Lloyd, M Power, L Graham, B Maye

Scotland: J Buchanan, M Steiger, C Watson, M Justice, K Stott, E Dark
Subs: R Blaikie, C Hay, E Wilson, S Hinds, F Semple, L Camlin

Men’s Indoor International Series – game two
Ireland 4 (O Kidd 3, R Canning) Scotland 5 (C Golden 2, G Amour 2, J Golden)

Scotland made it two wins from two at the Antrim Forum as they held off a concerted fight from Ireland with Ollie Kidd firing a hat trick.

The Scots burst into an opening 2-0 lead with Cameron Golden and Gordon Amour whipping home quickfire strikes in the first five minutes to get off to a flying start.

Ireland hit back with Kidd flicking their first corner into the roof of the net to make it 2-1 at the quarter-time break. Ross Canning levelled early in Q2 from another corner from the centre and that is how it remained up to half-time.

But another double blow from Golden and Amour in the third quarter put Scotland clear once more 4-2 going into the final phase. Kidd struck once more from a corner to set up a rousing finish but Jamie Golden scored the goal of the game from the left boards for what proved the crucial goal.

Ireland withdrew their impressive goalkeeper Jakim Bernsden and used the extra man to allow Kidd to complete his hat trick from play. As Ireland pushed, Canning hit the post from a corner as did Jamie Golden with another baseline effort but the Scots held on for a 5-4 victory.

Ireland: J Bernsden, J Jackson, J Haycock, O Kidd, J Lynch, J Duncan
Subs: N Glassey, R Canning, R Patterson, M Crooks, R Couse, C Robson

Scotland: M Taylor, M Ross, A McAllister, C Golden, G Amour, J Golden
Subs: P Christie, J Stephen, S Stewart, A Lochrin, A Wilson

Tuesday, December 28:
Ireland 3 (M Crooks, R Patterson, R Canning) Scotland 7 (J Golden 3, C Golden 2, P Christie 2)
Wednesday, December 29: Ireland 4 (O Kidd 3, R Canning) Scotland 5 (C Golden 2, G Amour 2, J Golden); Ireland v Scotland, 2pm

Tuesday, December 28:
Ireland 2 (S Patton, M Power) Scotland 3 (E Dark 2, M Justice)
Wednesday, December 29: Ireland 8 (C Brown 5, L Lloyd 3) Scotland 3 (M Steiger, E Dark, M Justice); Ireland v Scotland, 3.30pm

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Dark turns out the lights on Ireland in cracking women’s opening tie

Women’s Indoor International Series – game one
Ireland 2 (S Patton, M Power) Scotland 3 (E Dark 2, M Justice)

Emily Dark’s double saw Ireland succumb to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Scotland at the Antrim Foym in the first of their three game international indoor series.

Ireland were in control at half-time, leading 2-0 after Sarah Patton and Mikayla Power goals but Dark’s pair either side of a Margery Justice finish saw the Scots win out.

Patton got the hosts off to a dream start when she burst down the right wing and flicked in by Carmin Dow ticking past the first minute.

From there, Scotland enjoyed more of the ball as Ireland played in a low dice and were thankful to some excellent goalkeeping from Emma Buckley, racing off her line well to shut down chances.

The one time she was beaten, Chloe Brown was wheeling across the goal line to clean up the pieces and she took a Scottish shot off the line.

On the ball, Lily Lloyd was a key figure with her dancing skills and Ireland went 2-0 up when 16-year-old tyro Mikayla Power reacted fastest to a loose ball and flicked in from mid-circle.

Patton seemed destined to make it 3-0 only for sub goalkeeper Jessica Buchanan to produce a remarkable diving save early in the third quarter. Emily Dark’s pin-point penalty corner, though, cut the gap in the 27th minute to put the contest back in the mix.

Both sides hit the post soon after before Justice levelled the contest in the 36th minute and Dark popped up with the winner in the closing seconds with an emphatic corner flick into the roof of the net.

Captain Orla Fox reflected on the tie, saying: “We have a lot of new caps today which has shown the growth of the game and it is so nice to play a home game but it is disappointing, losing it in the last quarter. These games are so useful for us ahead of the Europeans in January and we have a good chance to suss out what our opposition will be like.”

Ireland: E Buckley, S Patton, L Lloyd, O Patton, M Power, L Graham
Subs: C Brown, O Fox, R McMullen, A Benson, K Kimber, B Maye

Scotland: C Dow, R Blaikie, E Wilson, F Semple, M Justice, E Dark
Subs: M Steiger, C Watson, C Hay, S Hinds, K Stott, J Buchanan

Tuesday, December 28:
Ireland 3 (M Crooks, R Patterson, R Canning) Scotland 7 (J Golden 3, C Golden 2, P Christie 2)
Wednesday, December 29: Ireland v Scotland, 10am; Ireland v Scotland, 2pm

Tuesday, December 28:
Ireland 2 (S Patton, M Power) Scotland 3 (E Dark 2, M Justice)
Wednesday, December 29: Ireland v Scotland, 11.30am; Ireland v Scotland, 3.30pm

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Scotland’s Golden boys deny Ireland’s men

Men’s Indoor International Series – game one
Ireland 3 (M Crooks, R Patterson, R Canning) Scotland 7 (J Golden 3, C Golden 2, P Christie 2)

Scotland’s Golden boys made it a bittersweet return to indoor international action on home turf for Ireland after 34 years as the visitors landed a 7-3 win in the opening of three challenge matches at the Antrim Forum.

Cookstown’s Mark Crooks scrambled in an opener for Ireland in the second minute for a dream start but the Scots soon turned on the style.

Jamie Golden slotted a corner to level the game quickly and his older brother Cameron flicked in and Jamie got his second goal in quick succession to make it 3-1 in the fifth minute of a fast and furious encounter.

Stephen O’Keeffe was outstanding in this phase in the green goal but he could not keep out Cameron as the Golden brothers raced to reached their hat trick.

Ireland fronted up well in the second half with Rory Patterson’s smart finish cutting the gap while Ross Canning slotted a corner but two more goals from Patrick Christie and a peach of a finish from Jamie Golden meant the Scots were always out of range.

Reflecting on the result, Irish captain John Jackson said: “It’s bittersweet. To play any international hockey at this time is amazing, especially indoor which is such a special brand of the game and it is nice to showcase it in front of a home crowd.

“It was a step forward from when we played them two years ago in Santander and the new players have added something but we shot ourselves in the foot at times with some of our basics in the first two periods and gave ourselves a mountain to climb.”

The two sides meet again twice on Wednesday at 10am and 2pm.

Ireland: S O’Keeffe, M Crooks, R Canning, J Lynch, R Patterson, J Jackson
Subs: J Haycock, D Howard, O Kidd, C Robson, J Duncan, N Glassey

Scotland: G Mackenzie, M Ross, A McAllister, C Golden, G Amour, J Golden
Subs: J Stephen, P Christie, S Stewart, A Lochrin, A Wilson


Under-18 Girls invited to national training camp

The following players have been invited for Under-18 Girls National training camps on January 2nd and January 4th 2022.

The Under-18 managers will be in touch with players regarding details of the sessions.

1  Ella PASLEY  Leinster  
2  Ava  MALEADY  Leinster  
3  Georgie FOTTERELL  Leinster  
4  Alex GALLAGHER  Leinster  
5  Roisin  SEXTON   Leinster  
6  Sally  TRAYNOR  Leinster  
7  Mikayla  POWER  Leinster  
8  Rebecca  CARTHY  Leinster  
9  Martha  DUIGNAM  Leinster GK 
10  Katie  MOORE  Munster  
11  Ruby WALSH  Munster  
12  Jenny MCLAUGHLIN   Munster  
13  Kate  RYAN  Munster  
14  Robyn  MURPHY  Munster  
15  Holly  COMER  Connacht  GK 
16  Olivia   BEATTIE  Ulster    
17  Alex BYRNE  Ulster  
18  Anna  PIM  Ulster    
19  Eva GASTON  Ulster  
20  Darcy   MCGALL  Ulster  
21  Abbie   ROBINSON   Ulster GK 
22  Gabriella  SCOTT  Ulster    
23  Jodie  SIMMONS  Ulster    
24  Ella   BROWN  Ulster    
25  Sarah   KIRGAN  Ulster    
26  Emma  UPRICHARD  Ulster  
27  Enya  DARBY  Ulster GK 
28  Kaia  MOORE  Ulster  

The following 4 players are invited for a further assessment on January 2nd 2022(only) 

1  Aoibheann  COLLINS  Munster  
2  Zoe HANDCOCK  Leinster South   
3  Sarah  MCFARLAND  Leinster  
4  Jessica  MCCONN WALSH  Leinster  
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It has been a busy schedule since my last newsletter. On Wednesday 13th October, I was invited by the Minister of Communities, Deirdre Hargey, to a reception in the Great Hall Parliament Buildings, Stormont, to celebrate the achievements of Northern Ireland’s athletes in the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Out of the 12 athletes present, four were members of the Ireland Women’s Hockey Team – Katie Mullan, Shirley McCay, Lizzie Holden and Zara Malseed. Katie and Shirley were interviewed and spoke very well about their experience.

It was time for the European Hockey Federation World Qualifiers and on Thursday 21st October I travelled to Cardiff to support the Ireland Men in their tournament. I stayed in the Village Hotel, as did Ireland squad, which was approx. a 20–25-minute journey to Sophia Gardens.

Ann Rosa at Stormont with the Irish Olympic contingent

The players and support staff were in a bubble, ate their meals in a separate area and we just met if we were in the reception area at the same time. As a result, I was not able to congratulate and present Johnny McKee with his 50th cap on Thursday 21st and Shane O’Donoghue with his 200th cap on Sunday 24th. The team conducted themselves impeccably well during their stay and were a credit to Hockey Ireland.

In their first match, they played very well against a strong Russian team and were clear winners, 2-0. The Russians were only allowed to field 11 on-field players due to Covid restrictions, but this did not take away from the Irish victory. Our men deserved the win. The Irish players were quietly confident going into the Welsh game on Saturday, knowing that the winners would secure a place in the World Cup. However, it wasn’t to be and Wales won the shoot-out competition after an unfortunate umpiring decision.

The match to decide 3rd and 4th places took place before the final on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, after taking the lead the Irish men could not hold off strong Austrian attacks. They had their chances, but another shoot-out competition, decided their 4th place. Wales came out winners of the tournament, beating France in a closely contested final.

As we cheered on the Irish men, we were wondering how we were going to be able to watch the women’s match online from Pisa. Sarah Campion, Hockey Ireland’s Media Officer, had the answer – she brought her lap-top to the side of the pitch and as she was multi-tasking and keeping Twitter feeds going, we were able see the women in action against Wales. We were delighted when the Irish girls held on to win and qualify for the World Cup.

On 30th & 31st October, I attended the WISE Hockey ID Festival at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus in Abbotstown where seven teams took part. Harbourne and Wakefield travelled from England with teams from Botanic, Monkstown, Railway Union, Three Rock Rovers and Wicklow joining the event. Players and officials were delighted to meet the Irish Minister of State for Sport, Jack Chambers, who came to support the event on the Saturday morning.

As part of the event, there was a FIH Hockey ID Coaching Course with Norman Hughes, Grahame Mansell-Grace, Hans Pieter van Beek and Hugh Santos working with coaches over the weekend. Our thanks go to Dwyne Hill for organising this event and to all the volunteers who made it such a memorable weekend for all.

The Under 16, Under 18 and Under 21 Interprovincials are being played under a different format for this season only. On Sunday 14th November, I travelled to Three Rock Rovers to watch the Connacht Under 18 and Under 16 teams take on Ulster. Two very exciting games were played. Ulster came out winners of both matches with the Under 18s winning 4-0 and the Under 16s winning 7-0. The Connacht girls played very well in both matches and did not give up until the final whistle.

As President of Hockey Ireland, I was invited to Stormont on Wednesday 24th November, to celebrate the commencement of Ulster Hockey’s 125 celebrations and the launch of Ulster Hockey’s Strategic Plan, hosted by the Minister of Communities, Deirdre Hargey. The theme was ‘The Past, The Present and the Future’ and guests listened to speeches from Joan McCloy, and Terry Templeton who talked about key events in the past, Shirley McCay and Conor Savage the present, and Marc Scott, Ulster Hockey’s Executive Manager who outlined the future with the key elements of the Strategic Plan.

It was very disappointing for the Ireland Women’s Under 21 team when the new Covid variant resulted in the postponement of the Junior World Cup that was scheduled for Potchefstroom in South Africa from 5th – 16th December. So much work has been put into preparing the squad and producing a detailed and amazing online programme of 88 pages. It was an honour to write the introduction for this programme. We hope that it can be rescheduled in the not-too-distant future. The team travelled to Spain instead for a quickly arranged Four Nations tournament in Valencia from Wednesday, December 8 to Sunday, December 12.

I was an observer at Hockey Ireland’s EGM which was held online on Thursday 25th November.

On various weekends, I have enjoyed watching matches closer to home. On 16th October I watched the first half of Irish Trophy game between NICS and Queens at Stormont with Queens leading, then made my way to Lagan College to see the second half of the Irish Senior Cup match Annadale playing Pembroke. There was a good crowd of supporters for both teams, with Queens and Pembroke coming out winners.

With CEO Jerome Pels and Minister of State for Sport, Jack Chambers

On 20th November, I looked in at the EYHL 2 game at Queens Playing Fields to watch the home team play UNIG and come out winners 3-0, then went to Newforge to see a very close game with Pegasus drawing 3-3 with UCD in their EYHL 1 match. On 4th December, on a bitterly cold afternoon at Deramore, I watched a closely contested game between Belfast Harlequins and Muckross, with the home side coming out on top with a winning score of 2-1. On Sunday 5th December, after the online Hockey Ireland Board Meeting, I called into Lisnagarvey Hockey Club to see the Under 21 Interprovincial game between Ulster and Leinster with Leinster coming out the stronger side to take their chances in the circle and win 3-1.

A great crowd of supporters braved a damp and cold afternoon on Wednesday 8th December for the McCullough Cup Final, to watch a close and exciting match between Banbridge Academy and Wallace High School. Wallace took an early lead but Banbridge came back strongly and won this prestigious cup 3-1.

In a post-match chat, I was talking to one of the school Principals who congratulated Ulster Hockey and Hockey Ireland for the continuation of hockey in the current pandemic situation, as events like these are important to be kept running in the school calendar. I arrived home in time to tune in to the webinar for the Olympic Federation of Ireland’s EGM, as the voting delegate for Hockey Ireland.

Last Sunday, 12th December I was delighted to attend the opening of the newly surfaced hockey pitch at Dundalk Grammar School with Trevor Watkins and Shane O’Donoghue. Our thanks go to the Principal, Mr Jonathan Graham and to the Board of Governors for making us very welcome. We enjoyed watching the Senior Girls play against Boyne and must congratulate both teams on a very sporting and skilful game of hockey. A timelapse, showing the tremendous work that had gone into removing the former playing surface, that had lasted 27 years, to the laying of the new pitch, was an excellent idea and a two-minute video, shown during refreshments, summed up the work very well.

From Dundalk I travelled to the Antrim Forum to watch indoor matches and present the winners of the Under 18 Girls’ Tournament, Coleraine with the trophy. My congratulations go to all the teams that took part during the afternoon. I look forward to returning to the Antrim Forum on 28th and 29th December Ireland’s men and women in their international matches against Scotland.

Unfortunately in the build up to the festive season, we are back to online meetings but let us hope that our matches can continue uninterrupted.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a healthy and enjoyable 2022.

Ann Rosa

19th December 2021

At the opening of Dundalk GS’s new pitch