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Eleven teams ready for men’s EYHL Division 2 campaign

Saturday sees the men’s EY Hockey League Division 2 hit the turf for the first time in the 2021/22 season featuring 11 clubs, divided into three round-robin, home and away groups.

It is an expansion from the eight-team, two group format from the 2019/20 season, accounting for the state of play when that campaign was called short.

The two sides who win their groups with the best record on a points-per-game basis will advance straight through to the EYHL promotion playoff semi-finals. The third best group winner and the three group stage runners-up will go to the quarter-finals.

It starts with Instonians facing Railway Union and Rathgar meeting Cork C of I in Pool 1, Cork Harlequins welcoming Clontarf in Pool 2 and Pool 3 featuring Cookstown against Mossley and Portrane up against Bandon.

Men’s EY Hockey League 2 team-by-team information
Bandon

Bandon have emerged as serious rivals for Munster honours this term, putting it up to Cork C of I at every turn and they sit just a point off the Garryduff side having drawn twice in normal time – once in the cup, once in the league.

Masters international Dave Smith continues to prove that age really is just a number. Ross Smyth and Eoin Nyhan are continuing their development and have looked really sharp along with rising stars Ian Perrott, Karl Smyth and Ethan Hamilton-Foott who all have some great experience, even at a young age.

Head coach Denis Pritchard has a vast range of experience to call upon and he has laid out the following targets, saying: “Our minimum aim is to maintain our current EYHL2 status. We also aspire to win our local competitions and to challenge for promotion to EYHL 1.”

Clontarf
Clontarf got off to a slow start to the season with losses to Avoca and Portrane in the opening weeks as they adjusted to life after David Lawless (Glenanne) and Mark Duggan (Pembroke) moved on to EYHL hockey while Kevin Mullins went travelling.

But they have since started to amp up their performances with strong performances against Railway Union, Wicklow and Bray, scoring 19 goals along the way.

They are further bouyed by the new turf at Mount Temple which they formally opened last Saturday, celebrating with a 10-1 victory. Davyn Keuter netted a hat trick while former Irish Under-21 captain Sam Grace has linked up with the club and gives them a range of corner options. Luke Hayden has five goals to his name already, too.

Clontarf’s Luke Hayden. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Cookstown
The Co Tyrone club come into the EYHL2 as the top scorers in the Ulster Premier League with 51 goals from their seven outings to date, dropping just two points, and still rolling in the Irish Senior Cup following a shoot-out victory over Railway Union.

They face Mossley first up having won 9-1 against their Ulster rivals in September and so will be big favourites to land the points from the opening day. Experienced heads like Greg Thompson, Mark Crooks, Stu Smyth and Ewan Butler joined by the likes of Stewart Wylie and Jack Haycock – a significant corner threat – while they also have a trio of players in the Ulster Under-18 line-up who impressed last week.

Cork C of I
Cork C of I have targeted a return to the EY Hockey League as their primary focus and they have widened their panel well with the arrival of underage internationals Rory Treacy and Ian Balding among key additions along with Neil Pelow from Corinthian to help mitigate against the departure of Kevin O’Dea for college at UCD.

They begun the season in strong fashion, unbeaten to date with six wins out of seven in Munster Division One and through to the Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals.

There is experience from Simon Wolfe, Jason Lynch, Alec Moffett, Phil Sweetnam and player coach Jonny Bruton with Rob Sweetnam among the regular goal-getters.

Cork Harlequins
Cork Harlequins will be keen to make an impact this year with a young panel who are aiming to continue their rise into the adult ranks. Jamie Venner will be looking to command midfield, stepping in to the shoes of Mark Black who has stepped away from the squad due to injury.

Sam Dale, the youngest in the Dale dynasty, will be looking to beat defenders with his injection of pace and has a sharp eye for the goal. Both attended regional development sessions along with Ross Bailey who is vice captain this year. Jack O’Meara also took part in Irish men’s training and his goals have helped drive this team forward. The squad has a good mixture of youth such as John Whyte and Andrew Dale as well as experience from John Hobbs and Dave Egner who will steady the ship. They sit third in Munster Division One after seven rounds of matches.

Instonians
With Olympians Mark Gleghorne and Mikie Watt in their ranks, Inst have serious firepower and it has helped them hit the current top spot in Ulster’s Premier Division with seven wins from eight league outings and 42 goals along the way.

At the far end, Finley Marney has impressed, conceding just five times in the Ulster league. Stephen Watt coaches the side, bringing his vast knowledge to the table while the likes of captain Stephen Kelso, Gavin Lecky, Andrew Corry and Ben Palmer bring their experience from Inst’s most recent stint in the EYHL top tier.

Kilkeel
Gordon Cracknell’s side line out in Pool 2 of the competition but wait to enter the fray as Cork Harlequins and Clontarf face off against each other in the three-team group on day one.

The Mourne men’s form in the Ulster Permier League has been a mixed bag to date with two wins, two draws and a loss on their card but an impressive draw against Cookstown shows they can be more than competitive with the sides in this division. Luke Russell, Jonathan Aiken and David Rae bring the forward threat while Jedd Campbell is their rising star, lining out with the Ulster Under-21 side this season.

Mossley

Mossley are contesting their first EYHL2 season having been in the top four mix when the 2019/20 Ulster Premier season was called to a halt. They are currently in seventh place in that league but can take confidence from their competitive performance last Friday evening against high-flying Instonians, former international Simon Todd on the mark.

He brings the experience along with Fraser Mills for Harry McNeill’s side which Matt Anderson captains. Jamie Lyall is a rising star and was recently called up to the Ulster Under-21 line-up.

Portrane
Portrane are preparing for their first EYHL2 campaign off the back of an incredible recent rise in Leinster, coming up from the lower reaches of the league roster in Division 6 to competing in the top half of Division 1A and winning the 2020 Irish Hockey Trophy.

The early stages of this term has yielded four wins from six outings with last week’s 3-2 success against Rathgar a significant one as was their 1-0 victory over Clontarf.

Ex-Pakistan and Azerbaijan international Imran Khan is still one of the most skillful players in the local game while South African dup Andrew Darroch and Ross Hetem are helping guide a large contingent of players who have developed their hockey in the Fingal region.

Railway Union
A vastly experienced outfit, the side features a string of players who were part of their run to the 2012 Irish Senior Cup including top scorer Mark English – who already has over 20 goals to his name this season – Rob Abbott, Rob Devlin, Kenny Carroll, Stephen O’Keeffe, Richie Forrest, David McCarthy and Fergal Keaveney.

They are the last remaining unbeaten side in Leinster Division 1A, recording a remarkable 38 goals in five games with another 26 coming in three Leinster Cup fixtures.

Cork C of I’s Simon Wolfe. Picture: Adrian Boehm

Rathgar
Simon Filgas joined the Rathgar coaching set up after Ronan Hickey made the move to UCD. He inherits a new-look side with Shane Madeley, goalkeeper Aidan Doyle (both from Three Rock Rovers), Patrick Temperley and Julian Foley (from Dublin University) adding to the ranks while David McCrea, Ricky McMahon and Stephen Ludgate have all returned to the club after stints abroad.

They have had a tricky start to the Leinster Division 1A season with defeats at the hands of Avoca, Railway Union and Portrane and just one win to their name to date. This will be their debut at this level of competition, getting their chance following an excellent run toward the end of the shortened 2019/20 season where they ended level with Portrane on points.

Men’s EYHL Division 2
Pool 1:
Instonians v Railway Union, Shaw’s Bridge, 3pm; Rathgar v Cork C of I, The High School, 2.45pm
Pool 2: Cork Harlequins v Clontarf, Farmers’ Cross, 2.45om
Pool 3: Cookstown v Mossley, Coolnafranky, 2.30pm; Portrane v Bandon, Donabate Leisure Centre, 2pm

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Interpro series heats up; watch the games back via Hockey Ireland Youtube

Last weekend saw a bumper five-game series of fixtures in the underage interprovincials in the female competitions following a triple header on the boys side a week earlier.

There are 10 of the games from this year’s interpro series available to view in full via the Hockey Ireland Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/HockeyIrelandOfficial/playlists

Last Sunday at Under-16 girls level, Leinster have made a flying start with Milla Fulton’s hat trick helping to a 7-1 win over Munster, making it two wins from two. Ulster started their campaign with a 7-0 success against Connacht.

Moving up to Under-18 level, Munster remain unbeaten as Sarah Fitzgerald’s backhand effort from a penalty corner ensured a 1-0 win over Leinster. Ulster impressed with a 4-0 victory over Connacht to kickstart their campaign.

December 12 sees Connacht face Munster at Rosbrien and Ulster take on Ulster South at Grange Road.

In the Under-21 competition, Lauren Johnston got the only goal deep into the second half for Leinster as they won 1-0 against Munster in Newtown. It adds to their 2-0 success against Connacht. This series concludes on December 12 when Connacht face Munster in Limerick.

In the boys competitions, Ulster got off to a flying start at Under-18 level with an 8-1 success against Munster. They will next meet Leinster on December 12. It was 8-0 between the two provinces at Under-16 level while Munster were the dominant force in the Under-21 competition with three first half goals seeing them win out 3-0.

Men (Sunday, November 7)
Under-21: Munster 3 (Jack O’Meara 2, Kevin O’Dea) Ulster 0
Under-18: Munster 1 (Sam Dale) Ulster 8 (Ewan Cruickshank 3, Louis Rowe 3, Daniel Murray, Mackenzie Connor)
Under-16: Munster 0 Ulster 8 (Matthew McAreavey 2, George Palmer 2, Adam McKee, Ollie Berry, Ben Law, JJ Holley)

Women (Sunday, November 14)
Under-21: Leinster 1 (Lauren Johnston) Munster 0
Under-18: Munster 1 (Sarah Fitzgerald) Leinster 0; Ulster 4 (Emma Uprichard 2, Jodie Simmons, Imogen Graham) Connacht 0
Under-16: Leinster 7 (Milla Fulton 3, Sophie Kennedy 2, Millie Jerman, Emilie O’Brien) Munster 1 (Aoife Kavanagh) ; Ulster 7 (Kia McCartney 2, Scarlett Taylor, Lily Gallagher, Joni Cunningham, Ruby Monaghan, Georgina McGuckin) Connacht 0

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Passmore confirms squad for women’s Junior World Cup debut in South Africa

David Passmore has named his travelling squad of 20 players to form Ireland’s first ever side to contest the women’s Junior World Cup in Potchefstroom, South Africa from December 5 to 17, 2021.

It comes following the Junior Green Army’s late invitation to the competition off the first reserve when Australia and New Zealand withdrew due to Covid-19 restrictions. Their involvement in the Junior World Cup has been made possible by the considerable support of SoftCo, Park Developments and new additions Uniphar who announced their sponsorship of the team which will also encompass a top international Six Nations tournament next summer.

The late invite made for a short, sharp preparation phase but coach Passmore and the panel had banked a large volume of work into an extensive summer programme, taking in series in Spain, Belfast and London.

Ireland will start their campaign on December 5 against Zimbabwe before meeting top ranked the Netherlands a day later. The pool phase concludes with a tie against Korea with the initial target to finish in the top two of the four team group to reach the quarter-finals.

The Ireland squad is largely drawn from that selection with a couple of new faces coming into the fold since October.

Olympian Sarah McAuley has linked up with the side having debuted and established herself in the senior side this summer, debuting at June’s EuroHockey Championships and then helping the senior side qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

Sophia Cole in action against Scotland this summer. Picture: Billy Pollock

At the other end of the spectrum, Loreto’s Aoife Taaffe made a late charge for inclusion with some excellent form on the club front helping her break into the squad of 20.

Ulster Elks’ Charlotte Beggs was part of the senior setup that travelled to Pisa for their World Cup qualifier while fellow midfielder Amy Elliott was capped for Ireland when still a teenager in 2019.

Goalkeeper Ellie McLoughlin, now with UCD having developed her trade with Naas and Muckross Hockey Clubs, has also trained through the summer with the Irish senior panel. She is one of two keepers named with Holly Micklem the other included following a super start to the season with Old Alex.

Co-captain Caoimhe Perdue tasted senior international action this year, lining out in uncapped challenge matches for Ireland’s women against Great Britain in the spring. The current UCC player is the first graduates of Cashel New Inn Hockey Club to reach this elite level and will share the leadership duties with fellow defender Caitlin Sherin.

Sherin is joined by Loreto club mates Christina Hamill, Lisa Mulcahy, Siofra O’Brien and Yasmin Pratt.

Former Banbridge duo Ellen Reid and Nadia Benallal both now ply their trade with clubs in the UK, Loughborough Students and Beeston, respectively, having moved to study.

EYHL contenders UCD provide a large batch of the panel with, in addition to McLoughlin, McAuley and Elliott, KJ Marshall, Emma Paul, Sophia Cole and Rachel Kelly getting call-ups.

Limerick woman Anna Horan has enjoyed a whirlwind return to Ireland after a season in the United States’ NCAA system, helping Catholic Institute to their highest ever position in the EY Hockey League.

Síofra Murdoch, meanwhile, is part of the Harvard University team who have reached the NCAA finals this week having won the Ivy League conference recently.

The squad is also thankful for the support of the players’ respective third level institutions in helping to work with a rapidly changing schedule to allow them to perform to their optimum level.

U21 Junior World Cup

  1. Ellie McLoughlin (GK)                 UCD / University College Dublin
  2. Holly Micklem (GK)                     Old Alex / Trinity College
  3. KJ Marshall (Def)                        UCD / University College Dublin
  4. Caitlin Sherin (Def)                      Loreto / Dublin City University (Co-Captain)
  5. Emma Paul (Def)                        UCD / University College Dublin
  6. Sarah McAuley (Def)                  UCD / University College Dublin
  7. Ellen Reid (Def)                           Loughborough Students, Eng / University of Loughborough
  8. Caoimhe Perdue (Def/Mid)         UCC / University College Cork (Co-Captain)
  9. Anna Horan (Def/Mid).                Catholic Institute / Mary Immaculate College
  10. Siofra Murdoch (Def/Mid)           Harvard, USA / Harvard University
  11. Christina Hamill (Mid)                 Loreto / Technical University Dublin
  12. Amy Elliott (Mid)                         UCD / University College Dublin
  13. Lisa Mulcahy (Mid/Def)              Loreto / University College Dublin
  14. Sophia Cole (Mid/Def)                UCD / University College Dublin
  15. Charlotte Beggs (Mid)                Ulster Elks / University of Ulster Jordanstown
  16. Siofra O’Brien (Fwd)                   Loreto / Technical University Dublin
  17. Nadia Benallal (Fwd)                  Beeston, Eng / Nottingham Trent University
  18. Rachel Kelly  (Fwd/ Mid)            UCD / University College Dublin
  19. Yasmin Pratt (Fwd)                     Loreto / IT Carlow
  20. Aoife Taaffe (Fwd)                      Loreto / University College Dublin

 

Non Travelling Reserves

  • Gemma Ferguson (GK)              Ulster Elks / University of Ulster Jordanstown
  • Hannah Kelly (Fwd)                    Catholic Institute / National University of Ireland, Galway
  • Eva Lavelle  (Mid)                       UCD / University College Dublin
  • Lucy Crowe (Def)                        Railway Union / University College Dublin

 

2021 Junior World Cup schedule (Potchefstroom, South Africa; all times local)

Pool A

Sunday, December 5: Ireland v Zimbabwe, 9am

Monday, December 6: Ireland v Netherlands, 1pm

Tuesday, December 8: Ireland v Korea, 11am

Friday, December 11 to Thursday, December 16: playoff/classification matches

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Uniphar supports Junior Green Army ahead of December World Cup

Hockey Ireland is delighted to announce Uniphar plc has come on board as a central sponsor of the Irish women’s Under-21 and Development programme – known as the Junior Green Army – just ahead of next month’s Junior World Cup.

Uniphar is a trusted global partner to pharma and medtech manufacturers, working to improve patient access to medicines in Europe and around the world. With its headquarters in Dublin’s Citywest and employing over 3,000 people globally, Uniphar has been transformed over the past decade through acquisitions and organic growth to become a high-growth diversified international healthcare services company

Uniphar’s support for the Junior Green Army will encompass December’s upcoming showpiece World Cup event in South Africa and will extend into 2022, taking in a high quality Six Nations tournament to take place here on home turf in Ireland.

Announcing the new sponsorship, Uniphar CEO Ger Rabbette said: “We are thrilled to support the Irish Women Under-21’s and Development Programme as they prepare for the upcoming World Cup in December.

“Women’s hockey has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years and this young squad is playing an important role in helping bring it from minority status into the Irish sporting mainstream.

“The under-21 team truly embodies the meaning of ‘high-performance’ – competing and winning at the very highest level internationally. The Junior Green Army are our next generation of hockey greats, and not only do they excel in their sport but they are also important exemplars of successful high-achieving young women in sport. Uniphar is delighted to support them on the exciting journey ahead.”

Caitlin Sherin and Anna Horan at the launch of Uniphar’s support of the Irish Under-21 side.

The Junior Green Army is one of the key development pathways to the senior women’s international team which continues to break new ground for the sport, winning World Cup silver in 2018 and qualifying for a maiden Olympic Games appearance in Tokyo.

Eight of the panel that travelled to the Olympics followed this route in the past four years while a dozen of the Irish team that qualified for the 2022 World Cup through a qualifier in Pisa in October did likewise.

Welcoming the new agreement, Irish Under-21 head David Passmore said: “With the late announcement of our World Cup qualification we were delighted that Uniphar chose to come on board, and I think their decision to support the players and form a partnership is an ideal relationship.

“This sponsorship allows us to professionalise the programme and has made many programme aspects so much easier for the players and we are hopeful that there will be no parental contribution required for the trip to South Africa.

“Furthermore, to have Uniphar in addition to both SoftCo and Park Developments moving into next year’s Europeans, which is also a World Cup Qualifier, it allows us to plan along with our philanthropic donor to develop a programme to maximise player development and team performance.”

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Garvey go top as Rovers make big comeback against Glens

Men’s EY Hockey League – day seven round-up
Lisnagarvey 5 (D Nelson 2, J Lorimer, O Kidd, M Nelson) UCD 1 (T Cope)

Lisnagarvey went top on their own for the first time this season with a sixth successive victory, beating bottom side UCD 5-1. While the final score might have been anticipated, the students made life very difficult and led 1-0 at time thanks to Tim Cope’s counter goal.

But three goals early in the second quarter changed things as James Lorimer levelled from a corner before Ollie Kidd and Daniel Nelson turned things around. Nelson and his younger brother Matthew then completed the victory.

Early on, Garvey had an early corner charged down before that UCD goal which was well-worked down the left, building an overload which ended with Tim Cope finishing off from five metres out.

The second half continued a pattern of UCD sitting back and playing off Garvey scraps. Three more corners were kept out while Matthew Hoolohan-O’Brien did well to keep out Matthew Nelson after he had put on the after-burners.

The press continued into the second half with Garvey pushing forward from the back through Jonny Bell to camp in the students’ 23-metre zone.

The equaliser eventually came via James Lorimer’s trademark drag-flick for 1-1. It open the floodgates with Ollie Kidd finishing off a chance from close range and Daniel Nelson getting on the end of a stylish passing move.

It gave some breathing room at 3-1 and they kept that buffer despite strong UCD openings in the fourth quarter which James Milliken was equal to. And the game was safe when Garvey produced another superb passing move with Matthew Nelson popping up with the finish following great link up between his younger brother Ben and Kidd.

Daniel Nelson finished well to put the game well and truly out of sight.

Glenanne 2 (S O’Donoghue, G Gibney) Three Rock Rovers 4 (A Empey 2, J Walker, E Jennings)
Three Rock Rovers came back from 2-0 inside the opening 11 minutes to land a big win and jump above the Glens into second place in the men’s EY Hockey League.

The hosts bossed the opening quarter, Shane O’Donoghue scoring with their first short corner attempt after eight minutes. A few minutes later, an overload on the right gave O’Donoghue space to smack a cross into the circle which was met flush by Gibney sliding in at the flick spot.

Gradually Rovers were working their way back into the game and James Walker scored via a deflection from their first short corner, 2-1 at half time.

Another short corner routine, this time via the stick of Evan Jennings, provided the equaliser in the third quarter and the momentum was beginning to shift.

Bann’s Philip Brown tackles Annadale’s Kent Irwin. Picture: Billy Pollock

Despite two short corners to Glenanne, Three Rock were creating the more scoring chances with Ross Canning going close and Walker almost latching on to a Fred Morris left -wing cross.

A slip pass by Ryan Spencer was finished off on the reverse by Ali Empey in the closing 10 minutes and he completed the scoring with another reverse stick-shot after good work by Canning down the right.

Annadale 1 (R Davidson) Banbridge 3 (C Curry, Ph Brown, J McKee)
Banbridge won a feisty all-Ulster battle as some quality goals from Chris Curry, Philip Brown and Jonny McKee saw them win 3-1 at Annadale.

Bann almost got on the board inside the first minute when Louis Rowe was set through but Sam Hamill came off his line in typically swift fashion to smother the chance. The opening goal arrived when McKee’s skills got him to the baseline where he scooped high over the defence to the back post where Curry was arriving to bat in over head-height.

From there, chances were at something of a premium with Banbridge looking to counter and exploit McKee’s ability. Annadale, though, did get level when a loose overhead fell to Tim Cross and his control and pass to David Nicholl was first-timed to Robbie Davidson at the left post for another one-touch finish – a fine goal.

Bann restored their lead before half-time courtesy of Philip Brown’s powerful drag-flick from the game’s first corner down the stick side.

Through the second half, Dale probably had more of the game with Callum Robson fizzing over the bar on his backhand while Kent Irwin almost worked a chance. But a brilliant left wing cross in Q4 was met by the diving McKee for the 3-1 lead. Annadale did camp in the Bann D for the latter stages, winning a couple of corners and having one effort ruled out following a high ball into the danger zone.

Corinthian 3 (P Caruth 2, I Stewart) Pembroke 4 (A Sothern 2, G Chambers, J Dale)
Julian Dale’s 62nd minute goal earned Pembroke their first win of the season as they got over the line against Corinthian who lost 4-3 at home for the second successive fixture. Alan Sothern got the first of his double in the 19th minute only for Peter Caruth to do likewise in the 28th minute.

Greg Chambers and Sothern’s second from the penalty spot had put Pembroke into a strong 3-1 half-time lead but Ian Stewart’s penalty corner drag-flick closed the gap and it was 3-3 before the end of the third quarter when Caruth got his second.

But Dale popped up with the winner eight minutes from time for Pembroke to significantly cut the gap to the sides just beyond the relegation zone.

YMCA 1 (S Hyland) Monkstown 1 (D Carson)
Sam Hyland’s penalty stroke in the dying moments to make it three draws in their last four outings for YMCA as Monkstown lost a bit of ground on the leading group. David Carson put YM 1-0 up in the second quarter which they held through to the closing quarter and his side had a trio of corner chances to make the game safe which Jakim Bernsden blocked to keep the game live.

He was swapped out for an extra outfielder and YM used the 11th outfielder well, winning a corner which was transformed into a stroke with Hyland holding his nerve to score.

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Pembroke go clear at top of women’s EY Hockey League

Women’s EY Hockey League
Pembroke 4 (C Foley 2, T Wensley, O Macken) Catholic Institute 1 (R Upton)

Pembroke produced a blistering first half performance to move clear on their own at the top of the women’s EY Hockey League for the first time with their fourth successive win.

Again, it was built around their incredible speed throughout the team and their ability to attack at full throttle. The first goal came nine minutes in when Emily Beatty raced out of defence, laid off to Sally Campbell and her cross was turned in by Tori Wensley, to finish off a 70-metre move.

Pam Smithwick did brilliantly to deny Campbell and then Wensley from another attack while Aisling Naughton’s powerful shot was blocked by Anna Horan.

Goal number two came via Orla Macken’s corner hit which deflected off the first runner and into the top corner. Claire Foley then forced home from close range after Amy-Kate Trevor’s left wing cross.

Insta finished the first half strong with Róisín Upton denied by Emma Buckley as was Horan while their fourth corner was hit by Naomi Carroll and deflected over the bar.

They very much had the lion’s share of the second half ball and got their reward when Upton’s drag hit a foot on the line and she stepped up to convert the stroke. But they could not break through again and, in the last minute, Foley cleaned up her second after Eanna Horan’s shot came back off the post.

Old Alex coach Eimear Cregan. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Old Alex 1 (A Russell) UCD 1 (N Carey)
Old Alex and UCD shared a point each from a high class game in Milltown as Abbie Russell’s first half goal was cancelled out by a riposte from Niamh Carey.

Early on, Carey’s twin Michelle was one of the initial driving forces with her speedy runs twice leading to shots that needed to be dealt with by the Alex defence. In return, Alex’s best chance fell to Allie Hetherington from a brilliant ball in from Jessica McGirr but stand-in goalkeeper Laura Gunning made her presence felt to snuff out the chance.

Alex went in front when Mikayla Power cut in from the sideline and her slide-rule pass fell to Zoe Dunne whose touch invited Russell to chip the ball into the net; 1-0 at half-time.

UCD applied a huge amount of pressure in the second half with Leah Paul’s cracking shot saved at the right post while Amy Elliott twice had chances repelled. The students also hit the post before the equaliser came with nine minutes to go with a diving deflection from Niamh Carey from a pin-point cross.

A Lena Tice corner shot was repelled before UCD had a big chance to win it at the end but Carolyn Crampton did well and the tie ended 1-1.

Railway Union 4 (Z Delany, E Smyth, K Dillon, F Maughan) Belfast Harlequins 0
Railway Union moved into the top four with a strong 4-0 win over Belfast Harlequins, built around three first half goals at Park Avenue.

Indeed, they scored in both the first 45 and last 45 seconds of the game, the former coming from an excellent left-wing move with Sarah Hawkshaw and Kate Lloyd combining before gifting Zara Delany with a simple chance for 1-0.

It was a fruitful avenue of attack and almost yielded a second via Orla Patton but she could not get enough on her shot. They switched the point of attack to the right double their lead, Delany popping the ball across a crowded circle where Emma Smyth was waiting to finish off.

Kate Lloyd almost nipped in for another when she pick-pocketed the last defender and the third arrived when Kate Dillon tipped in next from Delany’s under-the-arm pass.

They continued to create the better chances into the second half though Belfast Quins came more into the contest as time wore on. They had a couple of corners but could not get the trap right to tee up Jane Kilpatrick.

From one of their main attacks, Railway almost snagged a fourth but Dillon fired wide with the goal beckoning. As it was, they waited until the final second when Florence Maughan turned in Hawkshaw’s ball across to cap a comfortable win.

Old Alex’s Jessica McGirr takes on UCD’s Sarah MacAuley. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Loreto 4 (S O’Brien 2, S Torrans, H Matthews) Muckross 0
Loreto got their third win of the season to rise to 12 points and up one place as they had too much in the tank for their Dublin rivals.

It took them a while to breakthrough, though, as Muckross goalkeeper Aofie Glennon impressed between the posts and, in general, they made life hard for Loreto with a compact defence.

Corners looked the most likely route to get the breakthrough as the set piece count rose and Sarah Torrans eventually profited on the half hour, hitting home after the ball squirmed her way following the first shot.

Hannah Matthews hit the post with a direct strike from another corner in the third quarter and Nicola Torrans just missed out from a great chance created by high pressure. The second came when Matthews stormed through the middle onto a Grace Donald pass and slotted in on her backhand.

Siofra O’Brien then got the third, another backhand shot after Yasmin Pratt had worked the ball into her path. O’Brien hit the post with another chance before getting her second following excellent control, a driving run and reverse-stick shot.

Liz Murphy retained her clean sheet with an excellent sliding interception to block Rebecca McMullen’s attempted cross.

Cork Harlequins 0 Pegasus 6 (A Speers, E Armstrong, R Maguire, S McCay, L McKee, E Quinn)
Pegasus bounced back from their first defeat of the season with a strong 6-0 away win over Cork Harlequins. Alex Speers, Ella Armstrong and Ruth Maguire’s penalty stroke got them halfway there inside the first quarter of the contest.

A corner goal from Shirley McCay and final quarter efforts from Lucy McKee and Emma Quinn completed the result.

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Pembroke-Insta and Glens-TRR tussles highlight EYHL weekend

For a second weekend running, there is plenty of scope for a shake-up at the top of the men’s and women’s EYHL with encounters between sides in the top three of both competitions.

On the women’s side, there has been something of a changing of the guard with three sides in the top four having never previously reached the EYHL playoffs.

Two of them meet at Serpentine Avenue with Pembroke – fresh from their 2-1 win over Pegasus – face Catholic Institute after their stunning 3-2 success against UCD.

Playing back-to-back games on water-based could work well for the Limerick side who have won four of their last five outings, three games of which were on the road.

Leah McGuire was a real beating heart in the Pembroke side a week ago while Isy Delamer was similarly composed at the back in their super performance that has them at the top alongside Old Alex.

Alex, themselves, have a tester against UCD but are in red-hot form, winning four in a row and scoring goals for fun – 10 in their last two outings with Nikki Evans grabbing four of them.

UCD are the EYHL’s top scorers thus far with Hannah McLoughlin leading the individual charts but she has been missed in the last two weeks following an injury sustained on international duty.

With many of their panel in the Irish Under-21 squad, it has made for a slightly disjointed spell and back-to-back defeats has them in sixth place.

Pegasus will hope to get back on the winning trail when they make the long trip to bottom side Cork Harlequins. The Ulster side missed the services of Shirley McCay, Leah Paul and Kate Gourley a week ago which left them tight for options.

Quins draw heavily on Munster Under-20 and 18 rising stars like Lauren Cripps, Amy O’Shea, Ruby Walsh and Isobel Kingston as they look to adapt to life in the top league with a very young squad.

Loreto will be looking to find a bit of form when they host Muckross at Beaufort; the hosts are in an unaccustomed lower mid-table position but the nature of the league means a good win here could see them right back among the chasers.

Railway Union have played out some intense battles this season with only their 6-0 success against Cork Harlequins being settled by more than a single goal. This weekend, they host the Belfast variety of Harlequin who sit on three points after seven rounds, putting them precariously above the bottom two.

Glenanne’s Jonny McCormack on the attack against UCD. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Despite both sitting near the top of the men’s table, both joint-top Glenanne and Three Rock Rovers come into round seven off the back of their first losses of the season in recent weeks.

Rovers are the top scorers in the division to date with 22 from their six games but Glenanne have the most lethal individual shooting threat with Shane O’Donoghue on nine goals.

They are a tight-knit panel, working with one of the smaller squads this season with experienced heads like Brad Venter, Sam O’Connor, Gary and Richie Shaw bringing a wealth of know-how. David Lawless has impressed between the posts since arriving from Clontarf.

For Rovers, Ali Haughton could come back into the fold having missed over a month with a hamstring issue but Harry MacMahon missed last week’s tie at Lisnagarvey.

It is one of four derbies on the agenda. The Ulster match-up between Annadale and Banbridge sees just one point separate the sides with a potential cracker on the cards.

Dale’s first win of the campaign was emphatic a fortnight ago and in a realistic position to challenge Bann for the first time in a number of years.

While a lot has been made of their international trio, Adam McAllister has been a vital cog while up and coming stars like Kent Irwin and Paddy Rose along with Ulster Under-21 panelists Allen Lyons and James Clark mean they have a wider depth of talent.

Bann were almost stunned by Corinthian last time around after a breathtaking first half in Dublin. More of that and less of the second period and they will be in good shape.

Pembroke were heavily under-staffed for their last visit to Dublin 16 a fortnight ago and they will hope to have some of Harry Spain, Rob McCollum, Alex Burns and Andrew Colton back in the line-up against Corinthian.

Julian Dale has been inspirational this term despite their tough run and he will be key if they can land a first win of the league season.

For the reds, they know a third win of the campaign would put significant distance between themselves and Pembroke and allow them to continue looking upwards in the table.

Monkstown take their slightly erratic form to YMCA, beating Glenanne after missing out against Annadale and Corinthian. Guy Sarratt showed once again he is a top gun in this league from corners and will put Jakim Bernsden to the test.

YM have not won since the opening day of the season; their ability to stretch the game at pace has made for plenty of attacking openings but has the downside of seeing them concede at least twice in each game this term, something they will aim to address.

Top faces bottom as Lisnagarvey, fresh from joining the Glens at the top, meet UCD at Comber Road with the students outsiders to land their first win of the campaign.

Round two of the men’s and women’s Irish Junior Cups also takes place with 16 teams remaining in each competition on Saturday.

Sunday sees the latest rounds of girls interprovincial fixtures with the Under-21, 18 and 16 sides from Munster and Leinster facing off at Newtown in Waterford while Ulster and Connacht’s Under-18 and 16 teams play each other at Grange Road.

Saturday 13th November 2021
Men
EYHL Division 1:
Annadale v Banbridge, Lagan College, 2.30pm; Corinthian v Pembroke Wanderers, Whitechurch Park, 3.15pm; Glenanne v Three Rock Rovers, St. Andrews College, 2.30pm; Lisnagarvey v UCD, Comber Road, 2.30pm; YMCA v Monkstown, Wesley College, 3.50pm

Men – Irish Junior Cup – Round 2: Banbridge v Instonians, Havelock Park, 1pm; Clontarf v Pembroke, Mount Temple, 3pm; Corinthian v YMCA, St Columba’s, 4.45pm; Glenanne v Cookstown, St Andrews, 4pm; Kilkeel v Bangor, Kilkeel HS, 2.30pm; Monkstown v Annadale, Rathdown, 2pm; North Down v Lisnagarvey, Comber LC, 4pm; Railway Union v Mossley, Park Avenue, 3.40pm

Women
EYHL Division 1:
Cork Harlequins v Pegasus, Farmers’ Cross, 12.45pm; Loreto v Muckross, Beaufort, 1.15pm; Old Alexandra v UCD, Alexandra College, 1.30pm; Pembroke Wanderers v Catholic Institute, Serpentine Avenue, 2.30pm; Railway Union v Belfast Harlequins, Park Avenue, 1.45pm

Irish Junior Cup – Round 2: Cork Harlequins v Avoca, Farmers Cross; Trinity v Corinthian, Santry, 2pm; Loreto v Belfast Harlequins, Beaufort, 2.45pm; Muckross v Monkstown, Muckross Park, 3.30pm; Old Alex v Ashton, Milltown, 3pm; Pembroke Wanderers v Pegasus, Serpentine Avenue, 12.30pm; Ulster Elks v Railway Union, Jordanstown, 2.40pm

Sunday 14th November 2021
Women
Inteprovincial Championships

Under-21: Munster v Leinster, Newtown, 2pm
Under-18: Ulster v Connacht, Grange Road, 2pm; Munster v Leinster, Newtown, 2pm
Under-16: Ulster v Connacht, Grange Road, 5pm; Munster v Leinster, Newtown, 12pm

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Dublin to host women’s Euro qualifiers while men head to Calais

Ireland will host the women’s 2022 EuroHockey Championship qualifier event while the Irish men are bound for Calais, France for their competition next summer.

These tournaments are new on the international calendar with the winners of each event qualifying for the top tier of European action in 2023 in Monchengladbach. That tournament, in turn, will potentially offer a high quota of Olympic qualifying berths.

The European Hockey Federation confirmed the breakdown of events on Thursday morning with both events running between August 21st and 27th, 2022.

The 12th ranked Irish women will be the top seed for a Dublin-based event which also features Poland (27th), the Czech Republic (24th), Turkey (33rd) and Finland (unranked).

The venue will be finalised in due course and will provide a first major home event since 2019 when Banbridge hosted the World Series Finals and Donnybrook brought a record crowd for the Olympic Qualifiers.

Ireland’s men in Cardiff last month. Pic: Irfon Bennett

The 14th ranked men have a tough competition, placed in Qualifier B alongside host side France – 13th in the world – as well as Ukraine (28th), Turkey (44th), Lithuania (62nd) and Slovenia (71st).

Previously, the level of European championship competition countries took part in was on a promotion and relegation basis.

This new format sees four men’s and four women’s qualifier tournaments with one ticket to the top tier championships in 2023 on offer from each event.

The second and third placed finishers in each tournament will play in the 2023 EuroHockey Trophy; fourth and fifth placed sides go to the third tier while the remaining teams will go into the fourth tier.

2022 EuroHockey Championship qualifiers (all August 2022)
Men

Qualifier A (Ourense, Spain): Spain, Poland, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia
Qualifier B (Calais, France): France, IRELAND, Ukraine, Turkey, Slovenia
Qualifier C (Vienna, Austria): Austria, Russia, Belarus, Croatia, Denmark, Hungary
Qualifier D (TBC, Scotland): Scotland, Wales, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Gibraltar, Finland

Women
Qualifier A (Durham, England): England, Wales, Russia, Croatia, Slovakia
Qualifier B (Dublin, Ireland): IRELAND, Poland, Czech Republic, Turkey, Finland
Qualifier C (TBC): Belarus, Italy, Ukraine, Lithuania, Gibraltar
Qualifier D (Dunkirk, France): France, Scotland, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Slovenie

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Pembroke and Alex move top while Insta land big victory

Women’s EY Hockey Legaue – day seven round-up
Railway Union 1 (O Patton) Loreto 1 (C Hamill)

Railway Union and Loreto were inseparable in normal time for a third time this season as first quarter goals from Christina Hamill and Orla Patton meant honours even at Park Avenue.

The visitors went in front when Yasmin Pratt went on a lengthy run down the left and and shoveled across for Hamill to sweep home. Railway replied quickly with Kate Dillon deflecting over just before Patton equalised in the 10th minute when Holly Jenkinson lined up a nice angle for the former UCD player to deflect in.

After that, it was very tight. Riona Norton made a strong block from the lively Pratt while Kate Lloyd’s reverse was well blocked by Liz Murphy. She also palmed away a Sarah Patton drag-flick to keep it at 1-1 at half-time.

Loreto had a couple of good chances in the third quarter with Sarah Evans’ shot touched over by Norton while a smart corner move from Aoife Taaffe was guided just wide by a sliding deflector.

From Railway’s third corner, another Jenkinson angled shot was read well by Hannah Matthews on the left post to avert the danger and that was the last big chance.

Pembroke Wanderers 2 (E Curran, A Naughton) Pegasus 1 (K Magee)
Pembroke produced a brilliant home performance to leap-frog Pegasus and into a share of first place thanks to cracking goals from Ellen Curran and Aisling Naughton.

Pegasus – who were without Shirley McCay – had the first major chance when Katie McKee’s corner slap from the left of the circle was saved off the line by Hayley O’Donnell.

After that, the Ulster side’s goal led a charmed life as Tori Wensley almost cashed in from chaos in the circle from a miscontrolled ball around the back. A corner followed up from which Leah McGuire – who was exceptional between defence and midfield – flicked onto the inside of the post and eventually to safety.

The first goal came on the half hour and was an outstanding pitch-length more. McGuire flipped the ball out to Rachel O’Brien on the 23-metre line. She got the ball on to Amy-Kate Trevor who worked it on to Gillian Pinder with space to attack; she did just that and clipped into the middle where Curran led a queue of three players lining up to get the tip in.

Into Q3, Naughton’s brilliant backhand shot hit the inside of the post again and somehow stayed out. But one did become two when McGuire’s long pump was not dealt with; Emily Beatty helped it on to Naughton who cracked home on her backhand first time.

The game remained live, though, as Kerri Magee swept in a penalty corner, cutting the gap to 2-1. And they had their moments in the fourth quarter with Taite Doherty not quite getting the full connection in a circle melee while Magee’s corner shot was blocked by O’Donnell on the left post yet again.

Old Alex 5 (S Robinson, N Evans, M Power, A Russell, D Duke) Belfast Harlequins 1 (J Kilpatrick)
Old Alex overcame a first minute concession to beat Belfast Harlequins for the second time this season and move into a share of top spot of the women’s EY Hockey League.

Quins started the better with recent Irish debutante Jane Kilpatrick scoring from a corner in the early phases. Alex had the majority share of possession from then on and got the equaliser in the sixth minute from a PC rebound scored by Sarah Robinson.

Six minutes into the second quarter, the Milltown side got just reward for their play with a reverse strike by Nikki Evans from a very tight angle to go in at half time 2-1 up.

Mikayla Power added a third goal in the 3rd quarter, roofing her shot home from a reverse. Abbie Russell weighed in with the next after great forward pressure with the forward reacting quickest to a loose ball, spinning towards goal and crashed the ball off the backboard.

Harlequins fought hard and had chances to close the gap only to be denied by some fine work from Caroline Nugent, particularly when she came off her line to make a sliding save.

The final goal was scored by Deirdre Duke who picked up the ball with her back to goal from a Lena Tice pass and squeezed the ball home on her reverse.

Catholic Institute’s Roisin Upton takes on UCD’S Sarah McAuley. Picture Adrian Boehm

UCD 2 (R Kelly, M Carey) Catholic Institute 3 (R Upton 3)
Róisín Upton’s hat trick saw Catholic Institute produce an outstanding comeback from 2-0 down to beat UCD and move into a share of third place – three points off top spot – after seven rounds of action.

Rachel Kelly – playing against her twin sister Hannah’s new club – scored from a very fast counter-attack in the 10th minute for UCD in a lively opening with chances at both ends. They drew the best of Pam Smithwick, too, early in the second quarter before the Limerick side grew more comfortable on the water turf, though the hosts did finish the half strong.

Michelle Carey doubled the students’ lead three minutes into the second half with a back post deflection for what looked an imposing lead.

It remained that way until 23 minutes from the end when sustained pressure led to a corner which Upton put away to gain a lifeline. Within five minutes, it was level with Christine O’Shea earning a corner which Upton used to level matters at 2-2.

And Upton had her third of the day when a great team move ended with yet another set piece which Upton put away. UCD replied with Niamh Carey going close with five minutes to go from a one-on-one chance but Insta prevailed for a famous win.

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Lisnagarvey move top with narrow win over Three Rock

Men’s EYHL Division 1
Lisnagarvey 3 (B Nelson, P McKibbin, J Lorimer) Three Rock Rovers 2 (R Spencer 2)

Lisnagarvey came from behind to defeat Three Rock Rovers 3-2 at Comber Road in the sole game to be played this weekend in the men’s EY Hockey League with the hosts moving into a share of top of the EYHL standings with Glenanne.

It was a closely fought encounter with two goals for the hosts on either side of the third quarter break proving decisive. Rovers pulled a goal back with just over six minutes left but were unable to find an equaliser.

The Rathfarnham side went ahead from their first circle entry on nine minutes, some lovely one-touch hockey from Evan Jennings and Ross Canning providing the chance for Ryan Spencer to net at the far post.

Garvey levelled matters seven minutes later when Ryan Getty’s cross from the left was met by Ben Nelson who finished high into the net from close range.

After a relatively featureless second quarter, James Corry shot wide from a penalty corner and then Rovers keeper Ben Whelan saved at full-strength from Ben Nelson’s powerful effort from the edge of the D.

On 51 minutes, it was 2-1 to the Hillsborough side, Peter McKibbin scoring from the penalty spot after Corry’s set-piece shot had struck a defender’s foot.

Eight minutes into the final quarter, James Lorimer rifled home a penalty corner to make it 3-1.

Rovers reduced the deficit when Spencer got his second from close range from a rebound off James Milliken’s pads but it was too little, too late.