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Men’s EYHL Division One – team-by-team preview

Annadale

Coach: Richard Fairman (third season)

Players in: Michael Robson (Crefelder HTC Germany), Tim Cross (Tilburg, Holland), Callum Robson (Crefelder HTC Germany), Owen McElhinney (GHHC Groningen, Holland)

Players out: Fergus Gibson (Loughborough Students)

Overview: Annadale have had a hugely productive summer, welcoming back some serious international talent with brother Michael and Callum Robson back at their original club after a spell in Germany while fellow senior star Tim Cross is another big addition. The link up with youth internationals James Clark, Paddy Rose and Kent Irwin.

Callum Robson is back at Annadale. Pic: Adrian Boehm

It is slightly tempered by Fergus Gibson – another who played in August’s Euros – moving to Loughborough but Dale look much better equipped to move away from the bottom rungs they occupied in the two abandoned seasons.

And coach Richard Fairman is looking forward to the challenge, saying: “it’s been an exciting preseason welcoming our returning players and also our new arrivals. We are very much looking forward to what, hopefully, will be an uninterrupted season of hockey.”

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Banbridge:

Coach: Scott McCandless; assistant coaches: John Clarke and Gareth Lennox

Players in: John McKee (Crefelder HTC)

Players out: Ben Wallace(Brooklands), Drew Carlisle (Belfast Harlequins)

Banbridge in their new Ulster Carpets-sponsored kit

Overview: Banbridge are another Ulster club to welcome back one of their favourite sons with John McKee coming back following a spell in the German ranks, coming back to the club after an impressive EuroHockey Championship II campaign.

They have had a rigorous preseason which saw English outfit Brooklands visit Havelock with a return trip to play the same opponents along with Holcombe and Oxted. Preseason concluded with games against Lisnagarvey and Pembroke Wanderers.

Coach Scott McCandless is delighted with how things have gone to date with the latest crop of underage stars – like Charlie and Louie Rowe and Mark Cowan –  pushing hard for inclusion in match day squads. Eugene Magee and Bruce McCandless provide the experience to inspire the young guns but Drew Carlisle has stepped back, linking up with Belfast Harlequins this term.

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Corinthian

Coach: Brinsley Powell (1st season); Assistant coach: Peter Caruth

Players in: Simon Thornton (Pembroke), Chad Futcher (South Africa), Stephen Reid (Australia)

Players out: Joe Brennan, Neil Pelow (Cork C of I), Ashley Kemp (South Africa)

Corinthian’s Craig Mackay. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Overview: The reds have strengthened with the arrival of Chad Futcher – known as Thor –  from South Africa having helped Wits University to win the Premier League and has accumulated both indoor and outdoor international caps.

A fellow South African Brinsley Powell takes over the coaching reins with Peter Caruth reprising the assistant role he held with Joe Brennan last season. Simon Thornton dons the pads on day one against Annadale after his move from Pembroke.

Other than that, it is largely a homegrown team with Ian Stewart earning a long-deserved call-up to the Irish side and Craig Mackay shining for the Under-19s in the summer; David Howard brings the corner threat.

**

Glenanne

Player coach: Shane O’Donoghue; Assistant coaches: Ralph Billings & David Shaw; Managers: Gerry Shaw & Noel Keogh

Players in: Kevin Venter (South Africa) David Lawless (Clontarf) Lorenzo Della Corte (Railway Union)

Players out: Iain Walker, Stephen Brownlow (both retired), Matt Mitchie (Returned to Manchester) Kevin Mellott (Studying)

Glenanne’s Brad Venter. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Overview: Glenanne player-coach Shane O’Donoghue is looking forward to an enjoyable season in upbeat fashion, saying: “Players are keen to get back playing, work hard and just enjoy playing competitive sport again”.

His brains-trust has expanded well with Ralph Billings and David Shaw bringing extra quality to the assistant coach roles from their variety of experiences. Iain Walker has retired for a second time while Stephen Brownlow is also taking a break. It opens the door for David Lawless to make his debut in the EY Hockey League having been a star for Clontarf in recent years.

Their South African contingent has expanded too with Brad Venter and Shannon Boucher joined by Kevin Venter, adding extra quality to a line-up which is powered by O’Donoghue’s brilliance in midfield and from corners as well as Sam O’Connor and Neil Byrne.

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Lisnagarvey

Coach: Erroll Lutton; Asst Coach: Steven Arbuthnot; GK Coach: Raymond Geddis; Manager: Dean Beckett

Players in: Matthew Nelson (Loughborough), Peter McKibbin (Grossflottbeker THGC); Ollie Kidd (Nottingham Trent)

Players out: Paddy Hunter (Exeter University)

Lisnagarvey celebrating their Irish Senior Cup win last September. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Overview: Probably the stand-out side from the past two incomplete seasons, Erroll Lutton has a number of extra options at his disposal this year while many of his young guns had busy summers, working with the Irish senior squad.

Matthew Nelson is back after stints in Germany and England to join his brothers Daniel and recent international Ben while Peter McKibbin is back from Grossflottbekker. Ollie Kidd is one of the youngsters who trained with the Irish seniors along with Mark McNellis, Troy Chambers, James Milliken and Jonny Lynch

With the Green Machine players otherwise occupied, Lutton was able to give game time to another new generation of youngsters in preseason in games against Brooklands, Banbridge and Cookstown before recording a strong performance against YMCA last week with the coach pleased with the outcomes.

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Monkstown

Coach: Eddie O’Malley (1st season)

Players in: Guy Sarratt (UCD)

Players out: Ryan Spencer (Three Rock Rovers); Josh Filgas (UCD)

Overview: Eddie O’Malley moves up to the main job having initially taken on the role as Monkstown assistant coach last summer, following Gareth Watkins into the role after he moved south to Cork to coach UCC.

New Monkstown coach Eddie O’Malley. Picture: Adrian Boehm

On the player-movement front, Guy Sarratt is a serious addition, bringing one of the top scorers in the EY Hockey League back to the club he grew up at. Josh Filgas goes the other way to UCD while Ryan Spencer has switched to Three Rock Rovers.

With Lee and Stephen Cole and Jeremy Duncan in the line-up, they will be looking to push for a top four spot and a shot at a first national title since 2016. Preseason has been busy with wins over Three Rock and Banbirdge, a draw with Corinthian and a loss to YMCA.

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Pembroke

Coach: Paudie Carley (fourth season); assistant coaches: Devin Donnelly (3rd season), Alan Sothern (3rd season)

Players in: Philip Förster (Nuremburg HTC, Germany), Ilko Dartsch (Germany), Mark Duggan (Clontarf)

Players out: Fionn O’Leary (Bandon), Simon Thornton (Corinthian)

Pembroke during a preseason trip to Banbridge

Overview: Given their dominance in the noughties, it is strange to think it is 11 years since Pembroke won their last national crown but they look to have a reasonably settled panel which can do some damage this season.

Philip Förster’s arrival from Germany and the addition of youth international Mark Duggan adds to Paudie Carley’s deck in which Olympian Alan Sothern is a key figure up front and as assistant coach.

Indeed, it is a side with goals in it with Isaac Johnson, Robert McCollum and Julian Dale involved while they have a heathy bunch of mid-20s players which will serve them well, even though the dynamic Kirk Shimmins is now in London.

“Pre-season, we have been integrating new players and giving some youth team members a run in the extended squad. Delighted to be back at hockey and looking forward to a solid post-Covid season,” is Carley’s initial assessment.

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Three Rock Rovers

Coach: Elun Hack (third season); manager: Fraser Morris; physio: Huw Rees

Players in: Alistair Empey (UCD), Andrew Keane (UCD), Ben McInerney (Waterford), Ryan Spencer (Monkstown), Matteo Romoli (UCD), Fred Morris (Laren, Netherlands), Mark Samuel (UCD)

Players out: Ben McCrea (Netherlands), Sam Grace (Clontarf), Ben Walker (Braxgata, Belgium), Harry Morris (work abroad), Ravin Nair, Daragh Walsh (KHC Leuven), Mitch Darling (retired), James Kyriakides (work in London), Ethan Flynn (UCD)

Three Rock Rovers’ Harry MacMahon. Picture: Adrian Boehm

Overview: A rollercoaster of a summer for Three Rock Rovers for whom a large chunk of their three in-a-row winning side are unavailable this time around. Daragh Walsh (returning to KHC Leuven) and Ben Walker (Braxgata) are the latest co-opted to play in Belgium while club legend Mitch Darling has retired, ending with three Irish Senior Cup, three EY Champions Trophy and one All-Ireland Club Championship crown to his name.

With Harry Morris, Ben McCrea and James Kyriakides moving away for work, Elun Hack has seen the panel overhauled in recent weeks. Ali Empey, Andy Keane and Mark Samuel return from UCD along with Matteo Romoli while Fred Morris is back from the Netherlands. Ryan Spencer (Monkstown) and Ben McInerney (Waterford) add more options. The job now is to see how to gel together after such a turnover. A glut of youth players have been given a chance to shine in preseason, too.

“There is much potential here and I look forward to see it develop in the course of the season,” said coach Hack.

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UCD

Coach: Ronan Hickey (first season)

Players in: Kevin O’Dea (Cork C of I), Josh Filgas (Monkstown), Matthew O’Brien Holohan (Monkstown), Ethan Flynn (Three Rock Rovers), Jay Menelaou (Avoca)

Players out: Conor Empey (SCHC, Netherlands), Guy Sarratt (Monkstown), Ali Empey (Three Rock Rovers), Andrew Keane (Three Rock Rovers), Matteo Romoli (Three Rock Rovers), Scott Ruttle (YMCA), Jamie Pullen (Erasmus), Stephen Dawson

UCD’s Sam Walker. Pic: Sinéad Hingston

Overview: After a strong spell, pushing to be part of the upper echelons of the EYHL and a first ever Irish Senior Cup final appearance, this year looks to be a year of reinvention. It follows the departure of big stars Conor Empey and corner expert Guy Sarratt, both who have been on the fringes of the national setup.

Their exact line-up will also be a bit later than usual to be finalised due to the earlier start to the season with Leaving Cert and CAO points only tabulated this week. The big news on that front, though, is Irish senior international Kevin O’Dea has been signed up; in tandem with Harry Lynch, they can do plenty of damage.

New coach Ronan Hickey says he is “delighted to be back in UCD where I started my coaching career. There’s so much potential here and the team has taken enormous strides in recent years. I’m looking forward to meeting the players and building on the great foundations established by Michael over the past two seasons.”

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YMCA

Coach: Jason Klinkradt; assistant coach: Justin Sherriff

Players in: Scott Ruttle (UCD)

Players out: none

Overview: Of all the sides to be frustrated by last season’s short-lived tenure, YMCA are chief among them. After a couple of years of struggle, they looked set for their EY season with three wins out of three before the abrupt end to proceedings.

With minimal turnover means there is plenty of belief they can carry that momentum through, particularly having retained the services of South African Olympian Peabo Lembethe. That mood is boosted by a preseason win over Monkstown and a competitive showing against Lisnagarvey at Comber Road.

Sam Hyland and Matthew Walker both made inroads into the Irish senior setup during the summer while Grant Glutz’s diverse options as goal-getting striker, sometime enforcer at the back, and corner expert, gives them a couple of different styles of play to work off. Scott Ruttle’s return from UCD is the only formal transfer listed in or out.

YMCA team talk during their win at Banbridge last term. Picture: Sinéad Hingston

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EY Hockey Leagues back with a bang this Saturday

The EY Hockey Leagues – the sport’s flagship club competition in Ireland – will make it’s much anticipated return this Saturday with many Olympians and World Cup stars on display across the men’s and women’s competitions.

Indeed, anticipation is especially high to see where each team stands after two truncated seasons due to Covid-19 and Hockey Ireland is thrilled to have the continued support of EY who have promoted the league since 2015.

Ahead of the big restart, Frank O’Keeffe, Managing Partner for EY Ireland, commented: EY is delighted to be entering its sixth year as lead sponsor of the EY Hockey League, against the backdrop of what has been an incredibly challenging 18 months for sport.

“Now, as we slowly and safely emerge from the pandemic, we can all look forward to an exciting sporting season ahead and in particular a terrific 2021/2022 hockey season.

“The EY Hockey league never disappoints. The level of skill and sportsmanship on display by teams competing in the league is always outstanding. I cannot wait to see what surprises this year’s league will bring. On behalf of EY, I would like to wish every success to all of the teams competing in the league this season. ”

The action begins on Saturday with four women’s EY Hockey League Division One games and five matches in the men’s competition. The second tier EY Hockey League Division Two fixtures, meanwhile, will hit the turf in late November.

In addition to the long-awaited return to competitive action, the EYHL also provides the first chance for fans to see members of the Irish women’s side up close since the Tokyo Olympic Games.

For example, a number of them could be in action at the season curtain-raiser at Rosbrien as Limerick’s Catholic Institute face UCD with Róisín Upton, Naomi Carroll (both Institute), Sarah McAuley, Hannah McLoughlin and Michelle Carey (all UCD) in the mix.

It is among the highlights of day one of the season which also features Muckross against Cork Harlequins, Belfast Harlequins hosting Old Alex and the reigning champions – from the 2018/19 season – Pegasus welcome an ever-improving Pembroke outfit.

Action from the 2019 EY Champions Trophy final. Picture: Adrian Boehm

Pegs will be under the tutelage of new coach Craig McGrugan with the inspirational Shirley McCay bringing a powerful presence to the table. Pembroke had added Ellen Curran to their squad having led UCD to the 2020 Irish Senior Cup crown.  Loreto’s date with Railway Union has been postponed.

On the men’s side, a feature of the last couple of years has been the return of some top stars from abroad to add to the quality of the league.

Monkstown were the beneficiaries last summer when Lee Cole and Jeremy Duncan came back to Dublin after a few years in Belgium. Their first opponent, Banbridge, have one of their favourite sons – Johnny McKee – back in the fold following time with Crefelder HTC in Germany.

Lisnagarvey, meanwhile, similarly welcome back Matthew Nelson and Peter McKibbin after spells from the continent, boosting their star-studded squad. Their first day out is a trip to Glenanne on day one who will be inspired once again by player-coach Shane O’Donoghue.

Similarly, Annadale have current international brothers Michael and Callum Robson back from Germany and Tim Cross joins from Tilburg in the Netherlands. Their first game is against Corinthian. Ambitious YMCA and Pembroke meet at Wesley while UCD and Three Rock Rovers both look like wildcard teams having seen very large overhauls of their panels this summer.

** Longer previews to be posted later today. All the games will be covered and promoted via the Hockey Ireland website and social media channels through the weekend. Use the hashtag #EYHL to keep track of all the updates.

Saturday 11th September 2021
Men
EYHL Division 1:
Annadale v Corinthian, Lagan College, 2.30pm; Glenanne v Lisnagarvey, St. Andrews College, 3pm; Monkstown v Banbridge, Rathdown, 2.30pm; UCD v Three Rock Rovers, Belfield, 1pm; YMCA v Pembroke Wanderers, Wesley College, 3.50pm

Women
EYHL Division 1:
Belfast Harlequins v Old Alexandra, Deramore Park, 2.30pm; Catholic Institute v UCD, Rosbrien, 1pm; Muckross v Cork Harlequins, Grange Road, 1pm; Pegasus v Pembroke Wanderers, Queens University, 4.15pm

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Green Army icon Shirley McCay calls time on record-breaking Irish career

** Shirley McCay pictured above at the World Cup semi-final in 2018. Picture: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

Shirley McCay has decided to call time on her international career following a ground-breaking 14-year spell with the Green Army.

Since making her international debut in 2007, the Drumquin native has gone on to play for 316 times, a caps record for both hockey and for female sportswomen in general in Ireland.

A diminutive defender with an eye for a glorious long pass, a teak-tough competitor willing to contest every opponent and situation, her passion and perseverance stand her out as one of the iconic faces of the Green Army’s rise.

A rise which has brought them from obscurity to the world’s elite levels, a journey culminating in the 2018 World Cup silver medal and a maiden appearance for the Irish women at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

While she has dabbled with the idea of retiring on a couple of occasions in the past few years, she feels the time is right following the Olympics for her to step back and “go all in” to guide the next generation of stars through her work as an Ulster Hockey performance coach.

Shirley McCay in action during the Olympic qualifiers. Picture: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Her beginnings in the sport came at Omagh Academy, picking up the basics of the game in jig-time, breaking into the senior team at the school when she was just 14. She would be a guiding light in Omagh’s sole Kate Russell All-Ireland Schoolgirls success in 2005.

Omagh Hockey Club soon came calling, “loving life” on the fourth team and enjoying the ride up through the teams before giving some of Ulster’s big guns a run for their money.

There, her development was overseen with Anne Buchanan, Iris Nelson and June Graham crucial figures who became almost ever-present supporters at European Championships – eight in all – among other competitions.

It helped propel her to new heights on the club front, first with Randalstown and then with Ulster Elks – with whom she would win two Irish Senior Cup crowns – KHC Dragons in Belgium, Old Alex and then to Pegasus where she became an EY Champions Trophy winner.

Gene Muller invited her onto the international stage at the age of 18 for a series in Stellenbosch in January 2007. Since then, she has been virtually ever-present, missing just 37 of Ireland’s capped games in 14 and a half years.

Those early days were tough at times with Olympic and World Cup qualification proving well out of reach. Nonetheless, McCay was hooked on the journey and embraced the chance to travel the world, playing the sport she loved and while material success was elusive at the time, there were always moments to last a lifetime.

“In my early career, beating New Zealand in New Zealand [Wellington, 2008] was a special memory. Anytime we could get the better of someone above was a special moment and that was unheard of at the time. Thankfully it became more regular over time but I will never forget that.

“Another eye-opener was playing Argentina in Parana [in 2011] and about 10,000 people must have shown up and gave us an incredible reception. It’s things like that which stay with you, not always the big results but those amazing moments.

Shrley with her nephew at the Olympic qualifiers. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy 

During those early years, she hails the likes of Eimear Cregan, Linda Caulfield, Cathy McKean and Bridget Cleland for bringing her under their wing.

She remembers McKean “just telling me how class I was” at some early sessions, adding to “get something like that from such a good player was special” to hear.

As time went on, though, reaching the top table seemed to draw closer and closer, going within one result of reaching both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

And the breakthrough finally arrived via the World League in 2017, fighting back to beat India to earn a place in the 2018 World Cup.

Prior to that tournament, media reports suggested that would be her last run out in an Irish jersey. Indeed, she very much thought it was going to be the end, a suitable pinnacle after 11 years on the road, before the silver medal run changed everything for everyone involved.

“Getting over the Rio disappointment, it kind of felt like there would never be a bigger stage to go out on a high. Then things turned out the way they did, a way no one expected it to. With the silver medal, it gave us a much better ranking and a chance to qualify for the Olympics. I did not want to leave with any regrets for me or the team having come so far.”

And, of course, that dream was realised in November 2019 with qualification in front of a record crowd at Donnybrook Stadium, a lifetime away from the many years of empty stands and endless unseen effort. Those fixtures took on an extra significance as they marked her 300th cap while she cites walking out and signing the anthem with her nephew Alex as an extra special moment.

Her efforts in the background went on for an extra year due to the Covid-19 pandemic before eventually coming to fruition in July this year.

The side started off in brilliant fashion, breaking their duck with an historic 2-0 win over South Africa. Ultimately, a vital second win proved elusive and their campaign ended in the group stages.

“We were disappointed in regards to reaching our main target of reaching the quarter-finals. We had the capability of doing it but each team had those same dreams and that it why this is the toughest tournament.

“Even South Africa, with their limited preparation, showed some excellent hockey and there absolutely no easy games. Sure, the outcome was disappointing but the whole Olympic experience was filled with massive bucket-list moments.”

While the tournament was her curtain-call from the international playing scene, she knows she will not be too far from a pitchside anytime soon.

Indeed, she dove straight back into camps in her role as an Ulster Hockey Talent Coach and, last weekend, she was part of the coaching staff that saw Ulster win double-gold at the UK Schools Games. And she is thrilled at the prospect of inspiring the next generation on that front.

“Ulster Hockey have been so sympathetic to me and my international career, letting me do bits and pieces in between when I was away. I have been so used to trying to balance playing internationally and the role.

“So I am really looking forward to going all-in, committing to the job and making a difference, helping Ulster’s young talent develop and play to their potential.”

That role leaves her now in a peaceful position to step away from the international stage, paying tribute to her network who helped propel her to such spectacular heights.

“I am indebted to a few people who without their support I wouldn’t be where I am today. My friends, family and loved ones, thanks for putting up with me being grumpy and rarely being around.

“To the coaches I have had throughout my career, I have learnt so much from you all. To our sponsors, SoftCo and Park Developments in particular, thank you for helping prolong an old girl’s career and joining our journey.

“And finally, to every team mate I have ever had the pleasure of playing with, thanks for putting up with me. It has been an honour.”

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Green Army back to work as focus shifts to World Cup qualifiers

The Green Army filtered back into camp this week following a month’s break in the wake of their maiden Olympic campaign as October’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Italy quickly come into view.

The event will take place in Pisa from October 21st to 24th with eight teams taking part from which only one side will earn a place at next summer’s showcase event.

For coach Sean Dancer, it is an uncharacteristically swift return to action with members of the Olympic panel returning to training on a phased basis, linking up on Monday and Tuesday at Abbotstown with members of the development panel.

From Dancer’s previous experience working with New Zealand in 2012 and 2016, there is usually a lengthy post-Games cooling off session but the nature of the Covid-19 affected calendar has brought this new qualifying event into view.

“I’m used to having a big ‘down’ period post the Olympics, the end of the cycle and the beginning of a new one, getting everything ready and preparing for the next Olympics,” Dancer said of the packed calendar.

The format is a winner-takes-all scenario for the one remaining spot at the World Cup. Each game is a knock-out match with top-ranked Ireland (12th in the world) – barring any late changes in entry list – set to face the ever-improving France (27th) in the opening round.

Lying in wait in the semi-finals will be Russia (20th) and Belarus (21st) with the other side of the draw provisionally featuring hosts Italy (17th), Scotland (19th), Poland (23rd) and Wales (25th).

“It’s a cut-throat tournament. Scotland and Italy from the A division and then France with a lot to play for given the next Olympics in Paris, progressing well, it will be a really tough tournament and the reality is only the winner gets to go to the World Cup. Every game is a must-win!

“The way things have unfolded with the qualifiers in October and then hopefully doing well in the World Cup is really important for us. There will be some retirements and plenty of new players will get an opportunity to come in. That brings excitement and we need to harness that and push hard for the next six weeks.”

On that front, Dancer has reassurance the step up from the Under-23 development programme should not be as dramatic as years gone by. That group underwent a busy summer schedule of their own with a wide group of players lining out in fixtures at home and abroad.

And Dancer confirmed a number of players will traverse the squads when they return to the pitch next Monday for training as a group for the first time since returning from Tokyo.

“[Under-23 coach] Dave Passmore has done an excellent job over the summer. It is something that previously had been discussed as we knew there would some players stepping back from the programme and this group and so it was important that group was ready to step in when the time arrives.

“They had some really successful series, beating Wales seniors and GB’s development squad.”

And that link between the two squads has been made even stronger with last week’s news SoftCo have extended their current sponsorship with the senior women’s squad until the end of 2022 while also expanding their support to now be the Under-23 side’s primary sponsor.

“It’s amazing from SoftCo to continue sponsoring us and it is a big boost with the World Cup qualifier around the corner and new players coming into the group. It is a sponsorship that is hugely beneficial and supportive of the team.”

FIH Women’s World Cup 2022 – European qualifier (October 21 to 24, all in Pisa)
Thursday, October 21, quarter-final: Ireland v France, 11.30am
Saturday, October 23, semi-final: to be confirmed
Sunday, October 24, final: to be confirmed

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Irish cup draws for 2021/22 confirmed

The 2020/21 Hockey Ireland Cup Competition Draws took place on September 3rd at the Hockey Ireland offices. The details for the first and second round draws of the Irish Senior Cup, Irish Hockey Trophy, Irish Hockey Challenge and Irish Junior Cups are below. The subsequent rounds will be drawn at a later date.

Men’s Irish Senior Cup

Round 1   2nd Oct’21
Match # Team V Team
1 Rathgar Portrane
2 Railway Mossley
3 Bandon Kilkeel
4 Clontarf Cork Harlequins
5 Cookstown Instonians
Round 2   16th Oct’21 or 6th Nov‘21
Match # Team V Team
6 Winner 2 Winner 5
7 Annadale Pembroke
8 Lisnagarvey Winner 1
9 Banbridge Monkstown
10 Cork CofI Winner 3
11 YMCA UCD
12 TRR Corinthian
13 Glenanne Winner 4
QF   27th Nov ‘21
SF   27th Mar ‘22

Women’s Irish Senior Cup

Round 1   2nd Oct’21
Match # Team V Team
1 Monkstown UCC
2 Ulster Elks Ballymoney
3 Banbridge Ards
4 Queens Cork CofI
5 DULHC Corinthian
Round 2   16th Oct’21 or 6th Nov‘21
Match # Team V Team
6 Pegasus Winner 2
7 Winner 4 Winner 1
8 Glenanne Winner 3
9 Cork Harlequins Pembroke
10 Lisnagarvey Muckross
11 Catholic Institute Winner 5
12 UCD Old Alex
13 Railway Loreto
QF   27th Nov ‘21
SF   27th Mar ‘22

Men’s Irish Hockey Trophy

Round 1   16th Oct’21
Match # Team V Team
1 Ballynahinch Catholic Institute
2 Dublin North Bray
3 Belfast Harlequins UCC
4 Bangor Kilkenny
5 Ashton Portadown
6 NICS Queens
7 Avoca   South Antrim
8 North Down Newry
  Round 2 6th Nov‘21
SF 19th Feb ‘22


Women’s Irish Hockey Trophy

Round 1   16th Oct’21
Match # Team V Team
1 Clontarf Rathgar
2 Portadown Mossley
3 Greenfields Bandon
4 YMCA Galway
5 TRR Ashton
6 Kilkenny Armagh
7 Bray Raphoe
8 North Kildare North Down
  Round 2   6th Nov‘21
Match # Team V Team
9 CI Ladies Winner 5
10 Winner 4 Waterford
11 Winner 2 Winner 7
12 Winner 1 Belvedere
13 Genesis Our ladys
14 Winner 3 NUIG
15 Avoca Winner 8
16 Dungannon Winner 6
QF 27th Nov ‘21
  SF 19th Feb ‘22

Men’s Irish Junior Cup

Round 1 30th Oct’21
Match # Team V Team
1 Kilkeel Bandon
2 UCD Bangor
3 Corinthian Cork CofI
4 TRR YMCA
5 North Down Avoca
6 Cork Harlequins Instonians
7 Cookstown Rathgar
8 Railway South Antrim
     
Round 2 13th Nov‘21
       
Match # Team V Team
9 Winner 8 Mossley
10 Winner 5 Lisnagarvey
11 Clontarf Pembroke
12 Glenanne Winner 7
13 Winner 3 Winner 4
14 Winner 1 Winner 2
15 Banbridge Winner 6
16 Monkstown Annadale
QF 22nd Jan ‘21
SF 13th Mar’21


Women’s Irish Junior Cup

Round 1   30th Oct’21
Match # Team V Team
1 Avoca Cork CofI
2 Corinthian Lisnagarvey
3 Monkstown Genesis
4 UCC Ashton
5 Ulster Elks Catholic Institute
6 UCD Old Alex
     
Round 2 13th Nov‘21
       
Match # Team V Team
7 Muckross Winner 3
8 Winner 6 Winner 4
9 DULHC Winner 2
10 Winner 5 Railway
11 Pembroke Pegasus
12 Loreto Belfast Harlequins
13 Ballymoney Queens
14 Cork Harlequins Winner 1
QF 22nd Jan ‘21
SF 13th Mar’21

Women’s Irish Hockey Challenge

Round 1   9th Oct’21
Match # Team V Team
1 Kilkeel Bangor
2 Galway 2 Athlone
3 Skerries NICS
4 Botanic NUIG 2
5 Blackrock Clonmel
6 Cork Wanderers Tipperary
7 Wicklow Limerick
     
Round 2 11th Dec‘21
Match # Team V Team
8 Winner 2 Weston
9 Winner 3 Mullingar
10 Greenfields 2 Winner 1
11 Winner 4 Portrane
12 Wexford Kilkenny
13 Clonakilty Gorey
14 Enniscorthy Winner 6
15 Winner 5 Winner 7
QF   22nd Jan ‘21
SF   26th Feb’21

Men’s Irish Hockey Challenge

Group 1       Group 2     Group 3
Galway Wicklow Antrim
Limerick Naas Armagh
Mullingar Waterford Portrush
Midleton Saintfield
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Five Irish Masters teams return after long wait

Five Irish men’s Masters teams got back into the groove this month after almost two years as they travelled to Nottingham for EH Invitational tournaments.

Last weekend, the Over-40s picked off wins against Wales and Scotland in their opening two games to set up a title showdown with England.

In the former, they won 4-3 with Graham Harris scoring a 68th minute penalty corner to grab the result after an earlier double from Chris Barnes and an opener from Dave Smith.

Barnes also netted twice in the 5-2 success against Scotland, a important efforts in the 67th and 69th minutes to make the win safe.

England, however, were too strong in game three, completing their third win of the weekend with a. 7-1 success, Harris getting the sole Irish reply.

At Over-45 level, Ireland began with a 1-1 draw against Scotland with Peter Bland’s eighth minute goal cancelled out by one from John D’Alton.

The followed up with a comprehensive 6-0 victory over Wales – Eise Lodewijk was on the mark twice with Paul Fitzpatrick, Ash Harrison, Steven Jones and Peter Bland getting the others.

That left another title showdown with England and Ireland got off to a flyer with Fitzpatrick breaking the deadlock from a 15th minute corner.

But England swapped the lead by half-time to go in 3-1 up at the big break and that is how the game finished.

For the Over-50s, they lost 3-1 to Scotland on day one of the competition – Stephen Magee getting the goal – and then drew with Wales 2-2 with Ian Stuart earning the share of the spoils. Earlier, Darren Scott had picked up the first equaliser in the 29th minute.

A week earlier, also in Nottingham, the Irish men’s Over-65s and 60s were also in action.

For the 65s, they recorded a 0-0 against Scotland before falling a couple of times to England. The Over-60s had a couple of close-run fixtures with 2-1 defeats to Scotland and Wales before England proved too strong in a 5-0 outcome.

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SoftCo expands support for Irish Women’s Hockey

Hockey Ireland is delighted to announce that SoftCo is extending its partnership with the Irish Senior Women’s Hockey Team and, in addition, SoftCo will also become the main sponsor for the Under-21 and Under-23 Development Squads.

Following the team’s success over the past number of years with the World Cup silver medal and the Tokyo Olympics, the additional support provides continuity for the next phase of the Green Army story including the upcoming World Cup qualification tournament in Rome.

The Under-21 and Under-23 Development Squads are essential for the expansion of the senior squad, particularly as they embark on a new Olympic cycle toward Paris 2024.

“The Ireland Women’s Hockey Team have raised the bar over the past number of years with their magnificent achievements. We are delighted to increase our support and in particular the sponsorship of Developments Squads as we look forward to an exciting future for hockey in Ireland.” commented Susan Spence, Co-Founder, SoftCo.

Speaking about the agreement, Hockey Ireland CEO Jerome Pels said: “We are delighted SoftCo have agreed to continue their primary sponsorship of Hockey Ireland’s senior women and expanding their support to incorporate our women’s development panel.

“This exciting move will bring continuity to our women’s program and build on the strong foundations established over the past three years.”

** Pictured from left to right, following SoftCo’s expanded support for Irish women’s hockey are Caoimhe Perdue (U-21 captain), Katie Mullan (senior captain) and Katie Fearon (U-23 captain). Picture: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

About SoftCo

SoftCo deliver powerful, innovative financial process automation solutions that increase productivity, reduce costs, and ensure organizations meet compliance obligations. SoftCo’s technology automates Procure-to-Pay, Accounts Payable, Vendor Management, eBilling and Contract Management processes. Our solutions are built on a common platform, SoftCo10, ensuring that as our customers expand they can seamlessly grow on the SoftCo ecosystem. SoftCo are a global organization with 2 million business users worldwide across all industry sectors. Our DNA is Procure-to-Pay. We build our smart technology with this domain knowledge delivering fast, straight through and touchless processing. Our ethos is to understand our customers’ businesses, the challenges they face, and deliver solutions to meet and go beyond their expectations. We are ISO 27001 and SÄHKE2 certified, a Microsoft Gold Partner and an AWS Advanced Technology Partner.

For more information please visit www.softco.com

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O’Dea on the double as Green Machine finish on a high

Men’s EuroHockey Championship II, third place playoff
Ireland 4 (K O’Dea 2, J McKee, S O’Donoghue) Poland 2 (W Rutkowski, J Kurowski)

Teenager Kevin O’Dea’s sharp double earned Ireland a third place finish from the men’s EuroHockey Championship II in Gniezno, beating hosts Poland 4-2.

Ireland produced a super first half, controlling possession and netting two strong goals via Kevin O’Dea and Johnny McKee. But Poland stormed back into contention in the third quarter amid a penalty corner exchanger, Wojciech Rutkowksi and Jacek Kurowski netting either side of a Shane O’Donoghue effort, making it 3-2 with 15 minutes left.

In a wide open final quarter, it was O’Dea who settled matters when he swatted in with three minutes to go.

Hockey’s old adage to “always win your last game” was achieved to cap an encouraging week in which Mark Tumilty handed out seven new caps and landed the primary goal of a World Cup qualifier ticket.

All the while, the side rolled with the punches with two players ruled out a week before travelling and a further two spending the entire week in quarantine under Polish regulations following a close contact ping arising from the flight over.

In the circumstances, it gave coach Tumilty plenty of encouraging food for thought despite the disappointment of Friday’s semi-final defeat to Scotland.

“I thought some of our hockey was excellent; guys definitely delivered. When I reviewed the Scotland semi-final, we did deliver at times but not for long enough so this was nice and positive,” Tumilty said.

“Things were definitely challenging with Covid at times; it is a great learning for the squad. Twenty bad minutes against Scotland cost us greatly; if we had played in that phase like we did today, it would be a completely different outcome.

“We can’t afford to have that at any level and we need to take that and make sure we change that happening, that we don’t have those spells which cost us.

“On the plus side, Kevin [O’Dea] scoring three goals from midfield in his first tournament; a great achievement and shows his potential. Very pleased with that and how all the youngsters did. Kyle Marshall just received man of the match and he has been superb all week. James Milliken in goal came in at late notice and I’m happy with how he did, too.

“The older guys also deserve credit for how they helped the performances and how they dealt with the chaos with our preparation. Disappointed not to be in the final but pleased to finish on a high.”

For O’Dea, meanwhile, it was a memorable finish to his first international tournament just two months on from his Leaving Certificate.

“We didn’t come into the tournament hoping to win bronze but considering we were in this position, we are pleased to win this one.

“It has been difficult with the Leaving Cert but Eoin [Cunniffe], Mark [Tumilty], Neil [Irwin], Jason [Klinkradt] all prepared me really well. Even when I couldn’t come up to training with studies, I was doing all their running [plans]. It was great coming into the tournament and made the step up not half as bad!”

From the off, Ireland showed intent, attacking with drive and purpose. An early corner chance went abegging, a signal of what was to come.

And they were in front in the ninth minute when Peter McKibbin’s powerful ball into the circle found its way to O’Dea at the back post. It came at the Cork man at an awkward height but he expertly volleyed home for 1-0, this second in two games.

It was 2-0 before the end of the first quarter, the second goal a smart move found Johnny McKee peeling away to the left. He produced a box of tricks to work the shooting chance which he popped home at the second bit of the cherry.

Like the semi-final against Scotland, there were chances to extend the lead but were frustrated as O’Donoghue’s rasping reverse went inches wide while a McKee deflection from another McKibbin pump came back off the crossbar.

Ian Stewart elected to pass when a shot might have been the option from a two-on-one chance as the half closed out with Ireland still on the up.

Poland came more into the contest after the big break and began to run up a healthy penalty corner count. From their second set piece, Rutkowski unleashed a perfect shot into the top right corner to give the Poles a lifeline.

That threat seemed to be quickly quelled when O’Donoghue nailed his fourth goal of the week with a pin-point drag-flick, making it 3-1 in the 38th minute.

But the hosts once again were back in contention when Kurowski found a way through the defences of James Milliken.

The game was settled, though, with three minutes to go. It followed a brilliant move with Sean Murray and McKee laying on the chance for Stewart. His shot was saved at full stretch but only fell to a waiting O’Dea who gleefully batted in his second of the day.

Ireland: J Milliken, T Cross, J McKee, N Glassey, K Marshall, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, P McKibbin, M Robson, B Walker, I Stewart
Subs: D Walsh, K O’Dea, M McNellis, B Nelson, F Gibson, J Duncan

Poland: M Pacanowski, D Kotulski, G Jarzynski, J Kurowski, M Koperski, R Pawlak, J Janicki, W Rutkowski, M Kasprzyk, M Lange
Subs: M Glowacki, T Bembenek, M Gumny, K Sudol, M Nowakowski, B Zaworski

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Ireland succumb to Scottish comeback at men’s Euros

Men’s EuroHockey Championship II, semi-final
Ireland 2 (K O’Dea, B Walker) Scotland 3 (A Forsyth 3)
Ireland succumbed to a big Scottish fightback as Alan Forsyth’s hat trick transformed a 2-0 lead into a 3-2 defeat, leaving Ireland to play for third place on Saturday on the final day of the EuroHockey Championship II in Gniezno, Poland.

Hopes were flying high in the early stages with Kevin O’Dea slotting home in the seventh minute and Ben Walker made it 2-0 nine minutes later.

But they could not make use of a selection of penalty corners as Scotland hung tough and got a lifeline just before half-time from an Alan Forsyth penalty stroke. The striker equalised late in the third quarter at 2-2 and then put the Scots ahead for the first time with nine minutes to go from a second stroke.

Reflecting on the tie, coach Mark Tumilty was frustrated the side could not take more of their chances when in the ascendancy and it came back to bite them in the end.

“We played some reasonable hockey at times, created plenty of opportunities,” he said afterwards. “But at this level and the level above, if you don’t take your chances and execute your corners, you leave yourself open to what happened out on the pitch today.

“We definitely had opportunities. While they came more into it in the second half, we still had chances and balls into their circle to put the game out of reach. But to be fair, with Forsyth up front, they are always dangerous.

“It’s another tough lesson for the Irish senior men’s team. It has to stop happening and we have to get across the line in this type of game.”

The Green Machine stormed into the first half, playing a direct game of pace and precision which yielded a number of healthy chance. The pick of them came when McKee crossed from the right and the ball fell to the unmarked O’Dea and he coolly slotted home his first international goal through Tommy Alexander’s legs.

Ben Nelson went close to getting a second from another McKee cross but the second goal did arrive soon after the second quarter started. Mark McNellis was the creator, lifting the ball past his marker and then picking out Walker who swept home first time.

But five first half corners – with the injection slowed by a heavy downpour of rain – could not get the best of goalkeeper Tommy Alexander and it was Scotland who nicked a vital reply just before half-time.

It came from their second corner from which Cammy Golden’s drag hit Fergus Gibson’s body on the goal line. Forsyth stepped up to convert the ensuing penalty stroke.

Into the second half, Ian Stewart was next to go close when his rasping shot shaved the outside of the post.

But the blue sticks were gaining a greater foothold in the contest and finding important incisions. Golden fired another warning shot before the equaliser arrived in the 45th minute.

James Milliken saved a first up shot but the ball was worked to Forsyth and he spun at close range and fired into the bottom corner.

And the winner arrived with nine minutes remaining, another penalty stroke, this time awarded for what was deemed a deliberate back-stick foul by Jeremy Duncan in the process of clearing the ball. Again, Forsyth converted well.

It left Ireland with nine minutes to grab something from the game but Alexander twice repelled chances from Sean Murray as Scotland held on for the 3-2 victory and a place in the final.

Ireland, meanwhile, must regroup quickly for Saturday’s third place playoff (12.45pm, Irish time).

“It is important to finish any tournament or camp on a win. We need to win tomorrow and kickstart our [October] World Cup qualifier preparations.

“It is disappointing to lose today but we have to regroup and see tomorrow as another opportunity for this young group to get international hockey under their belt.

“We need to do better and fix some of the things from the second half today, be more clinical and execute our penalty corners.”

Ireland: J Milliken, T Cross, J McKee, N Glassey, K Marshall, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, P McKibbin, J Duncan, M Robson, I Stewart
Subs: D Walsh, K O’Dea, M McNellis, B Walker, B Nelson, F Gibson

Scotland: T Alexander, M Bremner, A Bull, A Forsyth, L Morton, A McConnell, C Golden, H Imrie, M Collins, R Shepherdson, C McKenzie
Subs: S Walker, H Galt, E Greaves, R Harwood, R Field, R Croll

Umpires: A Ilgrande (ITA), B Messerli (SUI)

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Green Machine land primary objective with 6-0 win over Croatia

Men’s EuroHockey Championship II
Ireland 6 (J McKee 2, S O’Donoghue 2, S Murray, J Duncan) Croatia 0

Ireland eased into the semi-finals of the men’s EuroHockey Championship II in Gniezno and a World Cup qualifier spot into the bargain after they saw off Croatia with plenty to spare.

Needing a draw to advance, Sean Murray’s early goal set them on their way and while it took a while for the insurance goals to arrive, the Green Machine never looked in much danger after that.

Shane O’Donoghue put Ireland two clear at half-time; a second half double from Johnny McKee and more goals from O’Donoghue and Jeremy Duncan completed the rout.

For coach Mark Tumilty, it was very much a case of job done, responding well from Tuesday’s disappointing draw with Italy.

“Delighted; that was our main goal coming into the tournament to give ourselves a chance at that World Cup qualifier,” Tumilty said.

“I am pleased with the performance, bouncing back well after yesterday [against Italy]. That was a tough one to take but thought the guys worked hard today and it was a good game all round.

Captain Murray concurred, adding: “Very chuffed. It was a great bounce back from the lads, especially after Italy which wasn’t our finest performance. The main job was to get that World Cup qualifier spot and we have that and can now look forward to the weekend.

“We hadn’t started fast in the other games and knew we needed to be on the money from the beginning.

“They had a couple of tight games where they were run off their feet and, with back-to-back games, we wanted to get ahead early and then try and pull away. We maintained that throughout and the result took care of itself.”

The opening goal came from a lovely interchange on the left baseline with Jonny McKee hopping the ball out of a tackle and nicking the ball into the middle where Murray cracked home.

After that, it was a matter of time before the lead was extended as Croatia – in their first tournament at this level and the lowest ranked side at 47th – were forced to absorb a huge amount of pressure.

Goalkeeper Hrvoje Fijucek brilliantly denied Ben Walker on a couple of occasions while a trio of corners were also kept out, the third of which saw O’Donoghue slam a shot off the base of the post.

O’Donoghue, though, was not to be held at bay for too long as he doubled the lead as half-time closed in, a trademark corner goal bringing him his 113th international strike.

Two to the good at half-time, the shackles came off in the second half. A flurry of action saw Ireland force a string of blocks in the first 43 seconds which culminated in Jeremy Duncan tipping in Neal Glassey’s cross for 3-0.

McKee added the next at the end of a stunning counter-attack, created by Michael Robson’s 40-metre drive through the middle. The Banbridge man also guided in a Mark McNellis cross early in the fourth quarter for the fifth goal and O’Donoghue got his second with a ripper of a reverse-stick strike.

It means a semi-final on Friday and there are also important ranking points on the table if Ireland can grab two more wins. The chance to move above 13th ranked France – who have completed their Euro series this summer – and become the top seed for the World Cup qualifier, however, looks just out of reach.

“I think it will be difficult to go above France because of the draw against Italy by my calculations,” Tumilty

“But with the draw for the Euro qualifiers next summer also to think of, [the points] could be important but it is not something that overly concerns me.

“We have to deal with whatever comes along and we have seen in this tournament all the teams are competitive. Each game in those qualifiers will be a big challenge but, for now, the focus is on Friday to do what we can to get to the final and a better chance of hosting the European qualifiers next summer.”

Ireland: J Milliken, T Cross, J McKee, N Glassey, K Marshall, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, P McKibbin, J Duncan, M Robson, B Nelson
Subs: D Walsh, K O’Dea, M McNellis, B Walker, F Gibson, I Stewart

Croatia: H Fijucek, C Zec, M Mucic, Z Vuk, B Bachmann, F Zlimen, J Krleza, L M Bachmann, T Premilovac, G Fujs, A Fujs
Subs: P Markovic, I Bagur, F Zlatar, J Damjanic, F Zlatar, L Wehr

Umpires: G Cunningham (SCO), F Weiland (AUT)