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Under-19 girls land Four Nations title with boys finishing second

Ireland’s Under-19 girls shared the spoils with Scotland over their two games this weekend to take the Four Nations Series title while the Irish boys finished in second place.

Leading the table by two points from England going into the final series of the three-week competition, the Little Green Army had the title confirmed by Saturday night.

That was because of a 1-1 draw against the Scots, picking up the bonus point via a shoot-out success. In the meantime, Wales beat England 3-2 to put Ireland into an unassailable lead.

Gavin Groves’ side concluded the series with a 0-0 draw on Sunday at Jordanstown against the Scots and were denied in the shoot-out 2-1 but it proved immaterial in the final reckoning.

“It’s really satisfying for the whole group to sign off the programme with some success,” Groves said of the title, a welcome one after almost 18 months between fixtures for this key development group.

“The players have put so much in to these programmes so it was nice for them to get a little reward at the end.

“We were really happy with how the group has progressed through this series and we are delighted to have provided a platform for these players to push on to the next phase of their playing career. The consistent level of performance and aligned well with the results.

“We would like to thank AIB and all our other sponsors for their support. It gives us the opportunity to run this programme in a professional manner and provides the players with everything they need.”

In game one, Holly Barr gave Ireland the lead 40 seconds into the second half with a perfect deflection from a penalty corner swept down the right channel.

Lucy Smith equalised with five minutes remaining, peeling away from goal and smacking home with a powerful shot.

That sent the tie to a shoot-out for the extra bonus point. In tandem with Wales’ 3-2 win over England in the other Saturday match, it meant Ireland were four points clear in the group overnight and guaranteed the title.

On the boys side, Scotland leap-frogged Ireland on the final day of the competition with a smash and grab 2-0 success at Jordanstown.

Ireland had held the slight edge on Saturday evening after a remarkable 4-4 draw was followed by a shoot-out success.

In that game, Scotland took the lead with the last play of the first half from a corner rebound with Pete Caughey following up for 1-0.

Patrick Rose equalised just over a minute into the second half with a rasping shot on his backhand, kickstarting a thrilling second half. Jamie Croll got in behind the last defender to return Scotland to the lead five minutes later and Keir Robb’s reverse extended the lead out to 3-1.

Ireland levelled up, though, when Craig Mackay converted a penalty stroke and Adam Walker added a penalty corner, making it 3-3 with seven seconds left in the third quarter.

Robb got an outstanding fourth goal for Scotland to put them in front yet again with 11 minutes remaining but, ultimately, it was a draw when Kent Irwin’s brilliant pulled the ball out of reach of the goalkeeper and slotted home.

The shoot-out was won 4-3, bringing a bonus point that gave Ireland a slight edge going into the final game of the competition.

Craig Mackay celebrates his goal on Saturday. Picture: Adrian Boehm

It had Simon Lowry’s side a point ahead going into the final game and needing a draw to capture the crown but, try as they might, it proved elusive.

The Irish came out of the blocks in the first quarter the busier side but the Scots managed to weather the storm, and were dangerous on occasions on the counter-attack.
Adam MacKenzie put them 1-0 up from a rebound to put the Scots into the lead. The hosts had numerous penalty corner chances and close-run efforts in the final quarter but an equaliser could not be found.

Moments after Fionn Marriott’s reverse flashed across the face of goal, Scotland broke well and Keir Robb rounded the goalkeeper to clip home the second goal in the last three minutes.

It meant a second placed finish and a strong development base for a wide group of players with Lowry deploying out over 30 players in the course of these six games.

Girls
Saturday:
Ireland 1 (H Barr) Scotland 1 (L Smith), Ireland win shoot-out 3-0
Sunday: Ireland 0 Scotland 0, Scotland win shoot-out 2-1
Standings: 1. Ireland 13pts (+12) 2. Scotland 9pts (+3) 3. England 8pts (0) 4. Wales 6pts (-15)

Boys
Saturday:
Ireland 4 (P Rose, C Mackay, A Walker, K Irwin) Scotland 4 (K Robb 2, P Caughey, R Croll), Ireland win shoot-out 4-3
Sunday: Ireland 0 Scotland 2 (A MacKenzie, K Robb)
Standings: 1. Scotland 13pts (+6) 2. Ireland 11pts (+4) 3. England 7pts (-2) 4. Wales 5pts (-8)

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Ireland get body-clocks ready for Dutch challenge

** Ireland v Netherlands will be broadcast live on RTE2 from 2am on Monday, July 26 – note this will be geo-blocked in Northern Ireland)
** For viewers in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, Discovery+ will broadcast every game from the Olympics live here: https://www.discoveryplus.co.uk/olympics/sport/field-hockey

Precious little time to rest on their laurels, the Green Army are straight back into action in the early hours of Monday morning (2am Irish time) to be precise when they take on the world number one Netherlands.

Both sides started on a winning note on Saturday, Ireland memorably winning their first ever women’s Olympic fixture 2-0 against South Africa while the Dutch shook off India in the second half 5-1.

For coach Sean Dancer, he says one of the toughest challenges is to get the body-clocks in sync. Saturday’s tie was a 9.15pm locally while game two is a 10am start, a very different proposition.

Nonetheless, his side got their mindset spot on for what could have been a tense opening date and getting into that groove will be key.

“These girls have been around, pushing as hard as they can for a long time to get to this position,” he said of their debut. “I feel very privileged to be part of it. I wanted them to enjoy it and that has certainly been the message over the last couple of days, relax, enjoy it and get into the game which they did really well.”

Katie Mullan admitted there were some celebratory songs on the bus from the Oi Stadium back to the Olympic Village but things toned down after that.

“We are the first female Irish sports team of any sort to come to an Olympic Games. That’s a huge honour and a history-making moment for our team and country, something to be very proud of.

“It was a dream come true, as cliché as that sounds. It’s been over a decade in the making and there is a little moment of thought for all those players, ex-internationals, who paved the way for us to be able to do that. It is such a great moment for our sport and was very, very special.”

Having finally reached the Games, goalscorer Roisin Upton is delighted they do not have to hang around for game two: “It’s been a long wait to get to this point so thank God we only have to wait one day for the next game!

“The turnaround time is tight for us and we have got to make sure we give ourselves the best chance.”

It is Ireland’s second meeting with the Dutch this summer, the previous one a 4-0 loss in the European group stages. Since then, Ireland have made a number of changes with Sarah Torrans and Sarah McAuley coming into the fold. For the Dutch, Xan de Waard has recovered from injury but Ireen van den Assem missed out.

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Ireland v Netherlands – head to head

Overall – 37 meetings

Ireland: 4 wins, 0 draws, 33 losses; goals for 23, goals against 136

Most recent meeting: June 2021: Ireland 0 Netherlands 4 (Laurien Leurink 2, Caia van Maasakker, Frederique Matla)

Last Irish win: March 1963 – 3-2 in Dublin; Netherlands with 29 consecutive wins

Netherlands Olympic record: Winners in 1984, 2008 and 2012; silver in 2016 and 2004, bronze in 1988, 1996, 2000; only outside the medals once

NL Current world ranking: 1st; reigning Euro, World Cup and FIH Pro League champions

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Green Machine cranks out the goals in Scotland

Ireland’s men enjoyed a free-flowing weekend of action with two wins and a draw from their three-game uncapped series against Scotland, netting 12 goals along the way.

In game one, Luke Madeley scored on his return to the Irish senior men’s side as they drew 1-1 at Titwood.

The defender scored a first half penalty stroke – following a series of corners – to give the Green Machine the lead but they were pegged back in the fourth quarter when Rob Harwood finished off after a neat build-up.

Madeley was among a number of players returning to the line-up this weekend having come back to Ireland this month from Belgium with quarantine and study reasons delaying him linking up with the panel.

In Saturday’s game two, all-time top scorer Shane O’Donoghue – another returnee – netted twice in his first appearance of the summer in a 4-1 success. He opened the scoring in first quarter from a low penalty corner strike.

Daragh Walsh forced the next over the line in quarter two and the lead was three at half-time with another O’Donoghue corner shot, flicking this one into the top right corner.

Scotland had slightly more of the game in the second half but Ireland extended the lead via Jeremy Duncan – another of the returnees – from a smart counter-attack. The hosts did get one back in the closing stages via Cameron Golden.

And Sunday brought another goalfest with Ireland winning out 7-4 in a frenzied contest. Shane O’Donoghue ended the tie with a hat trick, making it five goals in two appearances in the competition, starting the rush with a top-right corner flick.

Sean Murray’s low shot made it 2-0 before Gavin Byers got one back. Ireland soon restored their two-goal advantage with a penalty corner finish by O’Donoghue to make it 3-1.

Ireland’s corner defence. Pic: Mark Pugh

The second quarter saw Ben Walker find the net for Ireland at a penalty corner, and then Luke Madeley scored from close range after finding space in the circle, 5-1.

Dan Coultas replied in kind to reduce the gap with a corner goal for 5-2 at half-time and their potential comeback gathered pace via Ed Greaves.

O’Donoghue’s stroke, though, kept Ireland 6-3 clear. Cameron Golden again pegged the Green Machine back but Madeley duly completed the scoring from another set piece to end a rousing tie.

Reflecting on the weekend, Irish coach Mark Tumilty said: “We played some very good attacking hockey in phases over the three games. Very pleased to score 11 goals across the weekend; the squad has made progress and will work hard over the next few weeks in our preparation for the Euros [in August in Poland]. We look forward to the GB EDP series in Lisburn.”

That series will be on at Lisnagarvey Hockey Club with games on August 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th. A week later, Ireland will play their EuroHockey Championship II tournament in Gniezno, Poland.

Men’s senior international series
Thursday:
Scotland 1 (R Harwood) Ireland 1 (L Madeley)
Saturday: Scotland 1 Ireland 4 (S O’Donoghue 2, D Walsh, J Duncan)
Sunday: Scotland 4 (G Byers, D Coultas, E Greaves, C Golden Ireland 7 (S O’Donoghue 3, L Madeley 2, S Murray B Walker)

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Dream start for Green Army in Tokyo with 2-0 win over South Africa

Olympic Games – Women’s Pool A
Ireland 2 (R Upton, S Torrans) South Africa 0

Ireland made a dream start to life as a women’s Olympic hockey team as they got the best of South Africa in their debut on this stage at the Oi Stadium.

Róisín Upton’s powerful low drag-flick in the ninth minute meant they held the lead from the outset, an advantage they eventually strengthened before the end of the third quarter via Sarah Torrans.

“You could see the smiles when we walked out,” Torrans said after the win, scoring in what was her first senior ranking tournament game.

“It was just fun; it was a long day waiting to get out on the pitch and it still feels so surreal. To do it with this group of girls is incredible It is just a pity we can’t do it with family and friends but hopefully we are doing them proud. It is nice to get on the score sheet in the first game; it is what an attacker dreams of and hopefully we can bring that into the next few games.

“Netherlands next, the best in the world. It’s always a fun game but we will come out fighting.”

Ireland got off to a fast start with Torrans and Nicci Daly storming down the right flank. Deirdre Duke’s trickery duly earned the first penalty corner of the match which Upton duly whipped into the left corner past the stick of Phumelela Mbande.

After that, it was a case of when rather than if Ireland would score again as they held the vast majority of the play against South Africa, the lowest ranked side in the tournament at number 16.

Three more corner chances came and went in the first half while Naomi Carroll pinged the post with a rasping shot from close range.

The African champions showed their threat in fits and starts with Nomnikelo Veto the danger player.

But it was the Green Army who always looked the more likely to push on. Torrans missed out from a great chance created by Katie Mullan’s driving run and diagonal ball into the danger zone. Anna O’Flanagan also stung the pads of the goalkeeper and Sarah Hawkshaw chipped one over.

The insurance goal eventually arrived in the 44th minute when Loreto team mates Hannah Matthews and Torrans connected. The former provided the pace on the ball into the circle which saw the ball deflected high in the air and Torrans instinctively batted down and into the net.

After that, there were further corner chances which went incomplete but goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran never looked unduly troubled in a composed defensive outing. Matthews was denied a third by Mbande’s brilliant diving stop but Ireland content to win 2-0.

Ireland next meet the Netherlands on Monday morning (2am Irish time). The Dutch eased to a 5-1 win over India with four second half goals.

** Full tournament details here: https://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/olympic-games/en/results/hockey/olympic-schedule-and-results.htm

Ireland: A McFerran, C Watkins, S Torrans, R Upton, H McLoughlin, D Duke, K Mullan, S Hawkshaw, L Tice, S McAuley, A O’Flanagan
Subs: H Matthews, N Daly, S McCay, N Carroll, L Holden

South Africa: P Mbande, C Seerane, N Walraven, K Paton, R Johnson, O Zulu, L-M Deetlefs, E Hunter, L du Plessis, Q Bobbs, T Glasby
Subs: E Molikoe, T Mallett, N Veto, C Maddocks, L Mahole

Umpires: E Yamada (JPN), K Hudson (NZL)

Fixture list (times Irish):

July 24: Ireland 2 (R Upton, S Torrans) South Africa 0

July 26: Netherlands v Ireland, 2am

July 28: Germany v Ireland, 4.15am

July 30: Ireland v India, 3.45am

July 31: Ireland v Great Britain, 12.45pm

August 1-6: Knock-out matches

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Junior Green Army finish series on a high

The Junior Green Army signed off on a hugely productive summer with two wins and a draw against their Welsh Under-23 counterparts at Jordanstown.

The series began with a thrilling 3-3 draw in which Ireland led 1-0 thanks to a Hannah Kelly goal but were pegged back by Jess Hill. But the real fireworks were reserved for the last 10 minutes in which four more goals followed.

Siofra O’Brien put Ireland in front but responses from Liv Strickland and Beth Collier had Wales in front with time running out. Laura Foley, though, nabbed an equaliser in the last three minutes.

Game two was a marked difference as Ireland ran up an 8-1 win with doubles from Kelly, O’Brien and Jess McMaster with Sophia Cole and Yasmin Pratt getting the others.

A couple of neat backhand strikes had Ireland 2-0 up inside five minutes and they scarcely looked back with a couple of corner goals moving them into a 5-1 half-time lead.

And the series closed with a 3-0 success, this time Erin Getty, McMaster and Pratt getting the goals.

It concludes a productive week with four wins out of six games against a variety of Welsh line-ups and finishes off their summer schedule in style.

Women’s Under-23 series
Wednesday: Ireland 3 (H Kelly, S O’Brien, L Foley) Wales 3 (J Hill, L Strickland, B Collier)
Thursday: Ireland 8 (H Kelly 2, S O’Brien 2, J McMaster 2, S Cole, Y Pratt) Wales 1
Friday: Ireland 3 (E Getty, J McMaster, Y Pratt) Wales 0

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Where to watch The Green Army at Tokyo 2020

To get behind the Green Army and enjoy all the fanfare of the Olympic hockey tournament, there are a number of ways to watch their journey in Tokyo.

RTE2 will broadcast the Irish women’s hockey team’s Olympic debut as part of their overall coverage of the Games.

RTE – as Ireland’s primary rights holder – will show each of the Irish games LIVE on RTE2, starting with the game against South Africa on Saturday with play getting underway at 1.15pm.

Darragh Maloney and Peter Collins will be the presenters for the coverage with analysis from Gillian Pinder and Kate Dillon. Commentary duties will be from Ger Canning and Des Curran with Sarah Scott providing co-commentary analysis from all five group games.

BBC will have coverage of the competition with Nigel Ringland and Gavin Andrews bringing post-match reaction to each game while BBC Newsline will also carry hockey coverage. Keep an eye on BBC1 and the iPlayer for further coverage information throughout the Games.

For hockey fans keen to catch all the other games in the competition, Eurosport is the official streaming partner for the Olympic Games and will be the hub for all other hockey fixtures.

This service is available online via Discovery Plus at the following link: https://www.discoveryplus.co.uk/olympics/home. This service costs €6.99 for one month’s access. You can cancel this subscription at any stage.

For live scores, the most comprehensive outlet for play-by-play updates is via the Olympic website on the following page: https://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/olympic-games/en/results/hockey/olympic-schedule-and-results.htm

Whilst a match is in play, a number of live statistics will be available throughout the match. By clicking on a live match, you will find four tabs: Starting Line-up, Player Statistics, Team Statistics and Play by Play. More information about what these tabs will provide can be found below.

For even more content, the International Hockey Federaion launched their Daily Tokyo Hokkē Show today. Every day, from 22 July to 6 August, a stellar line-up of internationally renowned guests – including David Harte – from the world of hockey will join host Sarah Juggins, FIH Media Coordinator, for the Daily Tokyo Hokkē Show.

Insights, discussions and debates centred around the hockey competitions playing out at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will delight and engage fans from across the globe, bringing them closer to the story as it unfolds on the pitch.

 

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“Anything can happen” as Green Army settle into Olympic groove

Safely installed in the Olympic Village, Hannah Matthews knows “anything can happen” over the next two weeks as the Irish women’s hockey team close in on their Olympic debut in Japan.

Matthews was the last to arrive to the party on Saturday, linking up with the side in Tokyo direct from Dublin while the rest of the panel enjoyed a memorable holding camp in Iwate, the country’s “cabbage capital” 500 kilometres to the north.

There, the panel were “treated like celebrities” according to Michelle Carey as their bus ride into town at 6.30am drew large crowds along the road; silage bails were wrapped in Irish livery and traditional dance troupes greeted the tuning-up training sessions.

It helped capture the spirit of 2018’s World Cup run, a journey into the unknown but a journey the Green Army was keen to embrace every moment of as if it were Christmas Eve.

That same good vibes have carried through to the first few days in the Olympic Village and the initial sessions at the Oi Stadium and Loreto’s Matthews says it is at the right pitch for the challenges ahead.

“We are going in there with very little pressure, not knowing what to expect and absolutely anything can happen. On our day, we can take it to the top teams,” she said.

“There are 12 teams in the tournament. We’re ranked ninth in the world. It’s not like we are up in the top five. I’d say we are relatively under the radar but obviously not as much as in the World Cup when we turned a few heads. Teams would definitely be more aware of us but there is more pressure on other teams.”

Ireland start their campaign on Saturday (1.15pm Irish time, RTE2) against South Africa, the tournament’s lowest ranked side at 16 before meeting world  number one side the Netherlands on Monday.

Germany (ranked 3rd) are up in game three next Wednesday before back-to-back fixtures against India (10th) on Friday, July 29 and Great Britain (5th) a day later – five games in eight days.

 

 

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The first target is a top four finish to earn a quarter-final spot, making the South African tie an important one in that context, particularly with the three medalists from 2016 waiting in the wings.

The Green Army have a good record on that front, winning all three of their series against South Africa in Stellenbosch in February 2020. Ireland were due to return for more matches last March before the pandemic struck.

South Africa have not played any formal fixtures since then as a result while only nine of the players that featured back then are in the Olympic panel – 13 of Ireland’s are in situ – so form lines are hard to read.

Like Ireland, there has been evolution. Where Sean Dancer has introduced Carey, Zara Malseed and Sarah McAuley, SA have uncapped trio Edith Molikoe, Charné Maddocks and Lerato Mahole.

On the flip side, there is a mountain of experience in Lisa-Marie Deetlefs – a double Olympian from Beijing and London – Lilian du Plessis, Quanita Bobbs and Celia Seerane (née Evans).

Ireland do have the distinct benefit of their European Championship campaign in June; ultimately, ambitious targets of a maiden semi-final spot and an assured World Cup ticket came up just short.

In hindsight, it was a par performance, beating the two side ranked below them – Scotland and Italy – with clean sheets – drawing with Spain directly above them and losing to two sides in the world’s top five (Netherlands and England).

“I think we definitely feel disappointed,” she says about the Euros. “We felt like we didn’t represent how well we have been playing and how well we have been training.

“That was definitely a major frustration. But put it in context and the Europeans are a brutal tournament. You just can’t afford to make mistakes and you are playing against quality sides so I think we can take a lot of positives. We have played against brilliant teams.”

Having that bank of game time is likely to be invaluable, particularly with so many other new experiences floating around them.

“We’ve had just the best preparation for the Olympics you could ask for and we’ve seen the mistakes we’ve made and we can work on them. So we have a lot to improve on and we know that now.

“This is all very new to us. We have never been to an Olympics before. We are one of the few teams in the tournament that haven’t been to an Olympics before and we are also going into a climate that we are not very used to where a lot of other teams have done.

“We have nothing to compare it to but everyone is so excited to be at our first Olympics and, the year that’s in it, every time you get to play at a high level, whether it is high stakes or not, everyone is so appreciative of it.

 

“Team spirit will be massive. It’s an intense tournament and with Covid restrictions as well, there might be a little more cabin fever. So it’s really important the team sticks to our culture. That’s something that comes very naturally to us so we won’t over think that.

“South Africa and India are probably our closest in terms of ranking. But in tournament hockey anything can happen. So it’s managing our emotions as we go.

“We’ve all plenty of experience of playing in front of absolutely no one,” says the Irish defender in self-deprecation. “It’s something we are used to. I don’t think it will affect us. We’ll be fine.”

** The International Olympic Committee made a number of hockey-specific amendments to the tournament regulations. Teams can now select 16 players from a wider panel of 18 players.

 Additional updates mean if a side cannot field – primarily due to Covid – for a particular game, a 5-0 loss will be recorded but they will not be defaulted from the competition as a whole. Where two teams cannot field, a 0-0 result will be recorded but no points will be allocated. 

 Full document here:  https://fih.ch//media/13453096/2021-07-09-tokyo-2020-ssr-hockey.pdf

Ireland women’s squad for Olympic Games – July 24-August 6, 2021, Oi Stadium, Tokyo, Japan (club/caps):
Ayeisha McFerran (SV Kampong, 105) – goalkeeper
Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute, 115)
Lizzie Colvin (Belfast Harlequins, 201)
Nicci Daly (Loreto, 194)
Sarah Hawkshaw (Railway Union, 38)
Hannah Matthews (Loreto, 152)
Shirley McCay (Pegasus, 311)
Hannah McLoughlin (UCD, 19)
Katie Mullan (Ballymoney, 198) – captain
Anna O’Flanagan (Muckross, 212) – vice-captain
Lena Tice (Old Alex, 1114)
Sarah Torrans (Loreto, 26)
Róisín Upton (Catholic Institute, 81)
Chloe Watkins (Monkstown, 229)
Deirdre Duke (Old Alex, 146)
Sarah McAuley (Muckross, 1)

Michelle Carey (UCD, 5)
Zara Malseed (Ards, 2)

Travelling reserve:
Lizzie Murphy (Loreto, 13) – goalkeeper

Fixture list (times Irish):

July 24: Ireland v South Africa, 1.15pm

July 26: Netherlands v Ireland, 2am

July 28: Germany v Ireland, 4.15am

July 30: Ireland v India, 3.45am

July 31: Ireland v Great Britain, 12.45pm

August 1-6: Knock-out matches

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Junior Green Army pick up two wins from three over Wales

** Picture courtesy of Front Row Union

The Junior Green Army defied the odds to produce another strong series of performances over the weekend against Wales in three closely-fought contests at Jordanstown.

In the lead-up to the series, nine players and three members of staff were deemed close contacts following their return flight from their Five Nations tournament in Spain to a positive case from outside the group.

This meant a large turnover to the initially announced panel and support staff but a cohort of 18 players was available for the series and they showed up well.

Game one on Friday was a cagey affair between two well matched sides with defences largely on top. Ireland came on strong in the closing quarter and duly got the winning goal with seven minutes remaining when Orla Macken struck home the only goal with a powerful penalty corner hit.

Day two went the way of the Welsh visitors on a 1-0 scoreline with the key goal arriving via a smart breakaway move, flicked home from a tight angle. It was a tight and physical contest with precious little between the sides.

The pendulum swung back the Irish way in game three with Ireland getting the 1-0 result on Sunday. Nadia Benallal capped her return from injury with a beautiful reverse-stick touch from a penalty corner for the only goal.

Wales had started this one the stronger but Ireland worked their way back into the contest and dominated the closing phases to see out the win.

The squad will meet the Wales Under-23 side in three fixtures this week to continue their busy summer of action.

Under-23 series (all at Jordanstown)
Wednesday, July 21: Ireland v Wales, 7pm
Thursday, July 22: Ireland v Wales, 4pm
Friday, July 23: Ireland v Wales, 12.30pm

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Four returnees to Green Machine side for Scotland series

Shane O’Donoghue, Lee Cole, Jeremy Duncan and Luke Madeley will make their first appearances of the summer for the Irish senior men as they travel to Scotland this weekend for a three-game uncapped series.

They are joined for the first time by Rory Patterson in the line-up with the Wimbledon forward having recently trained with the Irish setup for the past few weeks for the first time.

It is part of busy preparations for August’s EuroHockey Championships II and, potentially, October’s World Cup qualifiers which were announced this week to be taking place in Wales.

Otherwise, it continues a theme of giving new faces a chance to shine with uncapped players Kyle Marshall, James Milliken, Troy Chambers, Matt Walker, Ollie Kidd, Kevin O’Dea, Nick Page, Jonny Lynch, Fergus Gibson and Mark McNeillis in the mix this time.

“This camp is to give players who had not been involved in the GB camp an opportunity to experience international hockey,” coach Mark Tumilty said. “That is a key focus of mine with the group.

“Other players who have not featured in any series yet will get exposure to games against the GB elite development panel in early August. There are also some regular internationals returning who had been missing for various reasons.”

Indeed, O’Donoghue is a significant addition as Ireland’s all-time top goalscorer with over a century of goals to his name. Cole is back after injury curtailed his involvement earlier this summer thus far.

Madeley returns to the panel following two seasons in the Belgian top tier with KHC Leuven while Duncan is back in for his first international fixtures since November 2019’s Olympic qualifiers in Vancouver. All four of the returnees were part of the travelling party for the 2018 World Cup. 

Ireland men’s panel for Scotland series – Clydesdale, Glasgow; Thursday, July 22nd to Sunday, July 25th

Jamie Carr (KHC Leuven), James Miliken (Lisnagarvey), Tim Cross (Annadale), Kyle Marshall (Old Georgians), Peter McKibbin (Lisnagarvey), Matt Walker (YMCA), Luke Madeley (KHC Leuven), Daragh Walsh (Three Rock Rovers), Sean Murray (KHC Leuven), Johnny McKee (Banbridge), Troy Chambers (Lisnagarvey), Ben Walker (Three Rock Rovers), Matty Nelson (Crefelder HTC), Jeremy Duncan (Monkstown), Ollie Kidd (Lisnagarvey), Kevin O’Dea (Cork C of I), Nick Page (Old Georgians), Jonny Lynch (Lisnagarvey), Rory Patterson (Wimbledon), Fergus Gibson (Loughborough Students), Shane O’Donoghue (Glenanne), Lee Cole (Monkstown), Michael Robson (Annadale), Mark McNellis (Lisnagarvey)

Fixture schedule

Thursday, July 22nd: Ireland v Scotland, 7.30pm, Clydesdale

Saturday, July 24th: Ireland v Scotland, 4pm, Clydesdale

Sunday, Sunday 25th: Ireland v Scotland, 11.30am, Clydesdale

 

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Ireland U-19 boys and girls shine in England in Four Nations Series

Both the Irish boys and girls Under-19 teams made it with three wins from four in their respective Four Nations series competitions over the weekend with impressive performances against England in Lilleshall.

For the boys, their Saturday 5-1 success against the English was one of the biggest scorelines for Ireland at any grade as Simon Lowry’s outfit produced an outstanding display.

In a fast-pressing performance from the outset, they raced into a 1-0 lead via Waterford man Ian Balding’s powerful drag-flick. Ben Ryder swooped to chip the second into the roof of the goal when he nipped in behind the last defender.

Evan Jennings came to the fore in the second half, setting up Josh Filgas with a square pass following a powerful run. Jennings’ deft deflection extended the advantage to 4-0 and while England got one back in the final quarter, Jennings provided another first time finish for his double and 5-1.

The result follows two wins over Wales last week with their one setback a frustrating 3-2 defeat to England on Friday. After a cagey opening, the deadlock was finally broken by England midway through the second quarter.

It wasn’t long before Ireland got a deserved equaliser following some sustained possession high in the England half. Balding’s drag flick was saved but the rebound was batted into the net by James Maginnis.


Ireland continued to pressure England, but a quick counter-attack found them lacking cover at the back and the resulting penalty stroke, on the half time whistle, by Luis Cuttle left Ireland trailing 2-1 at half time.

After the break it was all Ireland, but the equaliser proved elusive, with a number of balls flashing past the back post and an England goalkeeper who was on fire against the Irish penalty corner attack.

Late in the third quarter a slick move down the left, left England with a back post tip-in to extend their lead further. Ireland reacted well by scoring immediately in Q4 with Rex Dunlop deflecting at the penalty sport from a well-polished short corner routine.

As such, after that disappointment, coach Lowry was delighted with how his side bounced back.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better reaction in game two this weekend,” said Lowry. “The guys acquitted themselves brilliantly and played with real desire and intensity and the way we moved the ball was top class.

“We were disappointed not to come out of game one with a result because we played well for much of the game and created a lot of chances, particularly in the second half.

“After Friday it was nice to see our attacking quality shine through. It was a real team effort from both players and staff to pick ourselves up and go again.”

The side has been working with a panel of 34 players for this development series and so it was a nice way for some to sign off this phase of their underage careers.

“For some of these guys it is their last involvement in the Under-19 program, and it is great to have been able to finish with a win like that, particularly after the 18 months that we’ve had. It’s all to play for now and we can’t wait to face Scotland in UUJ next weekend.”

That is a reference to a title showdown with Scotland with two games next weekend at Jordanstown.

On the girls side, Ireland back up their two big wins over Wales last week with four points out of six from their trip to England. Emma Paul’s first half goal gave the Little Green Army a 1-0 success on Friday with the strike coming following consistent pressure which led to a penalty corner that the captain slotted away.

And they carried that momentum into the second half to make it three wins from three in the competition with three clean sheets at that stage.

In so doing, it means Ireland’s senior, Under-23 and Under-19 female sides have all beaten either Great Britain or England in the past four months.

Saturday did see their perfect defensive record breached when Tamsin Cookman scored from a penalty corner in game two on Saturday morning for England.

And it remained that way until early in the final quarter before a flurry of penalty corners ended with Nicola Torrans – younger sister of Sarah who is currently in Tokyo with the Olympic squad – pouncing on a penalty corner chance at the back post.

It meant a 1-1 draw with a point each to their name but the English hosts went on to edge a shoot-out after the game which earned them an extra bonus point.

That leaves Ireland on 10 points from 12 available to date with England in second on eight points. It meansGavin Groves’ side are in pole position with two games against Scotland to come at Jordanstown.

Boys Under-19 Four Nations
Friday: England 3 (T Graves, L Cuttle, R Wilson) Ireland 2 (J Maginnis, R Dunlop)
Saturday: England 1 (W Petter) Ireland 5 (E Jennings 2, I Balding, B Ryder, J Filgas)

Girls Under-19 Four Nations
Friday: England 0 Ireland 1 (E Paul)
Saturday: England 1 (T Cookman) Ireland 1 (N Torrans), England win bonus point shoot-out 3-2