European Club Hockey for Loreto and Lisnagarvey this Easter Weekend


Easter weekend is traditionally a quiet time for Hockey on the home front but for two of the country’s best teams it will be a busy period as both Loreto’s women and Lisnagarvey’s men represent Irish hockey at the European club level. Loreto will be in the EHL Final 8 tournament in the Netherlands while Lisnagarvey are in Portugal to take place in the EUROHOCKEY CLUB TROPHY I in Lousada.

AMRO EHL FINAL 8  in Wagener Stadium, Amstelveen, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Loreto, the winners of the EY Champions Trophy in 2022-23 qualified for the ABN-AMRO EHL Final 8 tournament which will be held at the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen just outside Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. The action gets under way on Thursday March 28th 2024. The first games are straight knockout in that the winner advances to the semi-finals of the competition and possibly a final. The loser will go into a 5th-8th  place play off on Saturday. On Monday there are the gold medal final and the bronze medal final to decide the placings 1st to 4th.  Next year the EHL will be a FINAL 12 so if Loreto manage to reach the semi-final of this year’s competition they will secure an additional spot for Ireland at the FINAL 12 in 2025.

LORETO begin their campaign against JUNIOR FC from Spain (Thursday, March 28; 12.30pm CET). If they win this they face a semi-final and of course secure that extra spot for Ireland in next year’s EHL Final 12. Hot on the heels of two trophies, the mood could not be better for Irish side Loreto ahead of their return to the Wagener Stadium after a five-year hiatus. Recently, they won both the EY Hockey League – the regular season title in Ireland – and then took the regional Jacqui Potter Cup on St Patrick’s Day in front of a bumper crowd close to their Rathfarnham home.

For Hannah Matthews, it is a special time to be part of the panel. The Olympian and World Cup silver medallist had taken a step back at the start of the 2022/23 season following her retirement from international hockey. But the itch to get involved soon came back: “I decided to take a year out but was always there if any team needed me!

“Once I played a few games, I started reflected on it and thought I don’t have too many years left in me so thought about giving it another go while the body still can!”

It saw her initially play with the second team at the club before stepping in for games toward the end of the league last season as Loreto eventually won the national title – the EY Champions Trophy.

This season, she has played a full role in a breath taking run which saw them confirmed top of the EYHL with three games to go having won their first 13 games in a row with only two dropped points out of 45.

“It has been great – I have never experienced a season  like it before but we still have it all to do. It’s just great being part of such a talented group and I am lucky to have made it into the squad to be honest.”

Indeed, they have built on their 2023 panel with another Olympian, Hannah McLoughlin, returning to the club while Irish international Caoimhe Perdue has also joined. Along with Christina Hamill, Sarah Torrans, Siofra O’Brien and Liz Murphy, there are five players who played in the 2022 World Cup in the Wagener Stadium.

Going back further, nine of the panel played here in 2019 in the EuroHockey Club Cup; Loreto ended seventh, beating Ritm Grodno 2-1 – it remains the most recent win for an Irish women’s club in the European top tier.

Prior to that, they made life difficult for Den Bosch and UHC Hamburg as Matthews – captain at the time – reflects:

“I remember Liz Murphy having an outstanding match in particular [against Den Bosch] and then getting hit myself by a drag-flick that I didn’t even see coming!

“It was a tough one but we had opportunities against UHC Hamburg and then a great win against the Belarussians. It was really tough, very hot, physically exhausting when you don’t have the ball!”

“We were so young when we went the last time and it is great to have kept such a large volume of players. We have grown since then. I am the one dragging the average age up but it is important we know each other so well.

 “We are better equipped, having so many more players this time around who have been exposed to international hockey. We feel really good, really confident and hoping to compete and do well against Junior. Everyone is buzzing.”

As for the challenge of Junior FC in the FINAL8, despite it being a first meeting, it is not a wholly unknown quantity.

Matthews only previous European encounter with Spanish opposition went to a shoot-out against Sanse Complutense in 2014; she scored the winner to earn bronze in the Trophy competition.

Internationally, Ireland and Spain tend to play numerous friendlies against each other and so that kind of dynamic will not be far from their minds.

“We are well used to playing Spanish teams and I know Gigi [Oliva] pretty well. She is going to be a huge one to keep a lid on. She changes every team she plays on towards her strengths – she will be a main target to cut out.”

And they take on the challenge knowing they will have a rowdy support-base. Early sales show Ireland among the biggest regions snapping up EHL tickets; experience tells Matthews that the Loreto crowd will make the most of the weekend.

** Every game from the EHL FINAL8 will be streamed live on


Last season’s EYHL Men’s Division 1 runners-up Lisnagarvey’s reward for coming second in the League was a place in this tournament. Lisnagarvey are drawn in Pool B. They begin their campaign on Friday March 29 with a game against Grange from Scotland. On Saturday March 30 the second Pool B game sees Lisnagarvey take on the hosts Lousada from Portugal. And the third game on Sunday March 31 Lisnagarvey complete the round robin phase of the tournament with a morning game against OKS Vinnitsa from Ukraine.

There will be place games taking place on Sunday afternoon and Monday to decide the ultimate winners of the tournament. The format of these is the fourth-place team in Pool B plays the fourth placed team in Pool A, the third team in Pool B plays the third team in Pool A. And the last two games see the second placed Pool B team take on the second placed team in Pool A and the two pool winners play off to decide the overall winners of the tournament. These latter games will take place on Monday April 1. The winners will also be promoted to the next level of European club hockey, which next year’s representatives from that country will benefit from.