Excitement is mounting with the departure of the Women’s team for the Tokyo Olympics on Friday 9th July. We wish the players all the best of luck for their matches. This is a marvellous achievement and we thank them for their commitment, drive, determination and for the time they have given to prepare for this amazing experience. Our sympathy goes to the players who have played a large part in the build-up over the last few years and missed out. We know how disappointed they must be. By following the team’s 37-hour journey on social media, they have received a great welcome in Iwate and have started training there. Our thanks go to all their sponsors and especially to Park Development, Softco and Saba.
Their match schedule is, with times for Ireland/UK viewing: –
Saturday 24th July v. South Africa at 1.15pm (21.15 JST)
Monday 26th July v Netherlands at 2am (10.00 JST)
Wednesday 28th July v Germany at 4.15am (12.15 JST)
Friday 30th July v India at 3.45am (11.45 JST)
Saturday 31 July v Great Britain 12.45pm (20.45 JST)
The EuroHockey Championships in Amsterdam at the beginning of June were challenging and the draw was tough. However, the girls held their heads up high, producing commendable performances against the Netherlands, Scotland and Spain in the group section and against Great Britain and Italy in the play-off games, finishing 6th overall with two wins, one draw and two losses. One of the highlights was Deidre Duke being awarded the goal of the tournament.
Mark Tumilty and his Men’s team continue with their preparations for their European Division B matches in Gniezno, Poland from 15th – 21st August. They are drawn in Pool A against Italy, Poland and Croatia. With several new players in the squad, they have played warm-up games against Great Britain and Scotland. We look forward to supporting them in further pre-tournament games against England at Lisnagarvey on 4th, 5th, 6th & 7th August.
— Ulster Uni Sport (@UlsterUniSport) July 10, 2021
With restrictions on spectators easing, I was able to enjoy watching my first official games as President, when the Ireland Under 19s played Wales at The University of Ulster, Jordanstown on 9th & 10th July. Four exciting games resulted in four wins for Ireland: The Girls winning 6-0 and 5-0 and the Boys 1-0 and 5-3. I look forward to supporting the Ireland Under 23 Girls when they play Wales Senior Women from 16th to 18th July and Wales U23 Girls from 21st to 23rd July. Further matches for the Under 19 Boys and Girls will be held at UUJ on 24th and 25th July. This is a busy programme for the players and coaches and it is great experience for all in their build-up to Senior matches.
I was invited by Lisnagarvey Hockey Club on 26th June to watch Under 15 Cup Finals for a tournament that the club had organised. The Girls’ tournament was won by Armagh who defeated Lisnagarvey and, in the Boys’ Final, Lisnagarvey defeated Portadown. It was great to see young players and their families enjoying exciting hockey on a sunny afternoon. I would like to congratulate and thank Lisnagarvey Hockey Club for their excellent organisation for this event and their compliance with Covid 19 regulations.
Our third Pilot Communication Session took place on Wednesday 16th June with Clubs from Armagh, Belvedere, Blackrock, Bray, Club KV, Cork Wanderers, Malahide Fingal, Newry and Parkview taking part. Topics discussed included how clubs were planning to get players back into hockey after this long Covid break; had they approached schools nearby to attract more members and what was the relationship between their Club and local schools; where they see their club in terms of Hockey Ireland’s priorities; had they applied for a grant and if so, how successful was their application. A follow up session on all three meetings is planned for early in the new season. My thanks go again to John Dennis and Linda Monaghan for their help and support in these meetings.
On Sunday 27th June I chaired an online meeting of the Four Provinces Advisory Committee and welcomed H.I. Vice President, John Dennis and representatives from the Four Provinces – Kevin Keane, Connacht, David Curran, Leinster, Colette Coomey, Munster and Christine Reid, Ulster. This was an introductory session to get this committee meeting again, look at the Terms of Reference and arrange a further meeting on Monday 19th July.
A massive thank you to Darren, Joel and all at @UlsterUniSport who made sure that everything was in place for a great weekend of hockey for our @IreGirlsJAG & @IreBoysJag .. Looking forward to returning in 2 weeks for Match series 3 v @ScottishHockey on 24th & 25th July! pic.twitter.com/RuDUyUjNZG
— Ireland JAG Girls (@IreGirlsJAG) July 11, 2021
In my last newsletter, I mentioned that we were pleased to support Inez Cooper’s candidature for election to the Executive Board of the Federation Internationale de hockey (FIH). The FIH Congress was held online on 24th & 25th May, with a strict voting procedure which required practice sessions. Inez narrowly missed out in the election to the 2 sitting members. She is a candidate for Female Vice President of EHF, with the Congress due to take place in Prague on 19th August. I was delighted, on behalf of Hockey Ireland, to write her supporting letter.
Finally, again I end on a sad note with the passing of Nora Smith on 24th May. In recognition of her international career, Nora was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 and was an Honorary Life Member of Hockey Ireland. After her playing career as an outstanding centre-half, she became the Irish Women’s first ever coach from 1973 to 1976. Our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.
12th July 2021