All the news for Saturday 23 September 2017
Auckland meet Harbour in Ford NHL final
Auckland are set to face off with North Harbour in the men’s Challenge Shield final at the Ford National Hockey League tomorrow.
Auckland scored two goals in the last 10 minutes to overcome hosts Capital Cobras 2-1 to progress to the gold medal match.
Capital opened at a high tempo and grabbed the advantage in just the third minute through a Sebastian Buddle field goal.
With time winding down, Auckland equalised in the 50th minute thanks to a Michael Ritchie field goal before Marcus Child pounced on a penalty corner deflection to take the lead just minutes later.
North Harbour booked their place against Auckland in the final at 3pm tomorrow, after a tight 2-1 win over the Southern Dogs in their semi final.
Cory Bennett had Harbour humming early through a fifth minute penalty corner drag flick before Kalyan Jeram opened a 2-0 buffer after a field goal midway through the second quarter.
Southern lifted after the break and pulled a goal back early in the second half after Lachie Davidson scored from the field.
Neither side could score again though throughout the half as Harbour held strong to win through to the final.
The Capital Cobras will now play the Southern Dogs for the Ford National Hockey League bronze medal at 11:00am.
The men’s and women’s bronze and gold medal matches will be live streamed on the Hockey New Zealand Facebook page, and in full high definition on YouTube.
The men’s 5th/6th playoff will see Midlands tackle the Central Mavericks while the Canterbury Cavaliers and Northland clash to decide 7th/8th.
Midlands edged Canterbury 3-1 in a shoot-out after the score was level 3-3 at fulltime and Central Mavericks ran over Northland 10-0.
FINALS DAY MEDAL MATCHES
9:00am - TigerTurf North Harbour vs Auckland (Women’s Bronze Medal)
11:00am - RICOH Capital Cobras vs Southern Dogs (Men’s Bronze Medal)
1:00pm - Mark Cromie Holden Northland vs Bayleys Midlands (Women’s K Cup Final)
3:00pm - Auckland vs TigerTurf North Harbour (Men’s Challenge Shield Final)
CLICK HERE for more on the 2017 Ford National Hockey League
MEN’S SEMI FINAL RESULTS
Auckland beat RICOH Capital Cobras 2-1
Auckland: 2 (Michael Ritchie, Marcus Child)
RICOH Capital Cobras: 1 (Sebastian Buddle)
Halftime: Capital 1-0
TigerTurf North Harbour beat Southern Dogs 2-1
TigerTurf North Harbour: 2 (Cory Bennett, Kalyan Jeram)
Southern Dogs: 1 (Lachie Davidson)
Halftime: North Harbour 2-0
5th - 8th CLASSIFICATION RESULTS
Bayleys Midlands beat Canterbury Cavaliers 3-1 in shoot-out (3-3 at fulltime)
Canterbury Cavaliers: 3 (Sam Lane 2, Tom Mouldey)
Bayleys Midlands: 3 (Ben Tanner, Aidan Sarikaya, Leo Mitai-Wells)
Halftime: Canterbury 2-1
Central Mavericks beat printing.com Northland 10-0
Central Mavericks: 10 (Martin Atkinson 3, Nick Wilson 2, Hayden Phillips 2, Mitchell Cronin, Jordan Cohen, Dylan Thomas)
printing.com Northland: 0
Halftime: Central 4-0
Hockey New Zealand Media release
Northland to battle Midlands in Ford NHL final
Northland will go head to head with Midlands in the women’s K Cup final at the Ford National Hockey League on Sunday.
The Northlanders snatched a late 3-2 victory over North Harbour with two goals in the final two minutes to secure their place in the gold medal match.
Both sides exchanged goals in the first half with the score level 1-1 at the break before North Harbour took the advantage through a Steph Dickins penalty corner flick in the 48th minute.
Northland scored an equaliser in the 58th minute when Brooke Neal slotted a drag flick before Ella Gunson delivered the game winner just seconds from fulltime.
Facing Northland in the K Cup final at 1:00pm on Sunday will be Midlands, who put together a commanding 3-1 effort against Auckland.
Midlands controlled the first half and went into the break leading 3-0 after goals from Kate Savory, Shiloh Gloyn and Natasha Fitzsimons.
Auckland lifted in the second half and pulled one goal back through Julia King in the 49th minute, but it was too late to salvage the game.
North Harbour and Auckland will play for the Ford National Hockey League bronze medal at 9:00am on Sunday morning.
The men’s and women’s bronze and gold medal matches will be live streamed on the Hockey New Zealand Facebook page, and in full high definition on YouTube.
The women’s 5th/6th playoff will see the Canterbury Cats go up against the Central Mysticks with Capital and the Southern Storm playing to avoid the wooden spoon.
Canterbury powered past Southern 7-1 thanks to a four goal bag from Rachel McCann while Margot Willis added a hat-trick of her own.
The Central Mysticks secured a 3-1 win over hosts Capital in a shoot-out after going into fulltime with the score drawn 1-1.
Men’s teams will play their semi finals and classification matches from 10:15am tomorrow ahead of finals day for all teams on Sunday.
CLICK HERE for more on the 2017 Ford National Hockey League
SEMI FINAL RESULTS
Mark Cromie Holden Northland beat TigerTurf North Harbour 3-2
Mark Cromie Holden Northland: 3 (Jodie Nichol, Brooke Neal, Ella Gunson)
TigerTurf North Harbour: 2 (Kirsten Pearce, Steph Dickins)
Bayleys Midlands beat Auckland 3-1
Bayleys Midlands: 3 (Kate Savory, Shiloh Gloyn, Natasha Fitzsimons)
Auckland: 1 (Julia King)
Halftime: Midlands 3-0
5th - 8th CLASSIFICATION RESULTS
Canterbury Cats beat Southern Storm 7-1
Canterbury Cats: 7 (Rachel McCann 4, Margot Willis 3)
Southern Storm: 1 (Tessa Jopp)
Halftime: Canterbury 5-1
Central Mysticks beat RICOH Capital 3-1 in shoot-out (1-1 at fulltime)
Central Mysticks: 1 (Clodagh McCullough)
RICOH Capital: 1 (Esther Chan)
Halftime: Central 1-0
Hockey New Zealand Media release
Auckland to face rivals North Harbour in NHL men's final
Capital's Benedict van Woerkom, left, and Arun Panchia during National Hockey League men's semifinal. ROSS GIBLIN\STUFF
A fourth-quarter comeback from Auckland helped them beat Capital 2-1 to book a place in the National Hockey League men's final.
They will meet North Harbour in Sunday's decider, after they also won their semifinal 2-1, against Southern.
The first semifinal at the National Hockey Stadium in Wellington on Saturday afternoon was a grinding affair, with a lot of the play stuck in between the two circles and scoring opportunities hard to come by.
Auckland's goalkeeper Devon Manchester and Hamish McGeorge successfully defend a chance from Capital's Benedict van Woerkom. ROSS GIBLIN\STUFF
It didn't look like it would be that way when Capital scored after just two minutes and 40 seconds, with Sebastian Buddle lifting his shot into the top-left corner of the Auckland net.
The remainder of the first half was about Auckland's patience in attack and Capital's resolute defence. Auckland were happy to hold possession and probe away around the circle, but they rarely found a way through as the experienced trio of Trent Lett, Alex Shaw and Harry Miskimmin ensured the Capital defence was very organised.
Capital's Sebastian Buddle celebrates his early goal. ROSS GIBLIN\STUFF
The third quarter continued in much the same vein, before Capital won the first penalty corner of the match at the start of the fourth.
They couldn't convert,and Auckland went down the other end soon after as Michael Ritchie grabbed the equaliser with a low finish from the top of the circle.
Marcus Child scored the winner seven minutes from time on a follow up after a drag-flick was saved, but Capital had one last chance with just seconds on the clock, only for a cross to just elude Oscar Wookey at the back post as the final hooter sounded.
Auckland's Johnny Kinder and Alex Shaw clash on Saturday. ROSS GIBLIN\STUFF
Auckland captain Arun Panchia, who was outstanding in midfield and defence for his side, said he was always confident they could get up over the top of Capital.
"It's been the story of our tournament, we've been slow starters and then held possession and managed to wear teams down.
"We knew if we did that we'd have a shot at the end of the fourth quarter.
Auckland's Devon Manchester makes a save against Capital on Saturday. ROSS GIBLIN\STUFF
"Credit to our defence, we played well for three quarters and did enough to keep the game close, and then we were able to assert ourselves in that final quarter."
Capital coach Hemant Lala said it wasn't just one thing which went wrong for them in the fourth quarter.
"That's the thing with those sort of games, it's normally a succession of things that go wrong.
"They pressed us quite well and I think we understood our outs, we just didn't execute well. That allowed them to build pressure which resulted in a goal.
"We had two opportunities to counter that goal with penalty corners and we didn't execute those very well. At the end of the day, when that happens, you probably don't deserve to win."
The later semifinal was a reverse of the first.
North Harbour were up 2-0 by haltime and seemingly cruising into the final thanks to goals from Cory Bennett and Kalyan Jeram.
But Southern got a lifeline in the form of a 34th-minute goal from Lachie Davidson. It wasn't enough though, as Harbour hung on to book their spot in the decider.
Harbour last won the Challenge Shield in 2009, while Auckland's last title was a the end of a three-peat in 2014.
AT A GLANCE
Auckland 2 (Marcus Child, Michael Ritchie) Capital 1 (Sebastian Buddle) HT: 0-1.
North Harbour 2 (Cory Bennett, Kalyan Jeram) Southern 1 (Lachie Davidson). HT: 2-0.
Central 10 (Martin Atkinson 3, Hayden Phillips 2, Nick Wilson 2, Dylan Thomas, Jordan Cohen, Mitchell Cronin) Northland 0. HT: 4-0.
Midlands 3 (Ben Tanner, Leo Mitai-Wells, Aidan Sarikaya) Canterbury 3 (Sam Lane 2, Tom Mouldey). HT: 1-2. Midlands won shoot-out 3-1
Northland v Midlands at 1pm
Auckland v North Harbour at 3pm
Harbour-ing ambitions of big week
By: David Leggat
North Harbour's form has been impressive and entertaining at the national hockey league; now all they need to do is win their last two games to cap a memorable week.
Easier said than done, but with a 20 goals for, three against record in the Challenge Shield through their first four matches, Harbour are on a roll. The last three games have produced a 16-0 record, with nine goals coming from former Wellington attacker Daniel Harris (five) and Black Stick Cory Bennett (four).
They will play Southern in the semifinals today, with Auckland, also unbeaten, facing Capital, the winners to meet in tomorrow's final.
Harbour finished third in the 2012 tournament, when coach Dave Kosoof and James Coughlan were teammates. Black Stick Coughlan is relishing the renaissance this year. "We've had a good group of juniors coming through the 18s and 21 for the last couple of years. There's only a few of us older, more experienced players still there. The vibe has been really good and so far it's been our highest performing campaign in the last five years - but it only matters if we're ticking along tomorrow and Sunday." Coughlan is one who'll vouch for the new format for the tournament this year. Instead seven round robin games, then crossovers to complete a draining week, the system mimics international tournament play, with three group games, quarters, semis and finals.
Coughlan says it's a way to help players gain experience in clutch situations. "It doesn't always mean they're the most skilful games you see, but something we need to do is get better at playing the big games, if Rio [Olympics last year] is anything to go by."
The men's Black Sticks gave up a 2-0 lead against Germany conceding three goals in the last four minutes of their quarter-final to bow out; the women lost their semifinal to Britain, then the bronze medal match to the Germans. "You want to win those important games and we don't play enough of them in New Zealand," Coughlan added.
In last night's women's K Cup semifinals, Northland staged a thrilling fightback, scoring two goals through internationals Brooke Neal and Ella Gunson in the last two minutes to topple North Harbour 3-2.
Northland will play Midlands in the final, after a dominant three-goal first half performance set up a 3-1 win over Auckland.
The New Zealand Herald
National Senior finals streaming LIVE
Saturday’s National Senior Tournament finals will be broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube.
North Harbour and the Canterbury Barracudas will contest the women’s final at 4:30pm before the Canterbury Beavers and Waikato Bears do battle at 6:30pm in men’s final.
Both games will be streamed live simultaneously on the Hockey NZ Facebook page (facebook.com/hockeynz) and in full high definition on YouTube (youtube.com/user/TheBlackSticks).
Games will also be available to replay on demand immediately afterwards.
Everyone who likes the Hockey New Zealand Facebook page or has subscribed to the YouTube channel will be notified through the mobile app or website as soon as the broadcast goes live.
National Senior Tournament Finals
Saturday 23rd September
4:30pm – North Harbour vs Canterbury Barracudas
6:30pm – Canterbury Beavers vs Waikato Bears
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Hockey New Zealand Media release
Harte and Kampong create clean sheet record
©: Sander Uijlenbroek/world Sport Pics
SV Kampong made it three wins in succession to start the Hoofdklasse with David Harte making it three successive clean sheets in a row with their 3-0 win over SCHC.
It meant the longest start to the season without conceding since the 1970s for Kampong – since the introduction of astroturf – as they set the pace in the Dutch top tier along with Amsterdam. The Utrecht club’s win was built around two early goals from Jasper Luijkx and Quirijn Caspers before Philip Meulenbroek completed the win before half-time.
For Bloemendaal, they snatched a last minute winner to beat Almere 2-1 with Tim Swaen finally netting from their tenth penalty corner right at the end.
Former Sparrow Stijn Jolie put Almere in front from a corner in the ninth minute before Florian Fuchs scored for the third successive game from the penalty spot. It stayed at 1-1 all the way to the 70th minute before Swaen grabbed a late minute corner goal. It makes it seven points from nine so far this season.
Rotterdam bounced back from their heavy defeat to Bloemendaal with a 3-0 win over Tilburg, scoring three times in the second half. Jeroen Hertzberger hit goal number 201 and 202 for the club after Simon Egerton had opened the scoring in the 45th minute.
HGC came from from 2-0 down to beat Pinoke 5-3; Amsterdam kept their winning run going with a 3-2 win over Den Bosch courtesy of a Mirco Pruyser double.
Oranje-Rood’s 4-4 draw with HDM means the Eindhoven club are still waiting for their first win of the campaign, looking to their derby date with Den Bosch on Sunday to finally break their duck.
Euro Hockey League media release
SA Hockey Men's Squad named for AFCON
The South African Men’s Hockey side will be heading to Egypt to attempt to win the African Cup of Nations for the 8th consecutive time and defend the title that they won in a heated encounter in Johannesburg in 2015. The tournament will decide who Africa’s representative will be at the 2018 FIH Hockey World Cup in India.
About a month ago the 32 man squad was announced by SA Hockey and today it gives us great pleasure in announcing the final 18 man squad for the African Cup of Nations. In goals veteran, Rassie Pieterse is joined by outstanding young talent Siya Nolutshungu.
Amongst the defenders, Tyson Dlungwana and Gareth Heyns join in having missed out on the FIH Hockey World League and are joined by the supreme trio of Jethro Eustice, Dan Bell and Rhett Halkett.
The middle of the park sees Clinton Panther, winner of the last two IPT’s with Southerns and Raiders respectively, recalled after injury saw him left out previously, while the always reliable Jonty Robinson and Reza Rosenberg are joined by two of the most exciting talents in Ryan Julius and Dan Sibbald. Of course our skipper Tim Drummond will lead the team again in the middle of the park and will be desperate to strike revenge against the Egyptians.
Up front, there are some exciting prospects with Ryan Crowe and Melrick Maddocks in the squad and joined by Nqobile Ntuli, Tevin Kok and a man with more than 100 caps in Julian Hykes.
Coach Sheldon Rostron, who will lead both Mens and Womens side, has his work cut out as Ismalia is notoriously a tough place to visit, but it offers great opportunity to underline South Africa as the African hockey powerhouse. The SA Men will face the hosts Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia from the 22-29th October 2017.
SA MENS SQUAD FOR AFRICAN HOCKEY CUP OF NATIONS
Erasmus Pieterse, Southern Gauteng
Siya Nolutshungu, KZN Raiders
Jethro Eustice, KZN Raiders
Dan Bell, Western Province
Rhett Halkett, Western Province
Tyson Dlungwana, Southern Gauteng
Gareth Heyns, Southern Gauteng
Tim Drummond, KZN Raiders
Clinton Panther, KZN Raiders
Jonty Robinson, KZN Raiders
Reza Rosenberg, Southern Gauteng
Ryan Julius, Western Province
Dan Sibbald, Western Province
Nqobile Ntuli, KZN Raiders
Ryan Crowe, Southern Gauteng
Julian Hykes, Southern Gauteng
Tevin Kok, Northern Blues
Melrick Maddocks, Southern Gauteng
SA Hockey Association media release
Injured Ogilvie Hopeful Of NSW Success
New South Wales midfielder Flynn Ogilvie was named the 2016 Australian Hockey League (AHL) Player of the Tournament but will miss this year’s edition due to a hamstring injury.
The Wollongong talent, who turned 24 last week, scored two goals and played a leading role in midfield for the Waratahs as they finished third in the 2016 AHL.
However, the emerging Kookaburras star injured his hamstring badly at the Azlan Shah Cup in May and has been sidelined ever since, ruling him out of the AHL which commences in Perth on Thursday 28 September.
“It would be good to play again as I always love playing for New South Wales and my home state,” Ogilvie said.
“It’s a fun tournament. It’s always good because to test yourself against the best in Australia and this year looks like all states have very strong teams.
“It’s good for young kids too, who don’t know where they are to play against guys they don’t normally get the opportunity to play against very often.”
Ogilvie’s Waratahs haven’t won the AHL Men’s Division since 2005, despite strong national representation.
NSW haven’t played in the gold medal match since 2011 but narrowly missed out last year on penalties to Western Australia.
Ogilvie said the Waratahs could contend for the title this year.
“I definitely think so this year,” he said.
“I don’t know the numbers, but we’ve got plenty of Kookaburras, former Kookaburras and Junior National Team players, so we’ve got the team.”
Ogilvie’s own road to recovery has been long after four and a half months on the sidelines.
He said he hopes he is on the home stretch now, having commenced running last week.
Hockey Australia media release
Preview: England Men's Hockey League - Week One
Beeston v Wimbledon
Beeston have worked hard over the summer, bringing in a number of new faces and announcing them in style across social media. Two of those signings are England and Great Britain’s Sam Ward and Adam Dixon and they will certainly help The Bees try to fulfil their promise of a ‘Rock and Roll Season’.
Their opening test could not be tougher though as they welcome Wimbledon – last year’s table toppers and EuroHockey semi-finalists – to Nottingham. This promises to be a cracking opener between two sides eager to get up and running and set the early pace in the league.
Hampstead & Westminster v Brooklands
Brooklands performed something of a great escape last season as they won their final two games against Loughborough and Canterbury to secure top flight status for a fourth straight season.
Conversely Hampstead had a strong campaign, recording their first ever top-four finish, and will be striving to repeat or better the feat this time round.
Last year’s corresponding fixture at the Paddington Recreation Ground was full of drama as a late strike from Rupert Shipperley secured the win for the hosts. With both sides looking to improve on last season, expect more of the same this weekend.
Sevenoaks v Reading
David Smith’s last minute strike at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in April secured his Sevenoaks side promotion to the top tier for the first time.
They overcame an attacking Durham University side that day and will begin this campaign with a home tie against a Reading outfit looking to improve on last season’s seventh-placed finish.
The visitors have pulled off some eye-catching signings over the summer, bringing in Great Britain internationals Liam Sanford – who impressed on England duty over the summer – and Dan Kyriakides, while Tom Carson will also make a long-awaited return from injury.
Canterbury v Surbiton
Surbiton claimed their first league title in April as they pulled off a fairytale-like comeback to overcome previous champions Wimbledon on penalties in the final.
Following on from that, they have brought in Great Britain and England internationals Luke Taylor and James Gall to bolster their squad and prove that success was anything but a fluke.
League Finals Weekend was also a happy one for Canterbury as they avoided relegation for a third consecutive season, having finished ninth each time. The Kent-based outfit will now be looking to start this season as they finished the last; on the front foot.
East Grinstead v Holcombe
Holcombe suffered heartbreak during April’s League Finals Weekend, just missing out on the final, but will look to bounce back in style by beating East Grinstead in their season opener.
Two-time champions East Grinstead have found themselves in the midfield over the last two seasons and will be keen to start this campaign in the best possible fashion as they strive to return to the play-offs.
The honours were split between the teams last year as both won one game apiece against each other, with Sussex side strolling to a 4-1 victory on their home turf back in March.
England Hockey Board Media release
Preview: England Investec Women's Hockey League - Week One
Slough v Buckingham
After being relegated in 2016, Buckingham sealed promotion back to the Investec Women’s Hockey League with a dramatic 4-3 play-off win over Wimbledon in April. They ended last season in fine form – only losing one of their previous 17 league games – and travel to Slough hoping to extend that record.
In contrast, 2016/17 was tough for the hosts as they finished in eighth, just above the relegation spots, recording three wins and scoring 17 goals from their 18 league matches. This time round they will be determined to improve on that and fight for places higher up the table.
Clifton v Leicester
A single point separated Leicester and Clifton Robinsons last season as both agonisingly missed out on a top four spot, with the former finishing in fifth and the latter one place below.
Clifton did boast the third best attack in the league though, scoring 42 goals and boasting seven players who found the net on three or more occasions. But they come up against a resolute Leicester defence who conceded a miserly 24 goals last time out, a stat only bettered by Surbiton and East Grinstead. Expect a tight encounter between these well matched outfits.
Canterbury v Surbiton
Last season’s champions Surbiton begin their title defence at Polo Farm as they take on a Canterbury side looking to improve on their seventh-placed finish from 2016/17.
The Kent-based side completed two major signings over the summer, bringing in Rio 2016 star Susannah Townsend – although she is currently undergoing rehab on an ankle injury - and naming two-time Olympic champion and former Australia midfielder Kate Starre as their head coach.
Meanwhile Surbiton once again boast a strong squad full of international experience and will be hoping to make a winning start as they bid to claim their fifth consecutive title.
East Grinstead v Holcombe
East Grinstead begin this season as they ended the last, having faced Holcombe in the Investec Women’s Hockey semi-finals at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in April.
This weekend’s away side triumphed 2-1 on that occasion but the honours were shared between the teams in the regular season as they won one game apiece against each other.
While East Grinstead will be looking to exact revenge on their home turf, Holcombe will be happy to start their campaign on the road having lost just once away from home in 2016/17 and it promises to be an enthralling encounter.
UOB v Bowdon
Bowdon bravely avoided relegation in April’s play-offs with two strong performances and will now try and use momentum to start this campaign in winning fashion. However they come up against a confident University of Birmingham side looking to finish in the top four once again, having reached the semi-finals in each of the last two seasons.
The visitors only won one league game last year but they will be boosted by the fact that it came against the students thanks to goals from Amelia Andrew and Vanessa Hawkins and they will be hoping to repeat the feat this time round.
England Hockey Board Media release
Munster Hockey gets late reprieve for season to start on time
Belvedere return to the top tier in Munster following an epic unbeaten 2016/17 season. Pic: Adrian Boehm
Munster Hockey’s threat of a blanket cancelation of fixtures – as reported in Tuesday’s Irish Examiner – has been put on hold but the threat remains in place should no nominations for a vice-president of the provincial organisation be forthcoming.
The body had said no league matches would take place this weekend if the position was not filled but a meeting in midweek agreed to postpone the nuclear option.
Instead, a mandatory meeting has been set for October 9th at the Firgrove Hotel in Mitchelstown where clubs can air their views and aspirations for their governing body. The branch hope the meeting can stimulate interest in the vice-president role but if the situation remains up to November 1st, “all Munster Branch activities will cease”.
“We have no wish to go that route and are relying on our clubs to take the necessary action in all our interest,” honorary secretary Sally Kavanagh said this week.
It means that women’s Munster Division 1 can get underway on Saturday with UCC prime contenders to retain the title and push for promotion back to the top tier EY Hockey League.
Led by Clodagh Moloney and Kate Harvey, they have recruited extensively with Quercus scholar Hannah Humphreys – from Ashton – a big addition among a glut of players trying out for the side
Former Irish women’s senior coach Denis Pritchard is an excellent appointment on the sideline. UCC go to Limerick in round one looking to set the tone for the campaign.
Cork C of I’s trip west to Bandon – regular contenders on the Irish Hockey Trophy scene – looks set to be the game of the weekend.
The Garryduff side is reasonably settled with Emily O’Hara and Abi O’Mahony among the youngsters adding to their line-up, though a trio are trying their hand with UCC. Graham Catchpole has moved across from Ashton to take up the coaching reins.
Les Ruddock is now in the hot seat with Ashton and they have an interesting crosstown battle with Belvedere on day one of the season following their return to the top table after a lengthy spell away.
Catholic Institute make the long trip across the province to face Waterford on Saturday. Insta club man Ollie O’Connor returns to coach the team after a long spell in Galway and will work with Ger O’Carroll as the Rosbrien side look to continue to promote from their strong youth section.
Team by team previews
Last season: 7th Munster Division 1
Coach: Les Ruddock (first season)
Players in: Wendy O’Morchoe (returning to hockey)
Players out: Kate Lenihan, Anna Kingston, Lorna McCutcheon, Hannah Humphreys, Rebecca Allen (all UCC), Stephanie Baker (Cork C of I)
Overview: Ashton had two preseason friendlies, both against C of I, which were great opportunities for new coach, Les Ruddock, to try players in various positions. Both games were tightly contested (0-0 draw and a 3-1 loss). The club currently boasts three girls on the U-16 Munster team and, below that, plenty of talent on Munster development panels.
More experienced players like Cliodhna Murphy, Kate Gray, Ailse Holland and Louise Riordan will be pivotal as they look to push on from last year and develop their young charges. Mary-Claire Cummins will miss the first few weeks of the season, but will be rejoining the team after her wedding in October which will be a big boost.
Bandon – no details provided to date
Last season: Munster Division 1B champions; Irish Hockey Challenge champions, Munster Division 1B Cup winners
Players in: Emma Coleman (UCC)
Players out: Clare Lee (USA)
Overview: There is great excitement in Belvedere Hockey circles as their Ladies first team make a welcome return to the top flight of hockey in Munster. This follows on from an incredible season last year when they went undefeated and won the Irish Hockey Challenge, Division 1B League and Munster Division 1B cup.
The team is made up of homegrown talent, players who have come through the vibrant juvenile section in Ballincollig. The club welcomes back Emma Coleman who has completed her studies in UCC and who played with all of the underage teams.
There are also some very promising young players looking likely to break into the senior team. One of the club’s younger stars, Clare Lee, is heading to the USA for study but her loss will be compensated by the return from the USA later in the season of Cliona Barrett. Anne O’Donovan is stepping down from senior hockey and will be a loss.
The team is captained by local Ballincollig girls Judy Murphy as captain and Aoife Barrett as vice captain and coached by former Belvedere and Munster star Joe Mulcahy. Mulcahy is hoping to continue his hugely successful record with this panel of players in the new season. He is ably assisted by Colette Coomey.
Kym Daly will lead Catholic Institute for 2017/18. Pic: Adrian Boehm
Last season: 3rd Munster Division 1; Munster Senior Cup semi-final
Players in: Laura Foley (Limerick), Muireann Scanlon (Limerick)
Players out: Jenny Clein (UCC), Bella Murphy (Old Alex)
Overview: Lifetime club member Ollie O’Connor returns to coach the side having coached up in Galway for the last few years. He has support from Geraldine O’Carroll with Brenda Moloney as manager – both are on the management of the Munster Under-18 girls as well.
Kym Daly captains the side and she is looking forward to seeing how the club’s young stars rise through the ranks over the course of the season:
“We pride ourself in Institute in putting a lot of time into young player development. Our seconds and thirds are both very youthful sides with 33 Under-16s moving up to our thirds this year and seven moving from our thirds to our seconds; and three players moving from our seconds to our firsts.
“Our goal this season is to compete for the Irish Trophy and to win Munster Division 1 with the long term goal to get back into the EHYL which we haven’t competed in since a few seasons back [in the old IHL format].”
Cork C of I
Last season: 2nd Munster Division 1.
Coach: Graham Catchpole (first season)
Players in: Stephanie Baker (Ashton)
Players out: Aoife Collins, Aoife Dunlea, Chloe Fenton (all UCC)
Overview: The squad is quite settled after a good finish last season but the side have lost a number of key younger players to UCC. This has opened the door for a number of the younger players stepping up with Emily O’Hara and Abi O’Mahony impressing during preseason.
The club is hoping to continue to build this season with the goal of making IHL2. The club will also be hoping for a strong cup run both in Munster and in the Irish Hockey Trophy.
In preseason, the side have played a series of friendlies to suggest they will be competitive once again, including the Munster U-18 boys (2-0 loss), Ashton (0-0 draw and 3-1 win) and Belvedere (5-0 win).
Limerick – no details provided to date
Last season: Munster Senior League Winners. Munster Senior Cup runners up.
Coach: Denis Pritchard and John McGrath
Players in: Hannah Humphreys (Ashton), Jenny Clein (Catholic Institute), Aoife Collins (C of I), Judy Mills (Harlequins), Kate Linehan (Ashton), Chloe Fenton (C of I), Lorna McCutcheon (Ashton), Anna Kingston (Ashton), Julie Poland (Harlequins).
Players out: Ciara Sexton, Alex O Grady (Harlequins), Emma Barber (Harlequins)
Overview: An influx of new arrivals mean UCC will have a much larger panel for new coaches Denis Pritchard and John McGrath to work with. Pritchard returns to UCC after many years away from the college group, including a spell as Irish women’s senior coach. He is accompanied by previous Munster Under-18 boys coach McGrath.
Clodagh Moloney is one of the leading lights with an ambitious UCC this term. Pic: Adrian Boehm
UCC began their 2017/18 season with their new coaching staff in Galway, winning the So Hockey preseason tournament, playing four games in two days. This was a great opportunity for the college side to come together as a team before the season begins.
With Rachel Foley out for the foreseen future with injury, the young college side will be relying on the experience and prowess of Kate Harvey and Quercus scholar Clodagh Moloney to lead the team. Combining this with the talented freshers like Jenny Clein and Quercus scholar Hannah Humphreys the college team will be looking to trump the Munster League again this year and go one further at the EHYL qualifiers, earning a spot in next years competition.
Waterford – no details provided to date
Last Season: 6th Munster Division One
Coach: Stuart Greene (first season)
Players out: Sue Ryan (Galway)
Overview: Waterford welcome Stuart Greene into the coaching role for the season having been a long-time key player in the development of the men’s side of the club. They travelled to Galway to the So hockey tournament in preseason which was a good experience for the newly introduced younger players and to gel as a unit. This year will be a transitional period for Waterford ladies first team introducing many of those rising players. That forms their ambition for this season, their development and integration with the club’s experienced players.
Leinster challengers line up for new season – the women’s Division One runners and riders for 2017/18
Nicky King is back in the coaching hot-seat at Old Alex. Pic: Adrian Boehm
While the EY Hockey Leagues are on hiatus once again, the Leinster women’s league does make its seasonal bow on Saturday with a full programme on the menu.
The aim this term will, once again, be the top three who will all go forward for the EYHL playoffs like last term and also nail down a place in next season’s Irish Hockey League Division 2.
Following the summer moves, Old Alex, perhaps, look the best equipped to make a case for promotion to the EY tier with some high profile additions. Nicky King is back at the coaching helm and she is assisted by Lisa Jacob who will also play this term.
Another marquee arrival is goalkeeper Jess Jecko, a US international who takes on the pads in place of Pam Smithwick who is taking the season out. Their first game is a date at Rathgar who survived last season via a playoff win over Clontarf.
Tarf, though, made it up in the end, in any case, courtesy of Trinity’s ultimate promotion. The Bulls finished fifth in Division Two and so will need to adjust quickly to the new level.
The first competitive game for new coach Dave McGivern is one to try and target, taking on Our Lady’s who have Niamh Dennehy, Aisling Dolan and Aoife Kelly back in the panel after time out.
Muckross take on North Kildare in a potentially close run tie with Nicci Daly currently in the US for the first phase of the season. Glenanne and Genesis were both in mid-table last season, the former dropping away from the playoff places toward the end of the campaign.
The Glens will miss Audrey McCormack while Genesis do not have the experience of Fiona Connery to draw on as she moves to Old Alex, too. Avoca take on Corinthian at Newpark in Saturday’s other opening tie.
** You can read full previews for the majority of the clubs below
Leinster Women’s Division One (Saturday): Glenanne v Genesis, 11.45am, Glenanne Park; Rathgar v Old Alex, 12.30pm, High School; Muckross v North Kildare, 1.30pm, Muckross Park; Our Lady’s v Clontarf, 1.30pm, Terenure; Avoca v Corinthian, 2.30pm, Newpark
Last season: 8th Leinster Division One, Irish Hockey Trophy second round; Jacqui Potter Shield second round
Coach: Ronan Hickey (third season)
Players In: None
Players Out: Caitlin Sherin (Loreto), Siofra O’Brien (Loreto), Claire Byrne (Pembroke)
Overview: Having doubled their points tally last season, Avoca are hoping to push on and compete at the top end of the table this year. While there are no new arrivals, the club’s youth section continues to be a considerable source of talent.
Last season saw seven of the league winning U-16 side feature in the team and the young core should benefit considerably from having a year of senior hockey under their belt. The full availability of goalkeeper Ruth Murphy – the only player in the squad with significant IHL experience – is a big boost, while youth Olympic athletics gold medalist Sarah Healy is a dynamic presence in midfield.
The departure of underage internationals Siofra O’Brien and Caitlin Sherin to Loreto is a disappointment but has not taken away from a very positive pre-season. The squad has worked hard under conditioning coach Robbie Cannon, and close games with Genesis, Banbridge, Three Rock and UCD seconds – yielding two wins, a draw and a loss – have provided excellent preparation.
Last season: 5th in Leinster Division 2; promoted following Trinity’s promotion to the EYHL
Coach: David McGivern (1st season)
Players in: Eadaoin Moore
Players out: Nicki McMullen
Overview: The arrival of new coaches David McGivern and Stephen O’Keeffe led to a busy preseason period including matches against Railway, Pembroke and Three Rock and a tournament in Mossley Hockey Club.
Lorena Halpin Doyle will captain Avoca this season. Pic: Adrian Boehm
Becky McMullen, who played with Leinster U-16s last year, comes into the team. The stated aim of the team is to finish in the top half of Division 1 in the first year as well as silverware in the Irish Hockey Trophy.
Corinthian – no details provided
Last season: 6th Leinster Division 1, Irish Senior Cup Round 1, Jacqui Potter Cup quarter-final
Coach: Ashley Harrison (first season)
Players in: Emma Dobson (UCC) Doireann Shaffrey (Loreto Foxrock)
Players out: Catriona Lavelle, Kathy Armitage, Rachel Quirke (Studies), Rebecca Mahon (Canada), Joanne Lavery (Equestrian Internship), Aoife Henry (New Zealand), Fiona Connery (Old Alex)
Overview: With a number of last year’s firsts squad opting to travel abroad or undertaking further studies, Genesis have a youthful look for the 2017-18 season. Under-18 players Sorcha McCooey, Kayla Phelan and Annie Kavanagh have all made the step up to Division 1 hockey this year, leaving the team with a balance of youth and experience.
The team will be lead from the heart of the defence by co-captains Laura Barrie and Evonne O’Farrell. Seasoned campaigners such as Julie Henry, Beth Fortune and Sorcha Cunningham are all lining out for another season. Preseason wins against Rathgar, Three Rock Rovers and Avoca – combined with new coach Ash Harrison’s enthusiastic fitness regime, taking over from Fiona Connery – mean that Genesis are raring to go at the season start.
Last season: 4th Leinster Division 1; Jacqui Potter Cup Semi-final
Coaches: Benjamin Epstein (2nd season), Sam O’Connor (1st season)
Players in: Niamh Lyons (Loreto), Elaine Griffin (Weston), Marie Buttle (returning from Canada)
Players out: Audrey McCormack, Lorna Stewart, Jessie Meeke (moved to Australia)
Overview: Glenanne’s ladies firsts will be captained by Marie Goulding for her second season, with Serena Rush stepping into the role as vice-captain. Ever enthusiastic Benjamin Epstein will be joined on the side-line by Sam O’Connor as assistant coach and Barbara O’Malley returning for her 15th year as manager.
With a strong preseason under their belts with solid performances against North Kildare, Rathgar and Three Rock, the Glens will be full of positivity going into their league opener against Genesis in Glenanne Park.
This team have lost some big players and will be looking to young stars Hannah Morrin, Hannah Delaney and Sarah Jane Kelly to fill the voids. Kate O’Connor will be taking up central role on the team and will look to use their skills and expertise to push the glens to top table positions.
They will also be relying on Rush to lead the defence with Niamh Ward, who will be returning from injury sustained in preseason in the coming weeks, and Anna Kerrison who have been so solid during preseason.
Roisin O’Brien will don the number 1 jersey this season after a fantastic preseason. The experience of Marie Goulding and Sarah Jane Kelly in the forward line will be needed as they are joined by an all-new forward line.
Last season: Second Leinster Division One; EYHL Round-robin playoff phase; Jacqui Potter Shield semi-final; Irish Senior Cup round one;
Coach: Sarah Scott (3rd Season)
Players in: Jane Fennelly (returning from USA scholarship); Aoife Flynn (returning from year out due to exams)
Players out: Katie Ronan (Drexel Dragons, USA); Claudia Cotter (University of Vermont Catamounts); Tara Junghenn (Erasmus); Debbie Young
Overview: Last season, Muckross reached the EYHL Playoffs following a second place finish in Division One.
In spite of a fantastic performance, they were narrowly beaten by Old Alex in the decider and did not advance to the final playoffs weekend. This season’s squad features strong underage international representation including Irish Under-16 internationals Lisa Mulcahy, Grace Keane & Natasha Twomey; Irish Under-18s Yasmin Pratt; and captain Sophie Barnwell on the Irish Under-21s panel. Star player Nicci Daly will be in the US for the first part of the season.
Last season: 5th Leinster league
Coach: Rowland Rixon-Fuller (second season)
Players in: none
Players out: Seana Carty (UCD), Hannah Jenkinson
Overview: Captained by Neassa O’Malley for a third season with support from Sarah O’Neill, North Kildare are looking forward to building on their highest ever finish in the Leinster leagues last term when they ended fifth.
To do this has seen them play several pre-season games including Weston men, Glenanne and Old Alex which have been challenging but a good test. Two juniors have come up the ranks to make the squad, Elena Teevan and Lucy Donegan, while Emily Ryan – one of the starting front three – hopes to return from a soccer ankle injury in a few weeks. Kathy Baker may struggle with commitments due to international rugby commitments.
Aideen Griffen will return from a hamstring injury while in the backline, Joanne Crowley is back after a broken collar bone and midfielder Rachel Neary is back from a knee issue.
Zimbabwean Megan Shaxon continues with the side for the first half of the season as they carry a positive attitude in the camp into the new year.
Last season: 3rd Leinster league, qualified for EYHL playoffs second phase; Irish Senior Cup round 1; Jacqui Potter Cup round 3
Coach: Nicky King (returning from a study leave) and Lisa Jacob (player /assistant coach)
Players in: Lisa Jacob (Genesis), Jess Jecko (Syracuse University), Fiona Connery (Genesis), Amber Gleeson (UCD), Rachel Gray (UCD), Anna Roopnarinesingh (returning from Erasmus), Sophie Moore (North Kildare), Bella Murphy (Catholic Institute), Hannah Kelly, Rachel Kelly (both South East U-16), Georgia Dunlop (Naas), Bella Dunlop (Naas)
Players out: Pamela Smithwick (maternity leave), Isy Delamer (Trinity), Katherine Egan (UCD)
Overview: A busy summer has seen Old Alex make some big additions to their squad with Nicky King’s return as head coach chief among them. Former Irish international Lisa Jacob joins her as an assistant and will also play while USA international goalkeeper Jess Jecko is a great replacement for Pam Smithwick who is on maternity leave for the season.
Their student exchange programme sees former Alexandra College senior players Amber Gleeson and Rachel Gray back in Milltown along with Anna Roopnarinesingh while recent graduates from the school Isy Delamer and Katherine Egan will push for places in the EY Hockey League with Trinity and UCD respectively.
They played Muckross as part of their centenary celebrations and won 4-1 while they lost 2-0 to Corinthian in other preseason action.
Genesis’s Laura Barrie in action last term. Pic: Adrian Boehm
Last season: 9th Leinster Division 1; Jacqui Potter Cup first round; Irish Hockey Trophy quarter-final
Coach: Mark Lambe
Players in: none
Players out: Grace Jones (family commitments) Orla Gavan (moving to France)
Overview: Our Lady’s welcome back three long-term absentees with Niamh Dennehy (back), Aoife Kelly (knee) and Aisling Dolan giving the side a welcome boost for the new campaign.
Mark Lambe’s target for this season is to get in the mix points-wise with the mid-table teams. His side lost a few games by conceding a goal in the last minutes of matches last season and they hope to turn these into, at least draws, if not wins.
With a season in Division One under their belt, they will be better equipped mentally and physically to cope with the riggers of the league while they hope to take a step or two further in the Irish Hockey Trophy after two successive runs to the quarter-finals.
They had a stop-start preseason with player availability limited through different commitments. The side will be captained by Susan Kelly, supported by Karla Kennedy while Trish McGinley leads the fitness and conditioning side of things.
Last season: 10th Leinster Divison 1 (maintained status via a league playoff v Clontarf)
Coach: Sarah Gray (third season, second season as Head Coach); assisted by Ali Meeke (second season) and Stuart Malcolm (first season)
Players in: Louise Fahy (Galway), Nicola Whelan (NUIG), Rosie Shanahan (return from time away, previous Pembroke, NUIG and UCC), Cliona Sheehy (Cashel New Inn), Hilary O’Callaghan (Clontarf), Camille Christle (The High School), Kate Barry (Trinity), Siofra O’Brien (Railway Union)
Players out: Erica Porter (Old Alex), Sinead Dunne (Trinity) Cathy Harris (Trinity), Melanie O’Donovan (Three Rock)
Overview: Rathgar have had a very active preseason which saw them play in a tournament in Kilkenny with Naas and Old Alex. They have played Glenanne, YMCA, Genesis and Our Lady’s, a mixed bag of results which you would expect from preseason games.
On the plus side, Katie Smith and Rachel Cobbe return from injury but Nikki Levis, Caroline Goulding and Elaine Ross are stepping back from the squad while Ruby Keating is pursuing a place with the Irish Rugby 7s squad.
Olivia Cunningham, The High School Senior 1 captain, has stepped into the 1s squad this year and she will add a lot of flair to the squad with her Senior Premier league experience.
Coach Sarah Gray says of her panel: “The team has been very young but has gained experience over the summer. The team has worked hard over the last year, learned a few harsh lessons but are gaining in their division 1 experience.”
The squad will look to captain Doireann de Paor to lead from the pacy frontline with the likes of young Amy Byrne leading the backline. The experience of Ali Meeke, Stuart Malcolm, Andrew Jones, David Howard and Sara Quill will be hugely beneficial to coach Sarah Gray.
Ulster Hockey launch new initiative for Over-50s
Ulster hockey has launched a new initiative aimed at male hockey players in the over-50 age-group, who are either still playing for clubs or would like to revive their careers.
It’s hoped to organise a series of blitz tournaments which will be played on a seven-a-side format, provided there is sufficient interest.
While those of all abilities are welcome to take part and teams can be comprised of players from different clubs, there could be opportunities to participate at a higher level.
Veterans hockey is thriving these days and the new initiative, the brainchild of over-60 international George Blackwood, it is hoped, will prove to be recruitment tool.
“At present, there are no formal or informal playing opportunities for older players and clubs in Ulster.” said the Bangor man.
“Masters and Grand Masters hockey is developing in Ireland with teams competing internationally in the Home Nations, Celtic Cup, European Cup and World Cup and player recruitment is key to this. said the Bangor man.
“Many older players are currently playing club hockey with and against players who can be 30 – 45 years younger than they are so the aim is to encourage and develop the social aspect of Masters’ Hockey in Ulster.
“How often the games will take place will depend on interest level; but initially once every four to six weeks.
Meanwhile, Mossley ladies are on the brink of a place in the semi-finals of the Denman Ulster Shield following an impressive 4-0 win over Rainey.
Zara McIlwaine, Nicola McMillan, Rebecca McConnell and Lauren McKee got the goals in Magherafelt.
Stef McCullough hit a hat-trick as Banbridge moved closer to the last four also after a 3-1 win over Ulster Elks.
In the other section, Nikki Parke hit the winner as Ballymoney beat holders Randalstown 1-0 while Queen’s thrashed North Down 8-0, with a Jessica McMaster treble to edge closer to the semis.
The men’s Kirk Cup continues tomorrow with Kilkeel facing Newry and South Antrim taking on Portadown in Pool A and Harlequins at home to NICS and Instonians entertaining North Down in the other.
Kenya Police battle Gladiators as title race hots up
By BRIAN YONGA
Western Jaguars' Allan Mallit (left) vies or the ball with Vincent Oungo of Kenya Police during their Kenya Hockey Union men's Premier League match at City Park Stadium on May 14, 2017. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Runaway leaders Kenya Police will be looking to move 13 points clear when they take on champions Strathmore University Gladiators on Saturday at the City Park Stadium in the pick of this weekend’s Kenya Hockey Union league matches.
The clash is one of the 14 matches lined up this weekend in Nairobi, Kabarak, Nakuru and Mombasa as the second leg campaign continues.
In the women’s Premier League, Strathmore University Scorpions entertain Amira Sailors also at City Park as the duo look to close the gap on the top two.
In another women’s league match, bottom-placed University of Nairobi face Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
Resurgent Sikh Union Nairobi take on struggling Kenya College of Accountancy of University (KCA-U) in a men’s Premier League clash at the same venue from 4pm.
Focus, however, will be on the Gladiators-Police match with many branding it as a clash between ‘outgoing and incoming champions’.
Police got their second leg campaign with a 2-0 win over Parklands on Wednesday to move to 43 points. The 2013 champions are favourites not only for this match but also the title after an impressive first leg display.
Police coach Kenneth Kaunda is however warning against any premature celebrations.
“It will be unwise to think that we are already champions, there are a lot of games to come and we have to take it a game at a time,” Kaunda warned on Friday.
Kaunda has a fully fit squad with Kenyan international attacking midfielder Willis Okeyo, who has returned to Germany for another pro stint, the only absentee.
Calvins Kanu and Moses Cheplaiti are set to lead the attack once again. Gladiators coach Meshack Senge, whose side are a massive 27 points behind Police, has already conceded the title but wants his side to finish in a respectable position.
“We need the win more than them and the target for the second leg is to try and finish as high as possible as we build a team for next season,” Senge, who also handles the Scorpions as well as the men’s national team, said.
Police won the reverse fixture 1-0 and are in top form as they seek to maintain their unbeaten run this season.
A win for the spluttering champions will move them from 10th spot to eighth with 19 points.
Elsewhere, Amira will be without top scorer Pauline Naise when they take on the Scorpions in their 2pm kick-off encounter.
Naise, who has scored 10 goals for the club this season, is still recovering from a minor surgery last month. She scored a last minute penalty stroke to salvage a 1-1 draw in the first leg meeting between the two sides.
FIXTURES (All matches at City Park Stadium unless stated)
Premier Women: JKUAT v UoN -10am, Strathmore v Amira- 2pm
National Men: Wazalendo Youth v UON-12noon, Kabarak University v Dedan Kimathi-2pm (Kabarak), Mvita XI v Parkroad Tigers – 3pm (Mombasa)
Premier Men: Sikh v KCAU- 4pm, Strathmore v Kenya Police- 6pm
Premier Men: Nakuru v USIU – 9am (Nakuru), KU Vultures v Parklands-3pm, Parkroad Badgers v Chase Sailors-5pm
Premier Women: JKUAT v Multimedia -9am, Sliders v KU Titans- 11am
National Men: MSC v Parkroad Tigers- 9am (Mombasa), Thika Rovers v Wazalendo Masters-1pm
‘Give visas or Pakistan won’t play Hockey World Cup in India’
Pakistan Hockey Federation has told its Indian counterpart that visas and security must be guaranteed to enable its team participate in the FIH men’s Hockey World Cup in Odisha in November-December 2018
India's Mandeep Singh, left, and Pakistan's Muhammad Umar Bhutta in action during the FIH Men's World Hockey League match at Lee Valley Hockey Centre, London, on June 24, 2017. Pakistan have threatened to withdraw from the 2018 Hockey World Cup to be held in India in 2018.
New Delhi In the wake of the current political scenario, Pakistan’s participation in the FIH men’s Hockey World Cup 2018 seems to be in jeopardy. Although the World Cup in Odisha is more than a year away, the Pakistan Hockey Federation has demanded that its team get Indian visas on time and guaranteed full security.
Just like cricket, India and Pakistan continue to play in multi-team international tournaments. India beat Pakistan twice in the FIH Hockey League semifinals in London in June and will clash once more in Dhaka during the Asia Cup in October. But Pakistan’s participation in the World Cup is still unclear.
In an interview with Hindustan Times in June this year, PHF secretary-general Shahbaz Ahmed said how the failure to play a bilateral series has hurt Asian hockey. Both India versus Pakistan matches in June drew full houses in London.
“It pains to see how the climate of politics has hurt sport. Look at the camaraderie between India and Pakistan cricketers. It can be the same in hockey,” said Shahbaz.
The Pakistan Hockey Federation president Khalid Khokar on Friday threatened not to send its national team to India next year without assurance of foolproof security and easy procurement of visas, reports PTI.
The PHF president told the media that during recent meetings with FIH president Narinder Batra in Dubai, he had made it clear that Pakistan team should be guaranteed top security during the World Cup in India.
“We had a very good meeting as we conveyed all our concerns to Batra and other FIH member boards. I have made it clear to them that we want assurances from FIH that we will face no problems with procurement of visa and will be given top security during the event,” Khokar claimed to have told Batra, who is also the boss of Hockey India.
In a communication to Hindustan Times, FIH communication manager Daniel Parker said Pakistan have not raised any concerns and therefore issuing any assurances to PHF regarding security and visas did not arise.
“Without any concerns noted, there has not been any need to give any assurances. We expect that every nation who has qualified for the World Cup will complete all necessary paperwork ahead of our deadlines in order to confirm their participation in this event,” Parker said in an email.
In the past, Batra has expressed his reluctance to play hockey with Pakistan. On June 18, when India clashed with Pakistan in London in the Hockey league semis, the Manpreet Singh-led team wore black armbands to show its protest against attack on Indian soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir.
India’s black armband protest did not go down well with the international teams and Batra apologised for comments made on India-Pakistan relationship on social media.
In recent times, the Indian high commission in Islamabad refused visas to the Pakistan team for the Junior World Cup in Lucknow last year.
The FIH has clarified that Pakistan did not fulfill official obligations to secure India visas.
“The reason Pakistan did not participate in the men’s Uttar Pradesh Hockey Junior World Cup was because the Pakistan Hockey Federation failed to provide confirmation that it had the necessary arrangements in place to be able to participate in the event. To remind you, they had applied for visas for the event after the official deadline and no accommodation was confirmed within the set deadlines,” wrote Parker.
The FIH official added: “Despite a number of correspondence and reminders, the PHF was not able to show that its team would be able to travel to Lucknow for the event. Like we do with all our events, we will be reminding all qualified teams to provide the necessary paperwork confirming their participation well in advance of the deadline for next year’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar.”
(with inputs from B Shrikant)
P Sreejesh faces long road to recovery, but hockey star is determined to make strong comeback
It was a particularly muggy and drippy afternoon in Ipoh, Malaysia. India were playing Australia at the 2017 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup when Eddie Ockenden lunged forward to pick up a ball in India’s striking circle. P Sreejesh, off his line to stop Eddie, skidded, the knee bent at an awkward angle. Three minutes later, he was being helped off the pitch by former full-back and stand-in manager Jugraj Singh.
That was five months ago. Sreejesh had experienced one of the most common knee injuries – the anterior cruciate ligament sprain or tear (ACL). The cruciate ligaments are found inside the knee joint. They cross each other to form an ‘X’ with the anterior cruciate ligament in front and the posterior cruciate ligament in the back. In the five months since, Indian hockey has found itself at the crossroads and staring at an existential crisis.
What seemed a pretty smooth road to the 2018 World Cup, twisting and turning through the Commonwealth Games (CWG), Asian Games, past the Hockey World League Finals and then onto the freeway leading to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics suddenly turned bumpy. India failed to reach the final of the Azlan Shah, and couldn’t make it to the last four of the HWL semis in London. Worse, they lost to Malaysia and Canada when it seemed the team could canter through.
The biggest casualty has been the sacking of Olympic-bound coach Roelant Oltmans; a direct result of the losses that piled up. It would seem churlish or even downright discourteous to redline that all the issues the team faces now are simply because of the absence of one player. To the critics, it would appear like a one-player team; a recipe for disaster. But the same was said of Sardar Singh at his peak; of Dhanraj between 98’ and 2000 or even when Prithipal Singh was at his peak between 1960 and 64’.
It’s been a while since India looked up to a goalkeeper to deliver. Since 2011, when India won the first Asian Champions Trophy at Ordos where Sreejesh kept away Pakistan in the tie-breaker, expectations have grown. Sreejesh too has delivered.
Amidst the chaos that engulfs Indian hockey at the moment, will Sreejesh, the man expected to lead India back to a top four position heal in time? Or have the injuries’ taken their toll on a man whose ‘mind’ is considered unbreakable?
Col (Dr) Bibhu Nayak, specialist on deputation (sports medicine) at Delhi’s AIMS laughs off the suggestion that Sreejesh can in anyway be bogged down with injury.
“He has been regular when we were having the rehabilitation period,” says Dr Nayak. “Yes, it’s a difficult injury and it does take a toll on the person. I mean, you literally have to learn how to walk, sit do what you normally take for granted. But knowing him as a person and player both, he would be out of that ‘worry’ zone quite fast and back in his position as India’s number one goalkeeper.”
ACL injuries are common but just as some players have come back successfully, there are several who don’t quite make the grade – either they are afraid of going all out or the injury hasn’t been allowed to heal completely. “I don’t think that will be the issue in this case,” explains Nayak. “There is no fast tracking of Sreejesh happening. He hasn’t played since the injury and the rehabilitation has been good. It’s definitely up to Hockey India and the team management but I am quite sure they won’t push him back into the team knowing the importance of him as a player or a team leader.”
Over the years, Indian hockey goalkeepers have not really been considered demigods. And neither they enjoy the usual fan worship. In recent times, Ashish Ballal and before him Mark Patterson were the ones that enjoyed top billing along with the star forward or the goal-spewing penalty corner specialist.
Sreejesh changed all that. His performance, his leadership skills and his penchant to play the fool endeared him to hockey fans. He caught the imagination of the nation thanks to his confidence and the fact that he could motivate an entire team. Tournament after tournament, match after match, fans were confident that Sreejeesh could take on the European and Australian heavyweights, save goals and ensure India have a decent chance of winning the match.
The brilliance between the goalposts gave India that buffer and the day he wasn’t on song, defenders found it difficult. By the time he arrived in Incheon for the 2014 Asian Games, he was the man India turned to for salvation. And it arrived in the final against Pakistan where he kept away the Pakistan forwards with a few brilliant saves and then his performance in the tie-breaker gave India the gold.
So when that ACL popped in the humidity of Ipoh, it was time to recalculate. Romeo James, the 84’ Olympic Games goalkeeper and someone who has worked with Sreejesh says, “The position of the goalkeeper was always very crucial. But since the 4 quarters were brought in, he plays a huge role especially in the 4th quarter with the score board at 1-1. A man like Sreejesh, unless it’s an out and out brilliant flick, I know he will save it. And for that reason alone, he needs to be brought back into competition when the management is absolutely sure that he is more than healed.”
Three months prior to the 82’ Asian Games, Mir Ranjan Negi had a knee surgery and he was fast-tracked into the final against Pakistan. Though, hockey is a team game and sometimes you can be up against a brilliant team, in this case, Pakistan, but Negi could have been rested. But as Romeo, a part of that 82’ team also, says, “Medicine, thinking, physios, everything has changed. These are modern times and players are looked after very well and in this case, Hockey India understands the role of Sreejesh. He will be brought back only after he is ready to come back.”
India’s high performance director, David John, believes there will be no bringing back Sreejesh in a hurry. “It was a significant injury,” says David. “There is no way he will be at the HWL Final in December. But we will take him to New Zealand in January and test him out slowly so that he is back in form for the CWG and the later tournaments.”
David also says that a number of tests will be done so that all parameters are satisfied. “He is a world class goalkeeper and no way will we risk India’s position in the coming tournaments,” John added.
P Sreejesh acing a sardar look. Sundeep Misra
Confidence is a massive thing for a goalkeeper. Conceding early or saving a few early can make a world of difference. That is the aspect that Romeo points towards. “Bringing him back against a soft team would be better,” he says. “If he concedes early, it does play on your mind. Even though he is the kind that may not get fazed at all. But his confidence needs to be nursed. In golf, sometimes when you miss small putts, it can tell on the overall play. So bring him back slowly and give him enough confidence.”
For the man himself, the national captain P Sreejesh, it’s like old times at the camp in Bangalore. He is bantering around, doing his act. And he plays the part of a sardar to perfection. A turban which is tied perfectly and for a second, you are almost fooled into thinking ‘have I seen this Sardar somewhere?’
“Yes, I was hugely disappointed when it happened,” says Sreejesh, referring back to that afternoon in Ipoh. “I cried, asking myself ‘what do I do?’ I knew it was the ACL. But then I started reading. Took feedback from a lot of people and realised that it will take 6-7 months. I reached India and went straight to Dr Anant Joshi who said it’s an ACL plus a MCL (medial collateral ligament) and that he would fix the MCL first and then get onto the ACL. So he advised surgery and then I went back home and took a three weeks break.”
It was after the break that Sreejesh came to Delhi to Dr Nayak. “I literally had to learn how to walk,” says Sreejesh. “Climb the stairs and even how to sit in a car. It’s something one needs to do because the healing is the most crucial aspect of the injury.”
It’s probably this very healing that didn’t happen to Rajiv Mishra, India’s highest scorer in the 97’ Junior World Cup, who after a knee surgery went back into a match, three weeks later. A career that promised so much was completely destroyed.
*TB - Tie-breaker
Away from his teammates, watching them play at the HWL Semi-Finals and the team not doing well must have been frustrating for Sreejesh. “I was watching the team on TV. For me it was like watching from the dugout. Emotionally, I was with the team. But no, I didn’t call them up or something. That I don’t do. Even when we play badly and I am in the team, I don’t lecture any player. From the bed, I discussed the game with my father.”
Maybe the break was a balm for Sreejesh. Or as he says, he saw the world in a ‘different perspective.’ “I got time with my family,” he says. “We had a kid, a son, and I got some time with him. When I had my daughter, I could only see her for four days. Here I was with my son and with my family I went to the temple in our village Kizhakkambalam.”
Sreejesh does admit that opinions came from all directions – do this, do that and some even said it’s the end of your career. “But I trust myself,” says Sreejesh. “Injury is itself a feeling. It’s a part of the game. It’s a bad time, no doubt about that. But you need to rise above that. Everything happens for a reason.”
Sreejesh is glad that he was at the naming ceremony of his son, Sriansh. His daughter is called Anusree; definitely a lot more 'Srees' around in the family.
It will be nine months before Sreejesh enters a competitive match, in faraway New Zealand in the month January. 2018 will be a massively important year for Indian hockey. Podium finishes at the CWG and Asian Games are a given but it’s the World Cup in December that Sreejesh will look forward too.
Once on the ground with the home fans roaring away, the Indian captain peering ahead through the visor, the days away from the turf, the operation theatre, recovery, healing, rehabilitation, all those days will seem far away like an unwanted dream sequence. Standing under the lights, the stick in his right hand, Parratu Raveendran Sreejesh will be back, on his own terms, fears banished forever.
Maryland field hockey uses late goals to beat Iowa, 2-1
By Ryan Romano
Midfielder Madison Maguire looks upfield for a pass in Maryland's 4-2 win over Rutgers at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex on October 29, 2016. (Reid Poluhovich / The Diamondback)
The Maryland field hockey team failed to reach two goals in four of its first eight contests. But behind a stingy defense, the No. 10 Terps entered their game against No. 19 Iowa with a 5-3 record.
They provided another shutdown performance on Friday, keeping the Hawkeyes' productive offense in check during a 2-1 win at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex.
While Iowa racked up 23 goals in its first nine games, it managed just 11 shots against the Terps and couldn't get on the board until late in the second half. Maryland goalkeeper Sarah Holliday made five saves to lead the defensive effort.
"We've got very good defenders," coach Missy Meharg said. "We're always going to be very good defenders when we do really early footwork, and I thought in the second half we did super early footwork."
Holliday came up big in the fourth minute, blocking a shot at point-blank range from midfielder Makenna Grewe. Iowa received the rebound, but the second attempt from forward/midfielder Mallory Lefkowitz went wide.
The Hawkeyes didn't take another shot until the 31st minute, when they attempted two penalty corners in rapid succession.
Both were denied — first when midfielder Brooke DeBerdine charged Iowa midfielder/defender Katie Birch to block her shot, and then when Holliday ranged to her right to deflect a Birch shot out of bounds.
"[Holliday's] very athletic, and she's a super leader back there," Meharg said. "We're in a good place in the goal cage."
On the other side of the ball, the Terps (6-3, 2-0 Big Ten) missed a couple of early opportunities.
Defender Carrie Hanks' penalty corner shot in the ninth minute found the net but went too high. On another penalty corner in the 43rd minute, defender Hannah Bond struggled corralling the ball, and Maryland couldn't get a shot off.
"Just discipline and execution," forward Linnea Gonzales said of the earlier misplays. "Insert on spots, stopping it, and then the shots will come off easier."
But as the game wound down, Maryland's offense found a rhythm.
In the 61st minute, midfielder Madison Maguire sprinted down the right side of the field. Cutting in front of the goal, she whacked a one-handed shot through the left side for the first score of the afternoon.
"When [Maguire] scored, it was so nice, because that was just the icebreaker," Gonzales said. "That set the pace for the rest of the game."
Two minutes later, the Terps earned their fifth penalty corner. Taking her third shot of the day, Gonzales fired a quick strike over Jones, increasing the advantage to 2-0.
Iowa (4-6, 0-2) notched a breakaway goal from midfielder/defender Taylor Omweg in the 69th minute, but the Terps ran out the clock to escape with their second win in Big Ten play.
"I love the challenge of having competition, especially in the Big Ten and how it's coming along," Maguire said. "Yeah, it's tiring, but it's fun."
No. 3 Penn State scores game-winner in 69th minute to hold off No. 14 Northwestern
Penn State Athletics
Moira Putsch scored the deciding goal in Friday night's Big Ten battle.
UNIVERSTIY PARK, Pa. – Penn State held on for a 4-3 win vs. No. 14 Northwestern Friday at Field Hockey Complex after scoring the game-winning goal in the 69th-minute to move to 8-1 on the year.
The Nittany Lions (8-1, 2-0) scored the game-winning goal in the final minute of regulation off the stick of Moira Putsch, who tapped in a shot from Kaite Dembrowski on the penalty corner.
“We know Northwestern never gives up...they're very competitive and they're so well coached that they keep coming back,” PSU head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss said.
“We kept the goals for the game very simple. Possession, keep it simple.Individual defense, you have to stay on the play, stay on the ball. And the third goal was to finish in the circle, and again we had so many chances in the circle in the first half it was a lot like our Delaware game where the ball was right in front of the goal and we just couldn't knock it in. I think with us sometimes we get over anxious around the cage and I think we got overanxious on defense, I think we got overanxious in both instances on the field today. I really thought they had good energy, we had a good week of practice and got our legs back under us and hopefully, we'll be ready for Sunday,” Morett-Curtiss added.
Up until that point, each team had scored three goals apiece with the Penn State goals coming from Shay Cannon in the fifth minute, Putsch in the 38th minute and Aurelia Meijer in the 46th minute. All four scores came on penalty corners.
The 1-1 tie at halftime turned into a scoring game, tied at 3-3 with a minute on the clock before Putsch scored on the aforementioned game-winning goal.
The three goals scored by No. 14 Northwestern (6-4, 1-1) is the most the Nittany Lions have surrendered to an opponent in 2017 entering the game averaging a NCAA eight-best 0.88 goals per game through eight contests.
Penn State will be back in action Sunday, Sept. 24 at 12 p.m. ET when it hosts No. 9 Michigan in the annual Pink Game at Field Hockey Complex.
How partnership working is helping dreams become reality
How partnership working is helping dreams become reality in Tonga
Meet the man aiming to take Tonga to the Youth Olympics
A group of boys and girls of about eight or nine years-old are dribbling hockey balls across a grass field that is more suitable for animal grazing. They are wearing regular school uniform and have no shoes, socks or shin guards. Smiling and laughing, the coach helps them adjust their grips on the sticks, shows them how to change direction and cheers when they complete an intricate skill. Later the same group are playing an enthusiastic game, shooting into a goal fashioned out of old pieces of wood and skilfully avoiding the tussocks of longer grass.
Take the enthusiasm of the coach, the excitement of the children and add a healthy dose of support from larger organisations and this is how a dream of international hockey competition starts to become a reality.
Partnership working is really paying off in the island kingdom of Tonga. Hockey in the South Pacific nation is benefiting from an alliance between the Oceania Hockey Federation and Hockey Australia, which in turn is an initiative funded through the International Hockey Federation's (FIH) Target Assistance Programme (TAP) and the Pacific Sports Partnership (PSP).
The man who is leading the movement on the ground is Hiko Fungavaka, who has spent years working as a development officer across a whole range of sports on behalf of Tonga’s National Olympic Committee. Now, Fungavaka has decided to focus on just one sport – hockey.
“When I was working across all sports, I sometimes used to think that if I instead put all my efforts and talents into one, it would rise up,” said the Development Officer. “That is why I chose hockey.”
Two years later and hockey is thriving in areas of Tonga. There are daily hockey sessions in kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools across Tongatapu, the main island in Tonga. These are followed by hockey training in the local villages and culminates with a session for adults at the local club.
Not only do these sessions involve teaching the children skills and match-play but Fungavaka is also using the hockey sessions to teach life skills, such as how to lead a healthy life.
“Hockey is new to the Tongan people,” says Fungavaka, as he watched a class of boys and girls playing an energetic match on the grassy school playing field. “But the Tongans are talented in all sports. Once they learn the skills of dribbling and hitting, they just want to keep playing.”
Fungavaka has big aspirations. Last year he introduced a secondary school hockey competition and from there he is planning to select and train a national team to participate at the Oceania qualifiers for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games 2018. The qualifiers will take place in Papua New Guinea and the Youth Olympics will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
For the children who are currently benefiting from the huge enthusiasm and energy levels of Fungavaka, this might seem no more than a dream. At present there are few facilities and not much hockey equipment; the communities are spread across a huge number of islands; and transport links to other countries are limited. And these are just a few of the challenges that the coach and his players face. But witnessing the strides forward that Fungavaka has already made in hockey development and with the backing of a network of organisations this is a great example of how determination can overcome the greatest of challenges.
To find out more about hockey in Oceania, visit the Oceania Hockey Federation website.