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News for 03 January 2019

All the news for Thursday 3 January 2019

2019 Indoor Test Matches: CRO v USA (W) - 1st Test
Sveti Ivan Zelina (CRO)

CRO v USA     4 - 5 (2 - 1)

2019 Indoor Test Matches: CRO v USA (W) (U21) - 1st Test
Sveti Ivan Zelina (CRO)

CRO v USA     0 - 9 (0 - 5)

FIH Match Centre

World Cup stars destined for Hockey Reyes tournament in Polo

©: Nacho Olano

The 71st edition of the Hockey Reyes tournament gets under way at Real Club de Polo in Barcelona for the annual exhibition event.

Saturday sees Polo’s senior men meet a combined European selection at 12pm (local time) before the women’s side do likewise at 1.45pm.

Among the guests are World Cup champions Tom Boon, Arthur van Doren and Simon Gougnard as well as Quico Cortes from Club Egara, Atletic Terrassa’s Marc Bolto and Englishman Johnny Kinder and FIH player of the year nominee Gigi Oliva will line out in the women’s game.

Overall, there will be representatives from 15 different countries taking part and over 300 players from 24 teams. There is a large junior section to the tournament with teams from AH&BC Amsterdam and Willem de Zwijger college from the Netherlands taking part along with four English schools teams.

Euro Hockey League media release

TNB sides charged with local energy eye podium finishes

By Aftar Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: TNB is banking on local energy to charge its two teams – Tenaga Nasional and TNB Thunderbolt – for podium finishes in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

Both the sides are parading all-local line-ups. Tenaga Nasional are powered by 10 national players while the junior Thunderbolt team boast nine national juniors.

TNB chief corporate affairs officer Datuk Omar Sidek believes the teams have strength in depth in every department to give the other sides boasting foreign signings a run for their money.

“We want Tenaga Nasional to finish in the top two. As for the junior Thunderbolt team, we’re expecting a podium finish,” said Omar.

“TNB is also proud that we have the bulk of players who represent Malaysia and they’ve been playing together for quite some time now,” said Omar.

The national players in the Tenaga Nasional squad are Syed Mohd Syafiq Syed Cholan, Nor Shafiq Sumantri, Muhd Ramadan Rosli, Muhd Shahril Saabah, Muhd Firhan Ashari, Muhd Amirul Aideed, S. Kumar, Faiz Helmi Jali, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil and Nik Muhamad Aiman Nik Rozemi.

Last year, Tenaga Nasional finished third in the Premier Division and the TNB Cup (overall cup).

In the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup, Tenaga lost 2-1 to KL Hockey Club (KLHC) in the quarter-finals.

Omar added that the young Thunderbolt side are strong enough to hold their own against the foreign stars of the other teams.

“Teams like Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) and Terengganu have import players but our young players won’t be intimidated,” said Omar after the introductory session for the Tenaga Nasional and Thunderbolt players yesterday.

Last year, Thunderbolt stunned seasoned campaigners Maybank 2-1 in the opening Premier Division match.

Meanwhile, TNB presented a sponsorship cheque of RM4mil for the fifth and final year to Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) treasurer S. Selvendran, who said that the money would be used to run all local and international hockey tournaments in 2019.

The total sponsorship was RM20mil, which was from 2015 to 2019.

Omar said that the MHC should use the money to help the national team qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I believe that hockey is one sport that has a chance to feature in the Olympics,” said Omar.

Malaysia last featured in the Olympics 19 years ago – in Sydney 2000.

The Star of Malaysia

UniKL shed favourites tag as they brace for Thunderbolt

KUALA LUMPUR: Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) are the favourites to sweep all three titles in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) this year.

But UniKL coach A. Arulselvaraj has shrugged off their favourites tag, calling it nothing more than mere speculation.

And his charges will take nothing for granted when they face TNB-Thunderbolt in the quarter-finals of the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup knockout tournament.

“It’s merely speculation and the high expectation of the media,” said Arul, after a two-hour training session with the team at the Tengku Abdullah Stadium in Bangi yesterday.

“How I wish it’s as easy as that. There are many turns and rough surfaces we need to overcome,” said Arul, who guided UniKL to win the TNB Cup (overall cup) last year.

Arul insists Tenaga Nasional (TNB), boasting 10 national players, are the team to beat in the MHL.

“Tenaga are an all-round local outfit with experienced national players. There’s quality in their side with strength in every department,” he said.

“As for UniKL, we started our preparations late and we don’t have our foreign signings yet. So, the Alagendra Cup is going to be a tough battle for us,” said Arul.

“We’re working with the senior players and juniors to play a smart game given our situation. We’ll take it one game at a time.

TNB received a bye into the semi-finals of the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup while UniKL take on TNB-Thunderbolt in the quarter-finals at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

Arul added that the MHL has not lost any of its glitter despite the absence of Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) as the other six teams – Terengganu, Tenaga Nasional, TNB-Thunderbolt, Universiti Tek­nologi Mara (UiTM), Maybank and Nur Insafi – have enough quality to maintain the competition’s standard.

UniKL have the services of three national players in the squad – team captain Muhammad Marhan Mohd Jalil, national team captain Mohd Sukri Abdul Mutalib and drag-flick specialist Muhd Razie Abdul Rahman. Baljit Singh and Harwinder Singh are two ex-internationals.

The team’s foreign signings are Robbert Kemperman, Martijn Havenga and Valentin Verga from Holland, defender Timothy Deavin and forward Kieren Govers from Australia, and goalkeeper David Harte of Ireland.

However, none of their foreign players are here for the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup. They are only expected to arrive for the Charity Shield match against Terengganu on Jan 11.

The Star of Malaysia

National Hockey Stadium and adjacent pitch to be closed from Feb 11 for repair works

By Aftar Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil and adjacent pitch will be closed from Feb 11 for repair works as both the hockey turfs are in poor condition.

The National Stadium Board, which conducted an investigation on Wednesday (Jan 2), attributed the cause to lack of training in the maintenance of the turfs.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman inspected the pitches together with National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Ahmad Shahpawi and Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) deputy president S. Shamala.

Syed Saddiq said after discussion with the supplier, they have agreed to replace both the turfs with full cost.

"The government don't have to pay any cost and I reminded the supplier to make sure they do a good job as I don't want the same situation to occur in a few years' time," said Syed Saddiq.

"The National Stadium Board has also agreed to make sure they maintain the turfs well as the national hockey teams need to train every day.

"The turfs are still under warranty and will be handed over to the supplier to commence replacement work on Feb 11 and expected to complete the work by March 31," said Syed Saddiq.

The lifespan of the new turfs is typically eight years but the existing ones at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil did not even last two years.

Turfs at both the pitches in Bukit Jalil were replaced just before the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August of 2017.

Syed Saddiq said both the pitches will be ready by March 31 to host the World Series tournament, which will be held at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil from April 26 to May 4.

Eight teams will feature in the tournament, which is the qualifying meet for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Star of Malaysia

Surreal 2018 for Bandon ends with fourth trophy

Clinton Sweetnam presented the trophy by Sandra Peard. Pic: Denis Minihane/Irish Examiner

After 43 years without a senior title, 2018 saw Bandon’s duck broken in the most spectacular fashion with a clean sweep of the three Munster titles in the calendar year.

Throw in a maiden Irish Hockey Trophy – following final losses in 2014, 15 and 16 – and it is all “a bit surreal” for player-coach Ali Smith.

Their Peard Cup final win in St Stephen’s Day final against Cork Harlequins added to the spring’s Munster Senior League and Cup double.

It marks “the most successful year ever” for a club formed in the 70s as an extension of the Bandon Grammar schools team with plenty of surnames from that era like Pritchard, Sweetnam, Coombes and Buttimer still echoing around the club and Munster hockey.

That the latest title came against Quins – one of the province’s big dogs alongside Cork C of I – shows the transformation with the newer faces like the Jennings twins, Rob Sweetnam and Eoin Nyhan paying no heed to history.

“The young lads don’t have that history like us older lads do of going out against Harlequins and losing by five or six goals for years,” Smith said.

“That really helps; the young guys are used to it, used to winning things and it has become a habit.”

Proof positive of the switch in mentality came on Wednesday when they trailed 2-0 with 10 minutes to go only to snatch a draw and subsequently prevail in the shoot-out.

“I gave them a quote from one of Alex Ferguson’s autobiographies: ‘how do I keep my team number one? You train and play like you are number two’.

“We have taken that into most games and it with it comes that belief and sheer effort. We were very much driven by [captain] Clinton Sweetnam; he has that never give up attitude and drove us on.

“The only game in the last two years we haven’t had that attitude was the first game against Harlequins this season when we lost 2-1 in the league.

“Coming off the back of the best season we ever had, we thought we were the best and got shown up.”

Bandon celebrate their Peard Cup success. Pic: Denis Minihane/Irish Examiner

In the December 26 final, they completed their incredible year in suitably dramatic fashion, salvaging a shoot-out when all looked lost at 2-0 down to Cork Harlequins with 10 minutes to go in a fast-paced, end-to-end tussle.

Late strikes from Clinton Sweetnam and Nyhan, though, earned them a shoot-out chance and they eventually prevailed 3-2 to add the festive crown to the list.

They had trailed from the fifth minute as a Julian Dale rocket from the first penalty corner of the match gave Quins a dream start.

The Irish international has been a massive addition to the Farmers’ Cross side in recent times and this was his 12th goal since returning from Belgian pro club Royal Daring.

He almost created a second for Nathan Gokul but Conor Robinson – who had a very smart game between the posts – got out well to save.

His counterpart at the far end did likewise to keep out solid efforts from Rob and Clinton Sweetnam. For the most part, Bandon were getting little change from a hugely experienced Quins’ backline featuring Jason Black, John Hobbs and Brian Hayes-Curtin despite a glut of possession.

Palmer also kept out Fionn O’Leary’s reverse at the near post while Quins could have moved further clear but for a couple of Robinson corner saves and a block from Richie Gash.

The second came with 12 minutes to go when Dale – whose link-up play with Ross Bailey was a feature throughout – turned over possession on halfway and while Robinson cleared the first up chance, Dale won on hand to sweep home for 2-0.

Robinson brilliantly palmed away a potential third from the Quins’ frontman in the next play for what surely would have been a clinching third goal.

Instead, Bandon broke out and won a corner through Ali Smith – so often the club’s driving force – and Clinton Sweetnem rattled the backboard with a low push down the glove side.

Bandon rode out a spell of Dave Jennings in the sin-bin, keeping up the pressure with Smith’s mazy runs almost unlocking the door in a rousing finale.

The equaliser came almost at the death when confusion reigned; Quins stalled, expecting a free, but Nyhan kept his cool to push goalwards and it made its way in for 2-2.

In the shoot-out, Bandon showed their greater experience in the format with Quins’ John Hobbs admitting afterwards it was his first time taking one.

The black-shirts, meanwhile, won the Irish Hockey Trophy via this method in April and held their nerve accordingly. Robinson kept out two in the first three rounds to give Bandon the impetus with O’Leary edging them in front 3-2 going into the final round.

Smith missed out but Colin Ross could not find a way around Robinson, crowning the perfect end to the perfect year for Bandon.

Peard Cup final
Bandon 2 (C Sweetnam, E Nyhan)
Cork Harlequins 2 (J Dale 2)
Bandon win shoot-out 3-2

The Hook

Lyndsey steps out of Shirley’s shadow in Ulster Senior Cup win

Lyndsey McCay receives the cup from Ulster president Adare Brady

Omagh captain Lyndsey McCay stepped out of the shadow of her big sister to complete a notable family double last Saturday (December 29) when she lifted the Ulster Senior Cup following a 2-0 win over Raphoe in an entertaining final at Stormont, writes John Flack.

Lyndsey is the younger sister of Ireland’s most-capped sportswoman Shirley McCay, who came home with a silver medal after the World Cup in August.

Ulster Senior Cup winners Omagh

After Saturday’s game, the Omagh captain attributed her team’s first ever Senior Cup triumph to the euphoria which has been sweeping the town since that unforgettable day in London four months ago.

“The whole club has been on a high since Shirley and Ireland performed so incredibly well at the World Cup,” Lyndsey said.

“To have had someone like my big sister actually involved in the tournament and the fact she formerly played for Omagh made Ireland’s achievement even more special.

“I think that’s what made the difference on Saturday and I honestly think the World Cup legacy made us want it more because it gave the team such a lift at the time and ever since.

“We had a good chat at half-time and we went out and played a lot better after that and I think we deserved the win.

“It was the third final of my career and the first time I have ever been on the winning side, so I am absolutely delighted to have made it third time lucky.

“As well as her World Cup success, Shirley also got an Ulster Shield winner’s medal with Pegasus during the week so it was about time I got in on the act !”

Had there been a player-of-the-match award, Lyndsey, who was a tower of strength in the Omagh defence, would have been closely challenged by Dani Darragh, who ran the show in midfield.

Lyndsey (26) added: “It was a great team performance but I though Dani was outstanding and she wanted to play in the final so much that she missed a friend’s wedding to line out in the game.”

Two superbly taken goals in the last 12 minutes separated the teams as Omagh’s second-half dominance was eventually rewarded.

Most of the goalmouth action was crammed into the final quarter of the game after the best chance of the first-half had fallen to Raphoe’s Wendy Patterson, whose penalty corner was deflected to safety.

Donegal keeper Heather Humphrey came to the rescue when she saved Amy McCollum’s shot at point-blank range in the 55th minute.

Sixty seconds later, Alison Long denied Patterson at the other end after she had raced clear of the Omagh defence to find herself one-on-one with the keeper.

But with 13 minutes left, Darragh, set up Emma Shortt, who finished with a first-time shot low into the far corner of the net.

With five minutes remaining, Omagh got the insurance goal when Aimee Buchanan swept the ball home from close range after a flowing move to spark the celebrations.

The Hook

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