All the news for Saturday 23 March 2019
China women beat Black Sticks in eight-goal thriller in Changzhou
China avenged February’s 2-0 away defeat at the hands of New Zealand in Christchurch by recording a superb 5-3 victory over the Black Sticks in front of another excitable crowd at the Wujin Hockey Stadium in Changzhou.
Goals from Player of the Match Cui Qiuxia, Zhang Xiaoxue and Gu Bing Feng established a commanding 3-0 lead for China before a breathless final nine minutes in which New Zealand come agonisingly close to producing a remarkable comeback, twice getting to within one goal of the home side before China eventually prevailed. The result - which came a day after China lost 1-0 to Argentina in the same stadium - leaves New Zealand sitting in fifth position in the FIH Pro League standings, while China remain in seventh position.
A delicately balanced opening quarter saw both sides create chances, but it was home favourites China (FIH World Ranking: 10) who took a 1-0 advantage into the quarter time break thanks to Cui Qiuxia’s diving penalty corner deflection in the ninth minute.
That lead was doubled four minutes into the second period when Zhang Xiaoxue drilled a low, powerful shot into the bottom left corner, finishing off an impressive passing move after New Zealand (WR:6) defender Ella Gunson gave away possession deep in her own territory.
China had two gilt-edged chances to put the game beyond the reach of the Black Sticks, with Zhong Jiaqi and Zhang both hitting the side of the New Zealand goal before Ye Jiao produced a stunning save to keep China’s two goal lead intact, diving athletically to her right to force Shiloh Gloyn’s goal-bound deflection around the post.
The crowd packed into the Wujin Hockey Stadium were treated to a thrilling and remarkable final quarter that featured five goals. China extended their lead to 3-0 in the 51st minute thanks to a glorious, high penalty corner drag-flick from Gu Bing Feng, before New Zealand scored twice in quick succession through penalty corner efforts from Stacey Michelsen and Shiloh Gloyn to bring the Black Sticks back into the contest at 3-2.
The two sides traded blows again to take the score to 4-3, with China’s Guo Qiu and Rose Keddell of New Zealand hitting the target. The result was sealed when China won a penalty corner in the dying seconds of the match, with Gu claiming her second goal of the contest by drag-flicking into a New Zealand net that was without a goalkeeper. Shot-stopper Sally Rutherford had been replaced with an outfield player in a last ditch effort to salvage something from the fixture.
Speaking after the game, China goal-scorer and Player of the Match Cui Qiuxia said: “I’m very excited as we did very well. I’m very happy [with the result]”.
The FIH Pro League continues in USA on Friday 29 March as United States welcome Belgium women to the Spooky Nook Sports Centre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
FIH Pro League
22 March - Changzhou, China
Result: Women’s Match 25
China 5, New Zealand 3
Player of the Match: Cui Qiuxia (CHN)
Umpires: Michelle Meister (GER), Celine Martin-Schmets (BEL) & Ivona Makar (CRO - Video)
Official FIH Pro League Site
China show attacking flair as they stun Black Sticks Women
China have stunned the Vantage Black Sticks Women 5-3 in a highly competitive FIH Pro League match at Wujin Hockey Stadium China. Despite significant chances throughout the match, China playing with a new attacking flair that proved too much for the New Zealand side.
Coach Sean Dancer commented “China are a skillful solid team and tonight our mistakes hurt us. In the last quarter we started to apply some pressure, and were able to get back into the game, unfortunately it came to late in the match”.
The Black Sticks and China met for the second time in the FIH Pro League. The first time saw the Kiwis came away with a hard fought 2-0 win. China possesses one of the top defences in women’s hockey and have shown throughout the league that scoring goals on them is no easy feat.
The New Zealand side started the match confidently constructing some early opportunities as they looked to set China on the back foot from the outset. China earned the first penalty corner of the match and took the opportunity with a well taken set piece as they deflected the ball into the back of the Black Sticks net.
Looking to get themselves back into the match New Zealand started confidently, but China’s defence was resolute and shut down everything the New Zealand women threw at them as the first quarter wore down.
The Black Sticks were in full attack mode as they tried to get the match back on level pegging. China however forced a turnover deep in the New Zealand territory and put a powerful shot across Grace O’Hanlon to increase their lead.
Starting the second half New Zealand looked to stretch the field and put China under pressure, China was sitting back and picking off the long passes through.
China was playing a new style of play in the match and were looking more and more confident as the game progressed. The New Zealand women had several chances at the beginning of the second half but just couldn’t connect on the final passes.
Late in the third quarter Holly Pearson went agonisingly close to scoring her debut goal but couldn’t beat the goalkeeper on her deflection.
With 10 minutes to go in the match, with China leading 2-0, the New Zealand team earned a penalty corner on a crash ball into the circle. Olivia Merry’s strike went into the goal but as it didn’t touch the backboard was not given meaning the Black Sticks were running out of time to get their opening goal.
China looked to have sealed the match when Bingfeng Gu ripped an outstanding drag flick to make it 3-0, giving Sally Rutherford a no chance to get across to the shot.
New Zealand struck almost instantly back through their captain Stacey Michelsen who picked up a loose ball in the circle and rocketed the shot into back board giving the Black Sticks a sliver of a chance at a comeback.
At 3-1 the Black Sticks stormed back into the match when Shiloh Gloyn got the Kiwis second goal of the evening with five minutes to go in the match after her shot on goal was deflected off the China defender and into the goal. 3-2 China.
However, China then extended their lead in the 56th minute when Qiu Guo found herself unmarked in the circle and snuck a shot between Rutherford’s legs.
In a goal frenzy final few minutes, the last 30 seconds saw the New Zealand women grab their third goal of the evening with a faint touch from a penalty corner to Rose Keddell, to make it 4-3 China. China then had a penalty corner only moments before full time flicking their fifth goal home, as the Black Sticks had no goalie to make the save, wrapping up this exciting encounter 5-3.
Vantage Black Sticks Women 3 (Stacey Michelsen 52 min, Shiloh Gloyn 54 min, Rose Keddell 60 min)
China 5 (Qiuxia Cui 9 min, Xiaoxue Zhang 19min, Bingfeng Gu 51, 60 min, Qiu Guo 56 min).
Hockey New Zealand Media release
Black Sticks women lose goal-fest to China in FIH Pro League
Rose Keddell's goal wasn't enough to stop New Zealand going down to China. PHOTOSPORT
Mistakes cost the Black Sticks in a loss to China, says coach Sean Dancer.
The New Zealand women's hockey team suffered an upset 5-3 defeat in their FIH Pro League match at Wujin Hockey Stadium in China on Friday, as the hosts played with a new attacking flair.
"China are a skillful solid team and tonight our mistakes hurt us," Dancer said.
"In the last quarter we started to apply some pressure, and were able to get back into the game - unfortunately it came to late in the match."
It was a reversal of the 2-0 win NZ had when the two sides met for the first time in the FIH Pro League earlier this year.
The Black Sticks started confidently but fell behind when China scored from their first penalty corner and that lead was doubled when the visitors conceded after turning the ball over in defence.
Bingfeng Gu scored with an outstanding drag flick to make it 3-0 but NZ struck back almost instantly back through captain Stacey Michelsen, who picked up a loose ball in the circle and rocketed her shot into the back-board. Shiloh Gloyn pulled the Black Sticks within one with five minutes to go but Qiu Guo netted China's fourth soon after.
In a goal-frenzied final few minutes, New Zealand reduced the deficit to one through Rose Keddell with 30 seconds remaining, only for China to make it 5-3 from a penalty corner with the last play of the game.
2019 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
23 March 2019 (GMT +8)
16:05 IND v JPN
18:05 CAN v KOR
20:35 MAS v POL
24 March 2019 (GMT +8)
16:05 IND v KOR
18:05 CAN v POL
20:35 JPN v MAS
FIH Match Centre
Poland aim to spoil Malaysia's opening act
By Jugjet Singh
National hockey squad captain Muhammad Razie Abd Rahim (front) said that after a week of training and undergoing motivational sessions in Kuantan, they are ready for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. (PIC BY EFFENDY RASHID)
KUALA LUMPUR: Poland travelled for 48 hours, before reaching Malaysia at 3am earlier today (Friday), coming from a chilly, winter climate to searing hot Ipoh, but still, they are cool and coy about their opening match tomorrow (Sunday).
They will open their campaign in the 28th edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup against hosts Malaysia of all teams, and have placed the pressure squarely on coach Roelant Oltman’s and his men.
“Yes, we are tired and jet lagged, as we arrived from a very cold and chilly Poland to the heat and humidity here in Ipoh this morning (Friday), but we have nothing to lose and everything to gain from this tournament. The pressure will be on hosts Malaysia,” said Poland coach Karol Sniezek.
Skipper Bartosz Zywiczka echoed his coach’s sentiments, and it looks like the opener between Poland and Malaysia is going be as tough as spelling their names.
Poland were last minute replacements after South Africa withdrew, citing financial problems.
“As a coach, I am really grateful to be able to bring my team for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup because as a player, I dreamed of playing in this tournament but I never got the chance.
“We would like to thank the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) for inviting us to make our debut in this tournament.
“It will not be easy playing against Malaysia who have the strong support of their own fans, but the pressure will be on them to preform, while we will do the best we can,” said Sniezek.
After a training session earlier today (Friday), both the coach and captain came to the press conference with rosy cheeks, and tanned foreheads.
For the record, Malaysia beat Poland 3-1 in the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, and in the last encounter in 2015 at the World League Round Two in Singapore — Malaysia hammered Poland 8-0 in the final.
Malaysian coach Roelant Oltmans was evasive when asked about his team’s chances playing against a jet-lagged Polish side, who will also have to contend with the hot and humid weather.
“No, being jet-lagged as well as coping with the searing heat will not pose a problem to a team as dedicated as Poland, and I believe they will put up a good fight, but we have our own plans on how to stop them,” said Oltmans.
Skipper Razie Rahim, who trained under former World no 1 penalty corner flicker Taeke Taekema of the Netherlands for a week in Kuantan, was more optimistic.
“I believe after a week of training and undergoing motivational sessions (in Kuantan) we are ready for the tournament. As for me, Taekema fine tuned my drag flicks and made me much sharper,” said Razie.
SATURDAY — India v Japan (4pm), Canada v South Korea (6pm), Malaysia v Poland (8pm)
SUNDAY — India v South Korea (4pm), Canada v Poland (6pm), Malaysia v Japan (8pm)
New Straits Times
Shin: Olympics on my mind
By Jugjet Singh
KUALA LUMPUR: South Korean Shin Seok Kyo is a likeable coach, and his bubbly antics never fail to break a smile on the faces of those around him.
But underneath, he is a deadly plotter whose aim right now is to prepare his charges to qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo.
After a disappointing fifth in the Jakarta Asian Games, the coach is looking forward to the Azlan Shah Cup to regain their glory days.
"It was a very bad Asian Games for us and right now we are in the mood to qualify for the Olympics, and Azlan Shah will give us a chance to prepare early for our qualifier later in the year," said an ever smiling Shin.
South Korea whipped Malaysia 6-0 and Japan 4-1 in earlier friendlies, and when they became joint-champions with India in the 2010 Azlan Shah Cup, they had also demolished Malaysia 6-0 and Japan 4-0 in the run-up back then.
(Note: India and South Korea were declared joint champions after a thunderstorm disrupted the final).
"I seriously don't know how we beat Malaysia 6-0 in the (Tuesday) friendly, but we did the same when we became joint champions for the first time, and we will ride on that in every match we play here.
"The end target is to qualify for the Olympics, and so we have brought our best for the Cup," said Shin.
South Korea open against Canada today, and it is expected to be a cracker.
Canada coach Paul Bundy is also looking towards the FIH Series Finals which Malaysia will host in April.
"This is an early preparation for my players, acclimatization as well, as we will be playing in the Olympic Qualifier in KL again soon. We are second to India on world ranking here, but that means nothing if we do not play to our best capabilities as every team here is capable of upsetting the other," said Bundy.
Jugjet's World of Field Hockey
Oltmans out to win elusive title for Malaysia in six-nation tournament
KUALA LUMPUR: It’s all about redeeming the battered pride when Malaysia begin their challenge in the six-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Perak.
World No. 13 Malaysia will open their campaign against world No. 21 Poland today at the Azlan Shah Hockey Stadium. The other participating countries are India, Japan, Canada and South Korea.
Malaysia are hoping to make up for their disappointing outing in the World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India, last December, where they finished a dismal 15th in the 16-field team.
National coach Roelant Oltmans from Holland has made seven changes to strengthen the team and named few young players such as defenders Muhd Arif Syafie Ishak (pic) and Luqman Nul Hakim Ahmad Shukaran to give them a first-time international exposure.
With more than 30 years of coaching experience behind him, Oltmans wants to help Malaysia lift the elusive title.
Malaysia reached the final five times since the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament started in 1983 but finished as the bridesmaid in all occasions.
Oltmans hoped for a consistent showing.
“We’ve had a short preparation time but we had focused on our penalty corner set pieces. We had video sessions and also gave motivation talk to the players,” said the 64-year-old Dutchman.
“I’ve included few new names and I hope they will shine and play consistently throughout the tournament.
“The tournament is important to see the quality of our players and where they stand,” said Oltmans.
Malaysia are also using the tournament as part of their preparation for the FIH World Series at National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil from April 26-May 4, which is a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
On the opener against the Polish team, Oltmans said: “They only arrived yesterday but I’m sure they are 100% prepared. I hope our players will rise to the occasion.”
The Star of Malaysia
India starts campaign against Japan
The team will look to put behind its disappointments of last year
Plainspeak: Indian captain Manpreet Singh is keen the youngsters in the team soak up the pressure and deliver.
The Indian men’s hockey team, putting behind the disappointments of last year, will renew its quest for glory when it takes on Asian Games gold medallist Japan in its opening encounter of the 28th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup here on Saturday.
Despite being without a coach and a series of injuries to its players, most recent being Gurjant Singh, who returned home after fracturing his nose during a practice match, the Indian team is upbeat and confident of a show good.
“Japan, Korea and hosts Malaysia will be the teams to watch out for. They are travelling with full squads and they will pose a stiff challenge for us,” skipper Manpreet Singh said on the eve of the opening match.
“The youngsters will need to step up their game and I believe having fresh faces can be an advantage as the possibility of the opponents knowing much about the newcomers is less.”
The Indian team reached here on Monday and has been going about its routine to get used to the humid conditions. On Thursday, the team played a practice match against Malaysia.
Fifth in previous outing
India’s previous outing ended with the team finishing fifth but saw some good performances by a young unit combined with a few senior players.
The team had lost narrowly (3-2) to Olympic champion Argentina in is first match, drew with England 1-1, lost to eventual champion Australia 4-2 and beat Malaysia 5-1. Though it lost 3-2 to Ireland in the round-robin stage, it won 4-1 in the placing match.
“Youngsters have always used the platform to come up with memorable performances here and though the forwardline, barring Mandeep Singh, has about 12 caps between each other, we are hopeful they will soak up the pressure early on and deliver,” Manpreet said.
India has been crowned champion in 1985, 1991, 1995, 2009 and shared the honours with South Korea in 2010. In most recent years, the Indian team won silver in 2016 after losing to Australia and clinched the bronze in 2017.
India target hockey coach Graham Reid relieved by Amsterdam
Amidst interest from India, Graham Reid was relieved as the chief coach of Amsterdam Hockey Club with immediate effect on Thursday.
by Mihir Vasavda
Graham Reid has been relieved by Amsterdam. (Source: https://www.ahbc.nl)
Amidst interest from India, Graham Reid was relieved as the chief coach of Amsterdam Hockey Club with immediate effect on Thursday. The Australian, who is also the assistant coach of the Netherlands national team, is likely to resign from that position as well.
The announcement comes at a time when Hockey India is in the final stages of appointing the new coach for the men’s national team. The Indian Express understands that during the National Championship in Gwalior last month, high-performance director David John had informed a few senior players that Reid, 54, was the frontrunner to succeed Harendra Singh, who was sacked as the chief coach in January.
Reid’s compatriot Warren Birmingham, too, has been linked to the job. Birmingham is one of Australia’s greats, having represented the Kookaburras for more than a decade. He was a member of the team that won the 1992 Barcelona Olympics silver medal. Another Australian, Brent Livermore, too has applied for the role although his chances are considered to be slim.
Hockey India sources said Reid is seen as the best choice from the options left. The former Australia head coach took up the dual responsibility in Netherlands after the Rio Olympics. However, his position at the Amsterdam Hockey Club came under scrutiny after the team lost to HGC 8-2 in a league match last weekend.
2019 Hong Kong Triangular Hockey Tournament - Day 1
22 March TPE v HKG 2 - 3
FIH Match Centre
2019 Women's Hockey Invitational Tournament - Day 1
22 March TPE v THA 0 - 5
FIH Match Centre
PREVIEWS: English Men's Hockey League
With Premier Division survival secured last weekend, Brooklands MU head to Holcombe on Sunday in search of points as they target a play-off spot in the final two weekends of the Men’s Hockey League season.
A change of head coach at Christmas caused Brooklands to reassess their season goals and focus on survival, but with that in the bag after last weekend’s win over Sevenoaks they aim to enjoy the final two matches.
“Holcombe has always been a tough place for us to go and I’m sure Sunday will be no different,” said Paul Gannon, who took over as head coach after Mark Bateman stepped down. “After a difficult few weeks we bounced back well last week, I’ll be hoping for the same on Sunday.
“We will enjoy the next two games, we’ve achieved what we set out to do and if we pick up anymore points that will be a bonus.”
Brooklands MU lost out 3-1 to Holcombe on the opening day of the season, but Gannon said: “We have improved since the start of the season.
“Over the past couple of weeks our defending has let us down, conceding 11 goals against Surbiton and Sevenoaks. If we stand a chance of upsetting Holcombe we will have to defend far better.”
With Brooklands MU sixth and Holcombe fifth, both will be targeting a play-off spot which would entail East Grinstead slipping up. They go to Hampstead & Westminster on Sunday.
Elsewhere leaders Surbiton could clinch a Eurohockey League spot for next season if they can take a point from their match at home against relegated Sevenoaks to guarantee top spot in the end of season table.
In other top flight action Beeston’s play-off spot is not yet guaranteed, and they host Wimbledon as they look to reach the play-offs. And the University of Exeter play host to Reading who could also scrape into the play-offs if other results go their way.
The battle for Division One hockey next season is hotting up in the Conference East, with all teams still in the mix in a close division behind champions Old Georgians.
City of Peterborough entertain Old Loughtonians with both teams targeting a place in the top six and tier two hockey next season, while Brighton and Hove go to second-placed Canterbury.
Leaders Havant entertain Chichester on Sunday in the Conference West, and could wrap up the title if they win. Meanwhile, second-placed Olton & West Warwicks go to Cardiff & Met.
Elsewhere, Oxford Hawks are hosting the University of Birmingham with both teams aiming for Division One hockey after the restructure.
And in the Conference North, it’s first versus second as Bowdon host the University of Durham who need to keep their faint hopes of catching the Cheshire side alive.
Men’s Hockey League (Sunday, 24 March 2019)
Univ of Exeter v Reading 12:30
Hampstead & Westminster v East Grinstead 13:30
Beeston v Wimbledon 14:00
Holcombe v Brooklands MU 14:00
Surbiton v Sevenoaks 14:00
Men’s Conference East
Canterbury v Brighton & Hove 12:45
City of Peterborough v Old Loughtonians 13:00
Richmond v Oxted 13:30
Teddington v Cambridge City 13:30
Southgate v Old Georgians 14:30
Men’s Conference West
Cardiff & Met v Olton & West Warwicks 12:30
Team Bath Buccaneers v Isca 13:00
Univ of Bristol v Fareham 13:30
Havant v Chichester 14:00
Oxford Hawks v Univ of Birmingham 14:00
Men’s Conference North
Sheffield Hallam v Preston 13:30
Alderley Edge v Leeds 14:00
Belper v Doncaster 14:00
Loughborough Students v Univ of Nottingham 14:00
Bowdon v Univ of Durham 14:30
England Hockey Board Media release
PREVIEWS: Investec English Women's Hockey League
Clifton Robinsons could step up into the play-off spots if they can win this Saturday – but they face a tough test at leaders Holcombe in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division.
The Bristol side will also be hoping that the teams above them lose out too, so that they can sneak into the top four and secure post-season hockey.
“We had a hard fought win away to Bowdon Hightown but could not reinforce our position in the league losing to Slough away a week later,” said Clifton Robinsons team manager Alistair Kilfoil. “This was compounded by losing to Surbiton at home last Saturday.
“There are two games left and we will be positive and try to get two wins putting pressure on Buckingham for the fourth place position and a play-off place.
“But the injury situation has not improved and player availability is slightly worse with the younger players having to be rested due to school commitments.”
Clifton Robinsons will be hoping that Buckingham lose at home against the University of Birmingham to boost their play-off cause, while East Grinstead are currently third and face Bowdon Hightown as they look to cement their spot in the top four.
Second-placed Surbiton play host to a Slough side desperate for points in their bid to avoid a relegation fight, while bottom of the table Canterbury head to Beeston needing two wins in their last two games to try to avoid the drop.
The top two play the bottom two in the Investec Conference East, with current leaders Hampstead & Westminster on the road to Southgate, while Wimbledon could leapfrog Hampstead if they win at Ipswich and the leaders lose.
Elsewhere, Horsham go to Bedford in a battle of two teams looking for a top six place to guarantee playing in Division One following next season’s restructure.
Stourport have all but mathematically secured the Investec Conference West title with a 13-point goal difference in their favour, but they will be looking to make it theirs at Barnes on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Barnes need the points to boost their bid for a place in Division One next season, while Isca similarly want a win against Exe to lift them up the table and avoid dropping to the third tier of hockey next season.
And in the Investec Conference North Loughborough Students entertain strugglers Fylde as they bid to wrap up the title, while Leicester go to the University of Durham.
In key battles to secure a spot in Division One next season, Leeds go to Brooklands-Poynton, while Sutton Coldfield go to Ben Rhydding as they try to catch Leeds.
Saturday, 23 March 2019
Investec Women’s Hockey League (Sat, March 23 2019)
Investec Premier Division
Buckingham v Univ of Birmingham 12:00
Surbiton v Slough 13:00
Beeston v Canterbury 14:00
East Grinstead v Bowdon Hightown 14:00
Holcombe v Clifton Robinsons 14:00
Investec Conference East
St Albans v Harleston Magpies 13:00
Bedford v Horsham 13:30
Ipswich v Wimbledon 14:00
Southgate v Hampstead & Westminster 14:00
Sevenoaks v Cambridge City 17:00
Investec Conference West
Barnes v Stourport 12:00
Gloucester City v Reading 12:00
Isca v Exe 12:00
Olton & West Warwicks v Swansea City 12:00
Oxford Hawks v Trojans 12:00
Investec Conference North
Univ of Durham v Leicester 12:00
Loughborough Students v Fylde 12:30
Belper v Timperley 13:30
Ben Rhydding v Sutton Coldfield 13:30
Brooklands-Poynton v Leeds 16:00
England Hockey Board Media release
Irish Men’s EYHL rematches add extra layer of intrigue to title race
Monkstown and YMCA face a rematch of last week. Pic: Sinead Hingston
The men’s EYHL weekend faces the intriguing prospect of four rematches seven days after they met in the reverse fixtures, an opportunity for coaches and video analysts to test their mettle.
Indeed, Glenanne and Banbridge’s title hopes intertwine for the second successive week in the men’s EY Hockey League as two former leaders look to keep up the chase of Lisnagarvey.
Unbeaten in all competitions two weeks ago, the Glens have endured their toughest patch with losses to Three Rock Rovers in both the league and the Mills Cup final.
For Bann, they have just one point from nine and have exited the Irish Senior Cup in the last month as their form has dissipated completely.
That point came in a battling 3-3 draw between the two sides with David Rae’s hat trick denying the Glens the spoils in the last minute.
Nonetheless, the close-run nature of the league means both are still in the hunt with Glenanne second on goal difference and Bann three points back with a game in hand. Lose again, though, and it would be a critical blow to their chances.
They are unlikely to get a favour from leaders Lisnagarvey who face Cork C of I for the second time in a week with the Ulster side winning the first leg 8-2.
YMCA are another with a large defeat to try and turn around following a 7-1 defeat against Monkstown seven days ago.
Three Rock Rovers have hit form of late with seven wins in a row in all competitions and they will look to repeat their 6-3 success against Annadale. They had the game seemingly done and dusted at half-time but Callum Robson inspired a trio of goals to narrow the gap and give confidence for this week’s tussle.
Pembroke dropped out of the top four for the first time last weekend and so will need to keep up the pressure on Rovers with a positive result when they host Cookstown.
In Leinster Division One, most eyes will be on Corinthian and UCD’s meeting at Whitechurch Park where second play third. UCD’s title charge has been derailed by losses to Avoca and Clontarf as injuries have bitten hard while the reds have only dropped two points since the turn of the year, scoring 17 in their last two games.
Railway Union will aim to avoid any slips in Santry against mid-table Dublin University; Clontarf meet Portrane, Dublin North face Avoca and Kilkenny take on Rathgar in the other games.
In Munster, there is a mathematical possibility of Harlequins winning Munster’s Division One should they beat basement side UCC at home. Waterford need to beat Cork C of I B to keep the chase alive.
Men’s weekend fixtures (Saturday unless stated)
EY Hockey League: Annadale v Three Rock Rovers, Strathearn, 2.30pm; Banbridge v Glenanne, Havelock Park, 2.45pm; Cork C of I v Lisnagarvey, Garryduff, 1pm; Pembroke Wanderers v Cookstown, Serpentine Avenue, 2pm; YMCA v Monkstown, Wesley College, 3.15pm
Leinster Division 1
Saturday: Clontarf v Portrane, Mount Temple, 12pm; Corinthian v UCD, St. Columba’s College, 12.45pm; Dublin North v Avoca, National Sports Campus, 12pm; Dublin University v Railway Union, Park Avenue, 12.30pm; Kilkenny v Rathgar, Kilkenny College, 1.30pm
Sunday: Dublin University v Avoca, St. Andrews College, 2.30pm
Munster Division 1: Ashton v Bandon, Ashton School, 12.15pm; Cork C of I B v Waterford, Garryduff, 3pm; Cork Harlequins v UCC, Farmers’ Cross, 1.30pm
Pegasus move from second to six clear in the blink of an eye
Pegasus have gone from second to six points clear in the blink of an eye. Pic: Sinead Hingston
After a tumultuous 11-days, Pegasus have jumped from second place in the Irish women’s EYHL to within touching distance of the title all of a sudden.
It started with their 3-2 win over the Beaufort side who have since drawn twice – most recently on Thursday evening against UCD – while the Ulster side won big on Wednesday against Belfast Harlequins.
Six points is now the gap with three games to go for the leading duo with Pegasus possibly able to win the league on Saturday should results align.
They were hugely impressive against their Belfast rivals with Shirley McCay getting them up and running in the first minute and they were 4-0 up after 26 minutes with Kate Gourley, Lucy McKee and Charlotte Hart making hay.
McCay added another for good measure in the second half. Loreto, meanwhile, endured a frustrating evening on Thursday when Hannah Matthews had a goal ruled out deep into the second half.
It could have been worse, though, but for Liz Murphy’s penalty stroke save from Hannah McLoughlin to keep the scoreboard blank in the closing minutes.
It means Loreto need to run up wins in their closing ties to have any chance of nicking the title, starting with a Saturday date against Old Alex and hope for Pegasus to miss out against in-form Cork Harlequins.
Cork, for their part, have fourth place in their sights but have a tough weekend on the cards as they follow up the Pegs’ date with a tie against Ards on Sunday.
Two Dublin derbies complete Saturday’s schedule with Pembroke needing to get something from their date with UCD to close the gap to fourth where Cork Quins have eked out a healthy gap.
Railway Union’s slim chances of a top four finish see them host Muckross who are now in all-or-nothing mode at the bottom. Railway will hope to welcome back some of Sarah Hawkshaw, Cecelia Joyce and Anna May Whelan who all missed the Jacqui Potter Cup final success.
EYHL Division 2 is something of a dead weekend. Queen’s can assure themselves of top spot if they win at Greenfields who are waiting for their first win of the competition. Corinthian play Greenfields on Sunday with both sides already eliminated.
In Pool B, Monkstown can take the lead if they win over Lurgan with Catholic Institute focusing on the Munster Senior Cup final. Dungannon against NUIG is a battle to avoid bottom spot in the group.
As for that Munster final, UCC coach John McGrath says his side are going into the final as “very much underdogs” as they look to be the first side to beat Catholic Institute on Saturday evening (5pm, Garryduff).
Indeed, the Limerick side have won every single one of their Munster league and EYHL Division 2 ties this year including a 5-1 defeat of the student side back in September when many new faces in situ.
Since then, UCC have improved markedly and are right in the mix to win a spot in EYHL2 for next season despite being hampered by injuries in recent times.
“We are quietly confident of causing an upset with big game players such as Hannah Humphreys, Jenny Clein, Saoirse O’Leary, Emma Cripps and Christina Dring at our disposal,” he said ahead of the final.
“The squad has gelled well over a long season and the EYHL2 experience gained has been invaluable to our development. We have an important few weeks ahead and it starts on Saturday.”
For Insta, Geraldine O’Carroll is currently reporting a full bill of health but that could change over the course of the Kate Russell All-Ireland Schoolgirls Championships.
Anna Horan, Aoife Hickey – who sustained an ankle injury – Leah Clery and Sophie Clein have all been part of the Rosbrien club’s first team squad this season. But they were also involved in the Crescent schools team who play four games in two days in the Kate Russell.
O’Carroll says she will assess on an individual basis whether they will be physically able to add the Senior Cup final to their intense schedule.
In Leinster Division One, several sides complete their campaign on Saturday. Corinthian can move above Monkstown for the time being if they beat Genesis at Whitechurch Park.
Doing so could be important in terms of EYHL2 places, particularly if Muckross are relegated from the national division, leaving just two spots in next year’s second tier for Leinster sides.
First placed Trinity host bottom side Our Lady’s; Glenanne finish off at Naas while Rathgar face North Kildare.
Women’s weekend fixtures (Saturday unless stated)
EY Hockey League
Wednesday: Pegasus 5 (S McCay 2, K Gourley, L McKee, C Hart) Belfast Harlequins 0
Thursday: Loreto 0 UCD 0
Saturday: Ards v Belfast Harlequins, Londonderry Park, 2.30pm; Loreto v Old Alexandra, Three Rock Rovers HC, 1pm; Pegasus v Cork Harlequins, Malone Playing Fields, 1pm; Pembroke Wanderers v UCD, Serpentine Ave, 12pm; Railway Union v Muckross, Park Avenue, 2.30pm
Sunday: Ards v Cork Harlequins, Londonderry Park, 1pm
EYHL Division 2, Pool 1
Saturday: Greenfields v Queens University, Dangan Sports Ground, 2.20pm
Sunday: Corinthian v Greenfields, St. Columba’s College, 2pm
Pool 2: Dungannon v NUIG, Royal School, 1pm; Monkstown v Lurgan, ALD Merrion Fleet Arena, Monkstown, 1pm
Munster Division 1
Saturday: Limerick v Belvedere, Villiers, 2pm
Sunday: Ashton v Limerick, Ashton School, 2pm
Munster Senior Cup Final: Catholic Institute v UCC, Garryduff, 5pm
Munster Senior Plate Final: Cork C of I v Waterford, Midleton College, 2.30pm
Leinster Division 1: Corinthian v Genesis, Whitechurch Park, 2.15pm; Naas v Glenanne, Naas SC, 3pm; Rathgar v North Kildare, The High School, 12.30pm; Trinity v Our Lady’s, Trinity Sports Grounds, 3pm