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News for 20 December 2019

All the news for Friday 20 December 2019

FIH Hockey Pro League season two launches with world-wide Trophy Tour

It is the moment every player dreams of and every fan waits for with bated breath. The moment when the winner of a tournament is announced, the team captain raises the trophy aloft and the triumphant players on the podium dance and sing in celebration.

As part of the campaign to engage with as many fans as possible and to raise excitement and anticipation around the FIH Hockey Pro League to the highest levels, the iconic men’s and women’s Trophies will be going on their international travels, starting with a celebratory launch during the festival atmosphere at the Copa del Rey in Terrassa, Spain.

Since its inception, the FIH Hockey Pro League has been evolving as teams, officials and fans have all got used to the ground-breaking concept of a home and away global league. In the latest exciting evolution, the iconic Trophies will be journeying across the globe from nation to nation and across four continents.

Not only is this a chance for players and fans to see the Trophy in all its splendour, it is also a chance for the national associations to showcase the sport and the competition via media days, exhibitions and innovative events. Starting from the moment the trophy emerges from the plane to the moment it leaves the stadium, this is a great way to showcase hockey to the widest audience possible.

The Men’s Trophy tour will launch in Spain on Saturday 22 December during the Spanish clubs’ Copa del Rey. It will also be on display at the Spanish Hockey Gala and over the course of two days there will be various opportunities to win VIP tickets to Spain’s home Pro League matches.

As the FIH Hockey Pro League gets underway, the two Trophies will then go on different journeys. The men's trophy will travel to the home of reigning champions Australia to start its global tour, while the women's trophy will start its travels in the USA at the end of January.

Not only will the Trophies be appearing on match days but they will also be taken to iconic locations within each participating nation. Follow the journeys of each trophy via the FIH digital platforms.


Official FIH Pro League Site

Kookaburras determined to defend FIH Hockey Pro League title, says co-captain Zalewski

The FIH Hockey Pro League second season gets underway in January 2020 after a hugely successful first edition. We caught up with the coaches and players from the participating teams as they prepare for the new look FIH Hockey Pro League season to get underway. In the following interview, Australia men’s co-captain Aran Zalewski looks ahead to the forthcoming season where his team will aim to defend the title that they won in June 2019.

Australia (FIH World Ranking: 1) secured the 2019 FIH Hockey Pro League title with a 3-2 victory over reigning world champions Belgium at the Grand Final event in Amstelveen, Netherlands. Intriguingly, the Kookaburras’ 2020 campaign starts with a home fixture against Belgium’s Red Lions (WR:2) on 25 January 2020.

What did the side learn from the first season of the FIH Hockey Pro League?
Aran Zalewski: “The Kookaburras loved the first edition of the FIH Pro League. We got to play the best teams in the world over the home and away format, so the inaugural competition was very exciting. We tested ourselves against the best teams in the world and we got to play in lots of different venues. We wouldn’t normally get that opportunity in many other years or in any other format of competitions that we play, so I think that was a great exponent of the first edition of the Pro League. Things are a little bit different this year with less travel, which I think is very positive in an Olympic year, trying to take some of the stresses away from what that travel brings. We are very excited for the second edition of the Pro League. The Olympics, after the Pro League, will change our preparations a little bit – we’ll be trying to build up and get better as the tournament goes. We’ll probably look to peak after the Pro League, different to this year when we were trying to be at our best right at the end of the Pro League.”

What are the team’s ambitions for this second season?
Aran Zalewski: “It was great to win the first edition of the Pro League, [there were] lots of great teams and we had some really close contests and I know the final was a really hard-fought game against Belgium. Look, our ambitions this year are very much focussed on the Olympics, but we’ll be looking to play some pretty good hockey throughout the Pro League and sure we’d love to back up our title, to be Pro League champions in 2020.”

What are your thoughts on the new FIH Hockey Pro League format that will be introduced in the second season?
Aran Zalewski: “I think India is coming in this year, which is exciting – we love playing in India, the 2018 World Cup was there and the fans were absolutely amazing. We are very excited to go back there, somewhere where the Kookaburras feel very familiar. Less travel this year changes things a bit, with double-headers each weekend. It’s going to be a very exciting year; we are really looking forward to FIH Pro League number two.”  

Which fixture are you most looking forward to?
Aran Zalewski: “I think our first games against Belgium, who we played in the final of the [2019] Pro League. That is going to be a great fixture. They are a great team that has had really good results in the past three or four years, so that is a game that will be very exciting. I think playing some home games in Perth in front of family and friends is something I’ll be looking forward to in 2020.”   

FIH: What was your #MyProLeagueMoment of the first season?
Aran Zalewski: “My favourite moment was personal but also team-based, but taking away the championship in the inaugural year of the Pro League was fantastic. The Kookaburras started to play some great hockey towards the end of that campaign, so it was a very enjoyable place to be and we’ll be looking to try to repeat that this [coming] year.”

FIH: What message have you got for the fans to get them along to watch the matches in the second season?
Aran Zalewski: “Get down to the Pro League, It’s a great spectacle. You get to see the best teams in the world playing their best players in an Olympic year, which is very exciting. I think it will be a great spectacle, so get down there, lots of goals and I hope you enjoy it.”


Official FIH Pro League Site

Dancer names panel for first training camp of 2020 in South Africa

Emma Smyth last played for Ireland in 2015. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Sean Dancer has given Emma Buckley, Ellen Curran, Hannah McLoughlin, Sarah Torrans and Emily Beatty an early chance to stake a claim for a place in the Irish women’s Olympic squad.

They have been named in a 20-player panel for a warm-weather tour to South Africa where they will meet the home country – who will be Ireland’s first opponent in Tokyo next July 25th – and Germany in test matches.

That youthful quintet comes into the line-up which features 15 of the side that won their Olympic qualifier against Canada in November.

Gillian Pinder and Nicci Daly have only played a fleeting role for their clubs in the first half of the season and will sit out this tour as will Zoe Wilson but Roisin Upton is involved with her broken wrist set to be adequately healed in time for the January 16th departure for warmer climes.

The selection comes from a wider panel of 35 that has been assembled which features a number of eye-catching names, none more so than Emma Smyth.

The 33-year-old Railway Union midfielder retired in June 2015 in the wake of the Green Army’s failed Olympic qualification for Rio, missing out by the width of a post.

She took a season off last term for the birth of her child but has since been a strong influence this season since her return to club action.

At the other end of the spectrum, UCD’s Carey twins Niamh and Michelle have also been included for the first time, making it two sets of twins involved in addition to the Barrs Serena and Bethany.

Uncapped teenagers Christina Hamill, Caoimhe Perdue and goalkeeper Ellie McLoughlin also have a chance to stake a claim in the side but margins are tight. While the qualifiers allowed for a panel of 18 players, the Olympics themselves will only have 16 spots with two to three reserves waiting in the wings.

In the past few weeks, the panel has undergone some intensive altitude training sessions in heat chambers as they try to get a head-start on getting their bodies used to the Tokyo heat.

The full schedule for Tokyo 2020, meanwhile, was confirmed on Tuesday morning. After that initial date against the tournament low-ranked side, South Africa, on July 25th. next on the agenda will be world number one side the Netherlands two days later before facing Germany on July 29th and India on July 31st.A tie against Great Britain completes the six-team group from which a top four spot will earn a place in the quarter-finals.

Ireland panel for South Africa training camp: Ayeisha McFerran (SV Kampong, GK), Emma Buckley (Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles, GK), Roisin Upton (Catholic Institute), Nikki Evans (Old Alex), Kathryn Mullan (Captain, Ballymoney), Shirley McCay (Pegasus), Lena Tice (UCD), Emily Beatty (Pembroke), Beth Barr (Belfast Harlequins), Serena Barr (Belfast Harlequins), Chloe Watkins (Monkstown), Lizzie Colvin (Belfast Harlequins), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Sarah Hawkshaw (Railway Union), Anna O’Flanagan (Vice Captain, Muckross), Deirdre Duke (Old Alex), Ellen Curran (UCD), Elizabeth Murphy (Loreto, GK), Hannah McLoughlin (UCD), Sarah Torrans (Loreto)

Extended panel members: Alison Meeke (Loreto), Yvonne O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins), Grace O’Flanagan (Railway Union, GK) Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute), Aisling Naughton (Pembroke), Emma Smyth (Railway Union), Christina Hamill (Loreto), Ellie McLoughlin (Muckross, GK), Caoimhe Perdue (UCC), Niamh Carey (UCD), Michelle Carey (UCD), Megan Frazer (Ulster Elks), Gillian Pinder (Pembroke), Nicola Daly (Loreto), Zoe Wilson (Randalstown)

Women’s Olympic hockey schedule

Pool A: Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, India, South Africa Pool B: Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Spain, China, Japan

Irish Schedule (all Irish Times)

July 25th Ireland v South Africa (12.15 pm)
July 27th Ireland v Netherlands (1.00 am)
July 29th Ireland v Germany (3.00 am)
July 31st Ireland v India (2.45 am)
August 1st Ireland v Great Britain (11.45 am)

The Hook

Irish women's hockey team claim first prize of the night at Irish Independent Sportstar of the Year awards

Ayeisha McFerran and members of the Irish ladies hockey team are presented with the award for Magic Moment in sport by Muirean King from The Croke Park and Arlene Regan from the Irish Independent during the 2019 Irish Independent Sport Star Awards with The Croke Park at the Croke Park Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

The Irish women's hockey team capped a fantastic year by winning Magic Moment at the Irish Independent Sportstar of the Year awards at Croke Park.

The Girls in Green were on the podium last year too at the annual event, winning Team of the Year after their exploits at the World Cup, where they reached the final.

This time around, Sean Dancer's side were honoured for their dramatic playoff win over Canada to book a place at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Roisin Upton's sudden-death penalty sealed victory moments after goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran pulled off a heroic shootout save.

The Magic Moment award was the first prize of the night to be handed out, followed by legendary Irish runner Eamonn Coghlan's induction into the Hall of Fame.

Coghlan famously won gold in the 5000m at the 1983 world championships, and also finished fourth at both the 1976 and 1980 Olympic games.

The three-time Olympian said "after all these years, you nearly forget what it was like. But for me, it was redemption" when recalling his world title.

"I was so pissed off after finishing fourth in the Olympics so that was the overriding feeling. There was such talent over here then with John Tracey and Ray Flynn that I was more concerned with beating the Irish guys than the rest of the world."

Irish Independent

UniKL line up tough defence in title defence


KUALA LUMPUR: Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) have lined up a solid defence to hold on to their league title in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), which begins on Jan 10.

The backline will be led by national skipper Mohd Sukri Abdul Mutalib, who is the most capped player in the national team with 337 caps.

He will be assisted by two national players Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim and Mohd Najmi Farizal Jazlan besides former international Baljit Singh and Australian Timothy Deavin.

Ireland international David Hearte will also be back as the custodian for UniKL.

With a power-packed backline like that, UniKL will not only be targeting the defence of the title but also a shot at the double that eluded them this year when they were beaten to the overall title by Terengganu, losing 1-2 in the final.

The 33-year-old Sukri agreed that they would be the team to beat in the MHL.

“We also have two good penalty corner drag flickers Razie and Najmi and will be hoping to give teams like Terengganu and Tenaga Nasional a strong challenge in the MHL.

“We also have a solid midfield led by two national players Mohd Marhan (Mohd Jalil) and Mohd Ashran (Hamsani), ” said Sukri.

He added that they had signed up two foreign players and will be signing another two to beef up every department.

“We had the services of three Holland national players this season but it will be difficult to get their services because they are training with the Dutch team for the FIH Pro League from Jan 18 to June 28, ” said Sukri.

The three Dutch players who featured for UniKL this season were Valentin Verga, Martijn Peter Havenga and Robert Huib Kemperman.

Sukri, who has been playing in the MHL since 2003, believes they have a solid team that are capable of lifting both the titles next year.

“We will also be able to use our UniKL pitch in Bangi, which has been repaired for MHL matches, ” said Sukri, who wants to play for Malaysia in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh from April 11-18.

The Star of Malaysia

Big contest for pole position in Scottish men’s National League 1

Men`s Indoor National League 1 enters the final phase of the league part of the competition with an intriguing contest for pole position. Inverleith hold top spot with a two point advantage over Grove Menzieshill, and both have two games left to play.

But Dundee Wanderers could be dark horses here, they are three points adrift of the top, and have three games this weekend and nine points up for grabs.

How prophetic were Stuart Neave`s words prior to last weekend`s contests. “No team in the league can be taken for granted.”

Grove Menzieshill found that out with their opening six all draw with Grange. Neave`s own outfit Inverleith suffered a similar experience when they went down 7-6 to Clydesdale.

So it would appear that “nothing can be taken for granted” this indoor season.

And that sets up an intriguing opening fixture this Saturday, the Tayside derby between Grove Menzieshill and Wanderers.

A league decider in the past, in the campaign so far Grove Menzieshill have dropped five points and Wanderers only three, and the former only have a single point lead.

Further, Wanderers were successful last weekend, they opened with a 7-2 victory over Uddingston, followed by a 3-2 triumph over champions Western Wildcats. This time it was Elliott Sandison who caught the eye with four goals in total.

The carrot for Wanderers is if they can win over city rivals Grove Menzieshill, then win the battle for another six points from Dunfermline and Grange, Wanderers would then finish the league section of the competition top of the pile.

The other crucial encounter of the day brings together last season’s winners Western Wildcats against Inverleith. As yet the champions have barely moved into a canter with two wins and three defeats, a further loss of points against Inverleith, and later to Grange, could scupper their chances of a top four finish.

So the young guns Andrew and Joe McConnell, Rob Harwood, Fraser Moran and Hamish Galt will be out to focus their targets to bag some goals.

Inverleith will need the form they showed against Grove Menzieshill and not that which surrendered a 5-1 against Clydesdale to see off the Wildcats. Stuart Neave`s charges will hope to pocket the three points against Uddingston in their second outing.

Uddingston, Grange, Clydesdale and Dunfermline are presently in the lower half of the league, but are not out of the running for a top four place. And have all shown they rise to the occasion against the top sides.

Grange perhaps have the best chance progress up the table, they have three games on Saturday against Uddingston, Western and Dundee Wanderers, and nine points are on the table.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Scotland U18 Girls’ squad selection 2019-20

Following on from the recent Academy Series, the U18 Scotland Girl’s National Age Group Squad has been announced for the 2019/20 season.

It’s a huge year for the Scotland U18 Girls’ as they compete in the U18 Girls’ EuroHockey Championships in Kazan, Russia, on 12-18 July 2020. Scotland qualified for the tournament after winning gold at EuroHockey U18 Championships II in Rakovnik, Czech Republic, in 2018.

The Scots have been drawn in Pool B against Belgium; England and Ireland while the Netherlands; Germany; Spain; and Russia compete in Pool A.

Scotland U18 Girls’ will take to the pitch for the first time in 2020 when they play Ireland away on 2nd, 3rd and 4th January.

Head Coach Keith Smith said, “It’s going to be a really challenging season as we prepare for this summer’s European Championships in Kazan against the best in Europe. A lot of the players were involved last year, but with some new additions to the squad, it’s going to be interesting seeing how the squad evolves.

“The programme will provide them with plenty of development opportunities – not just in terms of our prep for this summer’s tournament, but for each player’s longer-term goals. Four of last year’s U18 squad have just been selected for the Senior Women’s programme, and that’s something the current squad can take real inspiration from; it demonstrates to the current squad that their ambitions are attainable, and that the rewards are there to be earned.”


Aisha Saini (Western Wildcats)
Amy Salmon (Inverleith)
Anna Hoolaghan (Clydesdale Western)
Ava Findlay (Edinburgh HC)
Ava Smith (Western Wildcats)
Cara McAllister (Clydesdale Western)
Charlotte Simmers (GHK)
Corrie Hay (Grove Menzieshill)
Ellie Rutherford (Edinburgh HC)
Ellie Mackenzie (Watsonians)
Emma Fraser (Inverleith)
Faith Joubert (Watsonians)
Georgia Crooks (GHK)
Georgie Yuille (Grange)
Grace Drummond (Watsonians)
Hannah Miller (Fjordhus Reivers)
Itske Hooftman (Inverleith)
Jennifer Tait (Granite City Wanderers)
Jess Buchanan (Clydesdale Western)
Katie Swanson (Watsonians)
Lucy Williamson (Dundee Wanderers)
Lucy Smith (Grove Menzieshill)
Michaela McCarthy (Dundee Wanderers)
Nina Constable (Grange)
Rhiannon Carr (Grove Menzieshill)
Sophie Hinds (Inverleith)
Zara Mason (Clydesdale Western)

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Gillingham Hockey Club hits 65 years

In the autumn of 1954 some sporty ladies in North Dorset decided to set up a Ladies Hockey Club in Gillingham.

Founding members Janet Smart, Beryl Knapton, Hazel Flower and Helen Burt all played for Shaftesbury Hockey Club but since most of the team came from Gillingham, they wanted to start a club there.

The first matches were played at the Recreation ground and the Cricket Pavillon was used for teas. Over the years they played at the recreational ground, Donhead Sports Club and now Gillingham School.

The club wanted to celebrate it's 65th anniversary and invited as many former players to an afternoon tea on Saturday 23 November 2019. The day was a great success with around 25 former players came along, including some founder members who are now in their 90s.

Some of the team members from the 1980s to current day From Left to right - rear - Dee Webb, Lyndsey Spooner, Jackie Graham, Caroline Stockley, Lou Cotter (daughter of Mary Williams) Linda Stokes, Caroline Dodd, Front row left to right Helen Cross, Alison Graham, Sarah Feltham, Val Cross, Angela Gray

Over the past 60 years the club has gone from strength to strength with 3 Ladies' teams, 3 Men's teams, under 12s and under 14s, with Ministix on Saturday mornings for under 8s and a membership of around 200, including 100 juniors.

Many of the Juniors go on to represent Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire; 4 of the over 35 ladies were in the winning West of England team who won the over 35s national tournament last year (one captained the team) one member represents the West of England at over 50s; another member represents Wales at over 60s plus another who has previously played for South Africa. Our lead coach is currently coaching an England Ladies' Masters' team.

Gillingham are proud to be known as a family friendly club. They have mothers and daughters playing in the same teams and Captaincy passed down through generations.

Find out more about Gillingham Hockey club here.

England Hockey Board Media release

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