All the news for Friday 27 December 2019
Mullins boys fire Bulls to first ever senior crown
Clontarf celebrate their maiden Neville Cup final win. Pic: Adrian Boehm
Kevin and John Mullins fired Clontarf to their first ever senior title as they ended their former club Three Rock Rovers’ reign as Neville Cup champions at Grange Road.
At 2-2 with seven minutes to go, the tie was well poised but the Bulls gorged on the Rovers’ carcass with three late goals seeing them exit the arena victorious, making for a day to savour for the north Dublin club.
Player-assistant coach Gareth Borland had been Rovers’ sideline coach for the last two finals before returning to his roots along with the Mullins during the summer.
“Of the 17 in our squad, including our coach Dave Bane, 15 have been involved with Mount Temple and the club for the thousands of sessions we have done over the years,” Borland surmised.
“For every one of those guys, the club is part of their identity which is unique in Leinster circles. To see all the people from the different generations, from the first team back in 1981 there on the sideline, it was a special day.”
He joked about having a “little local knowledge” when it came to corner time as Tarf nailed three from their four set pieces with Rovers netting one from six.
But this tie was more than a set-piece battle as two confident sides took the turf, Clontarf with a perfect record in Leinster Division One, Rovers drawing predominantly from a side who has done likewise in Division Two with a few first teamers added to the mix.
After two Rovers’ corners were repelled, Kevin Mullins netted in the tenth minute when he took on corner duties in the absence of Davyn Keuter for 1-0. Rovers equalised from a well measured move, James Walker cutting in from the left and slipping to Mick Maguire. His first time cross left Luke Adams with an open goal which he coolly flicked into.
As is the norm for the Neville final, the crowd swelled as the quarters went on with a small initial audience expanding all the while. They saw Tarf hold on for half-time parity with Dave Power charging down Blakeney David Lawless batting away from Walker.
Dylan Shirley ripped one off the inside of the post from turnover – while Blakeney was on a yellow – as things got fractious and a few physical tackles reduced both sides’ numbers. Lawless also parried Luke McSharry’s drive as it remained tight at 1-1 into the final quarter.
Rovers, though, were playing fast and loose in their back four and were caught out with 13 minutes to go when Kevin picked Garry Ringwood’s pocket, took off into the circle where he was felled. Younger brother John sent Shane O’Brien the wrong way from the stroke spot for 2-1.
Kevin’s eventful day saw a free upgraded from a green to a yellow and a corner for not retreating to allow Blakeney to whip in the second leveler at 2-2 with nine minutes to go.
But Tarf kept coming and Borland was the man pulling the strings at the head of the D for their killer third goal. He slipped under his arm into the path of John’s slide – a carbon copy of his Irish Senior Cup final goal – but a defensive touch got their first for 3-2.
Rovers scuffed their sixth corner moments later; from the counter, they got another corner and, with Kevin back on the field, a low drag down the glove side made it 4-2. He then completed his hat trick into an open goal as Rovers went to 11 outfielders, crowning their perfect day.
“It’s definitely a habit I’ve picked up!” Kevin said after yet another trophy, his 10th in three years and 10 finals between his stint with Rovers and back at the club of his roots.
“Just delighted for the club to get that first trophy for everyone who has invested in the team. “Obviously nice to get the individual accolade of the hat trick but, in that last five minutes, getting the win is what it was all about.”
“With Clontarf, we don’t get to finals as much as Three Rock do so everyone had all their mates out here [on the sidelines]. It is a bit of a community and it’s a great occasion for the whole area.”
Elsewhere, Cork C of I won the Peard Cup in Munster with a 3-1 success against Bandon with John Jermyn, Stephen Parker and Jonny Bruton netting.
Neville Cup final
Clontarf 5 (K Mullins 3, J Mullins, G Borland) Three Rock Rovers 2 (L Adams, P Blakeney)
Three Rock Rovers: S O’Brien, B Ryder, G Ringwood, D Storey, B McCrea, P McConnell, P Blakeney, M Maguire, H Lynch, M Maguire, M Sweetnam, S Walker, J Walker, E Jennings, L McSharry, D Shirley
Clontarf: D Lawless, D Power, T Cullen, K Murray, S Beattie, A O’Malley, M Duggan, G Borland, K Mullins, J Mullins, J Edmonds, C Cooney, L Hayden, J Sheahan, S Harper
Umpires: D Reamsbottom, B Bale
UniKL’s Baljit on the double, at 33
By K. RAJAN
PETALING JAYA: Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) veteran Baljit Singh is 33 (pic) – and aiming to stay as a vital cog in the champions of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).
After all, he has been there ever since UniKL started their rise from the Malaysia Junior Hockey League (MJHL) to the senior league.
Baljit previously featured for Tenaga Nasional (TNB), winning the overall title three times in 2004, 2007 and 2009 before joining UniKL for the 2012 season.
“I was among the first senior players to join UniKL and it has been an awesome journey to see the team grow and finally become the MHL champions last season,” he said.
“UniKL started with young talented players, we kept moving forward, strengthening the team with senior players and last season, the project delivered the result as we became a top team.
“From a junior team, we are now a proper club with our own hockey stadium – the Tengku Abdullah Hockey Stadium in Bangi. We now aim to be consistently challenging for the title.”
The team, under the guidance of former international A. Arulselvaraj, are planning to defend their title and also gun down the overall title to clinch the double next year.
The team will be led by national skipper Mohd Sukri Abdul Mutalib, Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim, Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil, Mohd Ashran Hamsani and Mohd Najmi Farizal Jazlan.
They will also have former Australian international Timothy Deavin and Ireland international goalkeeper David Hearte in their campaign which begins with the MHL Charity Shield match against overall champions Terengganu on Jan 10.
Baljit said the team had been training for a week and head coach Arulselvaraj will join the team end of the month.
“We need to hit the ground running when the MHL starts, so we need to win the Charity Shield game. A winning start will set the tone for the season,” said Baljit.
The Star of Malaysia
Wakachunga ready to lead Butali as Owoka resigns
By AGNES MAKHANDIA
Butali Sugar Warriors hockey team captain Kennedy Nyongesa (centre) leads teammates in celebrating winning Kenya Hockey Union men Premier League trophy on December 1, 2019 at City Park Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Butali Sugar Warriors assistant coach Godfrey Wakachunga is ready to fill in the position left by head coach Dennis Owoka who stepped down last week ahead of the 2020 Kenya Hockey Union season.
Wakachunga and Owoka were appointed in 2017 following the death of acclaimed coach Cliffe Okello.
Owoka is said to have joined a non-profit making academy –Tunza Sports - that nurtures sports in the primary schools in Kisumu rural with a branch in Mombasa.
Wakachunga, a former Butali player, said he is up to the task but was quick to note he will leave the decision to the management.
“I’m ready to lead the team if given the chance but I will not go ahead of myself. Whether the management is going to get a tactician within or outside it’s their decision to make and I will respect the outcome,” he said.
“I have been working under Owoka for two seasons now and I know my way around now. I therefore look forward to next season as we intend to defend the title knowing pretty well it will not going be easy considering how competitive the league has become.”
On possible transfers, Wakachunga noted: “I don’t think so. We have a rich squad and no player has so far indicated their intension to leave the club and therefore there will be no need to sign new ones."
Wakachunga at the same time appealed to KHU to adjust the premier league matches to end early so that the outfits which have qualified for the African Clubs Championship can have ample time to prepare.
Jack Simonian, Kenyan hockey legend who lent colour to Safari Rally, is dead
By ABDUL SIDI
Kenya goalkeeper Jack Simonian makes a flying save to keep out a push from Pakistan left winger Jehangir Butt in the second hockey Test match between the two countries. Kenya won 1-0. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Legendary Safari Rally driver Jack Simonian who also played for Kenya men’s hockey team in three editions of the Olympic Games in the 1960s is dead.
Simonian, who played for Kenya’s hockey team as goalkeeper at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo and at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico where he was named goalkeeper of the tournament, passed away on Monday in Australia.
Simonian, who resided in Kenya for decades before migrating to England, passed away peacefully in his sleep. He was 84.
The veteran Safari Rally driver made a big impact in rallying and hockey at the height of his sporting career while residing in Kenya.
Former rally driver, Steve Anthony, who was a close friend with Simonian, was among the first to send his condolences to the Simonian family.
“Jack was one of Kenya's most popular and talented Motor Sportsmen in Kenya. His talent in the sport was indeed at a higher level. The multi-talented Simonian represented Kenya as hockey goalkeeper in the Olympic Games,” said Anthony.
Anthony added: “Jack was very kind and generous friend. He was a close family friend to my father as colleagues in racing.”
Simonian’s death comes just days after that of another Safari Rally legend, Bharat Bhardwaj, who passed on close to two weeks ago.
Bhardwaj played a major role in the development of the sport in Kenya after retiring from active competition. He navigated legendary rally driver Joginder Singh to two Safari Rally finishes, recording second-placed finish in 1969 and winding up third in the 1966 edition of the competition, driving a Volvo car on both occasions.
Bhardwaj also emerged Motorsportsman of the Year in 1969 and was Kenya Hillclimb champion for six years in a row.
Not only was Simonian the East African Rally champion in cars and on bikes, but he also played hockey for Sikh Union Hockey Club in Nairobi.
He represented Kenya as the national team goalkeeper at the 1960 Olympic Games held in Rome, at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo and at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico where he emerged goalkeeper of the tournament.
Jack was well known figure in the Sikh circle in Nairobi where he played as a hockey goalkeeper for Sikh Union.
He was a motorsports legend, having competed in many editions of the Safari Rally. He was also top class motorcycle champion, having registered a number of records at Nakuru and Embakasi racing circuits.