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News for 11 February 2019

All the news for Monday 11 February 2019

Kookaburras and Hockeyroos get the better of Germany teams in Hobart

Match Day 10 of the inaugural edition of the FIH Pro League saw Germany’s men and women make their respective competition debuts, but it was the teams of home favourites Australia that enjoyed the better results at the Tasmania Hockey Centre in Hobart.

Australia’s men recovered from last week’s 4-1 home defeat at the hands of world champions Belgium in Melbourne by claiming a 4-2 triumph over the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic champions, while the Aussie women claimed a bonus point against their German rivals by winning the shoot-out after the contest finished with the scores locked together at 2-2.

The men of the Kookaburras (FIH World Ranking: 2) and Die Honamas (WR:6) were first to take to the field, and it was the visitors from Europe who made the better start in an exhilarating first quarter. The pace and skill of Germany’s attackers caused huge problems for the Australia defence, and it came as no surprise when Florian Fuch’s scored a brilliant deflection at the back post after excellent set-up play from strike partner Christopher Rühr.

Australia worked their way back into the contest and pulled a goal back thanks to a close range strike from Jacob Anderson, who added a second early in the second quarter to give the Kookaburras a 2-1 lead. The lead did not last long, however, with Lukas Windfeder immediately restoring parity with a low penalty corner to leave the team’s level at half time.

Australia stepped up their game considerably in the third and fourth quarters, with Germany's FIH Goalkeeper of the Year 2018 nominee Tobias Walter making some stunning saves to keep the Kookaburras at bay. However, Walter could do little about the two goals he did concede, with Tom Wickham tapping home in the third quarter after an initial strike rattled the cross-bar before Dylan Wotherspoon pounced in the fourth period to take the score to 4-2 and effectively wrap up the points for the team coached by Colin Batch.

“It feels pretty good to get two goals in only my seventh cap, so I’m really happy”, said Australia's 21-year-old Player of the Match Jacob Anderson after the match. “We had a little bit of a disappointing start last weekend, turned it around this weekend with a good performance against Germany so hopefully we can keep building from this.”

Germany captain Mats Grambusch said: “Obviously we lost so we are not really happy with it, but I think we had a good match. The first half was very good defence-wise, and we also had a couple of chances. We knew it was going to be a hard one against Australia. It was our first Pro League match and we now have to move on from it and go to New Zealand [next weekend].”

Australia’s win sees them climb to fourth in the FIH Pro League standings, which are calculated on percentage of points claimed from those available.

Like the men’s match, the meeting between the women’s Hockeyroos (WR:3) and Die Danas (WR:5) was another close encounter. Germany were aiming to get their FIH Pro League campaign off to a winning start against an Australia team that may have been feeling a little bit of fatigue after yesterday’s 4-3 victory against China. With Australia’s key defender and penalty corner expert Jodie Kenny missing for a second successive match due to an injured quad muscle, Germany’s chances of success had seemingly increased.

Australia’s FIH Goalkeeper of the Year 2018 nominee Rachael Lynch was certainly the busier of the two shot-stoppers in the opening period, but numerous solid blocks allowed the home favourites to take a 1-0 lead into the quarter-time break thanks to Sophie Taylor’s perfectly executed penalty corner slap-shot, her first international goal.

Germany scored a deserved equaliser in the second quarter as Hanna Granitzki pounced from close range after a penalty corner deflection from Alisa Vivot rattled the frame of the Australia goal. The goal came shortly after Taylor had a fine chance to double Australia’s advantage, firing a second phase penalty corner into the pads of Germany goalkeeper Julia Sonntag.

Paul Gaudoin’s Australia team made the perfect start to the third period when Grace Stewart scored her second goal in two matches, adding to yesterday’s strike against China with another clinical open play finish. Yellow cards in quick succession to Australia’s Rebecca Greiner and Nike Lorenz of Germany proved disruptive, but when both teams were restored to their full quota of players it was the team from Europe that took control.

Germany drew level at 2-2 with Hanna Granitzki again the scorer, finding the net with a close-range penalty corner follow-up that was almost identical to her first effort. Die Danas looked the team more likely to win it in normal time, with Charlotte Stapenhorst twice going close before the match finished with the scores level.

While both teams had earned a point from the contest, it was Australia who claimed the bonus point from the fixture by winning the shoot-out 3-1. Rachael Lynch yet again proved her class in the one-on-ones by being beaten only once, with Edwina Bone, Brooke Peris and Mariah Williams all on target.

“It is very exciting, it was a really tough game today”, said Player of the Match Sophie Taylor. “We had a tough weekend last weekend, so it was good to be able to play out the full 60 minutes today and win in shoot-outs. It is a really exciting league to be a part of, so we are looking forward to the next six months and what is ahead.”

Germany captain Janne Müller-Wieland said: “We are gutted we didn’t take away more than one point. We had chances throughout the game and could have avoided it going to shoot-outs. But it is a good game to learn from, especially the shoot-outs, we can analyse that and improve for our next game.”

The FIH Pro League continues next weekend with fixtures in New Zealand, Spain, Australia and United States.

FIH Pro League - Match Day 10 (Hobart, Australia)

10 February 2019

Result: Men’s Match 9
Australia 4, Germany 2
Player of the Match: Jacob Anderson (AUS)

Result: Women’s Match 9
Australia 2, Germany 2 (3-1 After Shoot-Out)
Player of the Match: Sophie Taylor (AUS)


Official FIH Pro League Site

Australia rule the roost over Germany

Australia had an energy-sapping weekend PIC: Grant Treeby/HA

Eighteen matches, 94 goals and an average of five goals per game across the men’s and women’s Pro League. Do teams know there is Olympic qualification at stake?

Another weekend and another hatful of goals, starting in Christchurch with the tournament’s first hat-trick courtesy of Great Britain’s Sam Ward and ending on Sunday in Tasmania.

Germany entered the FIH Pro League fray for the first time this weekend, but Australia took bragging rights in the two games in Hobart.

Australia’s men recovered from last week’s 4-1 home defeat to world champions Belgium by claiming a 4-2 triumph, while the Aussie women claimed a bonus point against their German rivals by winning the shoot-out after a 2-2 draw in normal time.

Florian Fuch’s scored a brilliant deflection at the back post before a Jacob Anderson double gave the hosts the lead.

Lukas Windfeder’s low penalty lifted the visitors before the break as Tobias Walter was kept busy in goal in the third quarter as Tom Wickham and Dylan Wotherspoon secured the points.

“It feels pretty good to get two goals in only my seventh cap, so I’m really happy”, said Anderson.

The one anomoly of the Pro League is that teams can start their campaign with other sides having played three or four games, as Germany found out to their cost.

Germany captain Mats Grambusch said: “We knew it was going to be a hard one against Australia. It was our first Pro League match and we now have to move on from it and go to New Zealand [next weekend].”

In the women’s encounter, Australia could have been forgiven for a touch of fatigue after their 4-3 thriller win over China on Saturday.

Hockeyroos’ keeper Rachael Lynch was the busier of the two shot-stoppers in the opening period before Sophie Taylor’s perfectly executed penalty corner slap-shot, her first international goal.

Hanna Granitzki then pounced from close range as Grace Stewart scored her second goal in two matches

Germany drew level again through Granitzki, with Charlotte Stapenhorst twice going close before the match finished with the scores level.

In the shoot out, Australia claimed the extra point via a 3-1 shoot-out win.

“It is very exciting, it was a really tough game today”, said Player of the Match Taylor.

“We had a tough weekend last weekend, so it was good to be able to play out the full 60 minutes today and win in shoot-outs. It is a really exciting league to be a part of, so we are looking forward to the next six months and what is ahead.”

The Hockey Paper

Great Britain hockey needs character and right headlines under Hager

The Hockey Paper says…

Two pieces on Mark Hager’s appointment have now been written by The Times, the only UK national newspaper – which signed up Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh as columnists for the 2018 World Cup – to provide any coverage on the news of Great Britain’s decision to appoint the Australian as successor to Danny Kerry.

However, with headlines such as ‘Britain hired ‘bully’ coach’, and, on Friday, ”Bully’ coach warnings were ignored‘, it has hardly been a positive start to the highly-rated Hager’s tenure, in terms of media coverage.

Given that UK Sport has funded GB hockey men’s and women’s teams to the tune of £17.1m towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the issue has rightly been highlighted, which came to light in the aftermath of the women’s World Cup and not reported in the UK broadsheets when he was still coach of the Black Sticks.

Great Britain’s Lily Owsley takes on New Zealand PIC: Simon Parker

Given also the controversies which have engulfed some British Olympic sports since the Rio Olympics – and the raft of articles written in New Zealand highlighting the alleged volatile environment in NZ hockey and accusations of ‘bully tactics’ – The Times‘ headlines were certainly forthright.

It remains to be seen what the media attention will be for GB Hockey if the soon-to-be-released review findings yield further negative material.

What the paper didn’t note in its latest report, however, was that apart from the 11 Kiwi players who raised concerns over ‘bully tactics’, there were seven players who backed Hager in an open letter, printed in a year which also saw several other controversies surface within elite New Zealand sport.

But at least the recent coverage has surfaced early in his role and the Australian can focus on the task ahead – and put to bed the sour ending to his otherwise successful career with the Kiwis, which gleaned Commonwealth gold last year (after beating England on the way) and a rankings rise throughout his time in charge.

It is also important to note Sally Munday’s assertion of Hager as “a good man, a family man of strong values and morals and that is a big part of his credibility as an outstanding hockey coach.”

So, let’s hope the UK national media can start to offer space on matters on the field and paint a picture of the emerging characters who will be bidding for an Olympic defence. Yes, Olympic champions and still – along with the likes of another British superstar, Adam Peaty – woefully under-represented in the sports pages on a regular basis.

Not that GB women have had much to shout about since Rio. They have yet to win a tournament, have had high-profile players sidelined by lengthy injuries and seen a leading player, Sophie Bray, even retire from international duties.

Meanwhile, GB men have started apace in 2019 – while there are characters emerging, notably in Rhys Smith, who is carving out some excellent hockey tricks on social media, suggesting that it’s not all hard graft and international focus at Bisham Abbey.

Clearly all hasn’t been rosy in camp since England were ousted from their home World Cup by the Dutch last summer and uncertainty over a full-time coach since. Character is what GB women needs now, once Hager works out his future template and sees the players he has at his disposal in the coming months.

With so many new faces in the GB team (the latest coming in the form of rising player Lizzie Neal) and several Rio stars still on the sidelines, it is set to be a fascinating year ahead in both tactical play – Hager was a revered forward during his playing days – and who emerges as candidates for Tokyo squad berths.

The home Pro League encounters and looming EuroHockey Championships will see to that.

The Hockey Paper

Inverleith pipped at the post in Oslo


Inverleith needed to win against Irish side Three Rock Rovers to secure promotion at the indoor European Club Challenge 1 tournament in Oslo, but their brave cause foundered on a last gasp equaliser by Ross Canning for a 3-3 draw.  The share of the spoils kept the Irish side in second spot in the promotion pool, leaving a crestfallen Inverleith three points adrift and the consolation of a bronze medal.

It was the Scots who took the early initiative with an open play strike by Patrick Christie.   Although Jody Hosking levelled at a penalty corner, within a minute Stephen Dick had restored Inverleith`s advantage.

Back came Three Rock again with a strike from David Kane, but just on the interval Aedan McCrossan gave Inverleith a crucial 3-2 lead.

The second half remained goalless with Inverleith on the verge of a famous victory, but events then took a cruel turn when Canning scored a belated equaliser at a penalty corner.   The Irish were reduced in numbers when Harry Morris was sent to the sin bin, but there was still no way back for Inverleith.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

ROUND-UP: English Men's Hockey League

Chris Proctor scoring for Beeston against Brooklands MU. Credit David Kissman.

Leaders Surbiton battled back from an early scare to beat the University of Exeter 4-1 and retain top spot in the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division on Sunday.

Keen to bounce back after defeat in the Jaffa Super 6s final, things didn’t start as planned for Surbiton with George Carson putting University of Exeter ahead in the fourth minute.

Scott Evans pulled one back for the hosts eight minutes later before Arjan Drayton Chana found the back of the net either side of the half. Tom Sorsby then wrapped the game up for Surbiton in the 63rd minute.

Hampstead and Westminster kept pace with the leaders with a slender 1-0 victory over Wimbledon.

The game had to wait until the 49th minute for the deadlock to be broken – Matt Guise Brown was on hand to edge the tie in Hampstead and Westminster’s favour.

Reading and Sevenoaks faced off with the latter looking to record their first win of the season.

Sevenoaks drew first blood thanks to Andrew Oxburgh but two goals in as many minutes from Jatinder Bachu and Matt Richards quickly turned the tide in Reading’s favour.

Edward Matts equalised for a battling Sevenoaks but Sam Armitage scored the last and decisive goal as Reading ended as 3-2 victors.

Elsewhere, Beeston hosted Brooklands MU with the game ending as a 1-1 stalemate.

Chris Proctor opened for Beeston in the 66th minute before David Flanagan levelled for Brooklands only two minutes later.

Conference West

University of Birmingham were the spectacle of the day as they beat struggling Isca 13-1 in the Men’s Conference West.

Eddie Way bagged a hat-trick for the Midlands side with Cuthbert Shepherd, Hywel Jones and Tom Poustie scoring twice in the victory to cut their deficit to league leaders Olton & West Warwickshire to two points.

The cut deficit is in part thanks to Oxford Hawks, who produced a shock by beating table toppers Olton & West Warwickshire.

The match was 1-1 at the end of the first half but Oxford Hawks soon ran away with the game, scoring three unanswered goals in the 4-1 win.

In the other Conference West fixture on Sunday, Fareham ran out 5-0 victors over Chichester which sees the sides switch places in eighth and ninth.

The Friday night fixture saw Team Bath Buccaneers topple University of Bristol 3-0 with Ben Stone scoring all three.

Conference North

Bowdon opened up a three-point gap at the head of the Men’s Conference North table thanks to a 3-1 victory over third placed University of Nottingham.

Elliot White and Thomas Ainsworth gave the leaders a 2-0 lead at the half with Oliver Stoddart adding a third shortly after the game’s resumption. Luke Hudson clawed back a goal on 52 minutes but it was a consolation as the game ended 3-1 to Bowdon.

Bowdon lead by three points after the University of Durham’s shock 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Loughborough Students on Saturday.

Sheffield Hallam kept themselves close by in fourth with a 5-0 win over bottom side Alderley Edge.

Elsewhere, Doncaster got the better of Preston in a high scoring game as Doncaster held onto a 3-1 half time lead, eventually beating their cross-Pennine rivals 5-3. Finally, Leeds beat Belper 5-0.

Conference East

Runaway Men’s Conference East leaders Old Georgians produced another fine display, recording a 10-1 victory over Teddington at home.

James Tindall and Nick Cooper racked up three goals each for the hosts. James Albery, Elliott Messem and Matthew Ming added the others in the convincing win.

Oxted overcame Canterbury six minutes from the end thanks to Sam Driver’s 64th minute goal, which helps leave them four points ahead of third-placed Southgate.

Southgate overtook Canterbury into third place with a resounding 4-1 win over bottom club City of Peterborough while Josh Smith and Karan Sofat scored twice each in Richmond’s 6-2 win over Cambridge City.

Elsewhere, a mid-table clash between Old Loughtonians and Brighton & Hove ended with the former taking the spoils 3-1.


Men’s Premier Division: Beeston 1, Brooklands Manchester University 1; Reading 3, Sevenoaks 2; University of Exeter 1, Surbiton 4; Wimbledon 0, Hampstead & Westminster 1.

Conference West: Fareham 5, Chichester 0; Oxford Hawks 4, Olton & West Warwickshire 1; University of Birmingham 13, Isca 1; University of Bristol 0, Team Bath Buccaneers 3.

Conference North: Alderley Edge 0, Sheffield Hallam 5; Bowdon 3, University of Nottingham 1; Doncaster 5, Preston 3; Leeds 5, Belper 0; University of Durham 0, Loughborough Students 3.

Conference East: Canterbury 2, Oxted 3; Old Georgians 10, Teddington 1; Old Loughtonians 3, Brighton & Hove 1; Richmond 6, Cambridge City 2; Southgate 4, City of Peterborough 1.

England Hockey Board Media release

Railways’ win-track mind

Stun reigning champions Punjab 3-2 in final to win fourth national title in five years

Railways dished out a scintillating performance to stun defending champions Punjab 3-2 and win the senior men’s hockey National Championship (Division A) title here on Sunday.

Railways have now won four titles in five attempts. Last year’s bronze had come after a hat-trick of titles since 2015.

Eager to regain the title, Railways came into the tournament after a long preparatory camp. They overcame teams that were much stronger on paper — Punjab and semifinal opponents Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) had a host of current India players.

Harsahib Singh (35th and 43th minutes) scored a brace while India striker Dilpreet Singh (57th) struck late for the winners. Punjab’s goals came from India players Rupinder Pal Singh (23rd) and Ramandeep Singh (60th).
Both the teams started cautiously as they kept their defence tight and didn’t allow space in their striking circles.

After an uneventful first quarter, the defending champions made the breakthrough in the 23rd minute. Minutes after striker Ramandeep missed a chance, Rupinder converted a penalty corner with a perfect drag-flick.

The third quarter belonged to Harsahib, who turned the tables on Punjab with two crucial field goals. With three minutes to go, Railways got one hand on the trophy as Dilpreet increased the lead to 3-1.

Ramandeep, who had missed several chances throughout the match, finally converted. But it proved too little too late as the final hooter went seconds later.

Meanwhile, PSPB beat Punjab & Sind Bank 4-1 to clinch the bronze medal.

Talwinder Singh (8th), Devinder Walmiki (13th), Harmanpreet Singh (49th) and Mandeep Singh (57th) scored for the winners, while Gaganpreet Singh (51st) scored Punjab & Sind Bank’s lone goal.

Second win for Punjab eves

Hisar: Punjab registered their second win in a row in the senior women’s hockey National Championship (Division A) here on Sunday. Rajwinder Kaur (32th), Navpreet Kaur (39th) and Ekta Kaushik (54th) scored in Punjab’s 3-0 win over Kerala in Pool D.

In Pool A, Karnataka registered their second consecutive win by beating Hockey Coorg 3-0. In Pool B, Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy secured a 3-1 win over Hockey Bhopal to register their second victory in as many games. Maharashtra secured an emphatic 6-0 win over Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in a Pool C game.

The Tribune

Bann double delight earns strong hold on Irish EYHL top spot

Geoff Cole battles his way out of a Pembroke tackle. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Banbridge’s pair of wins over the weekend propelled them to top of the men’s EY Hockey League with a game in hand on their nearest rivals, Glenanne, following the weekend’s action.

Men’s EY Hockey League – weekend round-up

Saturday: Cork C of I 2 (J Jermyn, P Bronwlow) Banbridge 3 (J Moffett 2, Z McClelland)

Banbridge moved back to the top of the EYHL table on Saturday night as they came from 2-1 down in the second half to earn the spoils at Garryduff. The game was preceded by a minute’s silence in honour of C of I club man Charlie Sweetnma who passed away this week.

The first quarter was aggressively contested with few chances but Bann took the lead in the second quarter following a great passing move down the left, Josh Moffett finishing off.

John Jermyn replied with a rocket off the crossbar to make it 1-1 at half-time from C of I’s second corner of the game. He was instrumental in their second, too, with a long a overhead into the circle that was missed by the last defender and Phil Brownlow was lurking to put it away – a goal reminiscent of Julian Dale’s effort against the same opposition in C of I colours.

Bann got level when Peter Brown’s powerful cross fell to Moffett who finished off, making it 2-2 going int the final quarter.

Bann bossed much of the last stanza and they got their winner when Fraser Mills’ cross found Zach McClelland to finish, taking advantage of an extra man with Philip Byrne in the sin-bin.

Lisnagarvey 5 (O Kidd, J Corry, M Nelson, B Nelson, D Nelson) Cookstown 1 (G Allen)

The Nelson family had a day to remember as all three brothers were on the mark for Lisnagarvey as they swept aside Cookstown at a drenched Comber Road. All their goals came in the first half with Ollie Kidd setting the tone in the second minute.

James Corry’s penalty stroke a few minutes later doubled the lead before the Nelsons took centre stage. Matthew’s reverse-stick shot was deflected in by Ben for his first EYHL goal and 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Matthew Nelson added the next, getting on the end of a quick attack following a swift attack. Daniel Nelson soon got in on the act with a cracking backhand shot for 5-0 and it could have been worse for Cookstown when Ben Nelson hit the post and a second Matthew Nelson effort was ruled out.

Cookstown got one back in the second half via Greg Allen as the heavens opened but no further goals accrued in the closing quarter. Garvey move up a couple of places above Three Rock Rovers and Annadale who were not in action this weekend.

Monkstown 3 (G Watkins, R Nichols, G Sarratt) Pembroke 2 (G Chambers, S Miller)

Monkstown landed their third win of the season built around a glorious opening 22 minutes in which they scored all their goals. They had succumbed to a big Pembroke comeback in their first meeting of the season but Town held on for an important result that gets them back in touch with the playoff places.

Player-coach Gareth Watkins put them in front in the fifth minute from the penalty spot after Ross Quirke’s shot hit a body on the line.

It got better in the 10th minute when the ball was worked up the right side to Andrew Ward and his pass on the 45 got to Rory Nichols who slotted in for 2-0. The third goal came via a Guy Sarratt drag-flick and the hosts were in great shape.

Pembroke got a lifeline from a long corner attack that was crossed for a Greg Chambers tap in, reducing the deficit to 3-1 at half-time.

And it was properly game on when Stuart Miller shot into the bottom left corner off the back of a well-worked two-on-one attack. There was still 20 minutes to play at that stage and Pembroke had their moments to get back level with Keith O’Hare denied by Dave Fitzgerald who made a couple of key saves.

They held on and now have breathing room to the bottom three in the table and can look more assuredly at the upper half of the table.

Sunday: Banbridge 6 (E Rowe, J Moffett, L Witherow, E Magee, D Rae, A Tinney) Cookstown 1 (S Smyth)

A first-half Banbridge blitz saw the Co Down side end the weekend in top spot with a comfortable win over Cookstown who had a weekend to forget.

Eddie Rowe gave them the lead with a sublime upright reverse-stick finish. Matthew Rollins took a corner shot off the line but Bann were not to be denied a second for too long as Josh Moffett deflected home before the quarter-time break.

The hosts also welcomed Philip Brown for his first appearance of the season and they got their third goal when Fraser Mills got to the byeline and found Luke Witherow to score. Eugene Magee’s corner supplied the fourth goal before half-time.

Mills hit the post early in the second half before Cookstown got some reprieve when Stu Smyth planted a low flick into the corner. Brown marked his comeback with an assist for David Rae to make it 5-1 and Alex Tinney completed the win from a corner switch.

Monkstown 3 (D Cole, G Sarratt, G Watkins) Glenanne 4 (D Keogh, C Jakobi, S Boucher, B Venter)

Glenanne continued their unbeaten run into a ninth league game with a strong second half performance earning a 4-3 win over Monkstown at the ALD Merrion Fleet Arena.

They led twice in a busy first quarter with David Cole knocking in a corner rebound in the fourth minute, a goal that was almost instantly countered by a penalty stroke from David Keogh.

Jason Lynch holds possession. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Guy Sarratt’s drag-flick restored the Town lead in the 10th minute but Cedric Jakobi continued his fine form with a replica equaliser, 2-2 by the 13 minute mark.

It remained that way until half-time with Nick Dee taking one off the line on the half-time whistle from a Shannon Boucher drag. The Glens, though, started the second half brightly and went in front when Jonny McCormack countered down the right and crossed to Boucher who swivelled around a defender to fire a shot into the backboard.

Iain Walker made a couple of key saves to keep that narrow lead as did his counterpart David Fitzgerald, keeping it at 3-2 until 10 minutes to go when the crucial goal arrived. Richie Shaw found Boucher whose pass across goal was deflected into the net by Brad Venter.

Town got one back with seven minutes left from a Gareth Watkins stroke but they could not forge an equaliser.

The Hook

Loreto’s last second magic sees Beaufort side back on top

Dramatic goals in the last two minutes at both Grange Road and Belfield saw Loreto and Pegasus swap places at the top of the women’s EY Hockey League at the halfway stage.

Women’s EY Hockey League – day nine round-up

Loreto 1 (H Matthews) Cork Harlequins 0

Hannah Matthews kept her cool brilliantly to break Cork Harlequins’ hearts and move back to the top of the women’s EY Hockey League with the last touch of a huge battle at Grange Road.

The Farmers Cross side were left to rue their incomplete chances as they had the better of the contest’s scrappy, general play in what was a repeat of last season’s Champions Trophy final.

The Cork side won two early corners with Olivia Roycroft going close and had the edge of the openings that did come about.

Another series of three set-pieces came in the final 10 minutes but Loreto held firm and then gave a ruthless display of efficiency to score from a penalty corner on the final hooter.

Sarah Clarke slipped it to Matthews to control and flick into the roof of the net for a devastating late 1-0 blow to Quins.

UCD 3 (S Patton, N Carey, A Russell) Pegasus 2 (A Speers, T Doherty)

Abbie Russell slotted the odd goal in five in the 68th minute to give UCD a big win over Pegasus, knocking the Ulster side off top spot in the process.

It capped a fine comeback in the last 20 minutes of a cracking contest at Belfield. The first quarter ended scoreless in a very even contest but UCD went in front in the 21st minute with the only goal of the half, Orla Patton setting up her sister Sarah to score from the second corner of the game.

Pegs fought back in the second half with Shirley McCay at the heart of things. First, she set up Alex Speers to slot home, continuing her prolific season, 1-1 in the 48th minute. Three minutes later, McCay drove the ball into the D and Taite Doherty emerged with the final touch for a 2-1 lead going into the final quarter.

UCD upped the ante and won a series of penalty corners before scoring the pick of their goals this season to date as Ellen Curran, Michelle Carey and Nina Heisterkamp all played a role in getting Niamh Carey through to get down low to fire in.

That came with 11 minutes of packed drama to go as Pegs won two corners while UCD also had some set pieces before winning it when Curran found Niamh Carey who in turn shipped on to Heisterkamp. Her pass to Russell led to the winner.

Pembroke 3 (G Pinder 2, O Macken) Belfast Harlequins 3 (J Watt 2, L Colvin)

Pembroke and Belfast Harlequins shared a highly entertaining draw at Serpentine Avenue as things remain very congested in mid-table. Pembroke drew first blood when Quins delayed a free too long for umpire Gillian Garrett’s liking and she reversed the decision.

Sinead Loughran was alive to the situation and raced onto the ball as the Belfast side stood watching; the first phase was cleared but only to Orla Macken who switched the point of attack to Gillian Pinder who hit home from top D.

Jenna Watt smacked in a corner hit to make it 1-1 at half-time and they went in front in the second half. Lizzie Colvin did brilliantly to win the ball herself and race into the circle, unleashing a reverse into the bottom corner.

Orla Macken levelled the game for a second time when she, as stopper, took on an off-course corner injection and struck sweetly into the backboard. Early in the fourth quarter, Belfast retook the lead with Watt again the scorer, her hit taking a looping deflection off number one runner Loughran for 3-2.

Pinder, though, had the final say when she floated in down the right channel and while her initial cross was cut out, the ball fell kindly for her to angle a slap into the top of the goal.

Railway Union 2 (O Fox, Z Delany) Old Alexandra 1 (E Russell)

Railway Union moved above Old Alex in the table with a 2-1 victory at Park Avenue, moving within two points of the Champions Trophy playoff places.

The first half ended scoreless with Railway holding most of the play. The second half saw the hosts take the lead via Orla Fox only for Emma Russell to equalise with the game approaching the hour mark. Zara Delany replied instantly, though, to turn things back Railway’s way as they recorded their third win of the campaign.

Muckross v Ards – postponed due to a bereavement

The Hook

UniKL come from behind to short circuit Tenaga Nasional

KUALA LUMPUR: Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) came back from the dead to beat Tenaga Nasional 4-2 in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) at the Tun Razak Stadium yesterday.

Now, it looks like UniKL are going to have a home run for the MHL title as they only have three more matches against “easier” opponents in Nur Insafi and Maybank followed by TNB Thunderbolts at the Tengku Abdullah Stadium.

And if they win all three matches, they can celebrate at their very own stadium in Bangi.

Tenaga Nasional took a 2-1 lead, but UniKL kept pressing and scored in their last two quarters.

The UniKL goals were scored by Izwan Firdaus (10th), Razie Rahim (43rd), Kieran Ian Govers (47th) and Ashran Hamsani (55th).

Seasoned national player Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (15th) and Norshafiq Sumantri (20th) scored for Tenaga.

“Tenaga Nasional controlled the match for two quarters, but I have players who can turn around a match... actually I call them match winners, and that’s how we managed to make a comeback,” said UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj.

Arul, a former national player, gave credit to Ashran Hamsani who notched their fourth goal to ease the pressure.

“I feel very proud to have players like Ashran in my team. He has been with us for at least six years, and I have placed him in defense, midfield and forward and he has adapted well in every position.

“Players like him are what make this club great,” said Arul.

Tenaga coach Nor Saiful Zaini said they have given up hope on the title, and will play for the second spot in their remaining matches.

“It will be very difficult to chase UniKL now as I don’t see them dropping points in their next three matches.

“They are the best in MHL now, and so, we will be playing to finish second.”

New Straits Times

Might of the imports

By Aftar Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: Experienced hands saved the day as Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) came alive in the last two quarters to beat Tenaga Nasional 4-2 at the Tun Razak Hockey Stadium in Jalan Duta.

Holland’s Robert Kemperman and Australian Kieran Govers stepped up when UniKL were down 1-2 to lead the team to a superb comeback win to keep alive their hopes of lifting their first-ever Malaysia Hockey League Premier Division title.

UniKL now have 25 points from eight wins and one draw. They have a healthy four-point lead against second-placed Tenaga, who have 21 points from nine matches.

They have three remaining league matches against Nur Insafi (Feb 17), Maybank (Feb 20) and TNB Thunderbolt (Feb 22) and should win all.

Yesterday, UniKL started well by taking a lead through Izwan Firdaus Ahmad Tajuddin off a goal melee in the 10th minute but five minutes later, Tenaga equalised off a reverse stick effort by Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil.

UniKL were down to nine men in the second quarter when Govers was flashed a yellow card for a rough tackle while Kemperman was handed a green card for a physical offence on a Tenaga player.

And Tenaga took advantage of the situation by taking the lead off a penalty corner converted by Norsyafiq Sumantri in the 20th minute.

That only fuelled the fire in UniKL as they came charging back to score three goals in the space of 12 minutes.

Muhd Razie Abdul Rahim levelled the score in the 43rd off a penalty corner and four minutes later Govers gave UniKL the lead from close range. And Mohd Ashran Hamsani completed the rout in the 55th minute.

UniKL coach A. Arulselvaraj credited Tenaga for dominating most of the first two quarters.

“But our foreign players turned the game around for us in the last two quarters. Their experience made a lot of difference and together with our national players, the team played well to collect full points,” said Arul.

“I’m impressed with some of our junior players especially Ashran who has been with the team for the last seven years, he is playing exceptionally well.”

A dejected Tenaga coach Nor Saiful Zaini admitted their hopes of winning the league title was over after the defeat.

“UniKL were far too stronger than us today and I think, they are now the favourites to win the league title,” said Nor Saiful, who guided Tenaga to victory the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup last month.

The Star of Malaysia

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