Ulster Hockey Review
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Ulster Hockey Review



Ulster avoid a whitewash

Simon Todd’s superb last gasp equaliser against Munster, saved Ulster from an Inter-pro whitewash, securing only one point on the way.

But, it was a disappointing tournament all-round for Ulster, who were going for a hat-trick of wins in both the Ulster Senior and Under 21 tourneys, to hand the titles to Leinster.

Both sides were outplayed in their opening game by hosts Leinster, the seniors going down 4-1 and the Under 21’s coming out on the wrong side of a 2-1 scoreline.

And then against Munster, Ulster seniors had to come back from behind twice to secure a draw, with the U21’s securing maximum points against Munster winning 3-2.

Granted Leinster and Munster had full strength squads, and the question is if Ulster’s five ‘Europeans’ had been available, there may have been a completely different slant on the outcome.

Questions must also be asked as to why Ulster don’t include the Dutch pair Mark Gleghorne and Iain Lewers. Albeit they have opted to play for GB, and not Ireland, but that shouldn’t mean that they can’t play for Ulster. Are we not shooting ourselves in the foot, and depriving our supporters the opportunity of watching two superb hockey players, and holding onto the Inter-pro title? Maybe that argument is for another day.

Meanwhile, Ulster used the opportunity to introduce several debutantes, Stephen Arbuthnot, Diarmid Reay, and Fraser Mills into the senior squad, and the step up from premiership hockey to inter-pro level was evident. Paul Cleghorne also made his senior debut, but his international and English premiership experience with Loughborough, shone through.

The pace of the game at this level is unrelenting, and the new self pass rule, which is played the way it is meant to, means that there is no time to take a quick ‘breather’.

Ulster’s performance against Munster was much better than their game against Leinster. After a scoreless first half, in which both defences reigned supreme, the game burst into life just two minutes into the second half.

And it went in Munster’s favour, albeit somewhat harshly as Ulster had been in the ascendency, when John Jermym speared home Munster’s first penalty corner of the game.

Their lead was short-lived, as three minutes later Ulster swung into attack, and as the ball fell to Bruce McCandless just inside the Munster circle, he unleashed a sweetly struck reverse stick shot, which soared into the net for the leveller.

Ulster were now in the hunt for the winner, as they forced Munster on the back foot, but they were still getting little change out of the Muster defence.

In the 62nd minute, with Ulster pushing forward, Munster sprung from defence to score a somewhat strange goal. From the left handside of the Ulster circle, the ball defelected high off a defenders stick to lob over the Ulster defence for it to fall to a bemused Jermyn to simply tap home at the far post.

With the clock ticking down, Ulster threw everything into attack and with two minutes to go, they were back on level terms. Chris Cargo cut down the left to smash in a low hard cross, which was met by Todd diving at full stretch to guide the ball home.

After the match David Scott the Ulster Coach said:

“I think that some of our new guys realised that there is a big step up to this level from club level. They played very well but the speed of the game is a speed they wouldn’t have been used to, and it was a good eye-opener for them, and it is good to get this experience behind them.

“We were well beaten by Leinster in our opening game, and the guys were honest with themselves, and knew they needed to step up. But our performance against Munster was much better all round. Overall I was very pleased with the squad, and the guys attitude was excellent.”

Meanwhile Ulster U21’s squandered a one goal advantage after Neil Hamilton had given them the lead going down 2-1 to Leinster.

And, in the next game Hamilton fired Ulster into a three-goal first half lead, scoring three penalty corners on 13, 17 and 33 minutes. But Munster hit back in the second half, through Dan Hobbs to put the game on a knife edge, with Ulster just hanging onto their one goal advantage to take the points.


Senior Inter Provincial
Ulster 1 Leinster 4
Ulster 2 Munster 2
Leinster 2 Munster 1
Final Positions: 1st Leinster 6pts; 2nd Munster 1pt; 3rd Ulster 1pt.

U21 Inter Provincial
Ulster 1 Leinster 2
Ulster 3 Munster 2
Munster 2 Leinster 3
Final positions: 1st Leinster 6pts; 2nd Ulster 3pts; 3rd Munster 0pts.

Senior One
Armagh 1 Antrim 1
Harlequins 6 Down 1
Cliftonville 0 South Antrim 6
Portadown 0 Civil Service 7

Sussex Regiment Cup
Ballymena 2 Larne 3 (AET)
PSNI 4 Saintfield 4
(PSNI win 3-0 PS)
Parkview 1 Campbellians 2

Tuesday 30th March

Instonians V Annadale (7.45pm)

Senior One
Queens V Harlequins (7.45pm)

Senior Two
Larne V Parkview
PSNI V Campbellians
Portrush V Ballymena

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ONE 1918 Senior Review

By David Agnew

Senior One

NICS hammered Portadown 7-0 on Saturday, South powered past Ville 6-0 and Harlequins thrashed Down 6-1 – none of those results were unexpected but Armagh’s 1-1 draw with Antrim was certainly a surprise but credit must go to Robbie McMinns men:

A point won or 2 points lost that was the talk going around Ardmore after the City Side played hosts to second in the table Antrim last Saturday, and after being beaten 4 – 0 by the same team the week before Armagh were in no mood to repeat the favour.

With that all important Kirk Cup spot still up for grabs, Armagh needed to step up their game and prove to their Coach Robbie McMinn that all his hard work throughout the season is now paying off, and in the first 5 minutes of the match you would have seen a well structured team on the field and where taking the game to Antrim right from the start.

Unfortunately this style of play wasn’t to last as the game became very scrappy and the game became physical , as much as the game was scrappy Armagh where creating the better chances and went close on numerous occasions only for the Antrim keeper to deny the goal.

On 15 minutes Armagh made the break through when Gregory Croft made space in the D to drive the ball into the net, minutes later Stewart Kirkland was to go very close again finding himself free in the D unfortunately the ball was drove straight at the keeper.

Antrim rarely got through the Armagh defence in the first half however on three occasions it took scrappy defending to clear the ball from around the Armagh goal area, when a touch could have put the ball in the Armagh net. Half Time Armagh 1 Antrim 0.

The second half was to become very physical with cards getting shown right around the field, Armagh continued to make the better chances and the Antrim team was relying on breakaways. Armagh started to win the Penalty Corner tally but they weren't clicking and the Antrim keeper seemed to have all areas covered, Antrim where just as bad as most of the Penalty Corners where hit wide and didn’t trouble the Armagh goal.

Half way through the half Antrim where reduced to ten men for a bad challenge, the advantage Armagh had was short lived as it was levelled up when Davy Warnock was then Sin Binned minutes later. Armagh continued to penetrate the Antrim goal, Kirkland, Bell, Mark Brown, Andy Brown, Warnock, Hutton Warnock and Croft all had chances to finish Antrim off, however poor finishing and the Antrim Keeper made sure the score line remained at 1-0.

Disaster then happened to the City Side and it was their own doing with ten minutes left on the clock and looking to pull off a shock result Paul English played the ball from a Hit out straight to an Antrim forward who played his colleague in, who rounded the Armagh keeper and slotted the ball home.

1-1 was not the end of the day and if you where to ask anyone of the Armagh squad would they have taken a 1-1 at the start, they would have bitten your hand off, however it could of and should of been so much more, but also they could have lost it right at the end as Antrim had two glorious chances to win the match.

The match ended with a Red and Yellow card two minutes from time and they where both handed out to Antrim reducing them to 9 men, however there was not enough time for Armagh to produce a grand stand finish and the game ended Armagh 1 Antrim 1.

Senior Two

In the days only Senior Two game Ballynahinch kept the pressure on PSNI and Campbellians with a 3-1 win over Portrush.

Sussex Regiment Cup

Larne left it late but defeated Ballymena in dramatic fashion when they scored the silver goal in the last minute of extra time (3-2 it finished). They will be joined in the next round by Campbellians who knocked out Parkview winning 2-1 despite missing several key players.

***And finally….one person from each senior league club has got my mobile number. It would be a massive help if you could send through scores, goal scorers and brief match details after every game. Many thanks***
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ONE 1918 Senior Spotlight

By David Agnew

Senior One

Once again the focus this weekend in Senior One is on Kirk Cup places as QUB, Armagh and Portadown all battle it out for the last remaining spot in next season’s elite cup competition.

Most neutrals will say that Portadown have little chance of adding to their points tally with a buoyant NICS due for a visit to Edenvilla on Saturday in the Ports last remaining fixture. But the hosts are aiming to put on a decent display with the possibility of a great end to what has been a difficult season.

Armagh are chasing down a 4 point gap and have two games in hand on the Ports so Robbie McMinn’s lads will be fully focussed ahead of Antrim’s visit to Ardmore. Lessons will have been learnt from last weekend’s 4-0 defeat by the same opponents but Antrim will want to finish their own season off in style and make it 5 wins on the trot.

QUB are still in the race and given their recent good run of results they may just fancy their chances of pipping both Portadown and Armagh to the post. They are not in action this weekend though so in true student fashion… I’m sure they will be up early, training hard or watching/scouting their next opponents and then early to bed ahead of their tough Easter holidays from University… I merely jest of course!

Harlequins and Down are due to meet at Deramore as Quins aim to claw their way up to fourth place. Jonny Carren (a returning former Collegians player) is now occupying the Harlequins hot-seat and his playing/coaching CV is extremely impressive. Carren is a Level 3 qualified coach who has been in Australia since 2001 where he gained experience of top-level hockey alongside the likes of Brent Livermore, Jamie Dwyer, Phil Burrows and many more international stars as both a player and later as a coach. Since his return to Belfast in January this year he has been coaching Belfast Harlequins and also secured the Strength & Conditioning Contract for Ulster representatives of the Irish Senior Men’s Team. Quins spokesman Robin Quigley believes that this appointment will be the catalyst for long-term success and of course Premier League status sooner rather than later.

Cliftonville are now out of the race for a Kirk Cup place and South Antrim have claimed third spot so when these two sides meet on Saturday it will purely be for pride.

Senior Two

In Senior Two the only action takes place between Portrush and Ballynahinch and the visitors will be hard to beat given the return to form shown by Grant Hayes in last week’s Sussex Regiment Cup victory.

Sussex Regiment Cup

Ballymena host Larne in what promises to be a close affair while Saintfield face an uphill struggle on their trip to PSNI and Campbellians will fancy their chances of smooth passage into the next round as the league leaders travel to face Parkview.

(and as usual my Ports team will be tipped for a win!)

Senior One
Ports 2 vs NICS 1 (stoke the fire a bit)
Armagh 1 vs Antrim 2
Quins 6 vs Down 2
Ville 1 vs South 5

Senior Two
Portrush 1 vs Hinch 4

Sussex Regiment Cup
Ballymena 1 vs Larne 1
Saints 1 vs PSNI 3
Parkview 1 vs Campbellians 4

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Kirk on the move again!

Ulster Hockey’s Kirk Cup final has changed date for an unbelievable fifth time.

The prestigious final between Banbridge and Cookstown, which is normally played on Boxing Day, will now move, for the fifth time of asking, to Sunday 25th April. However, the venue is yet to be decided as Lisnagarvey Hockey Club is unavailable.

“It is regrettable that we have had to change the date yet again,”

explained Ulster Hockey Executive Manager, Angela Platt.

“We simply hadn’t realised that the British Universities Hockey Tournament in England, was clashing with the 10th April date, and as several players involved in the Kirk Cup Final, would also be playing for the Northern Ireland Universities team, we had no choice but to find another date.

"It is very disappointing to have to change the date, as other dates we have pencilled in have been postponed because of the severe weather conditions this season.

“Unfortunately we cannot use Garvey’s excellent facilities, so we are trying to find a suitable neutral venue for the final. We have a couple of alternative venues in mind but we are checking availability at the moment.”

So, it is fingers crossed this time round, or we could still be playing it in June!

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Service Serve Six Of The Best

Irish Hockey Trophy Final
Civil Service 6 - 0 Suttonians

Aaron Gill smashed home a hat-trick as Civil Service brought the Irish Trophy home in-style, as they thumped six goals past Suttonians in yesterday’s Dublin final.

It was just the perfect way to bring the curtain down on their superb season, as they already have promotion to the premiership in the bag.

With less than a minute on the clock Suttonians swung into attack but Service captain Jamie Anderson saved the day clearing the ball off the line.

From there Service never looked back, and on 8 minutes their prolific goal scorer, Gill struck, blasting home an unstoppable penalty corner strike.

With five minutes of the half remaining Service doubled their lead, Patrick Towe following up Gill’s initial penalty corner shot, to slide the ball home to give the Belfast side a deserved lead at the turn.

The second half was one way traffic for Service, as they romped home another three goals to lift the cup, thanks to one a piece from Colin Irwin and Ross Anderson with Gill wrapping up a perfect day all-round with two more goals.

You can view more photographs taken by Adrian Boehm here...