News for 21 March 2013

All the news for Thursday 21 March 2013

Thrilling finale to Men's Hockey League

Ben Arnold, Beeston

THE Men’s Hockey League Premier Division reaches a thrilling stage this weekend, with five teams chasing the remaining three spots in the end of season play-off Championship.

At the other end of the table, Southgate and Brooklands Manchester University are both still fighting to avoid relegation. And to add to the excitement this weekend, all three Conference titles will also be decided.

Cannock’s defeat by East Grinstead last weekend saw them drop to sixth in the Premier Division, but they are still in the race for the play-offs. They entertain third-placed Canterbury on Sunday and could overtake them if they win by at least four goals.

East Grinstead go to ninth-placed Southgate on Sunday and will be hopeful of a victory which could see them claw their way back into the top four. But a win for Southgate would see them avoid automatic relegation.

Reading currently occupy fourth spot, but face perhaps the toughest match at home to runaway leaders Beeston (whose player Ben Arnold is pictured).

Meanwhile, second-placed Surbiton play bottom of the table Brooklands Manchester University. Surbtion’s goal difference means they are all but assured a top four spot but Brooklands need a win and hope Southgate fail to do so to avoid automatic relegation.

While things are tight in the Premier Division, it is even closer in the Conference East with Holcombe and Wimbledon locked in a battle for a place in the promotion play-offs.

The two sides are level on league points and points difference with Holcombe holding the advantage on goals scored. But their goals for and against are also just two goals apart, meaning that if Holcombe beat Old Loughtonians 2-0 and Wimbledon beat Cambridge City 4-2, the title will be decided on the aggregate score in the matches between the two sides during the season.

In that case Wimbledon will go top of the table, having beaten and drawn with Holcombe

However the title is decided, it is believed to be the tightest finish to a league on record, according to England Hockey Competitions Manager Stephen Barlow.

In the Men’s Conference North, Sheffield Hallam’s fate is in their own hands. Currently second, they have a double header weekend and face Preston on Saturday and University of Durham on Sunday. If they win both matches they will overtake current leaders Bowdon, who go to Belper.

And in the Men’s Conference West the top two teams Cardiff & UWIC and University of Exeter face each other in a winner-takes-all match in Devon.

Men’s Hockey League (Saturday, March 23 2013)

Conference North

Sheffield Hallam v Preston 13:30

Men’s Hockey League (Sunday, March 24 2013)

Premier Division

Brooklands MU v Surbiton 14:00
Cannock v Canterbury 14:00
Hampstead & Westminster v Loughborough Students 14:00
Reading v Beeston 14:00
Southgate v East Grinstead 14:00

Conference East
Old Loughtonians v Holcombe 14:00
Oxted v Bromley & Beckenham 14:00
Richmond v City of Peterborough 14:00
Teddington v Indian Gymkhana 14:00
Wimbledon v Cambridge City 14:00

Conference North
Belper v Bowdon 14:00
Khalsa (Warks) v Olton & West Warwicks 14:00
Leek v Preston 14:00
Sheffield Hallam v Univ of Durham 14:00
Wakefield v Doncaster 14:00

Conference West
Bristol Firebrands v Cheltenham 14:00
Fareham v Team Bath Buccaneers 14:00
Guildford v Univ of Birmingham 14:00
Univ of Exeter v Cardiff & UWIC 14:00
Whitchurch v Havant 14:00

England Hockey Board Media release

Surbiton and Bowdon in play-off battle

Sarah Haycroft, Surbiton

THE battle for the final play-off spot in the Investec Women’s Premier Division goes down to the wire this Saturday, with Surbiton and Bowdon Hightown both hoping to clinch the final place in the end of season Championship.

Surbiton currently occupy fourth spot, but face leaders Canterbury in a tough test. Meanwhile, Bowdon Hightown are just one point behind and entertain Clifton in their final league match.

“We’ve put maximum effort into training this week and we’re all looking forward to it,” said Bowdon Hightown manager Dieter Hill. “All we can do is win our game and hope.

“We’re desperate to reach the play-offs, that was our big aim at the start of the season - but that’s only job number one. We’ve got to reach the Cup final too. We’ve won the Cup more than any other club in the league, so we want to keep up our record.”

Elsewhere, Leicester entertain Slough as they bid to take top spot away from Canterbury. Third-placed Reading are also at home against Sutton Coldfield, while at the foot of the table ninth plays eighth as Olton and West Warwickshire host University of Birmingham in a crucial relegation derby. A three goal win for Olton would see them escape the relegation play-off at the expense of the students.

In the Investec Conference East, the top two play each other in a thrilling finish to the season. If visitors Sevenoaks beat leaders Harleston Magpies by four goals or more they will overtake their rivals and book their place in the promotion play-offs.

In the Investec Conference North Beeston are all but mathematically certain of the title and they will hope to celebrate with a win at home to Whitley Bay & Tynemouth. Liverpool Sefton and Cannock are both battling to avoid automatic relegation. Liverpool Sefton go to Wakefield Bradford, while Cannock travel to University of Durham.

The same applies in the Investec Conference West, with Staines and Taunton Vale in the mix. Victory for Staines at home against Bristol Firebrands will mean they avoid automatic relegation, while Taunton Vale will need to beat Barnes Hounslow Ealing – and hope Staines lose – to avoid the drop.

Investec Women’s Hockey League (Saturday, March 23 2013)

Investec Premier Division
Bowdon Hightown v Clifton 14:00
Leicester v Slough 14:00
Olton & West Warwicks v Univ of Birmingham 14:00
Reading v Sutton Coldfield 14:00
Surbiton v Canterbury 14:00

Investec Conference East
Bromley & Beckenham v St Albans 14:00
Chelmsford v Old Loughtonians 14:00
Harleston Magpies v Sevenoaks 14:00
Ipswich v Wimbledon 14:00
Oxford Hawks v Horsham 14:00

Investec Conference North
Beeston v Whitley Bay and Tynemouth 14:00
Brooklands Poynton v Ben Rhydding 14:00
Loughborough Students v Doncaster 14:00
Univ of Durham v Cannock 14:00
Wakefield Bradford v Liverpool Sefton 14:00

Investec Conference West
Barnes Hounslow Ealing v Taunton Vale 14:00
Buckingham v Stourport 14:00
Gloucester City v Trojans 14:00
Staines v Bristol Firebrands 14:00
Swansea City v Isca University 14:00

Investec Women’s Cup, semi finals (Sunday, March 24 2013)

Buckingham v Bowdon Hightown 12:00
Clifton v Sutton Coldfield 12:30

England Hockey Board Media release

Showpiece event: Leicester's Final Showdown

Canterbury v. Leicester

It's the final weekend of action in the Investec Women’s Hockey League and in their last home game of the season Leicester face Slough at 2pm on Saturday at Leicester Grammar School.

Already confirmed as Investec Women’s League Finalists, Leicester will be looking to finish off their season in style. A win or a draw could see the Midlands side in with a chance of clinching top spot in the division and securing their place in Europe next year, if league leaders Canterbury come unstuck against Surbiton.

At the other end of the table, Slough have already sealed their fate of playing Investec Conference hockey next year, however they will be looking to go out on a high as the Berkshire side head down a division for the first time since the league was started in 1989.

Traditionally this has always been hotly contested fixture and there is a long standing rivalry between the two sides as they have often found themselves battling it out for league titles and European qualification.

Alongside the hockey there will also be a mini Fun Zone for the kids, and all tickets bought online or on the door will get you a free Pukka Pie and drink!

Tickets available here and on the gate: £5 for adults and £2 for children U16.

England Hockey Board Media release

EHL KO16 Amsterdam - Did you know?

Euro Hockey League provides the facts ahead of Easter showpiece

As those of you who regularly follow the Euro Hockey League on Facebook are aware, the tournament has been revealing a whole host of facts in the lead up to next week’s eagerly anticipated KO16 Amsterdam tournament. The EHL has kindly supplied a compilation of what they have revealed so far!

Rot-Weiss Köln was the most productive team in the group phase this season, scoring 20 goals in their two matches whilst conceding only two.

Amsterdam H&BC's Taeke Taekema (17) and Richard Mantell (16) of Reading HC are the all-time EHL leaders when it comes to goals from penalty corners in the Euro Hockey League.

H.C. Rotterdam striker Jeroen Hertzberger leads all players in scoring in the knockout stages of the Euro Hockey League. Fifteen of his 31 career goals in the competition were scored beyond the group phase.

Moritz Fürste is the EHL record holder for most matches played. His 27 are one more than the 26 by former UHC Hamburg teammate Alexander Perdoni and Rotterdam's Pirmin Blaak and Jeroen Hertzberger.

English teams lock horns in the Euro Hockey League. In the Last 16 in 2007/2008, Cannock HC and Reading HC met and in the Last 16 in 2010/2011, Reading HC and East Grinstead HC ran into each other.

KHC Dragons are officially undefeated in their 12 EHL matches. In both of their previous two seasons, they made their exit after registering a draw and losing the ensuing penalty shootout. They have won the remaining 10 matches.

Facts provided by Infostrada Sports Group

More facts will be posted to the Euro Hockey League website next week, with regular updates available on our Facebook page. To visit the EHL Facebook page, please click here.

Euro Hockey League’s KO16 Amsterdam event will see sixteen of Europe’s finest club teams reduced to the four tournament Semi Finalists over four days of intense knock-out competition. Many of the world’s finest players will be in action at the event, including legendary Dutch international Teun de Nooijer (HC Bloemendaal, NED), current FIH Player of the Year Moritz Fuerste (Club de Campo, ESP) and Great Britain star Ashley Jackson (East Grinstead, ENG). The event takes place in The Netherlands at Amsterdam H&BC’s Wagener Stadium from Friday 29th March until Monday 1st April 2013. To purchase tickets for the event, please  click here.

Euro Hockey League media release

Bring them on

Seldom do we have hockey officials, be it coaches or managers speak their mind about the ability of their teams or their opponents as they prefer to take the safe way out by reserving their comments or saying flowery things about other teams.

But at the Press Conference for the preview of the 2013 TNBMHL, it was a totally different approach as KL Hockey Club coach K. Dharmaraj and Tenaga Nasional Berhad assistant team manager Nor Saiful Zaini Nasaruddin were bold enough to outline their teams chances, paying scant respect to the ability of their opponents.

Defending champions KLHC, coached by Dharmaraj, were the hardest hit as six national players went for "greener pastures" and signed up to don the colours of debutants Terengganu HT.

The national players who left KLHC for Terengganu are Mohd Shahrun Nabil, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Azlan Misron, Ismail Abu,  Mohd Ameerullah Aziz and Fitri Saari.

They have however important six foreign players and leading the cast is skipper of the Pakistan national team, Muhammad Imran who scored five goals in the Azlan Shah Cup last week , the evergreen Waseem Ahmad, Fareed Ahmad, Muhammad Umar Bhutta and Akhtar Ali. In addition they also signed up Australian international Tim Deavin.

"Right from the time I started playing and now as a coach, my approach has always been the same -that is to win matches and tournaments. Thus it is no different this time around despite the fact that KLHC has lost the services of some key players to Terengganu," said Dharmaraj who is also the National Juniors Coach.

"It will be a tough act, to win all three titles but not an impossible task. We will take it one step at a time and even in our opening match against UniKL I feel we will find the going tough.

"UniKL have talented youngsters from my juniors squad and I am well aware of their ability. Any team that takes UniKL lightly will pay a heavy price and we need to be on our guard."

As for TNB, Saiful feels that the team has the ability to win titles this year and felt Terengganu will find it tough in their opening match tomorrow.

"We have a team capable of winning the titles and I do not think its a case of boasting as we have steadily built this team over the years and strengthened it with the inclusion of players like Mohd Marhan Jalil and Mohd Ramadhan Rosli," said Saiful.

"Terengganu may have signed on experienced players but it will take time for them to gel as a team and we need to take advantage in the first match itself.

"I am appreciative of the format change as the MHC has taken note of what it takes to make the MHL better and I expect a more competetive league this time around."

UniKL and TNB are the only teams in the Premier Division that are not fielding foreign players but that fact does not affect UniKL Coach Arul Selvaraj who is also the national senior squad assistant coach.

"What I have with me is a bunch of talented youngsters, capable of producing decent hockey that will help us finish amongst the top six so that we can qualify for the knock-out stages," said Arul.

"No doubt we will find the going tough, but nonetheless these players, who form the core of the national juniors squad will have the experience of tough matches that will serve them well in their hockey careers."

Quotes From Captains

Baljit Singh (UniKL)

"The team is just raring to go and we know we are in for a rough ride. We aim o take it one match at a time and the youngsters in my team are technically good though short of experience."

Mohd Amin Rahim (TNB)

"Personally it gives me a chance to prove my worth as so far as the national team is concerned. It is a more level playing field this time around as several players have moved. We intend to win titles and I believe we have players capable of winning the titles."

Mohd Razie Rahim(KLHC)

"I decided to stay loyal to KLHC despite getting an offer to play for Terengganu as I want to repay the clubs management for making me into what I am. We have some very good foreigners and I believe we will prevail."

Official TNBMHL site

Sapura beef up squad with four foreign players

By K. Rajan

PETALING JAYA: Sapura coach Tai Beng Hai concedes that his side will be the underdogs in the 2013 edition of the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL).

The former champions are in their second season of rebuilding as they are phasing out their aging players.

Among the notable players who had left are the Mohan brothers Jiwa and Jivan, former skipper S. Kuhan and goalkeeper Khairulnizam Ibrahim.

Sapura, however, have bolstered their squad with three Pakistan players – Khasif Ali, Yasir Islam, Muhammad Zubair and India’s Raja Veerachamy, who joined training yesterday.

The players were only made available last week after the India-Pakistan series of fri-endly matches scheduled in April was called off.

Beng Hai said his foreign players were signed up at the last minute after the cancellation of the India-Pakistan friendlies.

“We are continuing our rebuilding pro-cess this season and have opted to blood more youngsters,” said Beng Hai, who returned to helm the team after an eight-year hiatus.

“We don’t have time to gel the team but I hope the foreign and local players can find their rhythm before the league starts.”

The Star of Malaysia

Sunday 20/30 veterans out for fun

PETALING JAYA: Sunday 2030, as the name suggests, are a team of oldies out to enjoy themselves when they make their debut in Division One of the Malaysian Hockey League which starts tomorrow.

The social hockey club who are a regulars in the Kuala Lumpur Hockey League will be vying for honours with Tuanku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI), Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS), UNITEN-KPT, UiTM, Ipoh City Council (MBI) and TNB Thunderbolts in Division One.

Sunday 2030 coach I. Vikneswaran said that the challenge is not against their opponents but against themselves.

“We are a club of social players. Most of our players are former national players who played in the MHL,” said Vikneswaran.

“We felt that we still have quality hockey and decided to play in Division One. We are a team that really represent the 1Malaysia spirit as our players come from all walks of life.

“I’m very happy with the quality in the team and the effort put in by the players. We mean business in the competition ... we are not here to make up the numbers.”

The club’s players age ranges from 16 to 38 and the expenditures in the competition is funded by well wishers and sponsors.

“We have a group of well wishers who paid for our registration,” said Vikneswaran.

“Players of the clubs don’t receive any allowances. In fact, the players also chip in to cover our expenses in the competition.

“You couldn’t question your players’ commitment and passion for the game when they willingly spend their hard-earned money just to play in the league.”

The Star of Malaysia

Manpreet Singh: I just focussed on my game

Tazeen Qureshy

Ever since he made it to the Indian national team, midfielder Manpreet Singh has been going steadily, winning hearts with spectacular display on the turf. He was recently honored with a new epithlet: One of the Eleven players from six countries who made it to the Azlan Shah Eleven.

He speaks his mind on the Azlan Shah Cup, in which India defeated Pakistan twice, to writer Tazeen Qureshy, just after returning from Ipoh.

Excerpts: On being selected in Azlan Shah XI
I never expected to get selected honestly. I just focused on my performance and tried contributing for my team. Perhaps, that earned me a place in Azlan Shah XI. I am delighted about it.

On being adjudged as Man of the Match against Pakistan
I am very happy to get it. It was the last match for us in the tournament. The weather in Malaysia was humid that day. But despite all odds, we had worked hard and we got the results. It is only for the team that I got the award.

On India's finishing only fifth in the Azlan Shah Cup 2013
We went with the development team. A lot of players were inexperienced. Keeping that into account, I would say that we performed well. But, of course,there is a little disappointment for finishing 5th out of 6 teams.

Describing the Penalty Stroke that denied India play for bronze
It was a crucial match for us. Had we defeated the Malaysians we could played for bronze. But this thing has happened in the last minute of the game when we were leading 2-1. Clearly the ball had hit my stick and I was surprised when the umpire gave a Penalty Stroke. I even raised my T-shirt trying to prove that the ball had not hit my body at all. But, nothing came out. Undoubtedly, we were very upset. We even walked off the field. But, our coach Micheal Nobbs encouraged us to play. Even after that, we had our chance to score, we attacked with just a minute left, at least thrice we shot at the goal, but perhaps it was just bad luck that day.

On the standard of Umpiring

There were lot of umpiring decisions this time, which were wrong. It was not just against us but other teams as well.We had to appeal many times. It is unfortunate.

On the team which had as many as 10 new faces
The young players played well. Every player had worked hard and it reflected in their performance. I am really happy with Malak and Mandeep's performance.

On cancellation of Indo-Pak Series
This series could have been a good opportunity for your young players. But, we respect Government's decision.

Azlan Shah Cup was a test drive: Coach

LAHORE – Pakistan hockey team head coach and manager Chaudhry Akhtar Rasool Wednesday said the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup was the test drive of for the new-look team and no one was responsible for the loss as young blood was given exposure in the event.

Talking to the reporters after his return from Ipoh, Malaysia with the national team which finished last in the event, Akhtar Rasool said: “It is not fair to fix the responsibility of team’s poor performance on team management or players as five new players were part of the team which could not produce desired results owing to the lack of experience and exposure.”

He said the team management, prior to the team's participation in the event, made it clear that they were going to utilise Azlan Shah as a preparatory venture to try out new players keeping an eye on future assignments of the team.

“It is a very important hockey year as we will be undertaking the trip of Europe besides playing in Asia Cup and we are focusing on our preparations for next year's World Cup. Azlan Shah Cup was the ideal chance to test new players to watch out their talent ahead of summer tour of Europe,” he added.

Akhtar said the team was not at its full strength and composition as veteran half line player Wasim Ahmed was rested and reliable forward Shakeel Abbasi was injured. “It is was a very tough competition in the presence of the world's best sides and our team failed to click due to new players,” he said.

The team official said he was not disappointed with the future of the team as a bad result in a tournament did not mean end of hockey.

“One has to win and other to loss in the match as it is the part of the game. It is a sour reality that we could not get a good result but at the same time we should realize that we have given ample chance to new players and if they were not given a chance at which stage or in which tournament they were tested ",he added.

He said as a team chief coach and manager and then having the job of chief selector, he was under heavy load of responsibility and he always liked to take challenges in a decent way.

“I have not given up the hope as this team is a combination of talent and potential and with the passage of time, it will blend into a winning combination and what is important at this stage is to contribute efforts with devotion and hard work to eradicate flaws and weaknesses,” he said.

To a query, he replied: “The team lost twice to India in the tournament because young players could not sustain the pressure of their earlier defeat. We will work on improving our team's performance and I will be keeping faith in young players who are the future of Pakistan hockey,” he concluded.

The Nation

Youngsters failed to follow game plan: Hanif

Pakistan finished bottom in the six-nation tournament with three losses, two draws and only one win to their name. PHOTO: AZLANSHAHCUP.COM

KARACHI: Echoing chief coach Akhtar Rasool’s views on the performance of the young players in the Azlan Shah Cup this month, coach Hanif Khan also blamed the youngsters for the unsatisfactory results.

Pakistan finished bottom in the six-nation tournament with three losses, two draws and only one win to their name.

Hanif said that while he accepted the responsibility of the team’s failure, it was mainly the youngsters’ lack of experience that cost them dearly.

“The players introduced in the tournament were unimpressive,” Hanif told reporters. “They failed to play according to the game plan.

“I have been given the task for preparing a sound team for the World Cup for which experiments have to be made.”

Meanwhile, six players including captain Mohammad Imran stayed in Malaysia to feature in a league, while the remaining team members and coaches returned to Lahore.

The Express Tribune

Ian Rutledge looks forward to WNT Training Camps

Family arrives and settles in Vancouver

Earlier this month, Ian Rutledge and family arrived in Vancouver, BC to begin his new role as Head Coach of the Women’s National Team.  We recently caught up with Coach Rutledge to hear his thoughts on life in Canada and working with the Women’s National Team.

FHC: How did your move to Canada go?

Ian Rutledge (IR):
Everything has gone smoothly!  We have been overwhelmed with the gestures, kindness and welcoming nature of everyone we have met.  We have all settled in well and quickly.

FHC: What was your first impression of Vancouver?

The city is absolutely beautiful – the pictures we had seen did not do it justice.  So far, we enjoy living in our lovely, quiet neighbourhood.  This is all at the end of winter so we can’t wait to experience the city in other seasons!

FHC: Has anything in Canada surprised you?

You guys drive on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car!  Also, no one mentioned the rain!  Nevertheless, every day we are learning something new – which is brilliant, and one of the main reasons we were excited to move to Canada.

FHC: How is it going with the Women’s National Team so far?

The girls are training very, very well.  They are keen to learn and work hard – two exceptionally important qualities we need to possess as we work towards Olympic qualification.  I have been impressed by their skill level and overall attitude.  First impressions have been positive impressions.

FHC: There are a large number of women signed up for the upcoming Women’s National Team Training Camp.  What are you most looking forward to?

I am really excited about the upcoming camp and the opportunity to view the best talent in Canada.  This represents our first step toward Rio 2016, with stops at Glasgow and Toronto along the way.  We will be using the camp, along with upcoming international and domestic opportunities, to refine our squad into one that can achieve success for Canada throughout 2013 and 2014.  This is truly a unique opportunity for aspiring athletes to attend the camp and perform in front of a coach who has limited knowledge of the playing population.  Reputation will mean little and all players will be on a level playing field.  The Junior Camp running parallel will also provide the best young players the opportunity to show case their talent in the lead up to the Junior World Cup, which is also a very important benchmark event for our program.

The Women’s National Program Training Camps will take place March 27 – 31 at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Field Hockey Canada media release

Arthur McKay Scottish Cup & Plate quarter and semi-final draws announced

Scottish Hockey today announced the quarter-final and semi-final draws for the Arthur McKay Scottish Cup and Plate competitions.

The quarter-final ties will take place on weekend of 6/7 April with the semi-final ties on 13 and 20 April.

Men's Arthur McKay Scottish Cup

The quarter-final draw in the Men's Arthur McKay Scottish Cup will see Edinburgh rivals Grange and Inverleith battle it out for a place in the semi-finals.

Grange drew their last encounter with the Purple Robes, having already defeated them in the league, however Inverleith will be out to cause an upset in this exciting Edinburgh derby.

After their convincing 20-0 win against Waverley Inveresk Trinity, Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 1 leaders Glynhill Hotel Kelburne will be looking to continue their dominant run of form by beating fellow league opposition in the form of Watsonians.

Dundee Wanderers or Dundee University will host either Falkirk GHG or Grove Menzieshill, whilst AAM Gordonians will host Western Wildcats.

Men's Arthur McKay Scottish Plate

In the quarter-finals of the Men's Arthur McKay Scottish Plate, Hillhead will go up against one of three possible opponents in Dundee University, Dundee Wanderers or Greenock.

Stirling Wanderers or Carnegie will face Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 2 side Granite City Wanderers.

Ayr will host Aberdeen GSFP, whilst Divison 3 outfit Erskine Stewarts Melville will get a bye in to the next round.

Women's Arthur McKay Scottish Cup

In the Women's Arthur McKay Scottish Cup quarter-finals, Dundee Wanderers have been landed with a tough draw as they host Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 1 leaders Grove Menzieshill. However that won't stop them trying to be the first team to defeat Grove outdoors this season.

Inverleith Ladies also face a tough task as they go up against Edinburgh University. CALA Edinburgh will host Grange EL, whilst Hillhead will take on either GHK or Milne Craig Clydesdale Western.

Women's Arthur McKay Scottish Plate

Erskine Stewarts Melville will have to wait to see who their next opponents will be out of Granite City Wanderers, Kelburne or GHK in the Women's Arthur McKay Scottish Plate quarter-finals.

Championship League Division A side Glasgow Accies will be looking to defeat another Aberdeen Asset Management National League team in the plate this year as they face Division 2 outfit Highland.

Watsonians will take on Grove Menzieshill A, whilst Grange EL A get a bye in to the next round.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Electric Ireland Kate Russell All Ireland Schools Tournament

This year's Kate Russell competition will be hosted by South East champions Kilkenny College, on Thursday, 21st and Friday, 22nd March. Named after one of the most influential figures in the history of the Irish Ladies' Hockey Union, the round-robin tournament features the cream of Irish schoolgirl hockey, bringing together the cup winners in each province to compete for the prestigious title of All-Ireland champions.

Given these players are amongst the best of young Irish talent coming through the ranks, Irish Hockey have put together a profile of each school in the lead-up to the tournament. Kilkenny College, on Thursday, 21st and Friday, 22nd March. Named after one of the most influential figures in the history of the Irish Ladies' Hockey Union, the round-robin tournament features the cream of Irish schoolgirl hockey, bringing together the cup winners in each province to compete for the prestigious title of All-Ireland champions.

Colaiste Iognaid (Connacht)

Coach: Emilie Molloy
Captain: Rachel Bradley
One to watch: Elaine Carey

Route to Kate Russell: 11-0 semi-final win over Bower, 3-2 victory over Taylor's Hill in the Palmer Cup final

Colaiste Iognaid (or ‘Jes' as they are more commonly known) certainly enter this year's Kate Russell as under-dogs, but coach Emilie Molloy hopes that their unrivalled experience of All-Ireland competitions will hold them in good stead. "This our fifth year at All-Irelands so we plan to draw from our experience as some of our panel will be playing their 5th tournament. But in comparison to last year, we're happy to play in Kilkenny and have only five players playing their first Kate Russell. This depth and experience will hopefully be to our advantage."

The team is led by rock-solid centre back Rachel Bradley, who captains the side with aplomb. She is a key member of the team and has developed into an effective player and mature captain. "Known as the ‘dark horse' of the team according to Molloy, Bradley will be vital for Jes if they are to do well in the tournament. "She leads and directs the players nicely, but sets a strong example and handles herself well on the pitch. Her level head and kind nature makes her approachable to younger players."

Alongside Bradley, Elaine Carey undoubtedly provides the magic for Jes. The IHA under 18 player of the year for 2012, Carey is a current Irish under 18 international who has also captained Ireland at under16 level. There is no doubt that Molloy will be hoping she is on top form throughout the Kate Russell tournament. Other important players for Jes include former underage goalkeeper Natasha Cooke and 14 year-old Carmel Heery, who joined the squad at Christmas and has since received Irish under 16 trials.

Crescent (Munster)

Coach: Ollie O'Connor
Captain: Susan O'Hanrahan
One to watch: Clodagh Maloney

Route to Kate Russell: Quarter final v Bandon (1-0), semi-final v Mount Mercy (3-1), final v Ursuline Thurles (3-1)

Crescent College Comprehensive claimed their third Munster Senior Schoolgirls Cup in four years after a 3-1 victory of Ursuline Thurles. The game was a tight affair but thanks to a player of the match performance from goalkeeper Eloise Hickey, Crescent ran out winners.

Captain of the squad is senior player Susan O'Hanrahan, who leads by example and is a rock at the back. She has had an exceptional season and coach Ollie O'Connor will be hoping this vein of form continues in Kilkenny. With Hickey behind her between the posts Crescent have a formidable defensive duo. Going forward Irish underage internationals Clodagh Maloney (u18) and Michelle Barrett (u16) pull the strings, causing havoc amongst even the most experienced of back lines.

Most notable of all is the young age of the Crescent team. O'Hanrahan is the only starting sixth year on the team, so the tournament will be a huge learning curve for all the players involved. O'Connor will possibly be setting is sights on building his squad for Kate Russell tournaments for years to come. This team is certainly not only one for the present but also for the future.

Kilkenny College (South East)

Coach: Lesley Threlfall
Co-Captains: Anna Boland and Kim Pratt
One to watch: Emma Duncan

Route to Kate Russell: 4-0 win over Loreto Kilkenny in the final

Hosts Kilkenny College will have every right to feel the nerves as they welcome the Kate Russell to the South East, but coach Lesley Threlfall is confident her side will use their status as the ‘home' side to their advantage: "As the host school there is a certain level of expectation and pressure to be felt from the College itself, but we will have huge support and we are sure we will do ourselves and the school proud."

Co-captained by defensive duo Anna Boland and Kim Pratt, the side have an effective blend of flair and experience, allowing them to work solidly as a unit in defence to allow more creative players to provide the magic going forward. Underage internationals Amanda Haslam and Emma Duncan are two attackers with the pace and skill to cause any defence problems, highlighted by their two goals apiece in the South East final. Threlfall will be hoping this is once again the case in the All-Ireland competition.

Kilkenny have Irish under 16 player Clodagh Cassin between the posts. They also host a number of other provincial players, with 12 of their 18 squad members having represented South East this season, including captain of the u-18 side Debbie Young. The team will no doubt be hoping all of Kilkenny get their supporters hats on and come out to cheer on the girls.

Lurgan College (Ulster)

Coach: Julie Hinds
Co-Captains: Bethany Barr and Chloe McCann
One to watch: Hannah Grieve

Route to Kate Russell: Antrim Grammar (9-0), Wallace HS (1-0), Banbridge Academy (3-1), Belfast Royal Academy (4-1), Victoria College Belfast (final, 1-0)

After winning their second Ulster School's Cup in three years, Lurgan will be hoping to regain the Kate Russell trophy that they won back in 2011. Many of that side are now experienced members of this year's squad, and coach Julie Hinds will be hoping for an impressive performance from the Ulster representatives.

With two sets of sisters in the squad, including twins Bethany and Serena Barr, they secured their place in the All-Ireland tournament by virtue of a 1-0 win over Victoria College Belfast in the final. Both Serena and Bethany have been hugely influential for Lurgan, and along with Hannah Grieve and Naomi Costley have represented Ulster and Ireland at under 18 level this year. Grieve is a sporting all-rounder, having also represented the Irish under 19 Cricket team.

On co-captains Bethany Barr and Chloe McCann, Hinds was quick to heap praise. "Both girls lead by example in their drive and determination on the pitch. They are instrumental in pushing the rest of the squad during training and providing support for the others during competitive fixtures. They also act as good role models for the younger players coming through to the 1st XI."

Coach Hinds says that her team are eagerly anticipating their Kilkenny adventure. "We know that the hockey will be good, our opponents will be tough, and the memories we gain, irrespective of the result, will last a lifetime."

Mount Anville (Leinster)

Coach: Maeve McCarthy
Captain: Jane Fennelly
One to watch: Sarah Twomey

Route to Kate Russell: Loreto Foxrock (3-0), Loreto Beaufort (4-0), Muckross (3-0), Alexandra College (4-3 penalty shoot-out), Rathdown (final, 1-0).

Leinster Champions Mount Anville won the Senior Cup without conceding a goal in normal time, undoubtedly testimony to the sterling defensive work of Captain Jane Fennelly and goalkeeper Ella Donavan. Their route to the final threw some possible stumbling blocks in their path, but Maeve McCarthy's side proved unbeatable as they ran out 1-0 victors over debut finalists Rathdown in the final.

The aforementioned Fennelly is known amongst her peers as a sporting all-rounder. She is currently on the Irish tennis squad and last Christmas was crowned the Irish Ladies Indoor Tennis Champion. In autumn she hopes to travel to the University of Notre Dame where she has been awarded a highly coveted tennis scholarship.
Underage international and Mount Anville vice-captain Sarah Twomey was quick to praise the versatile Fennelly: "Jane is a key player on the team. She makes phenomenal tackles and always steps up to the mark when needed. She is a vital part in the defensive line and from here she is able to lead her team in an inspirational manner."

Coach Maeve McCarthy commented on the forthcoming All-Ireland tournament in Kilkenny: "The girls are very excited about the Kate Russell. Mount Anville hasn't participated since 2002, which was when we won it last so we are hoping to bring the cup back and make the school proud again!"

Tournament Schedule

Thursday, 21st March

9.30am Kilkenny College v Crescent Comprehensive
11.00am Lurgan College v Mount Anville
12.30pm Crescent Comprehensive v Colaiste Iagnoid
2.00pm Mount Anville v Kilkenny College
3.30pm Lurgan College v Colaiste Iagnoid

Friday, 22nd March

9.00am Colaiste Iagnoid v Mount Anville
10.30am Crescent Comprehensive v Lurgan College
12.00pm Kilkenny College v Colaiste Iagnoid
1.30pm Crescent Comprehensive v Mount Anville
3.00pm Kilkenny College v Lurgan College

Everyone at Irish Hockey would like to wish all participants the very best of luck!

Irish Hockey Association media release


Punt on the hunt for more track success

Black Sticks speedster Anita Punt is taking aim at several national titles on the track this weekend when she competes at the Athletics NZ Track & Field Championships in Auckland.

The 25-year-old is taking part in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m and 4x400m events against some of New Zealand’s finest track athletes at Mt Smart Stadium.

In February, Punt turned heads at a track and field meet in Christchurch where she confirmed she's one of the fastest women in New Zealand by winning the 100m and 300m sprints.

Anita Punt’s schedule – NZ Track & Field Champs


Heat – 12.25pm Friday
Final – 7.05pm Friday

Final – 6.40pm Saturday

Heat – 10.40am Sunday
Final – 1.55pm Sunday

Final - 4.05pm Sunday

CLICK HERE to view Anita Punt’s full player profile

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Dan Carter not travelling to South Africa

Wife, former Blackstick Honor (nee Dillon), is expecting first child.


NOT TRAVELLING: Dan Carter has confirmed that he won't be travelling with the Crusaders to South Africa. DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ

Dan Carter has confirmed he will not travel to South Africa with the Crusaders.

Carter, who is expecting his first child with wife Honor, this morning tweeted he was ‘"gutted" to not be going to the Republic for the Crusaders matches against the Stormers in Cape Town and Sharks in Durban on March 31 and April 6. This will be followed by a match against the Force in Perth a week later.

The squad will leave New Zealand after Saturday night’s match against the Southern Kings in Christchurch.

"Gutted not to be heading to SA with @crusadersrugby but very excited about becoming a Dad for the first time in April," Carter tweeted.