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News for 19 September 2020

All the news for Saturday 19 September 2020

Australia are ready to go

Australian midfielder Jane Claxton was voted joint winner of the 2019 Hockeyroos Player of the Year. Clapton has been a member of the senior Australia women’s squad since 2013, after making her debut in London, England at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals. She now has 181 senior international caps and has been an integral part of Australia’s rise up the world rankings to their current position at number three.

Although Australia do not make a return to FIH Hockey Pro League action until April 2021, when they travel to the USA, Jane and her teammates will be watching the action as it unfolds in the northern hemisphere throughout September, October and November.

What are the advantages of being able to watch the opening few games of the FIH Hockey Pro League ahead of Australia's own return to the competition in April?

Jane Claxton: We won’t be starting our 2021 international programme until April, so we will have a really good period of time to watch other teams engage which for obvious reasons will be great for our scouting and will let us know where other teams are at in terms of their performance. From a hockey perspective, we love our scouting so that will really help us adjust our training programme accordingly.

How will the team make sure it is ready for top flight international action in April?

Jane Claxton: Across the next six months, the Hockeyroos have a number of camps and games planned – both international games and inter-squad games to get us prepared to hit the ground running.

With Covid still causing restrictions, can you give a few examples of how the team is ensuring it stays healthy and virus-free while getting back to training and playing?

Jane Claxton: We are really lucky as the Hockeyroos team is located in Perth, Western Australia, which at the moment has created quite a hub within the state where we are free to play club games, friendly games and inter-squad games. Unfortunately, across the country that’s not the same and we have a few girls that are ‘stuck’, for want of a better word, in their own state, training in their own hubs. But hopefully, soon, we will all be in Perth in the central hub and able to play inter-squad games.

Can you describe what it has been like, as an athlete, to not be able to do the very thing that you have trained for so many years for?

Jane Claxton: It has been an incredibly difficult period, coming from the elite athlete environment that I have been in for the past seven years. Coming from a programme of training day-in, day-out to an abbreviated programme where we have had to delay our return to play and not be competitive, which is hard, being such a competitive player myself, but also with girls that are extremely competitive. This past six to eight week period where we have returned to playing within the club and being competitive has been extremely valuable to our group.

How ready is the team for a return to action?

Jane Claxton: The Hockeyroos, to this point, have been really prepared for a return to competitive hockey. Everyone based in Perth has been playing for their various club teams for the past 12 weeks, so we are really prepared. If we had to turn up to play international hockey tomorrow, the Hockeyroos would be well and truly up for it.

Follow all the FIH Hockey Pro League action on our recently launched app Watch.Hockey (follow the relevant link on the left)


Official FIH Pro League Site

India play the waiting game

Lalit Kumar Upadhyay is a prolific forward for the India men’s national team. He scored in each of India’s opening two matches of the FIH Hockey Pro League against the Netherlands, and with 106 caps to his name, is a firm fixture on the India forward line. At the point that Covid-19 caused all hockey action to cease, India were sitting in fourth position in the table with some highly promising performances under their belts, including a hard-fought win over the world number one side, Belgium.

With India not returning to action in the FIH Hockey Pro League until 10 April 2021, when they travel to Argentina, Lalit and his teammates will have plenty of opportunity to assess the opposition and plan their own approach accordingly.

What are the advantages of being able to watch the opening few games of the FIH Hockey Pro League ahead of India's own return to the competition in April?

Lalit Kumar Upadhyay: As we all know the entire hockey community is getting back to competitive hockey and definitely it will be an advantage to us to watch the opening matches of the FIH Hockey Pro League . It will let us know how our competitors have been preparing in the long break. Obviously we are very excited and happy to know that hockey is coming back.

How will the team make sure it is ready for top flight international action in April?

Lalit Kumar Upadhyay: We are now resuming sports activities slowly and getting into the match fitness. As I said in the previous answer, we are very happy and excited to know that the Pro League is back. We will be training very hard to make sure we are match fit by April and we will be ready for our matches by that time.

With Covid still causing restrictions, can you give a few examples of how the team is ensuring it stays healthy and virus-free while getting back to sporting activities?

Lalit Kumar Upadhyay: We have been all following the government guidelines and protocol as is necessary and required. We all understand the importance of this situation and are not taking it lightly. Our team staff has been ensuring we are eating the right diet and maintaining hygiene, particularly in the current time. Being role models, it is our responsibility to be diligent and understand the situation.

How good does it feel to be back to some sporting activities after the enforced break?

Lalit Kumar Upadhyay: It is really great to resume sports activity after such a long time. We are looking forward to the next few months where we can go back to attain our match fitness and I hope that we will be alright and give 100 per cent in our coming matches.

Follow all the FIH Hockey Pro League action on our recently launched app Watch.Hockey (follow the relevant link on the left)


Official FIH Pro League Site

'Gorze' is ready for the next adventure

Agustina Gorzelany is a relative newcomer to Las Leonas with 53 caps to her name. However, with six goals already scored during Argentina’s campaign prior to lock-down, the 23 year old has definitely cemented her place in the squad. The penalty corner specialist scored in six of Argentina’s eight matches, including in both encounters with the Netherlands.

As the FIH Hockey Pro League is all set to return to action, with matches in Europe taking place in September, October and November, Argentina will be in an observer’s role until the competition moves to the southern hemisphere in April. Argentina’s first visitors will be Germany and by that stage, the current table toppers will be absolutely desperate to get back to FIH Hockey Pro League action.

What are the advantages of being able to watch the opening few games of the FIH Hockey Pro League ahead of India's own return to the competition in April?

Agustina Gorzelany: In my opinion, there is a great advantage to watching the games first instead of playing in them because we can study and see how teams are playing after all this time. It is a great resource that will help us when we return [to FIH Hockey Pro League action] too.

How will the team make sure it is ready for top flight international action in April?

Agustina Gorzelany: Knowing if the team is ready for the competition is really hard to measure. I believe it is mostly what the team feels and believes. There is no doubt that we are training to be the best team possible. We are training really, really hard towards our goals and that is the most important thing. Something that I feel inside is that we are great in our way of thinking and believing. We know what we must do to achieve our objectives so we all push for the same thing. That is the most beautiful thing about the team. When the time comes [to get back to international competition] we will be very prepared for the competition.

What are your thoughts and feelings about the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on you and the team?

Agustina Gorzelany: This pandemic and being completely shut down from everything we could do was a very big rollercoaster of emotions. At the very beginning it was difficult to be positive about anything. We had been unable to move from our homes for 100 days. There was a big uncertainty about what was going to happen. The Olympics were postponed as well as Pro League and hockey in Argentina was cancelled so we couldn’t do anything, just some weightlifting at home with some equipment our Federation sent us. But, as time passed by, we started to hear some good news, for instance, the Olympic date was settled and we started to train with our national team again. My thoughts started to change and we could be more optimistic about the future. But, despite all those things, it was really nice to have much more family time and pay more attention to my studies.

What are your expectations for the season ahead as you return to competition?

Agustina Gorzelany: I have many expectations about getting into competition again. It is what we as players most like about professional hockey. You can imagine how we have a great desire to play a match again. As regards to Argentina, I truly believe in this team and we are going to fight for very big things, but for sure, other teams are doing their best and training hard to, so it is going to be a very nice but tough adventure.

Follow all the FIH Hockey Pro League action on our recently launched app Watch.Hockey (follow the relevant link on the left)


Official FIH Pro League Site

Scottish umpires return to international duty in a bubble

Top Scottish umpires Martin Madden and Sarah Wilson are returning to international duty, and will officiate the return of the FIH Pro League with matches between Germany and Belgium (men and women) in Dusseldorf on 22 and 23 September.

It might be a return to the international arena after an absence of seven months but it is not as they knew it. International hockey is being revived but under strict conditions informed by the Coronavirus restrictions.

The games are being held behind closed doors with no crowds, strict hygiene requirements are in place, and the whole entourage is contained in a bio secure bubble. That means that the teams, the various officials, and of course the umpires, move in an enclosed environment from when they arrive in Dusseldorf until they depart.

Travel from Scotland to Dusseldorf is the first challenge. Martin and Sarah were originally due to travel via Amsterdam, but that route was scuppered by the recent quarantine clampdown. So there had to be improvisation again on the travel front. Now it is Edinburgh to Frankfurt and then train to Dusseldorf.

During the whole four days in the hotel, at meals, travel to and from the pitch, and at the venue the teams and officials will remain in a self-contained bubble, not allowed to mix with anybody outside that bubble.

Both Martin and Sarah have already been appointed to the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Good junior program has helped women’s hockey team: Rani

Indian women's hockey team captain Rani Rampal hailed the impact of young players on the team's positive results in the recent past.

The Indian women's hockey team qualified for back-to-back Olympics for the first time.   -  Hockey India

Equal opportunities like the men’s hockey team and a robust junior program have been major contributing factors in the improved performance of the women’s national side, feels skipper Rani.

The Indian women’s hockey team has enjoyed a spate of good results in top tournaments recently, including winning the silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games and qualifying for back-to-back Olympics.

“I believe our improved performance has a lot to do with the professional system laid out by the Federation. We have a good junior program too which identifies talented players,” Rani said.

The skipper said the transition of young players into the senior side has been a smooth one, adding that competing in more international tournaments provides the right exposure to the team.

“Young talent like Lalremsiami and Salima Tete who won the silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games 2018 in Buenos Aires have made a very smooth transition into the senior program.”

“Ensuring we (women’s team) also play equal or more number of international tournaments as the men’s team gives us right exposure that adds to the confidence of these youngsters,” she added.

Rani, who become the first woman hockey player to win the Khel Ratna award last month, said she continues to motivate her team to perform well at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

“Look at how lives of P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal has changed after doing well at the Olympic Games. They are not only sporting icons in the country but they are also self-sufficient, independent women and it’s because of their achievements in sports.

“I wish similar success for our team and we are working towards it. We have that fire and hunger to excel and we know doing well at the Olympics will change our lives for the better,” Rani added.

Encouraging youngsters to pursue hockey, Rani said the the sport has made members of her team financially independent at a very young age and they are in a better position to take care of their families’ needs.

“I think ten years or 15 years ago if someone said, we will take up hockey as a career they would either laugh or bluntly ask us how will that help make a living. But things have changed drastically in the sport now.”


Athlete Spotlight: Kayla Blas

Each athlete that wears the red, white and blue has a unique story to how their careers came to fruition. From the junior level to the senior squad, USA Field Hockey is putting national team athletes under the spotlight to share their journeys.

Sports are a gateway for anyone to explore, learn, adapt and grow throughout their lives. Kayla Blas is no exception to this as they have played a huge role in her life so far, now currently a member of the U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team.

Growing up in Pendleton, N.Y., Blas and her sibling were always encouraged to try a new sport, join a new team or both. In contrast, Blas eagerly played any sport she could and initially focused on competitive soccer, ice hockey and softball. However, when the time came to choose a sport for her middle school’s fall season, her mother encouraged her to try something new. Despite some initial pushback, Blas opted to pick up a field hockey stick and she never looked back.

“Once I tried field hockey, I immediately fell in love with the game because it was a mix between soccer and ice hockey, bringing together the best aspects from each sport,” said Blas. “Throughout high school I competed in varsity field hockey, ice hockey and lacrosse; however, when it came time to choose which sport to play in college, the tight knit community and my love of playing the game for my teammates made field hockey the clear winner.”

Blas made a major impact for Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart all four years as a varsity athlete in field hockey, ice hockey and lacrosse and was captain of all three squads in 2016 and 2017, her junior and senior seasons. Across her entire high school field hockey career in the Western New York (WNY) region, she recorded 47 goals and 125 assists, was named team MVP all four years, All-WNY First Team (x2), All-WNY Second Team, All-WNY Scholar Athlete (x2), NFHCA Second Team All-American and All Region WNY Player of the Year (2017) and Amherst Bee’s Female Athlete of the Year (2018).

“While we were not in a league, we were able to compete against the local public schools and in a tournament each year,” added Blas. “I was thankful for my teammates and coaches at Sacred Heart for pushing me to become the best teammate and person that I could be, while being able to help grow the game in Western New York.”

Around the time she started playing the sport, Blas quicky joined the WNY Whalers. At that time, the club was only a group of college level athletes that would get together and play and train over the summer. As the club slowly began to grow, club director Dalton Beaver took Blas under her wing and played a significant role in her overall development as an athlete to this day.

As she continued to advance her knowledge and play style, Blas moved on to connect and play with Oranje GottaLoveIt after being introduced through a teammate following the 2015 AAU Junior Olympic Games.

“I competed with Oranje throughout the rest of my high school career, making the memorable 6-hour drive over the weekends to Delaware/Maryland with my mom to compete and play in games,” continued Blas. “Playing for Coach KK helped me continue to develop my game and shaped me to be the player that I am today. I continued to train with the WNY Whalers as well to help grow the game in Western New York, and help younger female athletes pick up the game.”

As college approached Blas fell in love with Northwestern the minute she toured the campus. To her, it’s always felt like a home away from home thanks in large part to the team culture established by head coach Tracey Fuchs, the tight knit community of the athletic department and the institution's challenging academic standards.  

“The athletics department is a tight knit community, and everyone within it is there to help us not only become better athletes, but better people and leaders within our community,” said Blas. “Our team culture is something special, and I love laughing in the locker room or just having fun on the field everyday with my teammates. It is an amazing and humbling experience studying at a top 10 university, while also competing in the Big Ten Conference. Being a student-athlete at Northwestern is truly a world-class experience.”

In her two years as a Wildcat, Blas has been a starter for every possible game and ranked second on the team in assists her sophomore season. Off the field, she has recently declared her major of mechanical engineer through the Segal Design Certificate, a program administered by the Segal Design Institute. She also as aspirations to move on into a career in the manufacturing field or even the U.S. Department of Defense.

While academics and school sponsored sports have occupied most of her time over the past few years, Blas has also been active in the U.S. Women’s Olympic Development Pathway where she got her first taste of the program at the age of 14 in the National Futures Championship. Back then, she admitted she felt way out of her element, but over time her confidence and skillset continued to rise.

Like countless other athletes, sports has its fair share of disappointment to counterbalance success but Blas has taken those moments to ground herself, improve and keep her head high for the next opportunity.

“I remember being selected for the U-17 Junior National Camp and while I did not make the U-17 USWNT, I knew that the next year the team would be within reach,” commented Blas. “I know that this is cliché but not making the cut pushed me to work 10 times harder to have the same opportunity the next year, and I was ecstatic the next year when I was on the car ride home from Spooky Nook Sports and found out that I was selected for the U-19 USWNT.”

The following year, her hard work paid off as she dawned the USA jersey for the U-19 USWNT on their tour to Ireland. She also went on tour to Germany in 2019 and has been extremely grateful for the learning experience and opportunity to develop further. This past January, she was named to the U-21 USWNT and joined her teammates Peyton Halsey and Alia Marshall on the next tier of the Olympic Development Pathway.

Now a junior at Northwestern, and while international competition and collegiate play have been on hold due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Blas was a leader for the Northwestern Athletics COVID Relief Fund, which helped raise money for children living in Chicago. Blas added that these fund went toward school supplies and daily essential supplies for the remainder of 2020.

As for training, it’s been bittersweet.

“Summer training this year definitely looked and felt a lot different than in years past,” admitted Blas. “Originally I was nervous, yet excited, for the packed summer coming up with the Young Women’s National Championship and Junior High Performance, and I was really bummed when everything came to a quick halt. While I was upset that I was not able to be on campus to train this spring/summer, the time away from campus gave me the opportunity to train at home and spend quality time with my family. It was fun being able to hit around in my barn with my dogs, [who are actually great defenders], and spend the nights doing bonfires and family movie nights.”

Her Wildcat teammates meanwhile have created small accountability groups as the team continues to safely stay focused in conditioning and training while reaching team goals. These groups also double as outlets for each individual athlete and help in staying connected while learning from home.

“It was a great way for us to get to know each other outside of field hockey and just be there for each other and catch up even if we were halfway around the word,” continued Blas. “Our trainer gave us guidance with our workouts and runs while our coaches provided fun team challenges over Zoom to help us take our mind off of the situation.”

As her young career continues to grow, Blas, above all, thanks her family, teammates and coaching staff, both past and present, whose support and dedication have pushed her to be the best possible athlete as her dreams to represent the United States continue to unfold.

USFHA media release

Nasihin nails national job

OLYMPIAN Nasihin Nubli beat a host of candidates, including from the Netherlands and England, to become the new Malaysian women's coach.

Nasihin, who kept goal for Malaysia at the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympics, now hopes his experience over the years will turn some of his players into world-beaters.

It will be his second stint as women's coach after the first tenure between 2011 and 2015.

During his first stint, the team won the gold medal at the 2015 Singapore Sea Games and finished fifth at the 2013 Kuala Lumpur Asia Cup and the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.

"When the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) had advertised the post, I decided to take up the challenge as I wanted to make a lasting change.

"The first task will be next year's (women's) Junior Asia Cup.

"I plan to take the team to higher than the fifth position that we have been accustomed to in Asia for decades," said Nasihin.

"Together with Lailin Abu Hassan (assistant coach), we want to start with some positive changes at the JAC," said Nasihin.

MHC president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal and National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi were bowled over when Nasihin presented his plans.

"He came in with a complete plan which we believe is workable.

"That is one of the reasons that we chose him over candidates from England and the Netherlands.

"He told us that when he was coaching from 2011 to 2015, the team did not have a budget to implement his plans.

"We are happy with his commitment and will work to make his plans a reality," said Subahan.

The women's coaching job fell vacant when K. Dharmaraj did not re-apply for the position in December.

New Straits Times

David Ralph To Become GB Women's EDP Head Coach

David Ralph

Great Britain Hockey are very pleased to confirm new coaching appointments for the GB Women’s Elite Development Programme (EDP), with David Ralph set to become the new permanent Head Coach starting after the Tokyo Olympics. Simon Letchford has been appointed interim Head Coach for the 12 months until David takes over.

David will move from his current role as Assistant Coach of the women’s Great Britain and England senior teams once he has assisted the group at next summer’s Olympics in Japan. He brings a wealth of experience to his new position, having been Assistant Coach to the women’s team for more than three years in a spell that brought medals at the EuroHockey Championships and Commonwealth Games. He also held the same role for the Great Britain and England senior men's programme for four years. Winning more than 100 caps for Scotland, David is hugely experienced in international hockey, having coached at every major international tournament including Olympics and World Cups. He was also England U21 men’s assistant coach and now takes up the important role of helping the best talented young players to flourish internationally and ultimately create a systemically successful senior programme.

David said: “I am delighted to accept this role. The development of our younger players is something that I am very passionate about and I believe I have the skills and experience to provide an exceptional training environment for them to achieve their potential. I believe in our younger players and have very much seen their potential first hand with those who have joined the senior team in the last few years. We have a challenge on our hands to help develop the players to emulate the success that the senior team has had and I very much look forward to that and working with a talented playing group and staff team.

“I am also very grateful for the opportunity to continue in my current role with the senior teams through this part of their journey, including the FIH Hockey Pro League, Euros and until the end of the Tokyo Games. It is a group of talented players and staff that I enjoy working with and very much believe in and look forward to seeing what we can achieve over the next 12 months.”

Simon Letchford

The appointment of Simon as interim Head Coach is an important one and we are delighted to secure the services of an experienced and well-travelled professional. Having worked for GB Hockey as a Coach Developer in the 2000s and also coached a number of clubs in the English national league, he moved to Belgium where he has been since 2012 and experienced great success. Most recently he was Head Coach of the Belgium U21 men and Royal Darling HC. He also spent four years as Assistant Coach to Belgium's senior women’s team and two as Head Coach of the U21 women.

Simon commented: “After eight years overseas I am delighted to be returning to the UK and am really excited at the prospect of rejoining Great Britain and England Hockey. Being appointed Head Coach of the GB EDP is an honour and I look forward to helping individual athletes continue their personal development and transition from age group hockey players into senior athletes for Great Britain and their respective home nations. I also welcome opportunity to prepare and lead the England U21 squad into the Junior World Cup in South Africa next year.”

GB Hockey’s Head of Elite Talent Development, Heather Williams, said: “I’m delighted that the Head Coach role has attracted outstanding coaches of the calibre of David and Simon and congratulations to both of them on their appointments.

“David’s insight and experience shone through throughout the interview process, together with his desire and passion to use his expertise to support our next generation of international women’s players after the Tokyo Olympics. David was clear from the outset that his priority for the next 12 months rests with the senior programme and preparing for and delivering in Tokyo, a view fully supported and echoed by both Ed Barney (Performance Director) and myself.

“I’m equally delighted that Simon will return to Great Britain after oaching in Belgium. Like David, Simon brings a wealth of experience of international hockey and national programme leadership. His in-depth knowledge and insight of European hockey structures will also be invaluable as we embark on our new direction for our wider talent system and I am looking forward to working closely with him."

Great Britain Hockey media release

Selangor thrash Terengganu

Kuala Lumpur’s Muhamad Ramadan Rosli (centre) celebrates after scoring against Pahang in the Razak Cup yesterday. PIC BY OWEE AH CHUN

RAZAK Cup women's defending champions Selangor had expected a win against Terengganu but not the eight goals that they scored in their curtain raiser at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Terengganu, with two retired national players and six other budding juniors, were in control of the match until the 30th minute, but then collapsed like dominoes.

The Selangor scorers were Anis Nurfatihah Asmidee (30th), Fatin Naimah Zaki (33rd, 35th, 49th), Nur Atira Ismail (44th, 56th), Fatin Syafikah Sukri (51st) and Nuramirah Shakirah (52nd).

Selangor team manager Norazizah Mukizan was equally shocked with her team's powerful display.

"Going into the pitch we knew that the three points were ours, but nobody expected such a high scoring win. Terengganu were impressive for 30 minutes and kept our forwards in check, but once the first goal went in, they just gave up and the rest came easy," said Norazizah.

Fatin Naimah Zaki was Terengganu's destroyer with a hat-trick in the 33rd, 35th and 49th.

Playing in Group A, Selangor will meet Penang today. Yesterday, Penang edged Perak 3-2 after taking a 3-0 lead.

RESULTS: Men: Sabah 1 Selangor 1, Johor 3 Perak 3, Armed Forces 2 Kelantan 1, Terengganu 5 Police 0, Kuala Lumpur 6 Pahang 4, Negri 2 Kedah 1.

Women: Selangor 8 Terengganu 0, Penang 3 Perak 2, Kuala Lumpur 0 Melaka 1, Pahang 5 Sarawak 0.

New Straits Times

UCD up against it in bid for unique Senior Cup double

UCD’s David Nolan. Pic: Adrian Boehm

UCD are aiming for a unique piece of history as the first club to win both the men’s and women’s competition in the same season; preview of a huge Irish Senior Cup final weekend

After a couple of fleeting glimpses of competitive hockey over the past weeks, this weekend is something of an explosion with last season’s Irish Senior Cup, Jaqui Potter Cup final, Irish Hockey Trophy and Challenge finals make for a packed schedule.

In the Senior Cup, a layover from before lockdown, UCD are aiming for a unique piece of history as the first club to win both the men’s and women’s competition in the same season.  

Only four clubs from the same jurisdiction – Cork Harlequins, Railway Union, Pembroke and Instonians – have won the title in both genders but never at the same time in the 117-year overlaps of competition.   

Both student clubs are underdogs, however, against Ulster opposition with the finals being played at Lisnagarvey’s Comber Road with a lucky selection of fans able to get in following the successful trial run for the men’s semi-final.

Using the 2019/20 registrations, these finals also offer a strange swansong for some of UCD’s departing alumni. On the men’s side, David Nolan, Jazze Henry, Andrew Meates and Ziggy Agnew have been through a lot with the club, encompassing two EYHL promotions and a relegation, among other things prior to this first ever Irish Senior Cup final for the Belfielders.

And Nolan says it would be a memorable way to sign off before he links up full-time with Monkstown.

“We are really happy to be back for one last go because it has been a seriously exciting [ISC] run,” he told The Hook. “We’ve scored on the hooter in two of our games and feel like we have a chance because we have somehow got to the final. Anything can happen.  

“One final go at getting a trophy! Over the years, we feel we deserve something for our efforts – we won two promotions but there’s no silverware for that!”

He knows they will be more than up against it; Garvey are unbeaten in all competitions since the last Irish Senior Cup final – back in May 2019 – and beat the students 6-0 in their last encounter.  

Add in the disruptive nature of the students’ preseason and they will certainly be unfancied by neutral viewers.  

Nolan played Garvey in a friendly with Monkstown last week who he has been training with primarily before reverting to the UCD camp for match weeks.

His side, though, are a confident one and their standards are probably at the highest in the history of the club’s history having never reached a senior national final before.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time – it’s always a good place to enjoy your hockey and have fun,” he said, explaining the change in mindset that has evolved in recent years.

“You look at guys like Conor Empey and Guy Sarratt who have come in and driven the team; very good players who want to be successful and are not content to just be making up numbers.  

“A lot of the guys are highly competitive people and that shows; we are not there to mess about and it can be misconstrued as over-confidence but we are just really competitive as a team and want to win.”

Garvey’s Jonny Bell, meanwhile, is aware of those threats and so is taking nothing for granted, saying there is little to be drawn from the pre-lockdown 6-0.

Lisnagarvey following their semi-final win over Glenanne. Pic: Billy Pollock

“A lot of time has passed since then,” he told the Belfast Telegraph’s John Flack. “I know we will go into the game as favourites but, as far as I am concerned, there are no favourites in cup finals which are usually cagey affairs.  

“But if we can get our own game right and everyone performs with an eight or nine [out of 10], and we get our preparation right, then we can get the result we need.  

“We have looked at videos of UCD and they are a good team and it’s important to be aware of the opposition’s strengths and any weaknesses they might have. But at the same time, I think it’s important not to over analyse and concentrate on getting our own performance right.”

The women’s final is a repeat of the 2018 final – which UCD won 4-0 – with the students looking to win the title for the third time in the last four runnings of the competition and a sixth since 2009. Pegs are aiming for their 14th title since breaking through in 1974 but are on a relative drought dating back to 2010/11.

“A magnificent competition with a great history,” is UCD coach Miles Warren’s assessement. “It’s a really exciting chance for the girls and been a long time coming as we played the semi-finals last November.”

While coping with the same disruptions to training, Warren has not been quite so fortunate in getting back some of his departing stars.

Lena Tice and Abbie Russell miss the final through injury but – of those who have indicated they will move on – he does have Sarah and Orla Patton along with Suzie Kelly in the fold.

“For them, it will be a like a testimonial match, their last in a UCD kit. A big occasion for them personally but also the club which we really appreciate their new clubs have allowed them to play for us on the day.

“It’s a big send off on a big stage and, maybe, hopefully winning a trophy; what a way it would be to finish a stellar hockey career for UCD because all five have been involved in big, big games and competitions.”  

UCD’s Katherine Egan and Pegasus’ Shirley McCay clash earlier this year. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Pegasus are less affected but Molly Dougan (Exeter) and Charlotte Hart (Bristol) do depart for university in England.

Shirley McCay missed the last final with a broken thumb and so is thrilled to get a chance to make amends. play in.

 “I can’t wait to get playing in Ulster this Saturday, again against UCD so we will be looking to go one better this time. Pegs haven’t won the ISC in a few years so we will be looking to put that right.

 “Prep has gone well all things considering we have a strong squad and competition has been high with lots out at training which is always a good thing.   

“After a strange few months, it has been great to get back into team sport and have that competitiveness back, so to win on Saturday would be a great way to start the season and really set down a marker as to where we are at going into the new season.”

Both take place at Comber Road on Saturday alongside the men’s Irish Hockey Trophy and Challenge finals. Portrane are the Leinster representative with the Fingal side winning their semi-final 3-0 over South Antrim.

They are up against Belfast Harlequins in the Trophy final while Portrush meet Antrim in the Challenge decider. On Sunday, Old Alex II are up against Pembroke II in the women’s Junior Cup final at Belfield followed up by NICS against Blackrock in the Challenge final.

There is also a wealth of Leinster cup finals with the highlight being Loreto against Pembroke in the Jacqui Potter Cup at Beaufort.

Friday 18th September 2020


Benny Atkinson Under-16 Cup final: Three Rock Rovers v Monkstown, Grange Road, 8.15pm


Jacqui Potter Junior Under-16 Plate final: Monkstown v Old Alex, Merrion Fleet Arena, 7.30pm

Saturday 19th September 2020


Irish Senior Cup Final: Lisnagarvey v UCD, Comber Road, 4.30pm

Irish Hockey Trophy Final: Belfast Harlequins v Portrane, Comber Road, 4pm

Irish Hockey Challenge Final: Portrush v Antrim, Comber Road, 12.30pm

Munster Division 1: Ashton v Midleton, Ashton, 3.30pm; Bandon v Cork Harlequins, Bandon GS, 3pm; Catholic Institute v Cork C of I, Rosbrien, 12.30pm

UCD’s Hannah McLoughlin. Pic: Adrian Boehm


Irish Senior Cup Final: Pegasus v UCD, Comber Road, 1pm

Leinster Jacqui Potter Cup final: Loreto v Pembroke, Loreto Beaufort, 1.15pm

Leinster Div 3/4 Cup final: Kilkenny v Corinthian II, Loreto, Kilkenny, 1pm

Leinster Div 5/6 Cup final: Enniscorthy v Rathgar II, Astro Active Enniscorthy, 2pm

Leinster Div 7/8 Cup final: Railway Union IV v Old Alexandra IV, Park Avenue, 2.30pm

Leinster Div 9/10 Cup final: Portrane v UCD VI, Donabate Leisure Centre, 10am

Leinster Div 11/13 Cup final: Botanic IV v Carlow, TBC, 2.30pm

Leinster Junior Jacqui Potter Under-16 Cup final: Pembroke v Railway Union, Serpentine Avenue, 12pm

Munster Division 1: Ashton v Cork C of I, Ashton School, 1pm; Belvedere v Bandon, Ballincollig CS, 1pm; Waterford v UCC, Newtown, 12.30pm

Sunday 20th September 2020


Irish Junior Cup final: Old Alex II v Pembroke II, Belfield, 1.30pm

Irish Hockey Trophy, semi-final: North Kildare v Portadown, The Maws, 2.30pm

Irish Hockey Challenge final: NICS v Blackrock, Belfield, 4pm

The Hook

How they're shaping up: Men's Premier Division

The England Hockey League resumes this weekend with clubs, players and spectators facing fresh challenges both on and off the pitch.

Coronavirus has impacted at all levels of the game and the top-flight is no exception, with pre-season routines and the signing of new players disrupted.

But that hasn’t stopped many clubs from bolstering their squads and doing their best to get match fit.

Under the new format all teams play each other once before the winter break and then the top six will play off for the championship and the bottom five to avoid the drop.

The revised format is to dovetail into a busy international calendar culminating in the rescheduled Olympic Games in the summer of 2021.

Here’s a breakdown of the comings and goings at clubs in the Men’s Premier Division as clubs prepare for week one.

Reigning champions Surbiton have brought in Scottish forward Jamie Golden from Menzieshill as well as defender Tim Nurse from Team Bath Buccaneers.

But they will also be boosted too by the unexpected availability of Zach Wallace and Alan Forsyth, whose moves to Holland have not happened because of Covid restrictions.

They will also be boosted by the return to full fitness of Brendan Creed after almost a year out with a knee injury, and with pre-season friendlies with Wimbledon, Hampstead, Old Georgians, Reading and Oxted under their belts Surbiton are expected to hit the ground running when they host Brooklands MU on Sunday.

T1 Championship winners Beeston have signed several new faces, with the highlights being Lucas Alcalde, a speedy forward from Barcelona who is returning to Beeston while studying for a masters’ degree at Nottingham Trent University.

They also have former Loughborough Students player Tom Crowson on their books after he returned from a year in Holland with Almeerse, as well as Irish forward Ollie Kidd from Lisnagarvey, who is also studying at Nottingham Trent University.

But the expected signings of Vikram Sandhu and Sukhi Panesar are on hold, the Canadian-based duo being unable to travel because of Coronavirus restrictions.

Hampstead & Westminster coach Kwan Browne is pleased with his summer signings, who bring maturity and fitness in equal measure.

27-year-old Mo Gandhi joins from Club an der Alster in Germany and brings experience of the EHL with Beeston and Southgate. Similarly, former Beeston player Joe Sharp has many years of top-flight experience.

James Sutcliffe joins them from Brooklands MU, the former England U16, U18 and U21 midfielder bringing experience that belies his 23 years, while Reading’s Adam Miller is expected to add to their squad too.

Wimbledon have brought in a raft of quality signings including East Grinstead’s David Condon and Liam Ansell, as well as Rory Patterson who played in Germany with Grossflottbeker THGC and Peter Scott from Reading.

But they will have to do without GB ace Ed Horler who has joined Racing Club Bruxelles in Belgium, while Peter Friend and Ryan Kavanagh have left to join Premier Division newcomers Oxted.

Welsh forward James Carson joins Old Georgians from Belgian side Beerschot and brings bags of experience from stints at Reading and the University of Exeter, while adding GB and England star Chris Griffiths to their ranks will make them a formidable side.

Old Georgians head to Holcombe for their first match on Sunday and will face a side boosted by the signing of England U21 goalkeeper Ollie Payne, who will compete for the starting slot with South African Richard Curtis.

Another England U21 player, defender Sam Hooper has joined Holcombe from Exeter University. South African forward Ryan Crowe has also signed – although will miss this weekend due to quarantine restrictions.

Also missing for Holcombe for the first few games will be Tom Moore, who broke his thumb in pre-season training.

Division One South champions Oxted begin life in the top-flight with a short trip on Sunday to East Grinstead, now coached by former Oxted coach Tim Deakin. Oxted’s new signings include Wimbledon duo Peter Friend and Ryan Kavanagh as well as Cameron Heald from Team Bath Buccaneers.

Division One North champions the University of Durham have a bye in week one because of the new 11-team league format – giving former Southgate player Freddie Britt and Thomas Croft-Baker from Havant more time to gel.

And Brooklands Manchester University welcome Alex Holmes into their squad from the University of Durham, as well as Hampstead & Westminster half back Peter Makin.

You can follow the action including live scores at https://englandhockey.altiusrt.com/ or by clicking HERE.

Arrangements for spectators at clubs will vary depending on their individual circumstances. Anyone wishing to attend a game is advised to check with the home team before travelling.


Men’s Hockey League (Sunday, 20 September):

Premier Division
East Grinstead v Oxted 14:00
Holcombe v Old Georgians 14:00
Univ of Exeter v Hampstead & Westminster 14:00
Surbiton v Brooklands MU 14:30
Wimbledon v Beeston 14:30

England Hockey Board Media release

How they're shaping up: Women's Premier Division

The 2020-21 England Hockey League Women’s Premier Division season starts on Saturday, with many clubs fielding new-look squads after a busy summer of signings.

Under the new format all teams play each other once before the winter break and then the top six will play off for the championship and the bottom five to avoid the drop.

The revised format is to dovetail into a busy international calendar culminating in the rescheduled Olympic Games in the summer of 2021.

With pre-season routines disrupted because of Covid restrictions, week one will take on a new level of interest as teams face off with different line-ups and mixed pre-season programmes.

Fourth last season, Buckingham head to Surbiton on Saturday and will have in their squad former Surbiton player Jo Hunter who has signed for the Stowe School outfit.

But last season’s champions Surbiton have added several players to their squad, with a trio of Holcombe players in former international star Steph Elliott, Alice Wills and Emma Bandurak signing up.

A raft of former Surbiton colts players have also returned to Sugden Road in Meg Dowthwaite, Lottie Ross and Louise Bray, while American international youngster Corinne Zanolli has finished quarantine and is ready to compete for a place.

Holcombe have lost a number of players to rivals Surbiton and Hampstead, but have brought in new faces such as Argentinian defender Luciana Galimberti and attacking compatriot Agueda Moroni Melgarejo.

Italian international defender Ivanna Pessina, who also won caps for Argentina before her move to Italy, has signed up too, while other first XI newcomers include young Holcombe-bred goalkeeper Katie Cardwell.

Great Britain and Scotland international forward Charlotte Watson has moved from Holcombe to their opponents this weekend Loughborough Students. Other new faces at Loughborough include Kyra Angerer, the German age group international who is completing a masters’ degree at the university.

Hampstead and Westminster go to Beeston with several new players in the squad including three former Holcombe players.

Olympic star Nic White is returning to hockey after two years out with a head injury, Izzy Davison is also moving from Holcombe to Hampstead & Westminster after several years at Beeston before that, and England U21 player Pip Lewis moves from Holcombe after three seasons.

England and GB player Esme Burge joins Hampstead from the University of Nottingham, while Livy Paige also has England caps and comes to Hampstead from the University of Birmingham.

Their hosts on Saturday are Beeston, who have added Welsh international midfielder Julie Whiting from Bowdon, while American developmental international players Jillian Wolgemuth and Kelsey Briddell have also joined their first XI.

Clifton Robinsons have signed former Surbiton and GB defender Holly Munro, while former GB U23 and England age group player Megan Crowson has also joined Clifton Robinsons. Sarah-Jayne Thorburn and Livvy Hoskins have moved across the border from Swansea.

Starting with a home game, Clifton Robinsons entertain East Grinstead who have added former Holcombe goalkeeper Laura Myers.

Division One South champions Wimbledon are hosting Division One North champions Swansea in their first game, and both have made several new signings over the summer.

Among Wimbledon’s new faces are three former Beeston players. Midfielder Mairi Drummond and goalkeeper Nicky Cochrane are both Scottish internationals, while Annie Dalton also moves from Beeston to Wimbledon.

And Swansea have signed four young players from America, thanks largely to coach Gareth Terrett having coached at the University of the Pacific in California, USA for a year.

West Chester University duo Kat Roncoroni and Katie Thompson have signed, while USA development international Madalyn Conklin from Cornell University and Allie Christopher from Bucknell University also join, with all four studying at Swansea University for the year.

Welsh international Beth Wood will play for Swansea, the former Cardiff & Met defender having returned from a season in Australia, while former Trojans player Rebecca Treharne will bring experience to the squad.

The University of Birmingham have a bye in week one, but their new faces include Canterbury’s Ailsa Naylor, Beeston’s Sarah Spooner and Maisy Ellis from Basingstoke.

You can follow the action including live scores at https://englandhockey.altiusrt.com/ or by clicking HERE.

Arrangements for spectators at clubs will vary depending on their individual circumstances. Anyone wishing to attend a game is advised to check with the home team before travelling.


Women’s Hockey League (Saturday, 19 September):

Premier Division
Clifton Robinsons v East Grinstead 13:30
Beeston v Hampstead & Westminster 14:00
Surbiton v Buckingham 15:00
Wimbledon v Swansea 15:30

England Hockey Board Media release

A stick down summer, domestic league hockey is back

By Rod Gilmour

Surbiton men have been in stellar form in recent seasons PIC: Surbiton HC Twitter

We saw garages converting to gyms, gardens turned into skill zones. An array of viral hockey trick postings – keepy ups on waterskis come to mind – and a masters collective recreating GB’s winning Rio shoot out moment from kitchen confines. Meanwhile a pub, returning from lockdown, purchased some hockey turf to cater for outdoor drinking in the establishment’s car park.

These were some of the sights and sounds of the lockdown summer of 2020 in hockey.

Divided spaces for households on the pitch to finally hit on the turf, slowly turned into non-contact training and then, finally, friendly matches.

Now, after six months since league hockey, we return. The English top flight resumes this weekend outdoors as other main sports still await their return to play.

Hockey’s amateur nature has seen to that. Despite the international game able to bring 12,000 to watch matches, thousands play every week recreationally and the sport is classed as a grassroots sport over an elite one, meaning that league from top to bottom can resume and spectators, at each clubs’ disgression, watching the action.

Hockey did once have dreams of turning into a professional sport, England Hockey officials revealing back in 2014 that it harboured ambitions to follow rugby’s endeavours. Imagine the sport’s financial outlook post-coronavirus if that had come to fruition.

And so the sport remains amateur, but this season will start with the best of British playing league hockey.

Olympians, most of whom who should be taking international breaks or departing for the continent this season, as well as other Tokyo and beyond hopefuls, will all be on domestic show throughout England each weekend until the only home international of 2020 in November, when GB entertain Germany at Lee Valley.

On paper, it looks set to be one of the most competitive set of (rejigged) Premier Divisions for a long time too – even if there is a sense of another top heavy season featuring the usual protagonists, judging by the signings made over the summer.

There are stories abound. What was behind the Holcombe exodus of players? There’s the astute recruitment of Swansea women signing four US collegiate players. Oxted’s rise to the Premier Division we have yet to hear. Can Brooklands maintain elite status for a northern team? We hope to cover it all.

Further down the leagues, this season – however the 2020/21 campaign plays out – will be the last before a huge restructure following this week’s AGM vote.

But with regional lockdowns raising the prospect of further disruption to daily life, it remains to be seen how this will affect grassroots sport without the covid secure bubble we’ve seen in other elite sports.

For now, Sport England has sought to clarify confusion. On Friday, the government quango said: “Grassroots sport and organised physical activity can currently continue in areas where there are local lockdowns, as long as those activities abide by the stringent plans put in place to ensure they were given the green light to go ahead in the first place.”

This edict was laid out earlier this week by England Hockey who called for this season to start with “a sense of responsibility” as well as the excitement which has been awash on social media in recent weeks.

Training sessions can now be put to one side and age old local tussles can reconvene. Even if we all have to depart the scene soon afterwards, instead of enjoying the clubhouse laughs which bond community sport together.

But the sport is back and for that we should thank league and competition adminstrators and club volunteers aplenty.

Enjoy pushbacks one and all.

The Hockey Paper

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