While some quarters call for their disbandment, the men’s and women’s Senior and U-21 interpros all making for a more than intriguing weekend of hockey at Grange Road.
Leinster’s senior men go in search of a 44th title, and end Ulster’s reign as champions. They do so with a panel featuring 12 internationals in their 16 man line-up with YM’s Andy Walker and Railway’s Kenny Carroll the only two not currently involved in some sort of Irish panel, making this a major opportunity to impress.
Stephen Butler and Graham Shaw, as reported by David Metcalf in the Irish Independent, are included, called up before they made their retirements from international hockey.
Ulster have nine Irish players with former Cork C of I man Jason Lynch again opting for his adopted home. Pembroke trio Adam Pritchard, Conor and David Harte along with Patrick Shanahan, though, will represent their province of origin. Indeed, it could be a busy weekend for the Three Rock man as he has also been named in Munster’s U-21 panel.
The women’s senior competition offers players outside the current Irish panels a huge opportunity to shine as Gene Muller’s panel are unavailable for regional selection.
Simon Filgas’ Leinster squad is largely based on a core of Railway Union players with a half-dozen making the cut. Bray’s former international pair Linda O’Neill and Catherine Murray provide midfield power as part of a quartet of Loreto, Bray All-Ireland School’s winners from 200 in the panel while Cathy McKean lends her experience, too.
Across the provinces, there is plenty of Leinster-based representation with Railway’s Sarah McDonald captaining Connacht taking over from club mate Sinead Walsh. The western province is bolstered by Hermes, Loreto, UCD and Trinity players to go with a large, youthful contingent from Greenfields and Galway.
Hermes’ Aine Connery lines out for Munster while UCD’s Kerry McComish wears Ulster’s colours for a side featuring former Ireland star Suzanne Beaney.
With the senior and U-21 tournaments running concurrently, there must have been a wealth of debates in the various provinces over which squad players were to represent.
This is perhaps more apparent on the Leinster women’s side with several Ireland A players named. Connacht opted just to compete in the senior interpros so the competition is reduced to four teams this year with South East, coached by former Hermes duo Linda Caulfield and Catriona Carey, featuring Trinity trio Kylie Deverall, Maebh and Eanna Horan.
On the men’s side, Niall Denham keeps ten players from last year’s panel with three times capped Brian Doherty hoping to make his debut at this level after missing last year through injury.
There is also the chance to see how Stu Loughrey has progressed after his first year at Loughborough University.
Senior and U21 Interprovincials, Grange Road, Dublin
Senior Men: Ulster vs Leinster (Tonight, 8pm); Ulster vs Munster (Tomorrow, 2pm); Munster vs Leinster (Sunday, 2pm).
Leinster Men’s Senior squad: Iain Walker (YMCA), David Fitzgerald (Monkstown), Gareth Watkins (Monkstown), Stephen Butler (Glenanne), Joe Brennan (Glenanne), Graham Shaw (Glenanne), Ronan Gormley (Pembroke), Alan Giles (Pembroke), Alan Sothern (Pembroke), Andy McConnell (Pembroke), Michael Maguire (Three Rock Rovers), Chris Pelow (Corinthian), Peter Blakeney (Three Rock Rovers), Kenny Caroll (Railway Union), Andrew Walker (YMCA), Gary Shaw (Glenanne)
Manager: Tom Hipwell, Coach: Ger Flannery
ESB Senior Women: Ulster vs Connacht (Tonight, 6pm); Munster vs Leinster (Tonight, 8pm); Leinster vs Connacht (Tomorrow, 12pm); Ulster vs Munster (Tomorrow, 4pm); Connacht vs Munster (Sunday, 12pm); Ulster vs Leinster (Sunday, 4pm).
Leinster Women’s squad: Pamela Smithwick (Old Alex), Siobhan Burke (Corinthian), Catherine Murray (Bray), Holly Jenkinson (Railway Union), Isobel Joyce (Railway Union), Eimear Dolan (Railway Union), Carol Magowan (Corinthian), Cathy McKean (Loreto), Mary Waldron (Glenanne), Linda O’Neill (Bray), Kate Dillon (Railway Union), Cecelia Joyce (Railway Union), Megan Tennant-Humphreys (UCD), Audrey McCormack (Glenanne), Jean McDonnell (Railway Union), Nikki Keegan (Loreto), Nicci Daly (Loreto)
Coach: Simon Filgas, Manager: Catherine Brock, Asst coaches: Jonathon Cole, Joe Brennan
U21 Men: Ulster vs Leinster (Tonight, 6pm); Ulster vs Munster (Tomorrow, 12pm); Munster vs Leinster (Sunday, 12pm)
Leinster Men’s U-21 squad: Stephen O’Keeffe (Railway Union), Ross Murray (Corinthian), Brian Doherty (Corinthian), Jonathan Kane (Glenanne), Rob Whelan (YMCA), Davy Carson (Corinthian), Geoff Walker (YMCA), Richard Pedreschi (YMCA), Nick Dee (Monkstown), Andrew Ward (Monkstown), Billy McEnery (Monkstown), Stephen Cole (Monkstown), Shane O’Donnell (UCD), Mark English (Railway Union), Luke Hayden (Clontarf), Sean Flynn (Dublin University), David Keogh (Glenanne), Stuart Loughrey (Loughborough Students)
Coach: Niall Denham, Manager: Rob Abbott, Asst Coach: Maarten Bos
ESB U21 Women: Leinster vs Munster (Tomorrow, 10am); Ulster vs South East (Tomorrow, 10am); Munster vs South East (Tomorrow, 3.30pm); Leinster vs South East (Sunday, 10am); Munster vs Ulster (Sunday, 10am); Ulster vs Leinster (Sunday, 3.30pm).
Leinster U-21 squad::Jessie Elliott (Trinity), Aisling Campion (Loreto), Nikki Evans (Railway Union), Noelle Farrell (Pembroke), Orla Fox (Pembroke), Sarah Greene (Hermes), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Caitriona McGilp (UCD), Kate McKenna (Railway Union), Alison Meeke (Loreto), Hayley O’Donnell (Pembroke), Anna O’Flanagan (Hermes), Leigh Pelow (UCD), Rachel Scott (Trinity), Val Sexton (UCD), Alice Ward (Pembroke), Grace O’Flanagan (UCD)