Irish women claim maiden Home Nations title

Ireland played host to a successful Home Nations at Lisnagarvey last weekend with the Irish women’s over 40s winning their first title while the men’s over 40s and 50s took second place behind England. Here’s the rundown on the weekend’s action from Helen Johnston, starting with the women’s event.

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Women’s Masters, results: England 1 Wales 1; Ireland 2 (Debbie Wilson, Alison Pigot) Wales 1; Ireland 2 (Alison Pigot, Sue Vincent) England 1

Final standings: 1. Ireland 6pts (+2) 2= England 1pt (-1) 2= Wales 1pt (-1)

Ireland 2 (Debbie Wilson, Alison Pigot) Wales 1: Ireland played Wales on Saturday afternoon having watched England and Wales earlier draw 1-1 and knowing a good performance Ireland could get a result. Ireland started well, passing the ball through midfield and were rewarded with a goal in the seventh minute when Annie Lawlor crashed a ball from the left for Debbie Wilson to shoot home from the middle of the circle.

Ireland continued to play well but it wasn’t until the latter part of the second half that they extended their lead, the goal coming in the 59th minute when Alison Pigot coolly slotted a penalty stroke following a Welsh foot on the line.

Wales responded immediately when their captain and outstanding player Kate Morgan raced down the right, beating a couple of players and scored following a deflection. A nervy close followed but Ireland held on to win.

Ireland 2 (Alison Pigot, Sue Vincent) England 1: On Sunday morning, Ireland took on England, whose team was mainly comprised of over 45s. Their lack of mobility was compensated for by their basics and positioning.

Ireland made most of the early running but England thwarted their attacks and counter attacked with purpose. On one such occasion, after 24 minutes, they played a neat one-two and gave Irish goalkeeper Margie Loughran no chance with the shot – the only goal of the first half.

The hosts stepped their passing game in the second period and were finally rewarded in the 58th minute when their short corner routine bore fruit. Alison Pigot bagged her second goal of the weekend following a switch move which drew a rebound and the Pembroke lady finished on her reverse. A draw would have been enough to annex the title but they continued to push forward and won another corner seven minutes from time.

Another switch via Annie Lawlor found Sue Vincent who scored from close in to seal the title; a richly deserved one with all 18 squad members playing a part. There were, however, especially notable contributions from the attacking defender Roly Burke, the hard-working Pigot and Clare Ryan in midfield along with the flair and skill of Debbie Wilson and Annie Lawlor up front.

Ireland Ladies Over 40s: Sinead Guilfoyle (GK, Pembroke), Margie Loughran (Navan), Clare Ryan (Navan), Helen Johnston (Railway), Maura O’Neill (Three Rock Rovers), Roly Burke (Hermes), Alison Pigot (C) (Pembroke), Annie Lawlor (Pembroke), Bromwyn O’Donnell (Loreto), Mairead Lyons (Three Rock Rovers), Emma Meir (Avoca), Aisling Schutte (Pembroke), Edwina Mulcahy (Pembroke), Sue Vincent (Loreto), Debbie Wilson (Randalstown), Paula Jenkins (Three Rock Rovers), Noreen O’Riordan (Loreto), Nicky Cullen (Avoca). Managers: Sarah Williams and Elaine Donoghue.

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Men’s Over 50s Masters, results: Ireland 4 (William Redpath, William Haughton 2, Sean Curran) Scotland 4; England 6 Wales 1; Ireland 4 (William Redpath, Sean Curran, Richard Clarke, Davy Hull) Wales 0; England 0 Scotland 0; Scotland 4 Wales 0; Ireland 2 (Gerry Hamill, Raymond Parker) England 2

Final standings: 1. England 5pts (+5) 2. Ireland 5pts (+4) 3. Scotland 5pts (+4) 4. Wales 0pts (-13)

Ireland 4 (William Redpath, William Haughton 2, Sean Curran) Scotland 4: Ireland opened the men’s over 50s tournament in thrilling style with a 4-4 draw with Scotland. They earned the point the hard way, though, with the Scots nicking a two-goal lead. Ireland replied via a field goal by right forward, William Redpath and Sean Curran equalised for Ireland after the break, again from open play.

Scotland, however, managed to reassert the two goal lead with eight minutes to go. But the Irish team rallied once again, with Three Rock centre forward Willie Haughton scoring from open play and then winning a penalty stoke in the dying minutes which he converted to snatch the draw.

Ireland 4 (William Redpath, Sean Curran, Richard Clarke, Davy Hull) Wales 0: William Redpath opened the scoring after 25 minutes and Ireland extended their lead in the second half with Sean Curran getting the second before Richard Clarke and Davy Hull scored corner goals to round off the win.

Ireland 2 (Gerry Hamill, Raymond Parker) England 2: The tournament finale saw England needing a draw while Ireland needed all three points to win the tournament and they got off to a dream start with field goals from Gerry Hamill and Raymond Parker.

But England fought back, pulling one back in the 45th minute before getting the crucial goal from a drag flick. Ireland had a late corner to nick the win but were unable to convert , leaving them to miss out on the title by a single goal on goal difference.

Ireland Over 50s: Peter Agnew (GK, Avoca), Kieran McGoldrick (Larne), Howard Quinn (Armagh), Keith Jess (C) (Lisnagarvey), Eddie O’Malley (Glenanne), George Redpath (South Antrim), William Haughton (VC) (Three Rock Rovers), David Hull (Mosseley), Mervyn McCaigue (Newry), Gerry Hamill (Mosseley), Tim Hogg (GK, Instonians), Richard Clarke (Pembroke), Raymond Parker (Bangor), William Redpath (VC) South Antrim, Sean Curran (Teddington), Stuart Egner (Cork Harlequins), Donald Fetherston (Mossley), Crawford McKee (Chelmsford). Manager: George Redpath; Assistant Manager: Crawford McKee.

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Men’s Over 40s Masters, results: Ireland 1 (Neil Murray) Wales 0; England 2 Scotland 0; Ireland 3 (Rupert Pinion, Peter Pollock, Robert Ryan) Scotland 1; England 7 Germany 0; Wales 3 Germany 1; Germany 1 Scotland 4; England 3 Wales 0; Scotland 4 Wales 3; Ireland 2 (Robert Ryan, Andy Nye) England 6

Standings: 1. England 12pts (+16) 2. Ireland 6pts (0) 3. Scotland 6pts (+4) 4. Wales 0pts (-13) 5. Germany 0pts (-12)

Ireland 1 (Neil Murray) Wales 0: A single goal decided the game but Ireland were thoroughly dominant and could have won by more but for an inspired Welsh goalkeeper and some poor finishing, the over 40s contrived to make life difficult for themselves.

It finally took a well-worked short corner to break the deadlock when an Andy Nye switch was deflected into the net by Neil Murray for the vital goal. The Irish had lost this game to two penalty flicks last year and the Welsh gained another one in the second half. But a fantastic save by the Irish keeper maintained the lead and a deserved win to start the tournament.

Ireland 3 (Rupert Pinion, Peter Pollock, Robert Ryan) Scotland 1: Their second game saw the Irish tackle a Scottish team who had previously beaten the Irish at the World Cup in Hong Kong. Using this as an incentive, the Irish exploded out of the blocks and a well-worked goal by Rupert Pinion saw Ireland 1-0 up after 15 minutes.

Scotland fought back, earning a succession of corners before Ireland consolidated in midfield and, using quick fire, two touch hockey, they sapped energy from the Scots and increased the lead to 3-0 with goals from former international Robert Ryan and a Peter Pollock hammered short corner special from battery one.

From there, the game went to end with a couple of yellow cards for each team. The Scots earned a series of four corners in this time and eventually scored with a deflected shot which gave the Irish keeper no chance.

Ireland 2 (Robert Ryan, Andy Nye) England 6: The Over 40s third tie of the weekend was the critical one as, England could confirm the title with their fourth success having earlier beaten Germany, Wales and Scotland. But they did not have it all their own way as Robbie Ryan netted again, this time deflecting after a quick cross by Pollock.

This stirred England who used their possession game to slowly build pressure and equalised with a well worked goal after 18 minutes and a succession of England short corners resulted in two further goals from straight shots.

The English went 4-1 ahead following a superb individual effort and in a deserved 4-1 position at half time. Ireland pulled one back during a good spell in the 50th minute when Andy Nye, the Irish centre back, struck sweetly into the bottom right corner.

But England responded immediately with a deflected goal to increase the lead to 5-2 and notched a sixth late on to take the tie and the tournament.

Ireland Men Over 40s panel: Iain Kelly (GK) (Belfast Harlequins), Graeme Shaw (GK) (Ballymena), Peter Priestley (Pembroke), Andy Nye (Lisnagarvey), Stewart Atkinson (Pembroke), Peter Pollock (Annadale), Mark Murray (C) Lisnagarvey), Graham Higgin (Instonians), Colin McWhirter (Mosseley), Bruce Agnew (Lisnagarvey), Robert Ryan (Limerick), Ali Reilly (Antrim), Richard Tinney (Raphoe), Jonny Taylor (Antrim), Rupert Pinion (Lisnagarvey), Neil Murray (Leicester), Michael Harvey (Civil Service), Mark Surgeon (Lisnagarvey), Philip Thomas (Bangor), Gary McIlroy (Newry), Gavin Rogers (Antrim), Paul Kennedy (St James Gate).
Manager: Jamie Millar; Coach: Andy Nye; Physio: Suzanne Watson

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