** Words from Helen Johnston **
The Ireland Women’s Masters, for the first time, sent two teams to the Home Nations in Edinburgh last weekend. First up on the Friday evening were matches v Wales.
The Ireland O-40s went 1-0 up through Aisling Schutte who tipped in past the Welsh keeper for an interval lead. In the second period, the Welsh upped their attack, and despite the best efforts of sweeper Paula O’Donoghue and ex-international keeper Alison Vance, they equalised with the final score 1-1.
The Ireland O-45s also drew with the Welsh O-45s coming twice from behind. Jane Salter scored the first, receiving a free in from Maura O’Neill and cracking it into the far corner.
Half way through the second half Ireland equalised again, this time through the fast running Marion O’Brien who slotted past the keeper. Ireland finished the stronger but were unable to find the winning goal.
Both teams faced strong English sides in the wet and windy Edinburgh conditions on the Saturday.
Having drawn 0-0 with Scotland the previous day the England O45s were quick off the mark in their search for goals – finding the net three times before half time.
Ireland continued valiantly with centre backs Linda Jenkinson and ex-international Orla Galvin, and goalkeeper Helen Roche thwarting the English efforts. English perseverance though paid off with the final score 6-0.
The Irish O-40s found the English O-40s had a similar fast-passing game and they too were 3-0 down at half time. They rallied in the second half through strong defending by Noreen Dockery, Ailish Langan and Mairead Lyons, but the English ran out 5-0 winners.
After the Saturday night sing song, bar diving, and some “motherly” attention from the Welsh O-50s, our two young coaches, Ben Epstein and Stu Malcolm, adopted more defensive tactics against the Scots.
First up was the O-40s at 9.30am and they were caught by an early Scottish break. Ireland searched for an equaliser, particularly through captain Emma Meir and Hilary Long but were caught at the end on the counter attack with the final score 2-0 to Scotland.
The O-45s defended solidly and created a few chances of their own on the break through the skillful Annie Lawlor and speedy Sue Vincent but were caught ten minutes from the end when they had to defend a penalty corner with only three defenders.
Again, rallied by captain Alison Pigot, they went in search of an equaliser but were caught on the break finishing on the wrong side of another 2-0 score line.
Both teams finished third in their age groups, ahead of the Welsh, the best finish in the three years competing in this competition – setting a target of second for next year, when it will be hosted in Ireland.
The next Women’s Masters event is the Wolrd Cup in Canterbury, England from August 17 to 25. Ireland has entered two teams – an O-40s team and an O-50s team.
We are recruiting players for the O50s – so if you’re still playing, or you can find your old hockey stick, or if you can encourage your mum to play, we’d love you to turn up.
Training is in Loreto on Sunday’s from 5 to 7pm. Contacts are: Alison Pigot 0868386020; Bromwyn O’Donnell 0878110962; and Helen Johnston 087 4191780.