Irish women battle to fourth and sixth at intense Masters World Cup

** Report from Helen Johnston on the Irish women’s performances in FIH Masters World Cup
The inaugural FIH approved Hockey Masters World Cup saw 43 teams from 11 countries take part in six competitions in Canterbury last week for a hugely successful event. Ireland sent five teams – men’s O-40s, O-45s, O-50s, and O-55s and women’s O-40s and O-50s – for an intense week of action.

On the women’s side, the Irish O-50s team travelled with a squad of 14 players for their first competition. The team was managed by player Dee Mooney, coached by Stu Malcolm and captained by Helen Johnston.

They competed in a pool of five teams, starting off against Wales, recording a 2-0 win. Randalstown’s Carolyn Shankey was the toast of the team as she slotted home a short corner rebound and then scored her second with a quick free inside the 23m. From there, she raced into the circle and fired home a shot high into the roof of the net.

Wales responded well in the second half but Railway’s Helen Roche, in goals, pulled off a number of saves to keep a clean sheet.

On day two, the team faced a strong and experienced England team. Ireland were 1-0 up at half-time courtesy of Three Rock Ladies Maura O’Neill’s shot off a corner rebound. Despite the heroic second half efforts by Old Alex centre back Orla Galvin, however, England ran out 4-1 winners.

Facing Australia on a third consecutive day of competition with tired legs being felt, defensive errors were starting to creep in with the hockeyroos scoring three times in the last five minutes to win 4-0.

New Zealand were next on the agenda with third place up for grabs. Ireland went 2-0 ahead through an O’Neill penalty stroke and a Shankey short corner switch.

The Kiwis got one back in the second half and equalised on the final whistle but Ireland had done enough to warrant a semi final against Australia the following day.

The Kiwis played England in the other semi final and Wales completed their tournament in 5th place. With the benefit of video analysis, a day’s rest and a deep counter-attacking game Australia went 3-0 against Ireland in the first half.

With coach Malcolm making some tactical changes at half-time, Ireland matched Australia in the 2nd half but were unable to find those all important goals, leaving three in the margin.

England’s win over New Zealand meant the kiwis were again the opposition on day six. The Kiwis started the strongest and were 1-0 up at half time and doubled their lead in the 2nd half.

Ireland did not give up and chased the match, being rewarded with a goal three minutes from time off a Cathy Walsh (Cork C of I) strike at a penalty corner.

In the last minute, Walsh subsequently hit the post from another corner strike with the ball running agonisingly across the goal and off the back line, leaving Ireland fourth in their maiden competition after six matches in six days.

It later transpired Shankey broke her finger in the first match but continued to play with it strapped throughout the tournament and Dymphna Hill (Cork C of I) broke her thumb in the semi final and played with it strapped in the 3/4 play off, adding more pressure to a panel of players. The Irish O-50s player of the tournament was Maura O’Neill, pictured.

At O-40s level, Ireland played in a pool of seven teams in a round-robin format, a very competitive section and, with a squad of 13-15 players, many of whom were in the 45-49 age bracket, it was always going to be difficult for Ireland.

The side was managed by player Ailish Langan, coached by Ben Epstein and captained by Alison Pigot. They started with two matches on day one, Wales in the morning and England in the evening.

Wales started strong and soon Ireland were 2-0 down, getting one back through good play by midfielder Brenda Barrett just before half time.

Although Ireland had lots of pressure and corners in the second half, they were unable to get that all-important equalising goal. Six hours later, Ireland were back in action against a strong English side playing their first match.

Five minutes in and Ireland were 1-0 down when they faced a penalty stroke but goalkeeper Sinead Guilfoyle saved that effort stroke which rallied the team, keeping the hosts at bay until a late second ended the tie.

Australia were next on the agenda and Ireland held them to a single first half-goal but the previous day’s matches took their toll in the second half with the final result 5-0 in Australia’s favour.

Newcomers South Africa were the fourth opposition and the women in green stamped their authority on the match with Pembroke players Ash Schutte and Ali Pigot finding the net. The South Africans did get on the score sheet but Ireland ran out 2-1 winners.

Against Scotland on day four, despite the best efforts of Marion O’Brien (Swords) and Jane Salter (Glenanne) in scoring goals for Ireland, the final result was 4-2 to Scotland.

The Irish O-40s final game was against top of the table New Zealand, and, by this time, injuries and fatigue were setting in to the Irish team. Pigot scored for Ireland and despite the valiant efforts of Linda Jenkinson, Mairead Lyons and Sinead Guilfoyle in defence the Kiwis scored six times to leave the final score 6-1, leaving Ireland sixth in their competition with Sinead Guilfoyle named player of the tournament.

** 2013 is a big year for Irish Masters Hockey. There will be an Interprovincial Tournament in late April. Ireland are hosting the women’s home countries in June in Pembroke, and in August, Ireland will host a European Open Tournament for both men and women at a range of age groups.

We would like to increase the number of participants from all the provinces, so if anyone wants to get involved please contact Alison Pigot at 0868386020 or Helen Johnston at 0874191780.

Irish O40s Women: Ireland 1 (B Barrett) Wales 2; Ireland 0 England 2; Ireland 0 Australia 5; Ireland 2 (A Schutte, A Pigot) South Africa 1; Ireland 2 (M O’Brien, J Salter) Scotland 4; Ireland 1 (A Pigot) New Zealand 6. Ireland finish sixth.
Irish O-50s Women: Ireland 2 (C Shankey 2) Wales 0; Ireland 1 (M O’Neill) England 4; Ireland 0 Australia 4; Ireland 2 (M O’Neill, C Shankey) New Zealand 2; SF Ireland 0 Australia 3; 3/4 play off Ireland 1 New Zealand 2. Ireland finish fourth.

Ireland Over-40s: Sinead Guilfoyle (GK, Pembroke), Mairead Lyons (Three Rock), Linda Jenkinson (Loreto), Ailish Langan (M, Genesis), Noreen Dockery (Alex), Jane Salter (Glenanne), Angie Boran (Botanic), Emma Meir (Avoca), Annie Lawlor (Pembroke), Joan Dobson (Cork C of I), Brenda Barrett (Alex), Alison Pigot (C, Pembroke), Ash Scutte (Pembroke), Marion O’Brien (Swords), Caroline Sharkey (Loreto). Coach: Ben Epstein.

Over-50s: Helen Roche (GK, Railway), Bernie Barry (Pembroke), Orla Galvin (Alex), Dee Mooney (M, Loreto), Julie Wilson (Carrick), Janet Clarke (Mossley), Helen Johnston (C, Railway), Maura O’Neill (Three Rock), Dymphna Hill (Cork C of I), Pat Stewart (Grosvenor), Ann Kirwan (Genesis), Cathy Walsh (Cork C of I), Carolyn Shankey (Randalstown), Marguerite Hues (Sutton)

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