Strong performances from the England O-40s and O-45s against Ireland in the last day of the tournament was enough for them to retain the cups for the respective age categories.
While England retained the O-50s title, it was a more complex affair as they were beaten by England O-55s in the morning so that they only regained the cup on goal difference, with the Irish O-50s having the same number of points.
In the O-40s section, Ireland were playing England for the title as both teams entered the match on full points, though England had a better goal difference. In an evenly balanced game, England ran out 4-1 winners by virtue of their clinical finishing.
Former England and GB forward Sally Gibson – who played for England in the World Cup hosted in Dublin in 1994 – scored all four of England’s goals and was the stand out player of the O-40s competition.
Ireland never gave up and got a well deserved late goal. Noreen Dockery came off the bench and, making a strong supporting run from defence, connected with a baseline pull back from Julie Bell, to deflect the ball into the net.
In the earlier game, Scotland beat Wales 4-1 so that the final placings were: 1st England (9pts); 2nd Ireland (6pts); 3rd Scotland (3pts); 4th Wales (0pts). Gillian Garrett was awarded the Irish O40s player of the tournament.
In the O-45s group, Ireland took on winners England looking for a good performance. Despite Ireland having the better of the opening exchanges they conceded from a deflected own goal six minutes into the game.
The hosts kept searching for the equaliser but half way through the second half England were awarded a disputed penalty stroke which they duly converted. Ireland were unable to convert their chances and the final result was 2-0 to England. In the other game in this group Wales beat Scotland 1-0. Final placings for the O-45s were: 1st England (9pts); 2nd Wales (4pts); 3rd Ireland (2pts); 4th Scotland (1pt). Tracey Skoyles was awarded the Irish O45s player of the tournament.
In an exciting last day of the O-50/55s tournament, England O-55s beat England O-50s 1-0 in the first match. This meant that if Scotland beat Wales in the second match, they could potentially win the tournament but Wales held them to a 2-2 draw.
Ireland O-50s played England O-55s in the third match – a win for England O-55s would make them outright winners, while a win for Ireland would put them in contention (if Wales took points off England O-50s in the last match).
The Irish controlled much of the first half and were rewarded when Cathy Walsh scored from a penalty corner strike. England attacked right from the push back and, less than a minute later, were on level terms.
They increased their lead from a penalty corner 2 minutes later, just before half time. After the restart, Ireland were awarded a penalty stroke following an illegal stop at a penalty corner, which Maura O’Neill converted to level things up again.
Both teams pushed for the winning goal, Ireland having the better of the exchanges as England O55s tired in their second match of the day. Ireland got the eventual winner four minutes from time when Dee Wallace scored from a penalty corner, tapping in at the back post following good work by Siobhan Forde.
In the last game of the day, England O-50s beat Wales O-50s 5-0 to win the O-50/55s tournament on goal difference. The final placings were: 1st England O50s (7pts, +8); 2nd Ireland O50s (7pts, +2); 3rd Scotland (6pts, +2); 4th England O55s (6pts, -1); 5th Wales (1pt). Orla Galvin was the Irish O50s player of the tournament. Tara Browne was awarded the Irish Masters (all age groups) Goalkeeper of the Tournament.
The next event for Irish Women’s Masters is the European Open (men and women) taking place in Lisnagarvey hockey club from August 13-17.
** Words all weekend with thanks to Helen Johnston