The Leinster Hockey U17 Development girls squad arrived home from Holland this week having placed third in the HOD International Easter Hockey Tournament.
This was the second year that Leinster have sent a team to the tournament, with the 2015 sqaud placing fifth. This year the aim was to top that and go for a top three place. Mission accomplished!
Leinster squad were grouped with the Belgian Cats (the national A team). Grossflottbeker THGC (from Germany), Seven Oaks Hockey Club from Kent in England, Zuid-Holland (Dutch District side) and Moscow from Russia.
The other group had the Belgian Cubs (the B squad), the Polish U-16 National Squad, The Polar Bears (a Canadian club side), ESV Munchen from Germany and the home side, HOD Valkanswaard.
Dublin club Monkstown Hockey were due to travel also but unfortunately were unable to make it due to the attacks on the Belgian airport last week.
After a light training session on Good Friday, the panel played a friendly match and shootout competition against ESV Munchen. This was the first time the Leinster girls had played together as a team, aside from six training sessions in Dublin prior to departure
The first 15 minutes were excellent with the girls taking a 1-0 lead after Lily Lloyd dribbled along the backline and snuck the ball in between the keeper and the post.
The second two phases were not as solid for the Leinster side as things started to become undone and Munchen levelled. Leinster managed to keep them at bay and the final score was 1-1.
Both sides then participated in a shootout competition in order to get some practice in for the next day. Leinster won this easily, 5-1.
On Saturday the real tournament began and the Leinster girls were up against Zuid-Holland. Last year, the girls lost 1-0 to the same opposition.
This year, they prevailed as winners with Lloyd on the mark with another cracking goal behind the keeper. This 1-0 win was followed up with a victory over the Dutch side in the first round of the shooutout competition.
Later that morning, Leinster took on Seven Oaks; this was a better performance all round from the Leinster side and again they prevailed winners with a 2-0 scoreline. Lelia O’Brien and Eve Reidy on the mark.
The third match against Grossflottbeker was the toughest opponent the girls had come up against thus far. Both sides had a number of chances, though neither could convert. Leinster always seemed to have the edge and Aisling O’Brien converted a penalty stroke which provided Leinster with a 1-0 win and their third victory.
In their fourth game of ay one against Moscow, tired legs and minds played a part in the performance here, and a 1-1 draw was the result, with Lloyd hitting the backboardsfor the third time in five games.
Leinster finished in second place after day one with a guaranteed place in the semi-finals and just one more group game to play against table toppers, the Belgian Cats.
Sunday morning unfortunately did not start as planned; the Cats were a finely tuned side and put away three tidy gaols in the first eight minutes.
Jade Arundell’s performance between the posts was second to none and kept the Cats at bay with some remarkable saves. Outfield, the Leinster players finally woke up and had a number of good chances but the damage had already been done and the score ended 3-0.
The Belgian Cubs (the country’s B side) had topped the other group and were confirmed as the Leinster opposition for the semi-finals.
Revenge was desired but a meltdown was had and the Leinster side lost 5-0 in the semis. After a shake-down and a regathering of the side, Leinster were to go for bronze and were up against the home side, HOD Valkanswaard.
First up though was the next round of the shootout competition, in which the girls came up against Poland U-16s. Unfortuinately, they lost 2-3 which meant they were out of the shootout competition.
It had been a long weekend and the girls were tired, however there was still a bronze medal to go for and as they were playing the home side, the main pitch was unveiled as the place for the girls to perform.
And perform they did. Led by captain Lynne Pomeroy, the Leinster side stepped up to the occasion and bossed the game. With some stunning transfers from the back four, Leah Paul, Tessa May, Clodagh Ferry, and Ellie Fitzgerald the girls built up numerous attacks on both the left and right sides of the pitch.
Rachel McMullan, Anna Daly Lelia O’Brien and Sarah Whelan all causing havoc across midfield with Amy-Rose Farrell, Lily Lloyd, Aisling O’Brien and Eve Reidy attacking at every opporunity. The final score was 2-0 with Aisling O’Brien and Eve Reidy on the mark.
Mission accomplished as the Leinster Girls took home the Bronze and goalkeeper, Jade Arundell was awarded Goalkeeper of the Tournament.
The Leinster Hockey Boys U17 Development Squad also participated in the tournament for the first time, and placed fifth overall.
Leinster Under-17 squad: Jade Arundell (Kings Hospital/North Kildare HC), Tessa May (Rathdown/Avoca HC), Clodagh Ferry (Muckross/Muckross HC), Lynne Pomeroy (Captain) (Wesley College/Corinthians HC), Ellie Fitzgerald (Muckross/Muckross HC), Leah Paul (Wesley College/Railway Union HC), Anna Daly (Holy Child Killiney/Monkstown HC), Sarah Whelan (Skerries Community College/Skerries HC), Rachel Mc Mullan (Newbridge College/Naas HC), Lelia O’Brien (Muckross/Railway Union HC), Amy Rose Farrell (Mount Anville/Mount Anville HC), Aisling O’Brien (Mount Anville/Railway Union HC), Eve Reidy (Loreto Foxrock/Avoca HC), Lily Lloyd (Rathdown/Railway Union HC)
Coach: John Pearson
Manager: Ruth McDonagh