Leinster Over-40s are still the reigning Masters Champions and still the only name on the cup, eight years in a row, writes Dug Good. After a massive weekend in Cork the age defying Leinster Team twice, edged out Ulster and Munster.
We arrived Friday night after weeks of mental and physical preparation, ready for the greatest challenge in the Irish Masters Calendar. Ulster gave a stern test late on Friday night as the usual battle of the provinces began, Leinster calming the spoils 2-1, by using all the players possible to them. Stephen Stewart’s short corner set pieces were the difference and Warwick Armstrongs winning goal after 45 minutes, decided the contest.
After an interesting ‘black board’ session on Friday night, the team awoke to the news that Ulster had lost to Munster 3-2, meaning Munster would be our test, a change from previous years.
An afternoon push back against Ulster proved a testing and feisty affair. Leinster were 1-0 up for most of the game but coming under increasing pressure from Ulster, who left gaps at the back giving Warick Armstrong an opening that politely dispatched into the goal for a comfortable 2-0 score line.
Next up was the clash of the unbeaten sides, Munster vs Leinster. The first half was full of chances from both sides, with Grandad Clark taking a break and Eoin Murphy keeping Munster at bay in goal.
They did score first however as Leinster let frustration and the weather get the better of them. However, with Munster running out of steam and ideas in the second half, Leinster piled on the pressure and create an opening for Grattan Evans to equalise and the points were shared at the end of the game.
And so to Sunday, a winner take all game in the afternoon versus Munster. The game started with a lot of passion and everything was thrown at Leinster with more cards shown than at my last birthday party, which was a testament to importance of the match.
Dave Wilson employed extremely close marking and took some time to reflect on this by sitting with the TDs. In the end, it was settled with my man of the tournament Jason Milne, pouncing on a deflected short corner to give Leinster a 1-0 win. Although the closing minutes were nailbiting, the gate was closed and Munster couldn’t reply.
Champions again, the win wouldn’t of happened with out the strength in depth of the Leinster squad and l personally thank everyone played their part.
Next year will be different but winning is a habit and I don’t see Leinster giving up the trophy. Great hockey, great fun and an even greater bunch of lads…… it’s what hockey is made of.
Leinster Over 40’s sponsored by Storage Systems: Gordon Clarke, Eoin Murphy, Peter Priestley, Steven Jones, Bruce Thompson, Johnny Sleeman, Scott Crombie, Julian Hinds, Warwick Armstrong, Stephen Stewart, Grattan Evans, Michael Tijs, Dave Wilson, Matt Bentley, Clinton Murphy, Cory Burke, Douglas Good (captain), Chris Stewart (manager)