Following comfortable wins against the Grand Masters of Wales and France, a final narrow win against Scotland was the crucial result for Ireland to regain the Celtic Cup in Cork at Garryduff.
Ireland had won the Trophy in Bangor in 2015 for the first time, but a strong Scotland Squad had edged out Ireland 2-0 in Lille, France last year.
In the weekend’s final match, Billy Pollock – Cliftonville HC and Ulster Hockey Chair – scored an opportunist goal after 10 minsute and this gave Ireland the platform to stand up to considerable Scottish pressure and a number of corners.
Coach Sean Curran’s tactics and a resolute midfield and defence held firm against an experienced Scottish attack including the skillful ex-international Niall Sturrock.
Scotland voted George Blackwood (Bangor HC) as their Player of the Match. George and his defensive partner Eddie O’Malley (Glenanne HC) were both outstanding.
Captain Keith Jess (Lisnagarvey), who recently “moved up” from Masters 55s level, collected the Celtic Cup and praised the collective effort of the whole squad who have trained monthly in Dublin and Banbridge over the last two years.
The Great Grand Masters had two great wins against France and Scotland, but were unlucky to lose narrowly to Wales in their final match of the tournament. Mick Jordan (Enniscorthy HC) and Raymond Parker (Bangor HC) were superb in midfield and belied their age with their relentless efforts up and down the pitch.Both Squads now look forward to a busy summer with the challenge of the Home Internationals in Swansea in July and the European Championship in Glasgow in August.
Both squads now look forward to a busy summer with the challenge of the Home Internationals in Swansea in July and the European Championship in Glasgow in August.
Grand Masters 60s results: Ireland 3 (Billy Pollock, Eddie O’Malley, Richard Clarke) Wales 1; Ireland 7 (George Blackwood, Andy Matthews 3, Tom Gelletlie, Henry Brown, Mick Ryan) France 0; Ireland 1 (Billy Pollock) Scotland 0
Great Grand Masters 65s results: Ireland 8 (John Keppel 2, Maurice Martin, Raymond Parker, Stuart Switzer, Mick Jordan 2, Paddy Goode) France 0; Ireland 2 (Maurice Martin, Raymond Parker) Scotland 1; Ireland 0 Wales 1 – Wales win the tournament