Ireland won three of the four Home Nations titles in which they were competing in their most successful competition ever, taking gold at Over-40s, Over-45s and Over-50s level in an excellently organised tournament at Three Rock Rovers.
Having beaten Scotland 1-0 on Saturday (full report below), the Irish Over 40s went on to beat Wales 3-0 on Sunday through an awesome Siobhan Collins hat-trick and, with three wins from three matches, retained their Home Nations title on home turf.
This was followed by the Irish Over-45s who impressed by beating England 2-1 in their final game on Sunday, also chalking up three wins from three, Anne Young and Kathryn Henderson with the goals.
The high scoring Irish Over-50s also won their title, beating Wales 6-1, with Cathy Walsh getting two goals, and Kathy Shaw, Roly Burke, Julie Doak and Ali Pigott on the scoresheet (report below).
Having drawn with England on the Saturday, they needed to await the result of the England v Scotland game before being sure of taking the title. England had to beat Scotland by four goals and, in the event, won 2-1, giving the Irish 50s a Home Nations title. Over the three days of the tournament, the Irish Over-50s team scored 13 goals and conceded just two.
The Irish Over-55s found the going tougher and narrowly lost out to a strong Scottish side 2-3, with Dympna Hill and Frances Keegan getting the Irish goals (report below). This was the first time Ireland have competed at Over 55s level in the Home Nations and the team improved over the course of the weekend.
England, Scotland and Australia played in an Over-60s group which was won by England.
This is the 10th year Ireland have competed in the women’s masters home nations, in their first year they sent an Over-40s team to Swansea in 2007.
Four of the players on that team – Ali Pigott (the initiator of women’s masters hockey in Ireland), Ash Schutte, Sinead Guilfoyle, and Maura O’Neill – played in the 2017 Home Nations tournament, and Nikki Cullen who played in Swansea is now managing the Irish Over 45s.
Saturday: Over-40s 1 Scotland 0
Coming off the back of a Trojan win on Friday v’s England the 40s were eager to get another win under their belts. Up next was Scotland. The first half was a tense affair with neither side imposing themselves on the game. The Irish did win two short corners however they failed to convert and it remained 0-0 at half time.
The second half saw Ireland up their tempo and with some great passages of play create some scoring opportunities. In the 3rd quarter Norma Brady’s decisive run down the wing and onto the base line set up Siobhan Collins who was eagerly waiting with a reverse stick deflection.
Ireland maintained more of the possession in the 4th quarter with further runs down the right from Marrisa O’Flynn and from Emma Glanville through the centre of defence.
Over-50s 6 Wales 1
Ireland 50s beat Wales 50s 6-1 today to give them a chance to take the title, depending on the England v Scotland score later in the day, with England needing a 4-0 win to take the title themselves.
Ireland scored their first goal early in the first quarter when Annie Lawlor carried the ball round the back and found Kathy Shaw who scored from a narrow angle.
Ireland extended their lead before the end of the 1st quarter when Cathy Walsh got on the end of a loose ball following a Julie Doak shot and Walsh lifted it over the keeper.
Ireland extended their lead just after half time when the keeper saved a Julie Doak strike and the rebound fell to Roly Burke who flicked it high into the top corner.
Ireland made it 4-0 in the 59th minute when Julie Doak latched on to a rebound from a penalty corner strike from Ali Pigott.
Wales refused to give up and with Ireland pressing Wales took good advantage of some gaps at the back and when the right wing swept into the circle she neatly squared the ball home from close range.
Ireland were really pressing forward to make England’s job as hard as possible and they scored their fifth in the 66th minute when Julie Doak ran a tight ark round the back and found Ali Pigott who made no mistake from close in.
Ireland completed the scoring through Cathy Walsh in the final minute when another Julie Doak cross was touched on by Ali Pigott to Cathy who flashed it home to leave the final score 6-1. England later beat Scotland 2-1, meaning that Ireland are Home Nations Champions.
Over-55s 2 Scotland 3
The O-55’s last game v Scotland was the first game on at Three Rock Rovers on Sunday morning. The Irish team was quite upbeat having watched the Scots play earlier in the tournament.
The plan to keep play away from past GB player Alison Ramsay by playing down the flanks worked well for the majority of the game with the Irish team managing a few attacks down the right through Pat Stewart and Margaret McKenna and should have opened the scoring when the ball was crossed to Karen Wilkins who met the ball well just to be denied by the Scottish keeper.
It was however the Scottish captain Lillian McNab who laid the perfect pass to a free Scottish forward to play the ball past the stranded Irish keeper.
The Irish team continued to play some good hockey and were rewarded with a goal from captain Dympna Hill after some excellent work by Deirdre Clear.
Ireland looked as if they were ready to push on and capitalise on some good form but again defensive corners let them down as after making the first save they were unable to clear the ball.
In the final quarter, the teams scored another goal apiece with Ireland’s goal going to Frances Keegan. The final score of 3-2 to Scotland gave them second place in the tournament and Ireland had to settle for the wooden spoon.
Coach Gordon Watkins was pleased with the improvement over the three days and the team have to improve if they are to compete in the European tournament in Tilburg in August.