With YMCA and Weston already off to winning starts, men’s Leinster Division One kicks off in earnest on Saturday with the first full series of games in the competition.
The Y saw off new entity Dublin North – formed from the amalgamation of Fingal, St Brendan’s/Phoenix Park and Swords – 6-1 on Tuesday evening with Grant Glutz scoring a hat trick.
It was a fine start for the Ballinteer side following a heavy turnover of players during the summer, something which coach Jason Klinkradt was particularly pleased with.
“The most important thing is to develop players,” he said afterwards. “We have had a big turnover so everyone put in a big shift. The younger players did really well and everyone is enjoying the team vibe.”
He also said his side will not be afraid to play an attacjing game: “Defence might win you one or two games but you have to score goals so we have worked a lot on that.”
For North’s David Bane – now in a playing role, stepping back from coaching for the moment – he says: “YM are a quality side and will be right up there, competing to get into the EYHL and will be there in the playoffs.
“We got a huge amount out of the game in terms of learning. It’s a new group coming together so we focus on the positives going into the game into Kilkenny.”
Bane stayed on the sideline due to a hamstring twinge but may figure against Kilkenny on Saturday. The cats are looking to bounce back from an opening day defeat to Weston but will have a trio of Munster Under-18s back with Ben Johnson a potentially big addition.
Corinthian meet YMCA in the big one. The reds have won the last two Division One titles with YM their nearest chasers last season. Trevor Dagg is keen for his side to finally get over the line and land an EY Hockey League berth.
UCD, coached this season by Rudi Wortmann, start their life back in Leinster with a date against another regular challenger, Clontarf. Wortmann has lots of changes to his side but the quality of David Nolan, Jazze Henry and Ziggy Agnew means they should be competitive. Clontarf also have a new coaching team with Craig Stewart and Dave Passmore working together.
Trinity have a glut of players back from Erasmus and several other new names though the departure of experienced heads like Tom Gibbs and Johnny Lewis will be felt. They meet an Avoca side coached by Mark Cullen for a ninth season. Their big arrival is Adam Pritchard while Jonny McCormack is back after a spell in Spain.
Weston will look to continue their progressive start to the season when they host Rathgar. The Chiefs have Rory O’Donoghue in as coach, taking over from another former Glenanne man, Alan Browne.
The target for most is a place in the top three which ensures a place in the EYHL playoffs and also a ticket to the Irish Hockey League Division 2 rankings for next season and national level hockey.
Leinster Men’s Division One
Tuesday: YMCA 6 (G Glutz 3, D Ellison, A Jones, T Ritchie) Dublin North 1 (S Dempsey)
Saturday: Dublin North v Kilkenny, 1.15pm, Abbottstown; Corinthian v YMCA, 2.25pm, Whitechurch Park; UCD v Clontarf, 2.50pm, Belfield; Dublin University v Avoca, 3pm, Santry Avenue; Weston v Rathgar, 3.45pm, Griffeen Valley Park
*** Team by team previews ***
Last season: 8th Leinster Division One, Mills Cup first round; Neville Cup second round
Coach: Mark Cullen (9th season)
Players in: Elliott Goode (Pembroke), Adam Pritchard (Pembroke), Greg Arrowsmith (Monkstown)
Players out: Herbie Fowler-Hudson (Glenanne)
Overview: Mark Cullen will coach the Blackrock side for a ninth successive season as they look to make an improvement on last season which proved a low key one as they await a first win of 2017.
They do have some big arrivals at Newpark with former Irish international Adam Pritchard back in action. He took a year out after his spell at Pembroke but is back playing to bring some serious experience to the squad.
Elliott Goode also played EYHL last year with Pembroke while Jonny McCormack is available again to be their key man in midfield having spent the second half of last season in Spain. Youngsters like Ewan Ramsay and Oisin O’Sullivan will have a growing role in the side.
Cullen feels his side has undergone the most extensive strength and conditioning programme since he has worked with the team and hopes this can lay the base for a much higher performance.
Last season: 3rd Leinster League; EYHL round-robin playoffs phase; Irish Senior Cup first round; Neville Cup quarter-final; Mills Cup first round
Coach: Craig Stewart (1st season) and David Passmore (1st season)
Players in: Max Harris (Camberwell, Melbourne), Robert Forrest (Australia)
Players out: John Mullins (TRR)
Overview: Craig Stewart and David Passmore will take over the reins from long-term coach Gareth Borland and is inheriting a younger team than the one who enjoyed a successful three year period where they won the Irish Hockey Trophy and made it to the EYHL promotion playoffs two years in a row.
They have added Max Harris to the squad from Camberwell in Melbourne who just won the Victorian Grand Final. He should bolster the defensive line in the wake of Dave Power’s injury which should sideline him until the second half of the season.
Robert Forrest has returned to the fray after a year away in Australia. Alan O’Malley has come into the squad on the back of a successful year which started in the Leinster U-17 panel. Dave Lawless, Mark Duggan and Sean Harper – fresh off the back of their success with the Leinster U-18s – will also have a bigger role to play this year.
Luke Hayden returns to captain the side for a second year and they will rely on on the goals of Kevin Murray and Oran O’Donnell to offset those lost with John Mullins departure to TRR. The teams ambition remains the same as there is still enough talent and know-how to compete for the IHL2 spots as they look to continue the sides impressive development since the IHL was introduced.
Last season: 1st Leinster League; EYHL playoffs semi-finals; Irish Senior Cup semi-finals; Leinster Indoor Semi Finals
Coach: Trevor Dagg (4th season); Assistant coach: Jonny Bruton (2nd season)
Players in: Jonathan Lewis (Trinity), Tom Gibbs (Trinity), Ian Gibson (Limerick)
Players out: Jakim Berndsen (YMCA)
Overview: The two in-a-row Leinster champions will be hoping to finally rise to the top table after missing out twice at the EYHL playoff stage in the last two years. Preseason has gone well with a trip to the Bath Buccaneers tournament against a number of good quality English conference sides.
The goal for Trevor Dagg’s side is once again to win the Leinster league and then win the playoffs to qualify for the EYHL, hoping that promotion with coincide with a major upgrade to the club’s facilities with a new water based pitch which should happen in the next year.
Hugo Burns, Josh Greaney and Craig MacKay were involved in the schoolboy interpros while the club are also delighted to welcome back Ian Stewart who took some time from the game out due to illness but thankfully has made a full recovery and is raring to go for the new season. With Jonny Bruton up front and Conor Motyer in the spine of the team, they look well set to be pushing for the top spot once again.
Last season (as Fingal): 6th Leinster Division 1; Irish Hockey Trophy round one; Mills Cup semi-final; Neville Cup Quarter Final.
Coach: Gerry Wheeler
Players in: Liam Metcalf (South Africa), Ryan West (Queens) David Bane (Railway Union)
Players out: Jason Rogan (Glenanne), Marcus O’Brien (Scotland)
Overview: Formed from the amalgamation of St Brendan’s Phoenix Park, Fingal and Swords HC with the intention of becoming a premier hub for hockey on the northside, Dublin North played their first formal tie on Tuesday evening against YMCA.
Liam Metcalf has recently moved from South Africa where he played club and university hockey at a high level while Ryan West has transferred from Queens. Dave Bane returns to playing since his retirement from coaching while ex St Brendan’s/Phoenix Park man Brendan Dempsey – Shane’s brother – has previous division 1 experience with Clontarf.
The club also managed to integrate a number of high potential underage players to the squad with the experienced heads of Eamonn Bane, Ben Chillingworth, Paddy Gahan, Conor Connolly, Jim Dunne and Adrian Sweeney all still involved.
Preseason saw them lose 4-3 to North Down, draw 3-3 with Bangor, beat Clontarf 1-0 and draw 1-1 with Trinity. The move has seen the club go from struggling to field a Fingal first team squad at times to having a group of 24 players contesting for a place in their first team. The ambition is to make a push for IHL2 positions and build on the enthusiasm around the new club as well as targeting a good cup run in the Irish Hockey Trophy.
Last season: 4th Leinster Division One, Irish Senior Cup second round, Mill’s Cup first round, Neville Cup first round
Coach: Nasir Munir Chaudry (2nd Season, 2nd spell)
Players in: Eoin Buttanshaw, Wilf King, Eoin Chambers (All returning from Erasmus), David Robinson (YMCA), Eric Prehn (YMCA), David Carroll (Weston), Matthew Begley (Weston), Michael Herlihy (Three Rock Rovers), Josh Bond (Surrey University), David Ulijn (Utrecht Student HC), Fernando Shaetzle (TSV)
Players out: Tom Gibbs (Corinthians), Jonny Lewis (Corinthians), David Stead (Rathgar), Andrew Colton (Railway Union), Alex Simonin (n/a), Ben Arrowsmith (Erasmus)
Overview: Trinity are looking to build on the upward trend of the last two seasons with Nasir Munir continuing for a second year and hopes to continue to implement his attacking, sub-continental playing style.
They finished last season with seven games unbeaten, narrowly missing out on a play-off spot on the final day. Tom Gibbs, David Stead and Alex Simonin all bring an end to five year tenures with the club, while Jonny Lewis moves back to old club Corinthian after a successful year as captain.
Andy Colton’s brief spell with the club ends upon completion of his one year masters and a desire to step up to IHL level. Ben Arrowsmith misses out on the first half of the season as he takes up an Erasmus in Australia.
Their departures are offset by eight new arrivals, welcoming back three old faces from Erasmus. Eoin Buttanshaw and Wilf King share four all Ireland schoolboy medals between them and Eoin Chambers has represented home province Munster at every underage level.
Fernando Shaetzle, Josh Bond and David Ulijn bring an unknown quality to the forward line and are as yet unproven in the Irish game. Eric Prehn’s move from YM completes the summer’s transfers and looks to bring trickery and guile to the midfield and forward lines this season.
Rory Nichols takes over as captain and will look to anchor the side form the center of defense. Cillian Hynes and Robbie O’Hanlon spearhead the attack and the trio of Nichols, O’Hanlon and Hynes will look to rediscover the scoring form of the latter stages of last season which saw them share 24 goals in the last seven games and finish the season on 14 apiece.
Last season: 7th Leinster Division One; Mills Cup second round; Neville Cup quarter-final
Coach: Rob Morris (first season)
Players in: Ben Johnson (Waterford)
Players out: Eamonn Walsh (Railway Union), Dave McClure (Nottingham)
Overview: Rob Morris takes on the coaching reins at Kilkenny from Emmett Hughes, freeing him up to play and captain the side. A teacher, priginally from Cork and a Harlequin, Morris came to Kilkenny a few years back after stints in England and New Zealand and has played a big role in the amalgamation of the men’s, ladies and junior sections.
Morris, with Howard McDonnell, has presided over a comprehensive and physical pre season which they will hope stands to them as they are a little shy on experience this term. Lloyd Pearson, Tom Manning and Derek O’Gorman may have limited availability.
Dave McClure is freestyle kayaking in Nottingham. The effect of this is the side have plenty of eager young guys involved, bringing a welcome enthusiasm. On occasion, the oldest at training has been guys at 29/30 years of age and training numbers are encouraging with 23 trying to claim a squad berth.
Munster Under-18s Evin McClure, Ben Johnson – the big addition from Waterford – and Declan Coffey will be available having played a role in the interpros.
Last Season: 5th Leinster Division One; Irish Senior Cup first round; Neville Cup second round; Mills Cup first round
Coach: Rory O’Donoghue (first season)
Players In: Richy Jones (Clontarf), David Stead (Trinity)
Players Out: Dan Gribben, Ross Gribben
Overview: Rathgar will hope they can see it through this season as they came within touching distance of a top three place last season only to win just one point from their last five games.
It saw them drop dramatically out of the race for the EYHL playoffs. Injuries forced Shane Gould and Johnny Orr to miss the rest of season and they struggled in their absence.
This season, keeping an injured free squad would be vital to any success we have and how quickly they can pick up the new ideas from our coach with Rory O’Donoghue taking on the role from another former Glenanne boss, Alan Browne, who is now at Railway.
Johnny Orr is still injured and unsure when he’ll be back and could be a long term absence. Their season started in midweek with a helter-skelter 4-4 Neville Cup draw before eventually prevailing in a shoot-out.
Last season: 9th EY Hockey League (relegated via playoff); Irish Senior Cup second round; Mills Cup second round; Neville Cup second round
Coach: Rudi Wortmann (first season)
Players in: John Guilfoyle (Monkstown), Alex Price (YMCA), Dan Raymond (Pembroke), Louis Burke (Kilkenny), Max Maguire (Monkstown), Gary Ruddock (Weston).
Players out: Jeremy Duncan (Herakles, Belgium), Brian O’Malley (Hurley, Netherlands), Aaron Bailey (Monkstown), Ben Campbell (YMCA), Ben McCrea (Three Rock), Conor Quinn (Three Rock), Chris Reilly (Railway), Sam Butler (London), Sliabh Wells (retired).
Overview: Rudi Wortmann takes on the student side with a large number of changes to the panel but, importantly, they have held on to the likes of David Nolan, Ziggy Agnew and Jazze Henry while adding top goalkeeper Max Maguire – dicing with Stephen Dawson – to the mix to make sure they have quality in their ranks. Andrew Ramsay will be a big addition on his return from Erasmus in the Netherlands.
Preseason saw them draw with Weston, beat Avoca 3-1 before losing 3-0 to Pembroke and they are a new side, looking at a fresh start under Wortmann.
“One of our major goals should just be to play a good style of hockey and then the results will come whether it be this year or the next. This year is obviously a big one because of the second tier of the IHL so it’s a great moment for us to step into that at least.
“If we are going for the top three, we need to make sure we train hard and get everything in order and then see how it goes. These guys are hungry and I feel they can challenge anyone in this league.”
Last season: 9th Leinster Division One
Coach: Simon Filgas (second season)
Players in: Simon Pearson (Suttonians), Conor Murphy (UCD), Michael Heneghan (North Kildare)
Players out: David Carroll and Matt Begley (both Trinity), Gary Ruddock (UCD)
Overview: Weston celebrate their 75th anniversary this season, and will hope to be more competitive in the Leinster League Division 1, backing up their opening day win over Kilkenny two weeks ago.
Simon Filgas returns as coach, hoping to build on last years progress, when Weston secured their first ever league points in the top flight (also away to Kilkenny). Most of last year’s squad return with Paul Lawson, Ben Epstein and captain Sean Butler providing the experience, alongside the youthful energy of The King’s Hospital senior captain Tom Cole.
New additions include Simon Pearson (Suttonians) and Michael Heneghan (North Kildare), who will add much needed attacking threat in the final third. Preseason went well with good numbers at training, and competitive fixtures against Avoca, Rathgar and UCD under the belt. With early fixtures against Rathgar (h) and North Dublin (h), Filgas will be hoping to hit the ground running, before taking on Corinthians on October 14.
Last Season: 2nd Leinster Division 1; Irish Senior Cup second round; Mills Cup first round; Neville Cup quarter-final
Coach: Jason Klindkradt (4th Season), Justin Sheriff (Assistant)
Players In: Ben Campbell (UCD), Jakim Berndsen (Corinthian), Sam Hyland (Monkstown)
Players Out: Alex Price (UCD), Andrew Buckley (South Africa), David Mawhinney (Edinburgh), David Robinson (UCD), Eric Prehn (Trinity), Gavin Gibney (Glenanne), Iain Walker (Glennane), James McGann (Hong Kong), Nick Berichon (South Africa), Stephen Walker (Retirement)
Overview: It has been a summer of change at the club with a lot of players leaving. Iain Walker has decided to go play EYHL with Glenanne after 14 years of playing for YM’s firsts. His brother Stephen has also called time on his playing career, making the rare sight of a YM team sheet without a Walker on it.
The club are delighted to welcome three additions in Ben Campbell, returning after a year with UCD, Sam Hyland and Jakim Berndsen; also re-joining the club after a spell with Corinthian and Edinburgh. Scott Margetson, Daniel Ellison, Kyle Douglas and Matthew McCabe are additions from within the club to a squad with an average age of just 20.
After narrowly missing out on the playoff semi-final’s last season, the aim this year is to finish in the top three of the Leinster league to have a shot at gaining promotion to the IHL. To this end, their 6-1 win over Dublin North in their opening game – with Grant Glutz scoring a hat trick – was the perfect start.