Egner’s split loyalties in Irish Hockey Trophy; Munster league preview

Dave Egner will have seriously split loyalties this weekend as the Cork Harlequins side he plays face the UCC team he coaches in the Irish Hockey Trophy first round.

Egner scored twice last weekend in a smash and grab 2-1 victory for Quins against Munster champions Bandon, one of their best results in recent times after some rough times.

Cork Harlequins Dave Egner. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Indeed, the hope is it an indication of a rejuvenation process that has taken some time to come to fruition following the 2012 Irish Senior Cup success.

The likes of Munster Under-18s Ross Bailey, Jack O’Meara, Andrew Dale and Michael Holland have added to their panel with a couple more youngsters in the pipeline potentially rising to eventually replace the likes of Egner and the vastly experienced Hobbs brothers.

For Egner, he will likely be in the UCC dug-out rather than playing, giving him a very keen insight into his opposition.

Irish Under-21 Sam Grace is the students’ pivotal player with his exceptional distribution from the back and vicious drag-flicks their key methods of attack but they will need to shift Quins’ strong spine to make full use of their greater speed.

Elsewhere in the competition, Waterford make their entry to the season when they host Dublin North while Ashton are up against Newry.

Last weekend, Catholic Institute – one of the two promoted sides – fought back twice through Roy Gleeson and Gary Acheson to cancel out David Herbert goals and earn a 2-2 draw with Cork C of I B.

UCC tied 1-1 with Ashton with Philip Sweetnam scoring on debut since his move from C of I’s A team.

Munster Division One: Bandon 1 (C Sweetnam) Cork Harlequins 2 (D Egner 2); Cork C of I B 2 (D Herbert 2) Catholic Institute 2 (R Gleeson, G Acheson); UCC 1 (S Grace) Ashton 1 (P Sweetnam)

Team by team overviews based on information submitted

UCC
Last season: 2nd Munster Division One, IHT quarter final, Munster Senior Cup semi final
Coach: Dave Egner (2nd season); New manager for the coming season: Kay Hogan

Players in: Euan Stothers(Ashton), Jack Marlborough (Ashton), Harry Deane (Cork C of I), Conor Beck (Limerick), John Costello (Limerick)
Players out: Andrew McGregor (Railway Union), Adam O’Callaghan (Railway Union), Colin Kingston (Bandon), Andrew Scannell (Bandon), Glenn Healy, Dan Moore

Bandon celebrating their Irish Hockey Trophy success. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Overview: During preseason, the club have worked with coach Dave Egner as well as physical trainers to work on strength and conditioning as well as injury prevention to set the tone. They hosted a preseason tournament, playing four games while they also welcomed Railway Union and Kilkenny as they looked forward to EYHL2 and the Munster campaign.

Bandon
Last season: Munster League Winners, Munster Senior Cup Winners, Irish Hockey Trophy Winners, Peard Cup quarter final
Coach: Alastair Smith (player-coach), David Buttimer (coach)

Players in: Colin Kingston (UCC,) Andrew Scannell (UCC)
Players out: none 

Overview: Off the back of their most successful season ever as a team, they are looking forward to the test of EYHL2 and Irish Senior Cup this year. There has been a huge effort put into the youth side of the club over the last number of years and they are beginning to see the fruits of that now with a number of young players pushing for a place in the men’s first team this year. Getting the likes of Colin Kingston and Andrew Scannell back will be a huge boost for the club and is sure to cause some selection headaches for Alastair Smith and David Buttimer this year as they look to be the local league’s preseason favourites.

Along with the introduction of two experienced players Colin Kingston and Andrew Scannell, there are a number of very talented young players who have represented Munster and Ireland at under 18 and 16 levels fighting to make their way into the panel (Rob Sweetnam, Ethan Hamilton Foot, Mark Collins, Karl Smyth, Ian Perrott, Iarlaith O’Neill) who will push the rest of the squad to higher levels this season.

Waterford
Last season: 3rd Munster Division 2, Irish Hockey Challenge semi final; Cork Cup runners-up
Coach: Stuart Greene

Players in: David Quinn (Pembroke), Ben Johnson (Kilkenny), Ian Balding (Kilkenny), Tomáš Holub (HC Hostivař, Czech Republic)
Players out: None

Overview: It’s been a long time since 2006. That was the last time Waterford Hockey Club had a mens team in Division 1 of Munster Hockey. Waterford HC, along with Newtown School, have gone through an exciting development stage over the last six years and this has been evident with the number of players coming through their youth section.

Waterford aim this year is to finish in the top three in the league and supplement the progress of homegrown talent and Irish underage Internationals of Ben Johnson, Harry McCarthy, Ben McInerney and Ian Balding with experienced players like Brad Rouhana, David Quinn, Rory Isaacs and Tomáš Holub.

Ashton
Last season: 5th Munster Division One; Irish Hockey Trophy first round
Coach: Ed Kirwan (Head Coach)

Players In: Gary Wilkinson (unaffiliated), Andy Lane (unaffilliated), Richie Byrne (UCC), Phillip Sweetnam (Cork C of I)
Players Out: Jack Marlborough (UCC), Euan Stothers (UCC), Harry Compton (UCC), Peter Catchpole (Kampong)

Overview: Aiming to challenge on all fronts, as ever, Ashton have retained a core from last season’s squad that will provide a platform on which the team will need to somewhat re-invent itself.

The squad will have a very different look with key midfield and wing back roles opening up due to players moving on. The new additions bring plenty of senior hockey experience along with some direct speed and plenty of potential to cause problems in opponents circle. If the tactics and team gel there should be some open and attacking hockey matches this season.

Coach Eddie Kirwan combines his role with being part of the Cork senior football management ticket.

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