Hockey Ireland’s decision to resume fielding international indoor teams in 2020 appears to have spurred an increase in interest in the code across the island.Over the weekend, venues in Antrim, Kinsale, Donabate, Rathfarnham and Galway played hosts various different events, raising hopes indoor can hit the same heights when Ireland competed internationally from 1978 to 1987 before a decision was taken by the governing body to withdraw from the code.
In Leinster for much of the last decade, Three Rock Rovers and Railway Union have been leaders in trying to maintain the sport on the men’s side and both showed their strength at St Columba’s on Saturday.
Rovers – the 2018 National Indoor Trophy winners – began their regional group stage with a 6-1 win over Railway’s “B” team with Ross Canning scoring a hat trick, backed up by goals from Harry Morris and Jody Hosking.
Railway’s “A” side, meanwhile, ran up an 8-3 win over Corinthian and a 7-5 success against Kilkenny to top Pool B, earning a direct ticket to the Leinster semi-finals.
Kilkenny and Glenanne go through to the wildcard playoffs for a place in the last four with their opponents to be confirmed.
In the women’s competition, Glenanne went straight into the semi-finals with a 5-0 win over Bray assuring them top spot in Pool B with Serena Rush scoring a hat trick.
Three Rock followed them through with a 2-1 success against North Kildare, former Welsh international Angharad Griffths and Rachel Allen on the mark. They will meet Muckross next Sunday in their playoff game, bidding for a place in the final four.
Railway won Pool A with a 5-4 success against Muckross with Isobel and Cecelia Joyce, Anna-May Whelan, Jenny Long and Orla Fox getting the key goals. They go straight into the semis with UCD facing North Kildare in the qualifiers.Limerick and Ashton were the first Munster indoor champions crowned for at least 30 years as they took the laurels at Saile, Kinsale on Saturday.
Limerick took the men’s Munster title with three wins and a draw from their three-team round-robin. Luke Cardy showed a liking for the boards with a hat-trick in a 5-2 win over Waterford and three goals in two games against Ashton in 2-0 and 4-1 results.
The title came down to the last game, though, with Waterford potentially nicking the title with a victory. But a brilliant save from Justin Scheffel from the last play secured a 2-2 draw, brothers Nathan and Quinten Eacrett getting the Treaty side’s goals to get the result they needed.
Ashton’s nominally designated “B” team were the women’s winners. The outdid their “A” teams who finished second, landing three wins and a draw from their five-team group with Lisa Buttimer key in front of goal while Keelan Noonan was the rock at the base of the defence.
The two clubs have now both earned the right to represent Munster at the National Indoor Trophy finals in Antrim at the end of the month.
Galway, meanwhile, were the Connacht champions following their success in their regional competition as they beat Greenfields in the final 3-0 to retain the title.At underage level, in the Tommy O’Sullivan Perpetual Boys Under-14 Cup competition, Three Rock Rovers led the way with four wins from four with Avoca finishing second in the group with three wins.
Railway finished third on goal difference ahead of Corinthian on four points with Wicklow fifth in a competitive group. The second group stages for the boys takes place next Sunday.
The newly introduced girls Under-14 McCann Cup, Group A saw Old Alex top the group by just a single goal on goal difference ahead of Avoca after both sides finished on 11 points.
Three Rock were third following late wins over Dublin North and Boyne with every team in the group picking up a win. The latter two sides along with Bray move on to the shield competition on January 20. The Group B qualifying matches take place on January 13.
At the Antrim Forum, Lurgan came out winners in the Under-18 Cup competition after beating Armagh 2-1 in the final.
Randalstown come out trumps in the Plate after beating Ards in a shoot-out after the game ended 2-2. The Ulster boys competitions will play to a conclusion next weekend.