Munster is the first province to get back into action with an intriguing season ahead for both the men’s and women’s competitions.
One of the big storylines sees Midleton make their debut in men’s Division One as they look to build on the excellent youth development at the club since formation in 2002.
They start with an interesting outing against Ashton on day one, a side who finished toward the bottom end last term, in a test of where they will stand. Ashton and Catholic Institute have both strengthened significantly since last term which should make the competition more competitive.
For reigning champions, Cork C of I club legends David Hobbs, John Jermyn and Stephen Parker have retired from the first team but Jason Lynch has returned after over a decade away.
Harlequins will miss the innovative and explosive skill-set of Julian Dale who will play with Pembroke this year; Fionn O’Leary has made the same switch from Bandon but that departure is tempered by the return of David Jennings.
On the women’s side, Ashton’s date with Cork C of I is probably the pick of the ties on day one as third plays seconds.
The latter have added a wealth of talent with Emma Barber, Alex O’Grady, Becky Maye and Niamh O’Leary adding to their options having played a part in Harlequins’ Irish Senior Cup success in 2019.
They will aim to put it up to champions UCC who have had a big turnover in players as is the lot of university sides but Nikki Barry, Enya O’Donoghue and Jane Murphy represent massive additions to link up with Caoimhe Perdue.
Indoor and Under-21 international Hannah Humphreys, however, is a big loss between the posts as she moves to Catholic Institute in the women’s EYHL. It looks set for a big battle with Bandon also hoping to challenge for provincial glory in a hectic season.
Munster Division 1: Ashton v Midleton, Ashton, 3.30pm; Bandon v Cork Harlequins, Bandon GS, 3pm; Catholic Institute v Cork C of I, Rosbrien, 12.30pm
Munster Division 1: Ashton v Cork C of I, Ashton School, 1pm; Belvedere v Bandon, Ballincollig CS, 1pm; Waterford v UCC, Newtown, 12.30pm
** Here’s an excellent team by team breakdown put together by Munster Hockey!
Coach: Andy Gray (1st season); Manager: Malcolm Coombes (2nd season)
Captain: Stuart O’Grady; Vice Captain: Brian Stockil
Players in: Steven Scanlan, Brian Stockil, Darren Wilkinson, Billy Mulcahy, James Allen, Reece Hawtrey (all UCC); Cian Kavanagh, Henry Donnelly (both returning from year out)
Players out: John Catchpole, Mark Falvey (both year out), Calvin Casey (New Zealand)
Young players to watch out for: Jamie Cronin. Exciting prospect in goal. Likely to be no.2 for the season but will gain lots of experience training with the 1st team every week. Played in friendly against Munster U.18s and kept a clean sheet.
Season aspirations: Finish top half of the table. We have recruited well over the summer and the squad is looking in good shape ahead of the season opener. Performances are improving with each friendly we played which resulted in 2 wins, a draw and a loss. Hope to go on a good cup run in the IHT, MSC or Peard Cup, looking to avoid the big guns in the early rounds and we would seriously look at the Charity Cup to pick up some silverware.
Coach: Nigel Buttimer (2nd Year)
Captain: Player: Clinton Sweetnam; Vice Captain: Ross Smyth
Players In: Dave Jennings (Returning from year New Zealand)
Players Out: Fionn O’Leary (Pembroke)
Young Player(s) to watch out for: Karl Smyth, Ethan Hamilton, Ian Perrott, Iarlaith O’Neill. Having all played at Irish underage, they all have matured hugely over the last year and now lead by example in the form of a more modern style of play. Iarlaith O’Neill being on of the best keepers in the country under the age of 21 gives a great base from the back having the ever reliable and clever Ian Perrott in front of him at left back creating great plays for Karl Smyth bossing the midfield playing slightly further forward in the attacking midfield position, and finally Ethan Hamilton chipping in with goals either scoring or assisting none stop
Key Player(s): Iarlaith O’Neill, Ross & Karl Smyth, Ethan Hamilton and Ian Perrott along with Clinton Sweetnam and Dave and Ali Smith. Iarlaith will organise from the goal while being particularly good of Penalty corner defence, Ross and Ian Aid the attack as the left and right backs while Karl and Clinton are the link between the defence and attack with Dave, Ali and Ethan run the front line with plenty goals between them
Season Aspirations/ Coach comments: The aim is to maintain EYHL 2 status along with winning the Munster league and cup competitions. The league will be interesting with Bandon, Harlequins and COI all being quite even this year.
Coach: Gary O’Connor (Player/Coach); Manager: Ivan Moore
Captain: Gary O’Connor
Players In: Simon Brickenden (abroad), Tiernan Gaffney (Limerick HC), Bryan Smith (Limerick HC), Adam Gardiner (Limerick HC), Nick Lampp (Limerick HC)
Players Out: Gerard Hodgkinson (Limerick)
Young Player(s) to watch out for: Chris Ryan, Tiernan Gaffney, Bryan Smith
Key Player(s): Looking forward to the season ahead where the welcome addition of Tiernan Gaffney and Bryan Smith, both Munster underage players will add to the young and upcoming players within the Institute camp.
In addition, Nick Lampp and Adam Gardiner both bring strength in experience and skill set to further bolster the squad. Opportunity is the key word for the club this year as we look to build and strengthen the squad, all of our new signings offer versatility with the ability to play multiple positions and we will look to combining these with some of the returning full time players such as Simon Brickenden.
Season Aspirations: This season we aim to improve and develop our talented group of young members while introducing an entertaining and effective style of hockey. We really look forward to competing again after a long lay-off and hope to compete at the highest level possible.
Coach/Manager Comments: As with all hockey club’s we endure peaks and troughs with regards to performance and player availability , this season should be the beginning of a new peak for the club as we look to build on a squad with existing experienced players such as Gary O’Connor, Hugh Walsh, Ed Gleeson, Cormac O’Byrne.
We have a clear long term/short term vision of what we want to achieve and will build to those goals from week to week, the squad looks forward to the challenges set in place for them and look forward to the opportunity of success both in Munster and on a national level.
Cork C of I
Coach: Jonathan Bruton (1st Year); Assistant: Les Ruddock (1st Year); Manager: Barry Crowley (16th Year)
Captain: Philip Byrne; Vice-Captain: Simon Wolfe
Players In: Philip Brownlow (returning from a year out), Jason Lynch (Monkstown HC)
Players Out: Stephen Parker, John Jermyn and David Hobbs (retired from 1st team hockey)
Young Players to watch out for: Cian Dorgan, Rob Sweetnam and Mark Collins.
Key Players: Kevin O’Dea and Simon Wolfe. Kevin has recently been called into the Irish Senior Mens training panel. This will be his fourth season playing first team hockey. Despite still being in school Kevin has already proved to be a key asset to Cork C of I and has gained great experience over the last few years both playing with the 1st team and also captaining the Irish U18’s.
At the time of lockdown Simon Wolfe was back to his best form having previously been dogged with a back injury. A lot will be expected of Simon this year, particularly in front of goal as this is the one area the team have struggled in the last few seasons.
Season Aspirations: Our objective this year would be to get promoted to EY1 and also to defend our Munster Division 1 title.
Manager Comments: “After the way last season ended so abruptly and with all the uncertainty about hockey returning we are just delighted to be getting back to play competitive hockey. We are really looking forward to the season getting started on Saturday. We have had a good pre-season and training under our new coach Jonathan Bruton has gone very well. We just hope that everything will run smoothly this year and that we will be able to enjoy the season.”
Coach: Stephen Dale (3rd Year); Manager: Kay Gaffney (1st Year)
Captain: Jack O’Meara; Vice Captain: Ross Bailey
Players In: None
Players Out: Julian Dale (Pembroke)
Young Player to Watch: Sam Dale, Jamie Venner, James Young. Sam is part of the great Dale dynasty and measures up just as much as his older brothers, quick on his feet and will show promise this year. Jamie Venner is cool calm collected and shows experience well beyond his years. James Young make a full step up into Division 1 this year and shows great promise in defence.
Key Players: Jack O’Meara is going from strength to strength. Solid in defence and a true leader both on and off the pitch. He is ably supported by his vice captain Ross Bailey. Ross is an experienced midfielder despite his age. He commands midfield and drives the team forward. John Whyte shows explosive pace and a wealth of experience having being with the men’s 1st squad for a few years now.
Season Aspirations: Win MSL & Cup and reach Finals Weekend EYHL 2. Overall, the squad this year has great depth and experience, and we hope to go far.
Coach Comments: “We are hoping to play an open and attacking style of hockey scoring plenty of goals while being hard to break down and well organised in defence. Hopeful that everyone acclimatises themselves to the so called new normal around whatever restrictions may arise as a result of COVID-19. We believe our good mix of both youth and experience will help us on our way to a successful season with all players stepping up and taking responsibility in all aspects of the game.”
Coach: Andrew Whittaker & John Jeffery (3rd year); Manager: Daphne Spillane (1st year)
Captain: Hugh Jeffery; Vice Captain: John Deane
Players In: Brandon McEvoy (Queens), John McEvoy (back after break)
Players Out: Conor McCormack (UCC), Jason Daly (UCC)
Young Player(s) to watch out for: Ben Duffy, Dave Ryan, Ben Ryan, Aaron Brodkorp, Paul Curtin, Johnny Spillane. These lads have all come up through the ranks and will relish playing in division one. Johnny Spillane was our topscorer last season, so will be looking to him for more goals this year
Key Player(s): Hugh Jeffery, Art Moore, Adam Beamish, John Deane – we have been able to build the team around these players which has given us the platform to compete in division one. We will be looking to Hugh to keep possession for us, while Art will cause a few problems for opposition defenders.
Season Aspirations: First time ever for Midleton to play in division one, we feel we can mix it with many of the teams. There will be tough days as well and we hope to improve and learn from them. We want to keep building on the hard work done over the last three years and learn how to deal with the higher standards demanded by Div 1.
Coach/Manager Comments: We will have one of the most youthful panels in Munster div 1 with some notable exceptions but still the majority of the 1st team panel are well under 20 years old. Very exciting times with a conveyor belt of talent coming through, with many on u18 and u16 Munster squads from the club at present. We aim to consolidate this year safe in the knowledge that our underage system will see the club get stronger again in the years to come. It will be a steep learning curve for players and coaches and we will fight hard in every game. We plan to play exciting hockey no matter who we come up against.
Coach: Stuart Greene
Captain: Rory Isaacs; Vice Captain: Ian Balding
Players In: David Storey (Three Rock Rovers)
Players Out: Isaac Johnson (Pembroke Wanderers), Patrick Cooke (rugby).
Young Player(s) to watch out for: Rory Treacy,Donnagh Toomey and Kyle Fitzmaurice (Munster U18s). We will be looking for these three players to lead by example and to set a benchmark for the rest of the squad members to follow suit.
Key Player(s): Rory Isaacs, David Gahan, Ian Balding and Ben McInerney. Vital players who will bring skill and experience to a mixed aged team.
Season Aspirations: Like the last number of years, we have had a few key departures from the club as our young members leave for University. We still will look to secure a Top 3 finish in the Munster League and to go as far as we can in the cups.
Coach/Manager Comments: The coach is looking forward to the season ahead and is hoping to develop and bed in some more younger players for the future.
Coach: Andrew Scannell (2nd year); Manager: Steven Scanlan (1 st Year)
Captain: Conor Beck; Vice Captain: Tristan Walsh, Sam Lilburn.
Players In: Cian Sparling (Catholic Institute), Conor McCormack (Midleton), David Whitaker (returning).
Players Out: Darren Wilkinson (Ashton), Brian Stockil (Ashton), Steven Scanlan (Ashton), Reece Hawtrey (Ashton), Billy Mulcahy (Ashton), Barry Cronin (Enniscorthy)
Young Player(s) to watch out for: Conor McCormack looking to further strengthen UCC’s defence with his composure and strength on the ball. The potential for a second strong year from James Feely and Sam Lilburn after they made strong statements in their first year at the club last year.
Key Player(s): Conor Beck looking for another superb year in front of the goal for UCC, after saving us multiple times last year. His first year as captain he will look to lead from the back. Up front we will look toward Simon Dring for our short corners as he looks to build on his goal tally from last year. Tristan Walsh looking to build on multiple key consistent performances last year moving up the field from defence on the ball.
Season Aspirations: Build on last year and try and have a good cup run again as we were disappointed not to be able to contest the Munster Senior Cup Final.
Coach/Manager Comments: “The prospect of a new season is extremely exciting, however it will be different this year for everyone especially a college team. Between new players arriving late and students moving to Cork later adds to the challenge. Having said that we are up to the challenge. We had a few older members depart but this will allow younger players to step forward. Adding a few new faces to the squad remaining from last year it should be an extremely positive season. Preseason has been mixed for us as a team but each team had these challenges. The work we have done should mean we are ready for the season to start”
Coach: Darren Wilkinson (2nd Season); Manager: Mary-Claire Cummins (3rd Season)
Captain: Ailse Holland; Vice Captain: Shauna Fagan
Players In: Judy Mills (UCC), Laura Lynch (UCC), Rebecca Allen (UCC)
Players Out: None
Young Player(s) to watch out for: A product of the club’s youth section, Ireland U16 midfielder Robyn Murphy will be looking to make an impact in her first season with the Div 1 squad. Robyn, along with fellow Munster U18 players, Elizabeth Tuohy and Heather McNamara, are definitely ones to watch.
Key Player(s): Kate Harvey has been an important player for us and will be looking to have a positive influence on the team’s performances again this season. Tracey Johnston finished last season as the team’s top goalscorer and will be hoping to add to her tally this year. Isabel Janssen Cahill has been in excellent form between the posts for the past few seasons and will be a crucial player for us once again.
Season Aspirations: We are aiming to finish at the top end of the league table and to pick up some silverware this season.
Coach/Manager Comments: With new players and young players joining the squad, to add to the quality of the players remaining from last season, it should be an extremely positive and exciting season. There has been a huge amount of competition for positions on the squad this year which shows the club is in a very strong position. I look forward to building on all the hard work that was put in last season and helping this group of players reach their potential.
Coach: Ashley Smyth (3rd Year)
Captain: Ingrid Burns; Vice Captain: Olivia Roycroft
Players In: Lily Carey (Waterford), Aoife Roche (UCD)
Players Out: Rachel Desmond (studying abroad). Marla Diltzer (Germany)
Young Player(s) to watch out for: Sophie Brady- Newest member to the women’s team, her solid defending and great link up play makes her the up and coming talent for the season. Jenny McLaughlin – She is a player beyond her years, her eye for the game and quick decision making, will defiantly cause concern for any opposition she will come up against.
Key Player(s): Rachel Barry (GK) Solid and proactive keeper, has great vision of the game, a talent to be watched this season, Olivia Roycroft – With Pinpoint accuracy and an eye for the goal it isn’t a surprise that she was top goal scorer last season and will be a big game player for this season to come. Aisling Moloney- Her silky skills and ever creative attacking nature makes her the deflection master which results in no far post being safe – goalkeepers watch out, Aisling will undoubtedly be a key player to watch for the season.
Season Aspirations: We are looking forward to the new season especially after how the previous season was cut short. We have a few new players who will add exciting and new types of play to the game, which will be of huge benefit for our team. This is our 3rd season with Ashley Smyth as coach and we will be striving to get into the EYHL 2 as well as competing for the top spot in the league.
Coach/Manager Comments: As the 2020/2021 season gets underway in a somewhat changed world we endeavour to continue as we left off last season. Having won the Examiner Cup, got to the final of the Munster Senior Cup and finishing 4th in an unfinished league, we hope to compete for the league title and strive to get into EYHL2. With a blend of hugely talented schoolgirls and experienced players this is going to be an exciting season for all. Welcoming back some old faces will make the places on match day squad very competitive thus driving our highly attended, fun and intense training sessions each week. With Ingrid Burns as Captain and squad members Amy Smyth, Rachel Barry(Munster U18s) Olivia Roycroft and ever dependable Pam Forde makes the blend of youth & ample experience a real force to be reckoned with within Munster this season.
Captain: Julie Cronin
Coach: Eddie Kirwan (2nd Year)
Goals: To improve on last year’s performances; to reach a cup final; to develop the very good young players who will play up this year.
Young players to watch out for: Leah Hayes. Munster U-16; A young player who is really talented and wants to test herself against the top players.
Coach: David Passmore (2nd Year), Assistant: Ger O’Carroll; Manager: Brenda Moloney
Captain: Roisin Upton; Vice Captain: Laura Foley
Players In: Michelle Barrett (University of Massachussets), Aebhfhinn Bourke (UCC), Hannah Humphreys (UCC), Aine Ryan (Trinity), Lauren Ryan (UCC), Muireann Scanlon (UCC), Pam Smithwck (Old Alex), Kate Ryan (Crescent HC)
Players Out: Anna Horan (UConn Huskies, USA), Sophie Clein (exams), Nicole Griffin (exams), Jilly Edwards (exams)
Young Players to watch out for: U16 internationals Sarah Fitzgerald and Kate Ryan have fitted in well at training along with U19 triallist Becky Foley who has returned after an extended break with an ACL injury.
Key Players: The spine of the team will be key led by last year’s captain and sweeper Christine O’Shea and this year’s skipper Roisin Upton who brought an attacking threat to the team in the second half of last season after she return from the wrist injury sustained in the Olympic Qualifiers.
Season Aspirations: The addition of four players from UCC, three returning to the club will add strength and depth which was lacking last year. After struggling to cope with the intensity of the league in the early part of the season last time out we are hoping that the form shown post Christmas can allow us to consolidate our EYHL1 status
Coach Comment: “It has been great to have a larger squad to prepare with more intensity over the summer and fitness levels are improved on last time around which should allow us to be competitive. There is a great buzz around training and the players are looking forward to the season ahead”
Cork C of I
Coach: Phil Oakley (first season); Manager: Sarah Jones (second season)
Captain: Hollie Moffett
Players In: Niamh O’Leary (Harlequins), Alex O’Grady (Harlequins), Emma Barber (Harlequins), Becky Maye (Harlequins), Pamela Wolfe (UCD).
Players Out: Kate Burke, Orla Crowley, Claire Hickey (retiring), Laurna McHugh, (UCC), Abi O’Mahony (UCC).
Young Player(s) to watch out for: Hannah Kate Finn – Exciting talent from Kinsale. Started her career with Kinsale HC and attends Bandon Grammar. Irish U18 last year. Versatile player; plays in midfield and up front; Gill O’Leary – Strong defender and midfield player from Regina Mundi. Broke into the squad last year and has continued to improve into this season.
Key Player(s): Emma Barber – Significant experience having played EYHL1 with both UCC and Cork Harlequins in recent years. Her distribution on the ball coupled with her defensive skills will add hugely to the team. Also a threat from penalty corners; Hollie Moffett – Former Irish international with a wealth of experience. Her passing range and skills on the ball will provide the team with a strong anchor in midfield.
Season Aspirations: Improved performances in both EYHL2 and Munster league. Have entered Irish senior cup to assess where the team is in relation to EYHL1 teams.
Coach/Manager Comments: We are really looking forward to the season and delighted to have fresh faces in the squad, which will create competition for places. We have a good mix of youth and experience within the group and we will hopefully improve on our performances from last year at both provincial and national level.
Coach: Darren Collins (3rd year) Manager: Vanessa Sargent (1st year)
Captain: Yvonne O’Byrne; Vice Captain: Michelle Barry
Players In: Siri Forde (Church of Ireland), Niamh Sexton (Lock Haven, USA)
Players Out: Emma Barber (Cork C of I), Niamh O’Leary (Cork C of I), Becky Maye (Cork C of I), Alex O’Grady (Cork C of I), Nikki Barry (UCC), Sarah Murphy (UCC), Enya O’Donoghue (UCC).
Young Player(s) to watch out for: Lauren Cripps, Leah O’Shea.
Key Player(s): Cliodhna Sargent, Yvonne O’Byrne, Michelle Barry.
Season Aspirations: We are looking forward to competing in the EYHL 1 league for another season after last year finished so abruptly. We have lost some very good players but have some promising younger players coming through and allied with our core of experienced players we hope to have a successful season.
Hockey Development officer: Paidi Hartnett
Coach: Graham Catchpole (2nd year); Manager: Colette Coomey (3rd year)
Captain: Emma Cripps; Vice Captain: Hilary Balding
Players In: Laurna McHugh, Abi O’Mahony (both Cork C of I); Nikki Barry, Sarah Murphy, Enya O’Donoghue, Jane Murphy (all Cork Harlequins)
Players Out: Saoirse O’Leary (Old Alex), Judy Mills (Ashton HC), Aebfhinn Bourke, Lauren Ryan, Muireann Scanlon, Hannah Humphreys (all Catholic Institute), Aoibhinn Martin (abroad)
Young Player(s) to watch out for: There has been a brilliant influx of new talent to the panel this season. Nikki Barry joins Caoimhe Perdue as a Quercus scholar this year and will add her impressive skillset to the group. Sarah Murphy has impressed greatly since joining and her versatility, distribution and calmness in possession will be a big feature this season.
Key Player(s): Emma Cripps, Jenny Clein and Aoife Collins continue in the spine of the team this season and are hugely important to the team from a defensive and attacking standpoint. Emma reads the game well and is incredibly hard to beat in a one on one. Jenny’s trickery and directness in attack makes her a threat wherever she picks up the ball on the pitch. Aoife is a proven goalscorer and has shown it in preseason already with a handful of goals. We are also seeing the emergence of a number of other leaders in the team in Hilary Balding and Roisin O’Dea.
Season Aspirations: We expect the Munster League to be very competitive this year with the top teams strengthening their squads. Our goal is to retain the title and go one further in EY2 and qualify for the playoffs. We have Monkstown in the first round of the ISC also and are looking forward to another close match up with them.
Coach Comments: There has been a large turnover of players this season with six players coming in and seven players exiting. It will take some time for these players to settle into a new team and a very different college experience. The players have been looking sharp in preseason with S&C coach Patrick Ryan putting them through their paces along with some good competitive friendly matches to get us up to speed. We are looking forward to the start of what looks like being a very competitive Munster Senior League and are hoping to again make an impact in EY2.
Waterford Ladies HC
Coach: David Quinn Assistant Coach: Jonathan Earl
Captain: Elaine Breen; Vice Captain: Rachel Shute
Players In: Aine Buggy (Kilkenny HC)
Players Out: Lily Carey (Bandon HC), Caoimhe Whelan (Uni), Anna Rafter (Uni) Deirdre Cotter (Uni), Kirsten Browne (Uni),
Young Player(s) to watch out for: Katie Earl, Katie Leslie, Zara Notley, Grace O’Brien, Mia Jonston.
Key Player(s): Elaine Breen, Rachel Shute Mary Rose, Ruth Breen and Barbara Johnson.
Season Aspirations: Top half of Munster League and a cup(s) run.
Coach/Manager Comments: We are looking forward to the season and are hoping to develop this young side for the future.
Limerick – awaiting details.