Leinster women’s Division One enjoys its first full programme of fixtures on Saturday after Avoca and Clontarf landed some preliminary blows last weekend.
Avoca got the best of Naas 3-1 with Katie Ryan, Lorena Halpin Doyle and Zoe Watterson on the mark while Tarf beat Rathgar 2-1, Robyn Merrey and Hannah Goss outdoing Holly Beverland’s strike.
As it stands, the provincial competition acts as the qualifiers for the 2021/22 EYHL2 with – barring a change in how things are divvied up – up to three places up for grabs though this is dependent on whether Leinster sides are relegated from EYHL1.
Last year, the three sides in EYHL2, Corinthian, Monkstown and Trinity, retained their places based on points equalisation with the reds named the winners. It means busy campaigns for all of them once again with 18 league games in addition to 10 EYHL2 fixtures, making plenty of work for the respective fixture secretaries.
On that front, those taking part in the Irish Hockey Trophy have seen the first round postponed from October 10 to November 14.
To look ahead to what’s on the agenda, have a look at our women’s Leinster Division One and EY Hockey League Division 2 teams for the season ahead.
Leinster Division 1 fixtures
Saturday, October 3: Genesis v Rathgar, St Raphaela’s, 12pm; Glenanne v Corinthian, St. Andrews, 3.45pm; Monkstown v Clontarf, Rathdown, 2.45pm; Naas v Trinity, Caragh Road, 2pm; North Kildare v Avoca, The Maws, 11am
Women’s Leinster Division One
Last season (at lockdown): fifth
Coach: Noelle Farrell (1st season), player-assistant coach: Anna Richardson, GK coach: Brian Cleary
Players in: Katie Ryan (Pembroke) Sarah Fogarty (Year out) Orla Damery (Year out)
Players out: n/a
Season overview: Avoca got their season up and running on day one with an impressive 3-1 win over Naas at Newpark with Katie Ryan scoring in her first game since moving to the club. Lorena Halpin Doyle for the second and a first time Zoe Watterson strike, chipping into the top corner, put them out of sight.
Watterson is one of three Leinster Under-18 panelists along with Erika Gallagher and Lauren Moore and they will be key figures for Noelle Farrell’s side. She takes over the coaching from Ronan Hickey who has switched to Rathgar’s men, having worked with the squad last year and there is additional continuity with Anna Richardson in a player-coach role.
Irish Hockey Trophy draw: Mossley (h)
Last season (at lockdown): Eighth
Coach: John Pearson (1st season)
Players in: Eli Timms, Alice Meagher (NUIG), Ciara Brenner (TRR)
Players out: Neasa McGettigan (injured), Becky McMullen (Muckross), Eadaoin Moore
Season overview: John Pearson has joined up as coach from Three Rock Rovers and has navigated through a tricky preseason. With the pitch in Mount Temple being relaid, preseason has consisted of fitness sessions as well as pitch sessions in several different clubs.
Ahead of the season opener, Peason said: “Given the current climate, I’ve been very impressed with the attitude and work rate shown by the players. I am looking forward to the start of the season and seeing what it brings.”
Irish Hockey Trophy: Rathgar (a)
Last season (at lockdown): Winners, Irish Senior Cup semi-final
Coach: Peter Caruth (1st season, assistant last season); Assistant Coach: Davy O’Brien; Manager: Nikki Miller (2nd year as manager).
Players in: Jess Meeke (Loreto); Georgie Fottrell (Junior section)
Players out: Nicola Torrans (Loreto); Sarah Coleman; Cili Holdermann (Germany), Sophie Maleady (studying in Spain until Christmas)
Season overview: “Last season, we won every Leinster Division 1 game but one and won seven out of seven EYHL2 games and were the only team to have qualified for the Playoffs Weekend when the season was locked down. Planning on taking up where we left off,” says manager Nikki Miller.
Peter Caruth takes over the coaching reigns for the start of the new season and has the majority of last season’s squad still in situ while Jess Meeke is a welcome returnee to the club after a number of years away at Loreto and Glenanne and Leinster Under-18 Georgie Fottrell links up with the senior section.
Irish Hockey Trophy draw: Cork C of I (h)
Last season (at lockdown): seventh
Coach: Nasir Munir Chaudhry (2nd Season), Manager: Nicole Cassidy (1st Season)
Players in: Ciara O’ Sullivan (Tipperary), Emma Pichot (UCD), Fiona Grant (DULHC)
Players out: Clodagh Fulston (Travel), Leah Brennan (Travel)
Season overview: Genesis are working with a young team this year, with an influx of players moving up from the colts section. Stalwarts Aoife Henry, Sorcha Cunningham, and Annie Kavanagh return, with Evonne O’Farrell returning from a break.
Irish Hockey Trophy draw: Galway (h)
Last season (at lockdown): fourth, Irish Senior Cup first round, Jacqui Potter Cup quarter-final
Coaches: Kevin O’Malley (2nd Season), Sam O’Connor (1st Season)
Players in: Rachel Barnett (Muckross), Fiona Walsh (Old Alex), Grace Lanigan (Three Rock Rovers), Hannah Morrin (Weston)
Players out: Ashling Boyle (Our Ladies)
Season overview: With ambitions to close the gap to the top three this term, the first few weeks of their season sees big games come thick and fast as they face Corinthian, Banbridge in the Irish Senior Cup, Trinity and then Monkstown in their first four games.
The addition of some new players has added some freshness to the squad who are now chomping at the bit to get stuck into the season and get points on the board.
Irish Senior Cup draw: Banbridge (h), October 10
Last season (at lockdown): Second in Leinster and EYHL2 group; Irish Senior Cup second round
Coach: Simon Lowry (3rd Season) Assistant Coach: Sarah Scott (2nd Season) Manager: Nikkey Cullen (4th Season)
Players in: Sara Twomey (Loreto), Suzie Kelly (UCD), Natasha Twomey (UCD), Olivia Brady (Loreto), Síofra Murdoch (Harvard, USA)
Players out: Sadhbh Breslin (UCD)
Season overview: “It has been great to welcome some new (and returning) faces for the coming season,” said coach Simon Lowry. “The team has been training well and working really hard so that we are in a position to hit the ground running come the 26th of September.
“After such a long break and the disappointment of not being able to finish out last season there is a real excitement about returning to competitive action. A massive thank you is owed to everyone in the club who has volunteered and made the return to hockey possible”
Sarah Greene takes over the captaincy this year with Chloe Watkins taking on the vice captain role.
Irish Senior Cup draw: UCC (a), October 10
Naas – no details at time of publication
Last season (at lockdown): Eighth, Irish Hockey Trophy final; Jacqui Potter Cup semi-final
Coach: Mark Lambe (3rd season) Assistant/gk coach: Paul Bastable (2nd season)
Players in: Maeve Ott (Pembroke), Sally Farrell (Railway Union), Evana Cassidy (Naas), Amy O’Leary (junior section), Aoife Quinn (study break), Robyn Harris (YMCA), Katie McNelis (returning after college break)
Players out: Kate Edghill, Grace Adams, Shelly Spillane, Sophie Edghill, Niamh Delaney
Season overview: “Pre-season was very disrupted this year due to the Kildare lockdown for almost a month meaning we trained in an ‘outside Kildare’ group and an ‘inside Kildare’ group until the beginning of September. Since then we’ve had some friendlies against Avoca, Our Lady’s, Glenanne and Naas which have given the group a chance to settle together – lots of change this year with players coming and going.”
Mark Lambe’s side showed up well against a strong Lisnagarvey in last weekend’s Irish Hockey Trophy final but must not turn things around quickly with a number of changes for their date with Avoca.
Irish Hockey Trophy draw:
Last season (at lockdown): Tenth
Coach: Andy Jones (1st season)
Players in: Sarah Fox (returns), Ana Tobias, Lucy Alonso
Players out: Kaj O’Farrell
Season overview: Rathgar are hoping to build on some good performances from last year and convert into points on the board and they take confidence from a strong preseason performance against Clontarf. Andy Jones takes on the coaching role this season
Irish Hockey Trophy draw: Clonakilty (away)
Last season (at lockdown): Third, Irish Senior Cup second round
Coach: Niamh Small (1st season); High Performance Director: David Fitzgerald (2nd season)
Players in: Alex Orr (Railway); Ella May (Skerries); Hannah Kelly (Old Alex); Julie Ringrose (UCD); Kate Sullivan (Railway); Laura Noble (Pembroke); Lucy O’Sullivan (Pembroke); Shauna Power (Corinthian).
Players out: Ailish Long (Railway); Louise McCollum (Muckross); Sally Campbell (Pembroke).
Season overview: Head Coach Niamh Small: “It has been a preseason like no other where we had to deal with restrictions, a positive Covid test and cancelled friendlies but there is a very resilient group here. Really excited for the season with a very talented group.”
The usual summer turnover sees experienced Division One players Ailish Long, Louise McCollum and Sally Campbell move on but they have gained a number of strong recruits with lots of potential. Loreto Kilkenny graduate Hannah Kelly, Alex Orr, Laura Noble and Julie Ringrose are among eight new arrivals with the dual targets of competing in Leinster and EYHL2.
Irish Senior Cup draw: not entered
EYHL Division 2 overviews
Last season (at lockdown): Second in Ulster;
Coach:Tamara McLeod (2nd as coach); Player Coach: Caroline Adams (2nd season as player coach); assistant coach: Gareth Grundie; Manager: Margaret McCormack (4th season)
Players in: n/a
Players out: Jodie Moore, Harriet Platt (both playing at university)
Season overview: Goalkeeper Naomi McKnight says: “We are hoping to build on a strong season last year where our main focus was promotion back to EYHL 1 which was stopped in its tracks by Coronavirus.
“We played in our EYHL 2 season opening against a strong Corinthian side who had already gained a play-off position last year before season ended. We came out 3-0 winners which the squad were extremely happy with, as we felt they might be our strongest opposition based on last year and this result is a really good early step on our journey back to EYHL 1. We look forward to returning this weekend to our domestic league where we face Ulster Elks which is always a really competitive game.”
Irish Senior Cup draw:
Cork C of I
Last Season: 2nd In Munster
Coach: Phil Oakley (first season); Manager: Sarah Jones (second season)
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 Players 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 Players: 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. We have entered Irish Senior Cup to assess where the team is in relation to EYHL1 teams.
Coach 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.”
Last season (at lockdown): Second in Connacht
Coach: Ollie O’Connor (6th season), assistant: Alex McQuid (1st season), manager: Eimear McDonnell (1st season), assistant coaches: Sarah Comer, Maura Dunne, Derville Dillon, Nicola van der Walt, CVO: John Folan (CVO)
Players in: Alyssa Manley (USA), Kate Collins Smyth (Catholic Institute), Becky Anderson (Greenfields and NUIG)
Players out: Sinead Carey (NUIG), Anna Costello (Galway FC), Kate Henry (academic absence), Michaela van der Walt (Raphoe HC)
Season overview: “Our preseason preparation has been hindered by the COVID-19 restrictions currently in place and the long-standing lack of facilities in the province.
“Our new players have been a great addition to the club, and we are looking forward to our first season in the EYHL2. The club are eager to participate in the Irish Trophy and Challenge cups, and we hope to bring home some silverware! The club’s main focus this season is winning the Connacht league, and being the best we can be!”
Maybe the most eye-catching signing of the summer by any club, USA 2016 Olympian Alyssa Manley is a massive addition while Kate Collins Smyth was an important player for UCD a few years ago.
Irish Hockey Trophy draw: Genesis/NUIG, November 14
Lurgan – no details at time of publication
Last season: first in Connacht
Coach: Cathal Duggan (1st season)
Players in: n/a
Players out: Kate Langan
Season overview: Cathal Duggan will hope to bring some of his Crescent Comprehensive magic to NUIG having previously coached the Limerick school to Kate Russell All-Ireland glory.
He brings a different style to their play and a positive outlook with the club assessment saying: “He is really looking forward to the season(s) ahead. We beat Catholic Institute 2nds in preseason games and recently played our first EY2 game of the season, losing 3-1 in a very competitive game – we are looking forward to playing them at home in 2021.”
Irish Hockey Trophy draw: Genesis (a)
Queen’s University – no details at time of publication
Position Last Season: 1st in Munster
Coach: Graham Catchpole (2nd year); Manager: Colette Coomey (3rd year); Hockey Development Officer: Paidi Hartnett
Players In: Laurna McHugh, Abi O’Mahony (Cork C of I), Nikki Barry, Sarah Murphy, Enya O’Donoghue, Jane Murphy (Cork Harlequins)
Players Out: Saoirse O’Leary (Old Alex), Judy Mills (Ashton HC), Aebfhinn Bourke (Catholic Institute), Lauran Ryan, Muireann Scanlon (Catholic Institute), Hannah Humphreys (Catholic Institute), Aoibhinn Martin (abroad)
Season overview: There has been a large influx of new talent to the panel this season. Nikki Barry joins 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. Her sister Jane and Abi O’Mahony have shown their attacking prowess in preseason while the addition of Laurna McHugh between the posts is a huge boost to the panel.
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.
Graham Catchpole said: “There has been a large turnover of players this season with 6 players coming in and 7 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.”
Irish Senior Cup draw: Monkstown (a)