Limerick and Ashton claim indoor spoils

The Limerick men’s team who won the Munster Indoor Championship at Saile, Kinsale on Saturday. Picture: Limerick Hockey Club

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.

The reintroduction of the competition comes as part of what feels like a wider growth of interest in the code.

An unprecedented 49 teams contested 117 matches across the island over the weekend with regional events in Rathfarnham, Antrim, Portrane and Galway, a level of interest unseen since the 1980s – the last time Ireland entered international teams.

In 2020, Hockey Ireland intends to reintroduce an Irish team to play in the European Championships, a likely factor in reawakening interest in the format which had died out in many areas of the country.

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 it 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.

They 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.

Outdoors, Harlequins continued their perfect run of results in Munster Division One into the new year as they came from 1-0 down to beat Cork C of I 3-1 in a cracking contest.

Julian Dale was once again a defining factor, striking a brace to bring his tally to 15 goals since returning from Belgium.

C I struck first with a bullet drag flick from Mark Gallagher. Quins responded before the break when Tom Cotter got a deft deflection on a crash ball to leave the goalkeeper with no chance.

And they took the lead early in the second half when Dale found a line to goal from an acute angle on the reverse for 2-1.

The visitors pushed hard for an equaliser, forcing the best from David Palmer who made a string of great saves. Sean Bateman did likewise between the opposite posts to keep C of I in the contest until the closing couple of minutes when Dale eventually got his second, finding time to shoot in a packed circle.

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