The pitch at Mossley HC in Newtownabbey froze in the early evening on Friday night, forcing the Luke Madeley and Jonny McCormack-inspired Blues to cram their matches into little over a day.
They started superbly with a 5-0 victory over Munster before drawing 1-1 with Ulster on Saturday. That big win over Munster proved crucial as although they beat the men in red 4-2, they lost 3-1 to Ulster in the afternoon. However, a superior goal difference saw Leinster reclaim their crown. For Munster, it was a tournament of what might have been. They missed late chances in the 2-1 defeat to Ulster on Friday, before recovering to stun the hosts on the same scoreline in their second game on Saturday, Bandon Grammar duo Julius Haendel and Julian Dale netting the goals.
Clyde Buttimer and Jack O’Mahony’s goals had them level with Leinster at 2-2 in their final game, but the Blues took advantage of some sin-binnings to run out 4-2 winners. Munster fared better in the U16 competition — some of which was moved to UUJ due to the frozen pitch at Mossley — coming second on goal difference after a stunning 3-1 win over Leinster yesterday.
Matthew Lee, Andrew Tutty and Calum Crowley all netted as they made amends for losing 3-2 to Ulster in the last minute on Friday night. Saturday wasn’t their day as they lost narrowly to both Leinster (0-1) and Ulster (0-2) but both Munster teams have plenty to shout about having narrowed the gap in terms of competitiveness over the past two tournaments, rendering the hammerings of a few years ago distant memories.
Promisingly, this year’s coaching and management team for the U16s — UCC men Peter Catchpole, Stuart O’Grady, Fionn O’Leary and John Cudmore — are all still under 23. Ulster reclaimed their U16 title in scintillating style, Luke Witherow and Andrew O’Hare starring as they hammered Leinster 6-1 in their final game to finish with a 100% record. Elsewhere, Bandon came from behind to notch a brilliant 3-1 win at YMCA in the Irish Hockey Trophy, Jenny Buttimer’s deflected corner and two from Ciara McCarthy — one a stunning breakaway goal — in the final 10 minutes doing the job for Ger Burns’ side. Kate Humphreys starred for Cork C of I as her goal helped them nudge out Muckross 1-0 at Teresians School.
Frozen pitches in Limerick saw Cork Harlequins’ top of the table Munster clash with Catholic Institute and UL’s IHT clash with Our Lady’s postponed.
Meanwhile, international keeper David Harte has become the first Irish player bought by a Hockey India League team. The Mumbai Magicians snapped up the Cork man for $11,000 (€8,100) at the player auction for the world’s richest hockey competition, takes place in spring 2014.