Duke wary of Gareth Grundie influence on Czechs

Grundie started work with the Czechs as head coach this summer having worked with the Green Army from 2018 up until last October. The understated Ulsterman was a key assistant to Graham Shaw and Sean Dancer in the World Cup silver medal and Olympic qualification.
Duke wary of Gareth Grundie influence on Czechs

HOCKEY BRAIN: Gareth Grundie in Irish mode in 2021 Pic Adrian Boehm

Deirdre Duke is hoping Ireland’s women do not fall victim to an inside job from the “hockey brain” of Gareth Grundie as Ireland face the Czech Republic in Saturday’s vital EuroHockey Championship Qualiifer at the Sport Ireland Campus.

Grundie started work with the Czechs as head coach this summer having worked with the Green Army from 2018 up until last October. The understated Ulsterman was a key assistant to Graham Shaw and Sean Dancer in the World Cup silver medal and Olympic qualification.

And Duke says few other coaches in the world game are better placed to plot their downfall with a vast volume of inside knowledge.

“He knows us inside out so that’s something we have to contend with for our penalty corners and personnel,” Duke said of the match-up.

“He brought so much to our program and is an incredibly intelligent guy; he just sees the game in a different way which we learned a lot from. The Czech girls are lucky to have him.

“He hasn’t been there too long so hopefully he hasn’t had much time to implement exactly what he wants just yet!” she added with a grin.

Indeed, Grundie is working with a revamped squad - ranked 23rd compared to Ireland’s 13 - with six teenagers and nine who played in the European Juniors this summer.

Ireland have never lost to the Czechs but did push Ireland to the brink of Euro relegation in 2017 before a late Róisín Upton goal set them on their way to safety by the skin of their teeth.

Following Thursday’s 3-0 win over Poland and the Czechs draw with Turkey, another Irish win would put them on the brink of qualification for next summer’s showpiece in Germany.

Duke netted the first goal against the Poles but says the first win could have been tidier but is enjoying her first tournament in her hometown at a venue only ever experienced before as a training pitch.

“It’s great to get the first win. We weren’t sure what to expect and we haven’t played them in a couple of years. It took us a lot to break them down but 3-0 is a good scoreline. We overcrowded a bit in the second half which was disappointing but we will take the three points.

“The Campus looks very different than usual in the depths of winter; we have done a lot of hard yards out here so it’s great to get a good crowd out and people to support us.” 

Women's EuroHockey Championship qualifiers 

August 20:

Poland v Turkey, 10.45am Ireland v Czech Republic, 1pm 

August 21:

Poland v Czech Republic, 10.45am Ireland v Turkey, 1pm

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