Thursday 17 January 2019

International indoor return proves huge boost to game

Hockey

Hattrick hero: Ross Canning. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Hattrick hero: Ross Canning. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Stephen Findlater

Hockey Ireland's decision to resume fielding international indoor teams in 2020 appears to have instigated a dramatic increase in interest in the code across the island.

Over the weekend, venues in Antrim, Kinsale, Donabate, Rathfarnham and Galway played hosts to 49 teams playing 117 matches in the code, an unprecedented amount.

It raises hopes that indoor action can hit the same heights of the 1980s, when huge crowds backed the sport, before interest began to wane.

In Leinster, Three Rock Rovers and Railway Union have been leaders in trying to maintain the sport on the men's side for much of the last decade and both showed their strength at St Columba's on Saturday.

Rovers - the 2018 National Indoor Trophy winners - began their regional group stage with a 6-1 win over Railway's 'B' team, with Ross Canning scoring a hat-trick, backed up by goals from Harry Morris and Jody Hosking.

Railway's 'A' side, meanwhile, ran up an 8-3 win over Corinthian and a 7-5 success against Kilkenny to top Pool B, earning a direct ticket to the Leinster semi-finals.

Kilkenny and Glenanne go through to the wildcard play-offs for a place in the last four, with their opponents set to be confirmed.

The Munster branch hosted their first games in over 30 years at Saile, with Luke Cardy's goals and Justin Scheffel's goalkeeping handing Limerick the men's title ahead of Waterford.

Ashton 'B' won the women's competition, defying the odds and their 'A' side to top their five-team competition with three wins and a 0-0 draw against their club-mates.

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