28-31 October 2021, Cork

After a gap of over two years due to the COVID pandemic, Ireland’s biggest youth regatta is back with a bang. Over 100 young sailors will gather together at the Investwise Irish Sailing Youth National Championships at the Royal Cork Yacht Club, Crosshaven, later this month. They’ll be joined by Olympic silver medallist Annalise Murphy, and Tokyo Olympic 49er team Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove who will give inspiring talks to the young sailors after hard days racing on the water. Dickson and Waddilove will be joined by local Crosshaven 49er team Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan who have started their bid to represent Ireland in the Paris 2024 Olympics.

The Youth National Championships are unique - not only is it the biggest youth event held in Ireland, it’s the only time that different youth classes come together to compete, gain valuable experience on the water, hear from Irish Sailing coaches, and, along with their families, learn more about the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway. 

Young sailors from across Ireland will compete across four different classes of boat at the Youth Nationals: 420, Topper, ILCA 4 (Laser 4.7) and ILCA 6 (Laser Radial). These are the classes that have been identified as the best to facilitate progression through the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway. Although normally part of the event, this year due to COVID safety measures, Irish Sailing and the IODAI (Irish Optimist class) decided to organise a separate training week. The IODAI National Training Week is part of an overall plan to kick-start the junior pathway and as such is being supported by Irish Sailing. This year’s training week is in Malahide; future editions will rotate nationally. The remaining four classes will be joined for the first time by the 29er class who are in discussions with Irish Sailing about becoming a full Performance Pathway class.

Organiser Sean Evans, Irish Sailing’s Laser Radial Academy Coach said “We’re delighted that the Youth Nationals are back on this year. The Youth Nationals are a very important part of the talent pipeline and gives coaches a chance to see what’s coming through.  It’s a special event where families and friends can gather together in one location to share their experiences, learning and generally have some fun”.

David Quinn, MD, Investwise Financial Planning, commented: "We are delighted to support this wonderful event for young sailors.  Sailing teaches important life skills such as awareness, responsibility, patience and respect, as well as building friendships that last a lifetime. We're delighted that our youth sailors have the opportunity to get back out on the water to compete again at their National Championships after a break of two years.  It promises to be a superb event in Cork over the mid-term break and I look forward to meeting everyone there."

27 July 2021; Robert Dickson, right, and Sean Waddilove of Ireland cross the finish line ahead of Great Britain in race 2 of the 49er Men at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The evening talks include a race course debrief with Olympians Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove along with 49er teammates Johnny Durcan and Seáfra Guilfoyle; and James O’Callaghan (Irish Sailing Performance Director) and Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy will discuss her journey on the Performance Pathway.

For more information https://www.sailing.ie/Racing/Irish-Sailing-Youth-National-Championships

Mark Tumilty reckons experience could be key at the win or bust men’s World Cup qualifiers which get underway next week in Cardiff.

World number 14 ranked Ireland need to win their first two games – starting off against 23rd rated Russia on Thursday, October 21st in the quarter-final – to land a place at the 2023 showpiece event to be played in India.

It has been a quick turnaround time since August’s EuroHockey Championship II campaign in Poland where a fresh-faced Green Machine, featuring eight tournament debutants, took bronze in a first competitive outing in almost two years.

Since then, the vastly experienced Olympian Conor Harte has returned to the fold. Luke Madeley, Jamie Carr and Lee Cole are also available having missed out on playing time at the Euros when they were deemed close contacts in the lead-up to the event.

For Carr and Madeley, it was especially frustrating as they spent 10 days in a Gniezno hotel in quarantine but, all going well, Tumilty feels the extra know-how in big game situations will be invaluable

“There is more experience in this squad and, with the straight knockout format of the tournament, I feel experience will be very important” Tumilty said of selection.

“With Lee Cole and Luke Madeley available along with Tim Cross and Conor Harte, we have plenty of experience in our back four. The other big positive in the squad is that Luke Madeley, Lee Cole, Conor Empey and Conor Harte offer good attacking penalty corner options in addition to Shane O’Donoghue.

“With the Euros, due to Covid and availability, we were lighter in our penalty corner options; it was an important component of my selection decision to ensure we have more penalty corner options on the pitch at all times.”

Of the other changes, Neal Glassey is likely to be deployed in midfield rather than at the back while Sam Hyland and Conor Empey – who both scored on debut last week in a series against Malaysia – have retained their place in the 18-player central panel.

"Neal gives us a more defensive-minded midfielder which I feel is important for this tournament. It is unfortunate for Kevin O’Dea to miss out but he definitely has a great international future ahead of him.

“Conor has done well in the Dutch Hoofdklasse, scoring a few goals there and against Malaysia last week. Sam brings something different, too; I like his playing style and he has excellent basics which I feel is very important at the highest level. He also plays a big role in penalty corner attack and defence. They are two guys who have done the hard work and deserve their opportunity next week.”

In total, there are 11 of the Euros panel who saw game time are retained. Carr and Mark Ingram are the goalkeepers named with Harte, Madeley, Cole, Empey and Hyland coming in for Fergus Gibson, Ian Stewart, Ben Nelson, James Milliken while Mark McNellis and O’Dea are the travelling reserves this time out.

The two-game series against Malaysia was an opportune one, winning the first 3-2 before getting a reality check in a 4-2 defeat to the speedy tigers.

The matches came along at short notice with Lisnagarvey able to accommodate the fixtures under Malaysia’s UK visas for a tour which also encompasses England and Wales.

“Lisnagarvey have been fantastic to work with over the past 15 months. They have been very accommodating with regards to hosting Ulster regional sessions, national sessions, the EDP series and most recently the Malaysia games. Gail Geddis and the Lisnagarvey committee deserves a special mention for the work they have put into hosting the Malaysia games.”

And the lessons learned from that second game will be crucial when it comes to the qualifiers.

“We’re playing knock-out hockey in Cardiff and there’s no room for a bad period in the game at any stage as we found out against Malaysia. We conceded 3 goals in a very short space of time in Quarter 1 which proved costly and a good lesson in how a game an go away from you very quickly”.

“That’s one of the reasons to go with experience, so we have the players can deal with that pressure. We need to execute in both circles when it is really needed. I have confidence this group of players can deliver. 

"It will be tough tournament and I would say that any two [of the eight] teams participating have the ability qualify for the World Cup. Our focus is our first game and we will need to produce a very good performance against Russia to progress to the semi-final to have the opportunity to qualify for the World Cup.”

First up are Russia, ranked lower but they did contest a higher level of European competition during the summer in June, scoring plenty of goals despite finishing last.

Tumilty pored over those videos and says they are a good side who play an attacking style of hockey. They have some excellent players with their main strength being in midfield. This was reflected in a strong performance from club side Dinamo Elektrostal in the Euro Hockey League when putting it up to Dutch giant SV Kampong.

“They are definitely a talented side with a goalscoring threat as they proved in the European Championship this summer”

“We go into the tournament well prepared and with a strong squad. It is a matter of whether we can deliver to take that next step and get to a major tournament. It would be massive boost for this senior men’s team to qualify again for a World Cup. It’s a big challenge but is one I certainly believe this group of players have the ability to overcome."

Should Ireland win that tie, they will face either Wales or Italy on Saturday, October 23 for a place at the World Cup.

Ireland men’s squad for World Cup qualifiers (club/caps)
Jamie Carr (GK, KHC Leuven, 34)
Mark Ingram (GK, Pembroke, 27)
Tom Cross (Annadale, 22)
Luke Madeley (KHC Leuven, 23)
Lee Cole (Monkstown, 90)
Conor Harte (KHC Dragons, 254)
Peter McKibbin (Lisnagarvey, 8)
Kyle Marshall (Old Georgians, 7)
Shane O’Donoghue (Glenanne, 197)
Sean Murray (captain, KHC Leuven, 85)
Neal Glassey (Crefelder HTC, 67)
Daragh Walsh (KHC Leuven, 58)
Michael Robson (Annadale, 120)
Johnny McKee (Banbridge, 49)
Conor Empey (SCHC, 2)
Sam Hyland (YMCA, 2)
Ben Walker (Braxgata, 42)
Jeremy Duncan (Monkstown, 63)

Travelling reserves
Matthew Nelson (Lisnagarvey, 69)
Kevin O’Dea (UCD, 7)

Head Coach: Mark Tumilty
Assistant coach: Jason Klinkradt
Manager: Neil Irwin
Physical trainer: Eoin Cunniffe
Physio: Cameron Steele
Video technician: Ross Willis 

Irish women’s coach Sean Dancer has named an 18-player central panel and two travelling reserves ahead next week’s vital World Cup qualifying competition which takes place in Pisa from October 21st to 24th.

The eight-team competition will be played in a knock-out format with only one side earning a place at next summer’s World Cup which will be played at venues in Spain and the Netherlands.

Ireland (12th ranked) meet France (27th) in their first game on October 21st (10.30am, Irish time) with the winner going on to play either Russia (20th) or Belarus (21st). Scotland (19th), Poland (23rd), Italy (17th) and Wales (25th) are on the other side of the draw.

Dancer’s central panel features 15 of the squad that travelled to the Olympic Games July with Niamh Carey, Erin Getty and Ellen Curran coming into the line-up.

“I am excited about the future and the balance within the squad,” coach Dancer said of his selection. “We have retained a lot of experience and have a lot of excitement coming through. It sits really nicely.”

For the players coming in, they have been aided by a comprehensive summer program with the Irish development squad, overseen by David Passmore which has been a fruitful avenue for those making the step up.

UCD’s Niamh Carey joins her twin sister Michelle in the panel and is on course to make her first capped international appearance in the quarter-final against France. She has been part of the panel for most of the past year and lined out against Great Britain in a couple of challenge matches.

Queen's University's Erin Getty was one of the guiding lights of the summer developmental series to force her way back into senior international reckoning. The Queen’s University player earned eight caps in 2017 and 18 before a number of injuries set back her progress.

Pembroke's Ellen Curran is another to return to the line-up. With 24 caps to her name, she was involved with the Green Army setup in the early phases of 2020, touring South Africa, prior to the postponement of the Games to 2021.

“Niamh has been in and around the senior group previously and has built on her strength on the ball and is scoring goals. She is very dangerous as an attacking player and we hope she will continue that.

“Erin played for Ireland before but never previously with me due to a long term injury which put her out for a while but, to her credit, she has worked really hard to get back into a position to be in the green shirt again.

“For Ellen, she had issues around her calf and ankle which didn’t make things easy for her but, once again, she took that time to work on areas we wanted her to. Credit to her, she staked her claim for a spot now and looking forward to seeing her use her speed and skill to create some havoc.

Of the Tokyo panel, Shirley McCay, Hannah Matthews, Lizzie Colvin and Nicci Daly have since stepped back from the program as have Nikki Evans and Grace O’Flanagan.

Reflecting on that changing of the guard, coach Dancer said it is “a natural” progression for the side in the wake of the Olympic Games, paying tribute to their immense contributions to the cause.

“It’s amazing how much effort the players have put into not just the last three years but the last eight to ten years to qualify for their first ever Olympics, giving it everything they’ve got,” Dancer said.

“It is natural some will step away and, for others, they needed a good break to refresh and get back to life, work, family and social things. I wanted to make sure everyone got a good break and once all the dust had settled, it certainly great to have a lot of experience in the group.

“Anna O’Flanagan, Chloe, Róisín, Ayeisha, Lena, Katie, Deirdre – we do have a huge amount there from the Olympics and beyond. We have to draw on that first of all and expect those guys to stand up under pressure which I certainly know they will.

“The flip side is the excitement. We have players who have never had a test match before; first ever event and they get to try qualify for a World Cup.”

The tournament also allows for two travelling reserves with Charlotte Beggs and Jane Kilpatrick joining the panel in Pisa.

While first opponents France are the lowest-ranked side in the competition, Dancer is more than wary of what they have to offer. With the Paris Games in mind, they have been working together close to full-time for a number of years and a silver medal at this summer’s EuroHockey Championship II shows they are on thr rise.

“France has been preparing well, not just this year, but with 2024 in their sights and getting there as host nation, they have a lot to play for. They did really well in the European Division 2 tournament. First team to meet, it will not be easy but we have to back our experience and what we have done in the last 18 month to get over the top of them.”

Irish senior women’s panel for World Cup qualifiers (club/caps):
Ayeisha McFerran (SV Kampong, Netherlands, 110)
Lizzie Murphy (Loreto, 13)
Lena Tice (Old Alex, 119)
Róisín Upton (Catholic Institute, 86)
Hannah McLoughlin (UCD, 24)
Sarah McAuley (UCD, 6)
Sarah Hawkshaw (Railway Union, 43)
Michelle Carey (UCD, 7)
Katie Mullan (captain, Ballymoney, 203)
Ellen Curran (Pembroke, 24)
Sarah Torrans (Loreto, 31)
Chloe Watkins (Monkstown, 234)
Zara Malseed (Ards, 4)
Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute, 119)
Niamh Carey (UCD, 0)
Deirdre Duke (Old Alex, 151)
Anna O’Flanagan (Muckross, 217)
Erin Getty (Queen’s, 8)

Travelling reserves
Charlotte Beggs (Ulster Elks, 0)
Jane Kilpatrick (Belfast Harlequins, 0)

Head coach: Sean Dancer
Assistant coaches: Gareth Grundie, David Fitzgerald
Manager: Lisa Jacob
Physical trainer: Claire Brady
Physio: Stephen Brownlow
Video Technician: Mark Kavanagh

FIH Women’s World Cup 2022 – European Qualifier; Pisa, Italy (October 21 to 24, 2021)
Thursday, October 21: Ireland v France (10.30am, Irish time)
Saturday, October 22: Semi-finals / classification matches
Sunday, October 23: final / classification matches

** Full tournament information here: https://tms.fih.ch/competitions/1360

Sally Corscadden’s Irish Eventing team of Padraig McCarthy (MGH Tokyo Phil), Susie Berry (Ringwood LB (ISH), Felicity Ward (Regal Bounty (ISH) and Brian Morrison (Global DHI), have finished in fifth place overall of nine teams following the final jumping phase of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup of The Netherlands at Boekelo.

Ireland were in sixth place after Dressage and moved up one place to fifth after Saturday’s Cross Country and remained in fifth after the Show Jumping phase on a final score of 162.7.  Britain claimed victory on 90.4 with USA second on 102.7 while third place went to Germany on 127.7.

Padraig McCarthy and MGH Tokyo Phil finished best of the Irish individually in ninth place with a score of 34.5, with Felicity Ward next best of the Irish in 29th with Regal Bounty (ISH) on a score of 59.5.

Co Down's Conor Swail and Vital Chance de la Roque have recorded their second straight victory in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup North American League. Having taking a win last weekend in Vancouver (CAN), the duo recorded a second straight World Cup victory in Sacramento (USA) in the early hours of this morning. 

Swail and the enthusiastic 12-year-old gelding topped a thrilling four-horse jump-off in front of a packed crowd at the Murieta Equestrian Center. Swail shaved more than a second off Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Huberth B’s then-leading time to cross the line clear in 36.12 seconds.

“He was wonderful here tonight,” Swail said of his mount, who has now won five Grand Prix contests since June. “He was probably one of the favourites coming in. I’m delighted that he’s living up to the reputation he’s making for himself.”

Ballard settled for second with her brand-new mount, an impressive feat considering she’d only begun riding the eye-catching bay two weeks ago; their time was 37.25 seconds. Her student Natalie Dean (CAN) and the talented Cocolina finished third as the only other double-clear performers on a time of 43.09 seconds.

“Erynn put up a tough enough round that I thought it was going to be another tough test,” Swail said, “but [my horse] handled himself extremely well.”

Swail's World Cup results have now spanned two countries and two drastically different venues. In Vancouver, the duo navigated a spacious outdoor arena, while in Sacramento, they were met with a small, covered space. In both places, the pair delighted as Vital Chance de la Roque complemented his efforts over the fences with playful bucking in between the fences, a trend Swail has come to both expect and respect.

“[Vancouver] was outside, and [course designer Peter Holmes (CAN)] built it quite like an indoor track I thought, but it’s still a covered arena here, and the crowd is up against you,” Swail said. “[My horse] is answering every question, and the crowd were awesome tonight. It’s wonderful having people back [in the stands]. We get a thrill out of it as well.”

Swail now holds a commanding lead in the North American League with 37 points. Ballard and Rowan Willis (AUS) sit second and third, respectively, both with 17 points. The North American League next heads east to Tryon (USA) on October 30th. 

Back in Europe, it was a memorable night on Saturday for Galway's Michael Duffy at the Horse Of The Year Show in Birmingham where he recorded two major victories. Fresh from helping Ireland to a runner-up finish in last weekend's FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, Duffy shared victory in the HOYS Puissance when riding RMF Charly. Britain's Joseph Trunkfield and Senators Rhondaigo were the only other combination to clear the wall at 7ft 2 in the final round. Earlier in the evening, Michael Duffy had also taken victory in the feature Grandstand Challenge Cup with Jeff Ten Halven.

Final results are in for the EurILCA Senior Laser European Championships that finished yesterday evening in Varna, Bulgaria with a top ten performance for Finn Lynch who finished in 7th place in the Men's Laser.

Olympian Finn Lynch is from Carlow. He was the youngest sailor to represent Ireland at an Olympic Games, competing in the Laser at Rio in 2016. His club is the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.

Finn’s Irish Sailing teammates Ewan McMahon finished in 21st and Liam Glynn in 44th out of a fleet of 98.

In the Women's Laser Radial, youngster (17) Eve McMahon finished in 15th place, and Aoife Hopkins in 25th (in a fleet of 66).

The competition was won overall by Michael Beckett of GBR, and Agata Barwinska of Poland.

Jamie McMahon finished in 17th place in the Men's Silver Fleet.

Throughout the competition, conditions have been difficult with strong wind, big swell and low temperatures.

You can find the full results here: https://eurilca.org/2021-senior-europeans-results/

Olympian and 2018 World Cup silver medalist Hannah Matthews has confirmed her retirement from international hockey having been a crucial figure in the Green Army’s rise over the past seven years and 157 caps. 

Since making her debut in 2014, the Loreto woman has been one of the first names on the team sheet, being an ever-present at each major tournament during that time.  

“It’s 150 more caps than I thought I would ever get,” she said in the wake of her decision. “There was a long period where I wasn’t involved but once I got in, it was a case of grabbing the opportunity and I have enjoyed every second of it.  

Matthews is something of a rarity as a “one-club” player, lining out for Loreto since she was eight-years-old, combining club life with her successful school days at Loreto Beaufort. With them, she scored the winning goal in the Leinster Schoolgirls Senior Cup final in 2008 in a 2-1 success against Alexandra College. The likes of Mary Barnwell, Paula O’Donoghue and Eimear Campion proved the best of mentors during those years. 

Scoring big goals became a habit in those early years. While still a teenager – under the tutelage of future Irish coach Graham Shaw – she won the inaugural Women’s Irish Hockey League title in 2009 and, a year later, took the Irish Senior Cup final win against Railway Union; Matthews was raised and carried aloft by her team mates when she scored the winning penalty stroke. 

They are the kind of early career highlights that often lead to instant Irish call-ups but the now 30-year-old had to bide her time, a difficult situation but one, in hindsight, widened her horizons. 

“I don’t know what other people thought but I did have that expectation. I played Under-16, Under-18, Under-21 and I saw other people getting called in and you do start to think ‘this is not going to happen for me’. I worked on what I could work on and when the opportunity came, I was very much ready for it at 23. I had my college years, had a social life and so it worked out pretty well and I was lucky! 

“I was playing away with Loreto and that was such a big thing for me, lining out in such a competitive team who wanted to play at a high standard.  

“One year, I just sucked it up and worked on my fitness and got a call-up. I almost didn’t go to the trial weekend because it was in the middle of my teaching practice but I went and haven’t looked back since.” 

That call came from coach Darren Smith who she reckons wans’t “a huge fan of mine at the start but he kept an open mind and called me in. I owe so much to him”. 

From her debut In the idyllic vineyard setting in Mori, she describes it as a “whirlwind” from the devastation of missing out on the Rio Olympics to winning the EuroHockey Championship II a couple of weeks later. 

“Darren wanted me to get in there, make my debut, get my cap as quickly as possible. He set a tone of a professional squad. Everyone took it so seriously, it was such a self-driven team which he ran from above. It was a great environment to come into. Obviously, it is everyone’s dream to play in an Olympics so that next summer was really tough to take but it did drive us.” 

That drive propelled Matthews and the side through the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign and ultimately becoming part of Irish sporting legend with the silver medal. 

“You still look back and think it was almost like a holiday compared to Tokyo! We were having the time of our lives. It was so close to heartbreak all over again when you look back [at the qualifiers in South Africa].  

“Grace [O’Flanagan] came off the bench, made that incredible save against India and it was such a game-changer, something we have in the memory bank that whatever happens, we can come through it. The road that got us there was definitely important and I would not change it.”  

She became a softly-spoken but powerful voice within the team, notably speaking up about the side’s search for a sponsor in the months before the London madness that summer. 

“It is hard to boil it down to money but it makes such a difference. Like if we hadn’t had them, we would have been booted out of our hotel in the World Cup because we overstayed our welcome! Little things like that don’t even cross your mind.  

“SoftCo and Park Developments allowed us go part-time and train professionally. If we are going to compete against the best, we have to have the resources and facilities to do so. We have to players who can commit to it, staff who can commit to it. It was so difficult when we just came together on a Sunday and then training regionally during the week.” 

During that time, she was able to jobshare her teaching role at the Holy Trinity National School in Leopardstown. She is forever grateful for the school and her colleagues to allow her to do so, a healthy situation she knows was an option not afforded to a number of her team mates. 

24 July 2021; Ireland players, from left, Lena Tice, Chloe Watkins and Hannah Matthews celebrate following victory in the Women's Pool A Group Stage match between Ireland and South Africa at the Oi Hockey Stadium during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

She did not think she would be in that position for quite so long, though, once Olympic qualification for Tokyo was in the bank. 

“Of all the things you try to envision, you could never forsee a global pandemic. You just start thinking this might not happen for us. Up until Christmas, I kept checking any social media or news to see what was happening.  

“It was worth the wait. For me, it certainly put things in perspective. I always knew I was going to retire after the Olympics. It was almost like another bite of the cherry for preparation and I went into the year wanting to enjoy every second of it, whether I got picked or not.  

“I wanted to walk off and say I played my best hockey and enjoyed it. That was very freeing and I do think I played some of my best stuff in an Irish jersey compared to the year before.” 

Having given her all in Japan, she is content to step back despite current Irish coach Sean Dancer keeping the door open for a comeback if she is keen 

“100% - it was a decision I took a while to make. I didn’t take it lightly and I was honest with Sean. He was brilliant that I could have that honest conversation and it didn’t affect my selection for the Olympics or personal issues.  

“It’s lovely to still be wanted but it is the right time in my life. There’s things I have put on hold and people who have put their lives on hold for me so it is time to grow up!  

“It certainly hasn’t been easy but we have had great moments and great highlights over the years. Stepping away from it, I am just so grateful for every bit of it – the people I have met along the way, the people who have supported me who have been incredible. 

“Now it’s time for teaching and enjoying club hockey! I’m really looking forward to this club season and a nice normal life, maybe slowing down a little bit!” 

Ger Owens has emerged overall winner of this year’s Irish Sailing All Ireland Championships held in Crosshaven, Cork.

Owens, who is a three-time Olympian, represented the GP14 class as their national champion. He competed in the two day event with crew and fellow Olympian Ross Killian. This year’s All Irelands were hosted by the Royal Cork Yacht Club and sailed in National 18s, so Owens and Killian were joined by a class representative and local sailor, Paddy Crosbie.

Qualification rounds were raced on Saturday, but due to the stronger winds on Sunday racing was cut short and only the four final races held. Leading the charge of eight finalists on day two was Baltimore’s Robert O’Leary who won the first race, but his lead slipped in the following races. The top three fought for the title with only a point between Ger Owens, Ross Kearney and Sean Craig at one stage.

But it was Ger Owens of the Royal St George Yacht Club (Dun Laoghaire) who emerged victorious after four hours on the water with a convincing win in the final race.

In second place was Ross Kearney of Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club representing the Squibs with crew Geoff Edwards; in third was the Royal St George’s Sean Craig representing the Laser Radials with crew Tadgh Donnelly.

The Irish Sailing All Ireland Championships, formerly known as the “Helmsman’s Championship” are one of the oldest and most prestigious sailing events in the country. Since 1947 sailors have competed to become the “champion of champions”. The championships bring together 16 of Ireland’s top sailors who are nominated by their class (or type of boat). They then all race against each other in one type of boat.

A thrilling finish to the 2021 Longines FEI Nations Cup Final at Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain, saw defending champions Ireland produce an excellent performance to score a runner-up finish against eight of the world’s best teams.

Michael Blake’s quartet of Denis Lynch, Eoin McMahon, Michael Duffy and Darragh Kenny finished the competition on just one time fault, with victory going to The Netherlands as the only team to complete on a zero score, while Belgium finished third on four faults.

Tipperary’s Denis Lynch got Ireland off to the perfect start with the Onyx Consulting-owned Cristello, when they jumped an impressive clear inside the time when first to go for Michael Blake’s team.

Co Clare’s Eoin McMahon, who had a hugely impressive performance at the 2021 European Championships, was second to go with Chacon 2 owned by Madeleine Winter-Schulze. They also left all the fences standing but picked up one time fault when 0.21 over the time allowed.

Galway’s Michael Duffy, another who enjoyed an excellent Europeans, was next to jump with Zilton SL Z and were the discard score with one fence down and the smallest of touches on the tape at the water.

Ireland needed a clear from anchor rider Darragh Kenny to keep the pressure on the remaining teams and the Offaly rider delivered in style, crossing the line clear with the Heathman Farm-owned VDL Cartello to leave Ireland on a final score of just one time fault. Anything less than a clear from the final Dutch rider Harrie Smolders would leave Ireland as winners. Smolders kept his cool to give victory to the Dutch for the third time in the history of the competition.

Ireland’s Darragh Kenny was one of three riders who shared a €100,000 bonus the having jumped clear in Friday’s qualifying round and today’s final.

Irish team manager Michael Blake was delighted with his teams performance.



“I am very pleased with the result today. We used two experienced riders and two younger riders. Denis got us off to a great start. His horse was very fresh and took a bit of riding but Denis did a great job. Eoin McMahon was second in for us and he has been a revelation this year. I thought he had a super round. he was a fraction over the time allowed trying to be clear. It was a big track and Eoin was fantastic at the Europeans and this was his first time jumping in the finals in Barcelona.

“Michael Duffy was very unfortunate with the fault at the water, I saw the tape afterwards and it was the tiniest of touches – the size of a pebble. Darragh was superb just as he was in the first round on Friday. All-in-all against the best teams in the world we were just two tenths of a second off potentially retaining our title so I am really really proud of the lads. A special mention also for Michael G Duffy who was key in helping us qualify for the final on Friday. We are a five-man team and everyone played their part. I want to thank all our owners, the riders families and grooms and Horse Sport Ireland for their support.”


The Irish Sailing All Ireland Championships are back ! Previously known as the “Helmsman’s Championship”, the event has run every year since 1947 until 2020’s historic pause due to the COVID pandemic. One of the most unusual regattas in the world, the competitors represent sixteen of the thirty nine Irish Sailing affiliated classes (or types of boat) and compete to find sailing’s “champion of champions”. Despite coming from a wide range of one design classes, they race against each other in a boat that is often unknown to many. 2021’s chosen boat is the National 18.

Familiar names competing include Charlie Cullen – the youngest competitor at just 19 and a first-time nomination for the Waszp class; JP Mccaldin who will race his wife Carolyn; Olympians Ger Owens with Ross Killian; Philip Doran with brother Simon; Michael O’Connor with his winning crew from previous years, Davy Taylor; Hammy Baker, RYA Northern Ireland’s Performance Director.

There’s a strong representation this year from the Royal St George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire with five of their members competing. Wild cards include Irish Sailing Academy member Tom Higgins sailing with his brother Jack, and Robert O’Leary from the 1720 class who sails with his brother Peter. This year’s National 18 champion Ewen Barry is one to watch as he will compete in a boat more familiar to him than others.

Hosted this year by the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven this weekend (2 &3 October), each competitor has been nominated as a result of their achievements and rankings for the year.  Once chosen, each competitor selects one crew member. As the National 18 needs a third crew, the third member of the team is nominated by the class. Racing will consist of two “flights” or heats. The top three from each flight go straight into the final. The remaining competitors who placed 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th compete in a 2-race qualifier or “repêchage”, and the top two then enter the Final also. The Final race therefore has eight teams competing.

The full list of competitors can be found on the Irish Sailing website https://www.sailing.ie/Racing/All-Ireland-Sailing-Championships

Hockey Ireland is delighted to accept an invitation to the Women’s FIH Junior World Cup which takes places in Potchefstroom, South Africa from December 5th to 16th 2021.

It means the Junior Green Army will feature in the women’s competition for the first time and Irish Under-21 head coach Dave Passmore says it offers a huge opportunity for this current crop of players.

“We are delighted to take up this place at December’s Junior World Cup,” Passmore said. “Taking part in a global competition of this stature is massive for Ireland and will offer an amazing environment for our young athletes to grow and develop.

“Over the past few years, we have seen the importance of nurturing this age group for the senior team with several players already advancing from the Junior Green Army to play in the Olympic Games.”

Ireland initially finished just outside the qualification places at the 2019 EuroHockey Junior Championships in Valencia, ending seventh when six European spots were on offer.

However, the withdrawal of Australia and New Zealand opened up two spaces at the competition with Hockey Ireland successfully able to make its case for inclusion in their stead.

“When the opportunity arose for us to take part, we contacted the FIH to make sure we were in line for consideration,” said Hockey Ireland High Performance Director Adam Grainger.

“We see the Junior World Cup as a vital tournament and getting six games in such a setting, against high quality opposition, is exactly what we need as we pursue becoming a fixture among the world’s elite nations.”

While the tournament is under three months away, Ireland do have an extensive training base to work from.

In preparation for the tournament, coach Passmore has named a 25-player panel with the final squad anticipated to be named in late October.

Most of this Under-21 squad are currently working with Sean Dancer’s senior international team on Mondays and Tuesdays who are in preparation mode for their own World Cup qualifiers in October.

During the summer, the Junior Green Army followed an extensive high performance programme, featuring series wins over the Wales senior squad and a GB elite development programme outfit.

They were also highly competitive at a Six Nations tournament in Spain and it gives Passmore confidence they can impress in South Africa in December.

“This summer, the Junior Green Army has worked exceptionally hard in an extensive schedule of fixtures. We feel this puts us in a good position to make an impact at the World Cup and we cannot wait to see what we can do on this stage.”

Group and fixture details will be confirmed in due course.

Ireland Under-21 panel for Junior World Cup; Potchefstroom, South Africa, December 5-16 (Club / College):

Gemma Ferguson (GK, Ulster Elks / UUJ)

Ellie McLoughlin (GK, UCD / UCD)                 

Holly Micklem (GK, Old Alex / UCD)

Charlotte Beggs (Ulster Elks / UUJ)

Nadia Benallal (Beeston, England / Nottingham Trent)

Caoimhe Byrne (UCD / UCD)

Sophia Cole (UCD / UCD)

Amy Elliott (UCD / UCD)

Christina Hamill (Loreto / TU Dublin)

Anna Horan (Catholic Institute / Mary Immaculate College)

Hannah Kelly (Trinity)

Katie Jane Marshall (UCD / UCD)

Sarah MacAuley (UCD / UCD)

Niamh McIvor (Pegasus / Queens)

Lisa Mulcahy (Loreto / UCD)

Siofra Murdoch (Harvard University, USA)

Aisling Murray (Loreto / Trinity College)

Laura Noble (Trinity / Trinity College)

Siofra O’Brien (Loreto / TU Dublin)

Emma Paul (UCD / UCD)

Caoimhe Perdue (Captain, UCC / UCC)

Yasmin Pratt (Loreto / IT Carlow)

Ellen Reid (Loughborough Students / Loughborough University)

Muireann Scanlon (Catholic Institute / UCC)

Caitlin Sherin (Captain, Loreto  / DCU)

Conor Stakelum (28) is Ireland’s sole representative at the Nebelhorn Trophy 2021 this week in Oberstdorf, Germany which serves as the final qualifying competition in figure skating for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Stakelum joins athletes from 25 other nations who will be seeking to pick up one of the remaining seven places available in the men’s singles event next February in China. Twenty-three places were already allocated at the World Figure Skating Championships in March of this year.

The five-time Irish senior champion and native Dubliner, who trains in Dundee, Scotland under the tutelage of Olympic coach Simon Briggs, will compete in Germany over the course of two days in short programme and free skating segments.

The Nebelhorn Trophy begins tomorrow 23 September and runs until 25 September. Stakelum will compete initially tomorrow morning (Thursday, 23 September) and again in the afternoon of Friday 24 September.

This will be Stakelum's first competition since the Covid-19 pandemic began. Rink closures and travel restrictions have hampered his ability to train and compete over the past 16 months.

"I have worked very hard in the absence of competitions over the last year to improve my skating, increase the difficulty of my programmes and to be ready to compete when the chance came," Stakelum said.

During the pandemic, the Dubliner put his degree in microbiology to good use when he signed up to the HSE Be On Call for Ireland recruitment drive in 2020 and was assigned to work as a laboratory assistant at a Dublin hospital. He is currently employed by the NHS in Scotland.

Stakelum will debut two new programmes in Germany. He will perform in the free skating to "Riverdance" by Bill Whelan.

“Obviously, this is a very well-known piece of music which many people enjoy," Stakelum said. "I have always wanted to do a programme with an Irish theme so I am glad to be doing so this season."

Stakelum’s progress in Germany can be followed via live stream (links below) and the Ice Skating Association of Ireland’s social media accounts.

Nebelhorn Trophy Live Stream

Day 1 (23 September)

Day 2 (24 September)

Conor Stakelum International Skating Union Bio

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