Junior (U-21) Celtic Cup comes to Wrexham
Over 22nd – 24th June the bi-annual Junior Celtic Cup will be played at Glyndwr University, Wrexham. Featuring the top U-21 players from Scotland, Ireland and Wales it is the second majord tournament to have been held at the stadium in the past few years. Matches will start at 17:00 on Friday 22nd with Wales Women playing Ireland, followed by the Wales Men against their Irish counterparts. The full schedule is detailed below. It will also be an opportunity for supporters to meet the Welsh squad as well as trying your hand in the Hockey Wales speedcage as well as at a master class orgainised by the Senior Squad manager Nazir Mohamed.
Tickets will be £5 per day (£12 for the full tournament) for adults, students £3 per day (£8) upon production of their SU card with all those aged U-16 receiving free entry – an ideal opportunity for schools to bring their pupils to see top class hockey! Tickets will be available for purchase on the day via the recption desk of the Sports Centre.
Live match reports will be available for each match for those unable to attend - the link will be posted here in due course.
Friday 22nd June
17:00 Wales 0 Ireland 2 (Women)
Wales went down 0-2 to Ireland in the opening match of the tournament. Heavy rain throughout most of the match did little to dampen the spirits of the good size crowd but did hamper some of the skills on display. Ireland won the early challenges and forced their first pc after 7' but the resulting shot was judged too high. However following another attack in the very next minute Naomi Carroll scored the opening goal of the tournament for IRE. WAL tried to immediately counter but some good goalkeeping kept the hosts out. IRE were keeping possession for a large part of the half and their tactics prevented WAL from creating many chances.
After 42' a robust challenge earned IRE's Sarah Greene a green card - the first of a number awarded to both sides as the tempo increased. Another IRE pc was struck along the ground but the goal post came to WAL's rescue. With WAL reduced to 10 players following an award of a yellow card to WAL's Ellis Davis it seemed to be only a matter of time before IRE increased their advantage and after 61' Olivia Roycroft took the chance through a penalty corner strike. WAL's Ellis Davies came close to reducing the deficit on her return to the match but her shot went narrowly wide.
In difficult weather conditions both teams can be proud of their efforts in producing an entertaining match.
19:00 Wales 0 Ireland 2 (Men)
In an entertaining match the final score was identical to the Women's although WAL can count themselves unlucky not to have taken something from the game.
IRE started the second half the stronger of the two sides and Stephen Dowds with a reverse sweep shot narrowly wide. Somewhat against the run of play a rather fortuitous second IRE goal arrived when Philip Brown's shot took a wicked deflection and looped over Ratcliffe's head into an empty goal. Chances were now becoming available as the players tired but both 'keepers were equal to the shots made. WAL spent the lst 5' seeking a consolation goal but, like the girls in the first match, could not find the elusive final touch.
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Saturday 23rd June
11:00 Ireland 2 Scotland 1(Women)
Ireland won their second and final match in the tournament to remain unbeaten and allow them to take the trophy home with them. In much better conditions, allowing both sides to show off their skills, SCO held the early advantage but nothing came from a pc awarded after 3'. However it was soon IRE's turn to attack and Leah Ewart scored the opeing goal to put her team ahead. The lead was shortlived as just 5' later Fiona Bruce scored a great goal to draw level. The match was now developing into a midfield tustle with both sides making unforced errors.
With neither side managing to make any serious inroads into their opposition circle the second half began as the first with SCO making the running and the Irish defence holding firm. After 48' a green card and pc was awarded against Bethan Mann and the Irish captain, Brenda Flannery took the oportunity to regain the lead for her side. SCO realised that they had to push forward in search of their second equaliser and came close on a number of occasions, particulary when Jenny Morris played a great through ball to Sarah Robertson who just failed to get the vital touch required. The match finished with SCO still on the attack but it was IRE who took the honours as worthy Celtic Cup champions.
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13:00 Ireland 2 Scotland 0 (Men)
Following their female counterparts IRE men also won to take the trophy home with them in a very entertaining and hard fought game. A physical start ensued with bith sides looking to assert their dominace early on. SCO came close but IRE's 'keeper Stephen West did well to keep it out. Shortly after the roles were reversed with SCO's 'keeper Thomas O'Kelly making a good save to keep the scores level. Half way through the first period SCO were reduced to 10 men but IRE could not make the extra man advantage count during the 2' suspension. Duncan Riddell nearly opened SCO's account but his slide narrowly failed to make contact. IRE bounced back and just before halftime a shot rebounded off O'Kelly, straight to Owen Magee who cooly slotted a reverse shot home to give his side the lead.
SCO now came on the attack from the off and went close a number of times but the final touch seemed to elude them. Both teams traded attacks and again SCO came close but it was IRE who turned the screw when David Carson hit SCO on a counter attack with a well taken goal after 50'. A spate of yellow cards reduced both teams in the closing stages with SCO down to 9 men at one stage but a number of pc's from IRE failed to find the net. With no further goals IRE ran out winners to ensure both IRE's teams ended up as winners.
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Sunday 24th June
10:00 Wales 1 Scotland 0 (Women)
In their second match of the tournament WAL started as they meant to prove a point to their SCO rivals as they were immediately on the attack. SCO held out and countered with their own forrays into the oppostion circle but it was proving to be a match of strong defences. Halfway through the first period a string of quick passes enabled WAL's Phoebe Richards to turn and slot the ball home to give the hosts a deserved lead. A string of WAL pc's finished with a miss trap and SCO nearly turned the error into their own advantage but yet again some strong defence held them at bay.
The second half opened with some WAL attacks but some robust tackling by the SCO kept the score down to the slender deficit. As the game progressed it was SCO who upped the pressure with only very occasional forays by WAL into the opposition circle. A number of green cards were awarded to players of both sides as they looked for the vital goal and the match bacame more and more frenetic as the final whistle came ever closer. Jo Westwood made some strong tackles in the heart of the WAL defence to keep her side ahead and it was a welcome relief when the match finished to leave WAL with an important victory and 2nd place in the tournament.
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12:00 Wales 2 Scotland 4 (Men)
Despite a sterling late fight back from WAL, their northern conterparts won 4-2 to clinch second place in a fast and furious encounter. In an end to end encounter Rhys Gowman was the first WAL player to shoot on goal but his strike was well saved by the SCO goalkeeper Craig Wallace. Errors from the two teams ensured the match kept the decent sized crowd entertained and WAL almost took the lead when SCO were reduced to 10 players but Wallace was equal to the task. Robert Trem also came close but it was SCO who went ahead when Matthew Connor skillfully dribbled into the circle and sent his shot crashing into the net. Straight from the restart SCO almost doubled their advantage but the shot went just wide.
Within 4' of the restart SCO scored again from a pc through Fraser Sands. WAL intensified their attacks and Mike Shaw's strike went just wide. WAL wasted a number of pc's before Sands doubled his own tally through another pc to give SCO a 3-0 lead. WAL got onto the scoreboard through a Stephen Kelly goal before Gareth Furlong narrowed the advantage to a single goal when converting a pc with 3' left. SCO were not to be caught and in the final seconds a two on one with the goalkeeper enabled Matthew Connor to score his second and SCO's 4th to leave them in 2nd place in the tournament.
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The officials appointed to the tournament are:
TD: Harold Stecklebruck (GER)
EHF Judges: Stefano Bresciani (ITA), Margaret McLoughlin (ENG)
Local Judges: Peter Ganesh & Chloe Guy
EHF UM: Karen Evans (WAL)
EHF Umpires: Clare Adenot (FRA), Paul Walker (ENG)
National Umpires: Ian Diamond (SCO), Gillian Garrett (IRL), Jon McCall (WAL), Simon O'Connor (IRL), Catherine Oultram (WAL), Kerri Targett (SCO)