Teams of the decade: Picking Cork's best female and male hockey players

Teams of the decade: Picking Cork's best female and male hockey players
Conor Harte celebrates scoring for Ireland at the Olympics. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

OVER the last decade we have seen the rise of Irish hockey from a slumber, with the senior men’s side qualifying for the Olympics and the women’s team winning silver medals at the World Championships in London.

Following on from that they have qualified for the Olympics in Tokyo, after a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Canada. In the reverse of that, the men lost out on qualifying in controversial circumstances against the same opposition.

Munster players have played their part in the success of Irish sides over the decade but plenty have also played their parts in national cup wins for their clubs.

In the past 10 years, Munster clubs have won the Irish Senior Cup, Junior Cup, Irish Hockey Trophy and Hockey Challenge Cup.

So picking a men’s and women’s team of the decade will have its fair share of international players, but also ones that have been stalwarts for their clubs.

Starting with the men’s side there has been a glut of quality keepers in Munster, from the likes of Wes Bateman to Billy Lynch to Ian Hosford. All have been outstanding for their clubs, with Bateman also capped for his country.

But when the World Keeper of the Year for two years in-a-row is from Cork then the Number 1 jersey has to go to David Harte.

In front of him, in one of the full-back spots is his twin brother, Conor, who both now play professionally on the continent.

The other full-back spot goes to Jason Black, a former international player and recognised as one of the top players to have ever played the game.

In the centre of the defence are Derek Hales and John Hobbs, two teak-tough defenders that not too much ever got past.

Hales probably never got the recognition outside of Munster he deserved, but ask anyone who played alongside him or against him and they will tell you just how good he was.

There are plenty others, like Karl Burns, Phil Smith and David Buttimer that could be considered as well and you wouldn’t weaken the defence in any way.

The midfield trio could be made up of 10-15 players, but David Hobbs and Mark Black are a definite two.

Black was made of steel and as a defensive midfielder they didn’t come any better.

Hobbs could change a game with one pass and rowed in with his fair share of goals as well.

Picture: Larry Cummins
Picture: Larry Cummins

To that midfield duo you could add John Jermyn, or just as easily you could put him in as centre-forward. But for this side he will be the third midfielder.

On the wings up front are Dave Eakins and Jonny Bruton and in the centre is David Lombard.

When picking the women’s team the name of Rachael Kohler is a certainty. Without doubt she is the top player in Munster over the last decade, captained her country and at one stage held the record as the most capped Irish player, male or female.

The midfield maestro always preferred to let her hockey do the talking and that she did with class.

Behind her the goalkeeping position goes to Emma Buckley, another playing abroad professionally at the moment.

In defence the likes of Cliodhna Sargent, Roisin Upton and Yvonne O’Byrne are all automatics.

Upton and O’Byrne in the full-back spots and joining Sargent in the centre is Jenifer Hales.

The other three are all senior internationals but Hales was a rock at the heart of Church of Ireland’s defence for years and helped guide them to Irish Hockey Trophy success on two occasions.

Others that could be named here are Elaine Bromwell, Joyce Kehilly, Liz Buttimer and Mel Ryan to name a few. Alongside Kohler in midfield are Hollie Moffett and Olivia Roycroft, again with plenty others unlucky to lose out.

Players like Grace Young, Rachel Hobbs, Vicky Burns, Johanna Hyland and Deirdre Casey.

Up front Karen Bateman (formerly O’Brien) leads the attack, the cry of OB, as she was known, was a regular occurrence for her club Harlequins and Ireland for many years.

As a young player you won’t get a better one to look up to and learn from than Karen.

Alongside her are Amy Roberts and Eimer Cregan, again two players who have simply been outstanding for their respective clubs, Church of Ireland and Catholic Institute for years and years.

Cregan also wore the green jersey for some time as well before knee problems ended her playing days.

MEN'S HOCKEY: David Harte, Jason Black, Conor Harte, John Hobbs, Derek Hales, David Hobbs, John Jermyn, Mark Black, Dave Eakins, David Lombard, Jonny Bruton.

WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Emma Buckley, Roisin Upton, Cliodhna Sargent, Jenifer Hales, Yvonne O’Byrne, Hollie Moffett, Rachael Kohler, Olivia Roycroft, Amy Roberts, Karen Bateman,Eimear Cregan.

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