Butler hat-trick seals victory


HOCKEY:A Stephen Butler hat-trick last night brought his tally for Ireland to 64 goals from 110 international matches. The Dubliner converted three short corners against Canada in Ireland's first match of the Setanta Cup at Belfield as they ran out 3-2 winners.

The home side started smartly and after 10 minutes were in front, Butler converting Ireland's first short corner with a direct flick for 1-0. But Canada are nothing if not abrasive and with key players, notably Robert Short (240 caps) and Ken Periera (234 caps), capable of turning a game they were far from down heartened and within seven minutes were level. Working the ball up the right a bobbling pass across the face of the goal was pounced on by Ravi Kahlon to make it 1-1.

Relying on goalkeeper Mark Ruddle to save a point-blank drive from 10 yards out, Ireland, although playing well, were fortunate not to be 2-1 down at the break. On resumption, the team lifted their game and on 45 minutes Butler flicked Ireland's second corner to goalkeeper Michael Mahood's right for his second goal.

Five minutes later it was 3-1, Butler again on target from Ireland's fourth penalty corner for 3-2 before a late penalty from Wayne Fernandez after a short corner found a foot on the line made from a fraught finish.

The result puts Ireland in a good position for the next match, against Egypt tomorrow at 7pm, before they meet Wales on Saturday in the final pool match.

In the women's opening match, Ireland played out a scoreless draw with South Africa. The first half was about Ireland sitting back half court and dealing with whatever South Africa brought. In that, two visiting players caused some trouble, although, not too much for a competent Irish defence to manage, Jill Orbinson marshalling those around her with authority.

Tarryn Bright and Shelly Russell, operating largely on the left side, made sporadic raids but the total was just two short corners from the first 35 minutes, the second drawing an excellent reaction save with the stick from Irish goalkeeper Mary Goode on 27 minutes. Territorially South Africa dominated but defensively Ireland were in control.

The second half was similar in complexion, South Africa generating a lot of control and possession between the two 25s but very short on serious penetrations to the Irish circle. Indeed the best chance fell Ireland's way on the hour. Nikki Symmons dribbled on to the crown of the circle as the defence tried to crowd her out. Off balance she managed a push shot with just the goalkeeper to beat. But Mariette Rix saved and the South Africans survived their biggest scare.

In the final 10 minutes the game opened up somewhat, but the 0-0 scoreline was in the end fair, Ireland content to have matched a team ranked, at 12, two places higher than them in the FIH world rankings.

WOMEN: Ireland 0, South Africa 0.

IRELAND: M Goode, E Harte, J Orbinson, C O'Brien, B McKeever, L Caulfield (capt), N Symmons, S McKay, C McKean, E Cregan, A Speers. Rolling subs: J McDonough, R Flinn, E Stewart, E Clarke.

SOUTH AFRICA: M Rix,K Hector, C Brown, M Marescia (capt), J Wilson, L George, V Ryan, H Du Buisson, L Marais, T Bright, S Bailey. Rolling subs: S Russell, L Deetlefs, K Taylor.

MEN: Ireland 3 (S Butler 3),

Canada 2 (R Kahlon, W Fernandez pen)

IRELAND: M Ruddle, P Brown (capt), J Black, I Lewers, T Lewis, D Hobbs, S Butler, G Shaw, E Magee, P Maguire, A Barbour. Rolling subs: K Burns, M Irwin, J Jermyn, M Black.

CANADA: M Mahood, A Wright, M Schole, K Pereira, W Fernandes, P Short, R Short (capt), S Sandison, C Grimes, P Wettlaufer, R Deol. Rolling subs: S Tupper, R Kahlon, S Singh.