Ireland's hockey unions amalgamate


Hockey: After 107 years the men and women of Irish hockey will run the sport jointly from tomorrow following the merger of their respective unions to form the Irish Hockey Association, writes Mary Hannigan. The amalgamation takes place as a result of an edict issued by the Federation of International Hockey (FIH) two years ago which ruled that in each of their 128 affiliated countries the sport must be represented by just one organisation - Ireland and India are the last to act on the edict.

Tomorrow afternoon's inaugural meeting of the Irish Hockey Association, which follows the final meetings of the Irish Ladies Hockey Union and the Irish Hockey Union in the morning, takes place at the Mount Herbert hotel (2.30 p.m.) and will see the election of the new officers and council of the association as well as the adoption of the new rules and constitution. Any current member of a club or school affiliated to either union is welcome to attend.

The world's first men's hockey international match was Wales v Ireland at Rhyl in January 1895 and in the Celtic Cup tournament at Belfield this weekend, Ireland will play Wales tomorrow in the IHU's last international. Scotland provide the opposition on Sunday.

Of the 18-man Irish squad which participated in the European Championship in Padua last September, 13 remain in action and are joined in the 16-player panel by Kyle Thompson, David Smyth and Justin Sherriff.

Ireland (v Wales, tomorrow, 4.0, v Scotland, Sunday, 2.0) - N Henderson (Pembroke Wanderers), K Thompson (Banbridge); J Black (Harlequins), P Brown (Instonians), S Butler (Glenanne), N Buttimer (Cork C of I), A Dowd (Lisnagarvey), G Goulet (Avoca), C Jackson (Annadale), E Lutton (Newry Olympic), D McAnulty (Banbridge), M Raphael (Lisnagarvey), J Sherriff (Pembroke Wanderers), D Smyth (Annadale), I Steen (Newry Olympic), J Stevenson (Lisnagarvey). Coach: J Clarke. Manager: D Larmour.

Shamrocks (Ireland under-21s, v Scotland, tomorrow, 2.0, v Wales, Sunday, 12.0) - M Ruddle (Cork C of I), N Slane (Queen's Univ); I Allen (Monkstown), C Bailey (Avoca), R Beere (Monkstown), M Black (Cork C of I), J Bloomfield (Lisnagarvey), C Brady (Avoca), K Burns (Cork C of I), A Chambers (Cork C of I), A Giles (Pembroke Wanderers), M Harte (Dublin Univ), A Kershaw (Pembroke Wanderers), G McKee (Annadale), P Smith (Cork C of I), S Symmington (NICS); coach: G Blackwood; manager: W Haslett.

Rowing: There is no shortage of domestic action this weekend, with two regattas in Co Cork and the Belfast Sprints on the Lagan, writes Liam Gorman.

The Cork City regatta at Inniscarra tomorrow will give crews one of the few chances to row competitively over a straight 2,000metre course before the National Championships at the same venue in July. The Leander trophy for men's senior eights should be one of the highlights of the day, with Garda probably deserving to be favourites against NUIG, Tribesmen and St Michael's. In the women's senior three eights both Muckross and NUIG put out two crews to face UCC.

At the other end of the country tomorrow, the Belfast Sprints will be over a much shorter distance and features junior crews. However, the programme of 108 races - an increase from less than 100 last year - features a man who plans to both scull and row and wouldn't quite be a junior, 37-yearold John Armstrong.

Fermoy on Sunday also has a big junior contingent in the entry; 130 races are scheduled, from 8.30 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Email:

Cricket: Ireland's second one-day match against the MCC had to be abandoned because of rain at Eglinton yesterday. After a long rain stoppage when the MCC had scored 56 for 2 off 16.3 overs, the game was reduced from 40 to 28 overs, and just 22 had been bowled when another downpour resulted in a premature finish, writes Karl Johnston.

Before that, former Ireland captain Stephen Warke had top-scored with 26 before being run out, while Gordon Cooke, Adrian McCoubrey, Paul Mooney and Kyle McCallan picked up a wicket apiece.

Meanwhile, Alan Rutherford (33), the former Ireland wicketkeeper, announced his retirement from international cricket yesterday. Rutherford, who now plays for the North West club Bready, made 40 international appearances between 1989 and 1999.

Boxing: A browse through the honours list of national junior boxing champions (under-18) is one way to find out who's who in Irish amateur boxing. The notables are imposing, from Belfast's Wayne McCullough to Cork's Michael Roche, Ireland's lone Olympic representative for the Sydney Olympics. Twelve more champions will be added to the list at the National Stadium tonight. Belfast welter Ger McAuley will be trying to emulate Wayne McCullough by winning successive titles but in Sligo's Paddy Ward of Guteen he faces an extremely formidable opponent.

Strongly fancied finalists are Ken Egan of Neilstown, Coleman Barrett, a brother of Olympian Francie, John Clancy of St Michael's, Athy and Cormac O Conaire (Bay City). The Roscommon club Loughglynn will be seeking a double through middle Henry O'Connor and light-heavy Brian Ferry.

Cricket: India's coach and former captain Kapil Dev yesterday dismissed as "baseless and malicious" fresh claims by his onetime team-mate Manoj Prabhakar that he had been guilty of match-fixing.

In a robust statement, Dev said there was "no truth whatsoever" in the allegation made by Prabhakar two days ago that he had offered him a bribe to "underperform" in a match against Pakistan in 1994.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Prabhakar graphically described how Dev allegedly offered him a stg£35,000 bribe during the Singer Cup in Sri Lanka six years ago. The former all-rounder claimed five other Indian players knew about the approach. Prabhakar first revealed three years ago he had been offered a bribe by a teammate, but had refused to identify him.

Prashant Vaidya, a former Indian cricketer who was one of the five, yesterday said he was baffled by Prabhakar's allegations. "I am shocked and surprised to be drawn into the controversy, about which I have no idea," he said. Ajit Wadekar, the team's coach at the time refused to confirm or deny whether he knew about the offer.

Prabhakar's claims are unlikely to prevent Dev from travelling with the squad in three days' time to Dhaka for the Asia Cup, which begins on Sunday.