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2017 Celtic Cup Cork, Ireland 28-30 April 2016

Scotland GM 7 (Morrison, A. Robertson (3), Sturrock, Onn, A. Hay) France GM 0

Glenn Paton in action against France in Cork 2017Scotland Over 60s opened their tournament at 5 p.m. on Friday 29 April against a French side which had held them to 2-0 in the 2016 Celtic Cup. The French team was a pale shadow of the team they had fielded at home, though they began confidently, fighting for every ball and upsetting the rhythm of the Scots. Scotland had the bulk of the play, though it tended to be mostly through the middle, where the French defence was at its strongest. The breakthrough came in the 13th minute when Bernie Morrison bundled the ball over the line for the opening goal for Scotland. A minute later, the French were two down thanks to a goal from Arthur Robertson. The same player scored the only goal of the second quarter, from a penalty corner after 33 minutes, and four minutes after half time he scored his third with a sweet shot across the goalkeeper from the left into the corner of the French net. The French held out, even mounting several attacks, from one of which keeper Chris Taylor made a good save. Further goals from Niall Sturrock in 60 minutes, Danny Onn in 63 minutes and Ali Hay in the dying minutes put the game to bed for Scotland. They had not been at their best but still managed to put seven goals past the French.

action photographs (raw list of files)

Peter Robertson in action against Wales in Cork

Wales GGM 0 Scotland GGM 0

In the second round of matches on the Friday evening, Scotland Over 65s took on their old rivals and current holders of the GGM Celtic Cup, Wales. It was, as usual, a close-fought encounter on which both teams had their chances, a mixture of poor finishing and good goalkeeping preventing Scotland from claiming the points, while Wales never seriously troubled Chris Kalman in the Scottish goal in spite of looking the sharper team on the attack. Scotland played some good, passing hockey aroind the back, working the ball well out of defence, but with three forward players high up the park, the midfield struggled to overcome their opponents who outnumbered them. Peter Robertson put two good chances past the post in the first half and the Welsh keeper had two important saves in the last five minutes, in a period in which Scotland totally dominated. In the end, a draw was probably a fair refection of the play - it finished 0-0 with nothing resolved.

 

Ireland GGM 2 Scotland GGM 1 (P. Robertson Pen.)

Peter Robertson scores a penalty against Ireland

Scotland Great Grand Masters started the second day with a match against hosts Ireland, whom they had narrowly beaten 1-0 in Lille in 2016. The match was fairly even, with Ireland shading possession, until Scotland were awarded a penalty which was decisively put away by Peter Robertson to put the Scots in the driving seat. The Scots were more in the match for the remainder of the half, which ended 1-0 for Scotland. Ireland came out in the second half a changed team, taking the game to Scotland, who retreated farther and farther back and found it impossible to move the ball out of defence. Irish pressure finally told when they scored from a penalty corner. The hosts continued to dominate but the resolute Scottish defence held them out into the final quarter. Eventually the winner arrived for Ireland and, though Scotland created a couple of chances in the dying minutes, the home side triumphed 2-1, while Scotland need a high score against France in their last match and an Irish victory against Wales to finish second in the Grand Masters Celtic Cup.

 

Wales SGM 0 Scotland SGM 1 (Morrice)

Finnbarr Kelleher, President of Munster Hockey, presents Captain Kieran McLernan with the Senior Grand Masters Medals for the Scotland team

Scotland's Over 70 team had its first ever outing in the tournament against Wales, seven of the Scotland squad having taken part as Over 60 players in the first ever Celtic Cup in Aberdeen in 2007, against the same opposition. Wales fielded five representatives from their 2007 squad in the 2017 Senior Grand Masters squad. Sadly, both countries had lost two players: Guy Leighton and Rab Keddie for Scotland, and Keith Davies and Mike Scrutton for Wales. Scotland had a dream start in the opening minutes when Colin Tucker took the ball along the bye line on the left and cut it back for Norrie Springford to slip to Doug Morrice, who put the ball past Glyn Thomas. Scotland did not sit on their lead but continued to press the Welsh with an excellent display of passing hockey. Every member of the team contributed to a fine performance in which the ball was passed around the defence and into the midfield, where it was then passed on to the forwards leading off toward the ball carrier. In the dying seconds of the half, Scotland had a great chance to put clear water between them and their opponents when a shot from a short corner was stopped by a Welsh foot on the line and, after some discussion between the umpires, a penalty flick was awarded. Unfortunately Kieran McLernan's unconvincing effort was saved by Glyn Thomas in the Welsh goal and the half ended 1-0 to Scotland. The second half was more of the same but Glyn Thomas, who had an outstanding game, was equal to all the Scottish attempts on goal. Wales stepped up their efforts in the last few minutes, putting an extra man up front in an attempt to save the match, but the Scottish defence capably held them off to see out the game. Scotland's 1-0 win earned them the Over 70 Celtic Cup and the return match on the final day will be played as a friendly.

Wales GM 0 Scotland GM 5 (A. Hay, Johnstone, Paton, Taylor 2)

The second day concluded with a match between Scotland Over 60s and a Welsh side they had convincingly beaten 8-0 in Lille in 2016. Scotland took an early lead through Ali Hay and shortly after scored a second through Derek Johnstone from the left, and the early cushion encouraged them to play some sparkling hockey. Glenn Paton made it 3-0 from a short corner before half time and two goals from Billy Taylor put the seal on a really impressive performance in which the Scottish midfield looked particularly strong, though everyone including substitutes contributed to a very good team performance. Wales had upped their game in the second half and forced Chris Taylor in the Scottish goal into making a great save, while Scotland defenders twice cleared the ball off the line with the goalkeeper stranded, the second being a miraculous recovery by Ian McCreath reaching backwards and hooking the net-bound ball clear on his reverse stick. Scotland's 5-0 win leaves them with a great chance of retaining the Grand Masters Celtic Cup, with only Ireland standing in their way in the final and deciding match of the tournament.

Scotland GGM 2 (Parker, Gordon) France GGM 1

Scotland Over 65s finished their tournament with a match against the French, whom they had beaten 7-0 in the 2016 Celtic Cup. This was a much closer affair, though Scotland had the bulk of the possession. The French were well organised and difficult to break down, and had a number of very good players who were able to work the ball out of defence. Scotland manufactured a good number of chances but a combination of stout defending and a great display in goals by the French keeper kept them at bay. Finally, Alan Parker got his stick to a looping ball and hooked it over the line to put Scotland ahead. Scotland continued to press for more goals in the hope of a favourable result in the match on the other pitch between Ireland and Wales but they met a set back when a quick French break led to their scoring their first and only goal of the tournament. More fruitless Scottish pressure ensued before Peter Gordon finally found the net to put Scotland 2-1 up. There were no more goals and Scotland had recorded one win, one draw and one defeat. The result of the Ireland-Wales match had gone against them, the Irish going down 1-0 to leave them in second place behind Wales, with Scotland third.

Scotland SGM 2 (Crichton, Morrice) Wales SGM 1 (Day)

With no other country able to raise an Over 70 team, Scotland and Wales battled it out again on Sunday 30 April in a friendly international, Wales fielding a number of underage players to bolster their depleted squad. Scotland found this opposition more taxing than the international team of a bare 11 players, the Welsh side proving much more difficult to break down. However they still dominated the match and took the lead through a short corner goal by Roy Crichton, for the first time taking a direct shot rather than switching the ball. The game progressed with Scotland in control but not exerting a great deal of pressure on the Welsh defence, and Wales sprang a surprise by taking advantage of a Scottish mistake when a midfielder was caught in possession on the Scottish 23. The Scottish full backs slower to react than the Welsh forwards, who found themselve 2 on 1 on Scotland sweeper Ian Downie. Martin Day converted the pass from Ian Phillips to put Wales level. Scotland summoned up their reserves of energy and upped their game, but still found it difficult to break down a resolute Welsh defence. Finally, Roy Crichton had a great run down the inside left channel and passed the ball across the goal where Doug Morrice was waiting, unmarked, on the right hand post to stick the ball away and restore Scotland's lead. The match, played only for pride, finished 2-1 in favour of Scotland.

Ireland GM 1 Scotland GM 0

Hosts Ireland, who had gone down 2-0 in 2016, were looking for revenge against Scotland Over 60s in the final round of matches in the tournament. The match was fairly even in the opening minutes, Scotland having more of the possession but Ireland harrying and pressing them at every turn, making it difficult for Scotland to put together the fluent passing hockey they had played in their previous match. The only goal of the match came when Scotland failed to clear the ball after breaking up an Irish attack and the Irish took full advantage to find the back of the Scottish net. The rest of the match was played almost exclusively in the Irish half, with Scotland pressing and Ireland resisting. The destination of the Celtic Cup rested on one crucial moment in the match, when the umpire blew for a long corner a fraction of a second before Scotland put the ball into the net from a short corner which had been deflected off a French stick. It appeared that he had assumed that the ball was going wide and blew too early, but he was unwilling to award a goal and instead gave another short corner to Scotland, another puzzling decision with no justification in the rules. A draw would have been enough to give the cup to Scotland on goal difference, but it was not to be. The ability and close control of the Irish defenders was impressive, and if they were beaten, the keeper was always able to save or deflect the ball past. Scotland were guilty of forcing the play too much, their efforts becoming more and more frantic as the match wore on. They could and probably should have won, and if they had been able to convert any of the numerous short corners they won, the bizarre umpiring decision would have had no bearing on the result. The match ended with unrelenting but ultimately fruitless Scottish pressure and Ireland's 1-0 earned them first place and the 2017 Grand Masters Celtic Cup.

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