Mike Heskin joins Board of Avoca Hockey Club

I am delighted to announce that Mike Heskin has been co-opted to the Board of the Club. We look forward to benefiting from Mike’s deep experience in Leadership positions across a range of Sports helping guide the future of your Club.

Mike Heskin

Mike Heskin, although not a hockey player himself,  comes from a hockey family. Mike’s wife Ger (Lupton) and two daughters have played for Connacht, his son currently plays in the UK and his mother played for Connacht and Ireland in the 1950s. Angela Lupton his mother-in-law was a past President of The Irish Ladies Hockey Association.

Mike served on the Board of both The Irish Hockey Association and Hockey Ireland. In 2012 Mike was appointed the CEO of the Irish Hockey Association. During his term the governing body of Irish Hockey was incorporated and became Hockey Ireland, a national league was established (the EY League) and Irish Hockey gain it first ever Olympic qualification. (Rio Olympics).

Mike’s main sport is rowing where as an athlete he has won national titles and rowed for Ireland. As a coach he has won multiple national titles and coaches Ireland to European and World Championship level. He was the High-Performance Manager for the Beijing Olympics. He has serves three terms as a Board member of Rowing Ireland.

Mike has just retired as the Director of Sports at the University of Galway and is a current member of the Sport Ireland High Performance Committee.

He attended St Joseph’s College Galway, and Blackrock College Dublin. Mike holds a BSc (Hons) in Surveying from Trinity.

Yours in Sport
Dennis O’Connor
Avoca Hockey Club Clg

Avoca’s Xmas Mixed 7s

Avoca Hockey Club – Fundraising Mission: We need your help. 

Who we are

We are a group of parents and players who have volunteered to help with fundraising activities which are necessary for the club’s continued growth and development ambitions.  Some of us were introduced to the club because our own children were playing and now we’ve joined ourselves and want to give something back to this fantastic club. 

Our goal

You will be aware that there has been extensive development to our main pitch site in Newpark – new pitch and fences, new netting, and a host of infrastructure improvements to carry us through another couple of decades. It’s looking and playing great. We have started to plan the next phase with LED lighting and enhanced meeting, storage and spectator areas in our sights. 

We are also in constant dialogue with our other partner pitch sites about future plans on site improvements. 

We want to ensure that we can offer players and families the enjoyment of improved facilities into the future – in line with the growth of our sport. 

We have ambitions to prudently continue to increase our membership numbers within Avoca – we have recently expanded the numbers in each age group, added Hockey ID (free for people with intellectual disabilities), walking hockey for those who prefer a slower pace as well as social and open play evenings each week.

We are passionate about promoting more involvement and growing community spirit across the various team groups and age cohorts.  We believe that the funding raising activities we are planning will help with this and make for plenty of fun!

Our ask of you 

We are finalising our ideas for various events and funding activities over the coming year, which we believe will benefit the club and its members greatly. 

The club is essentially run by great parents, players and coaches – people like you who can bring something great to help. 

To enable the fundraising activities that we are planning we are reaching out to our full club community for support. This is a heads up that we will need your help for volunteering and should you or your business be in a position to donate prizes/ sponsorship to support the various endeavours we are planning (no matter how big or small), we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact us on clubsecretary@avocahockeyclub.ie

The first fundraising campaign will be a Family & Friends Fundraising Blitz on December 28th in Newpark with a 1/3 of the proceeds also going to Dublin Simon Community followed by a social event in the Wishing Well. No hockey experience is required so bring your family & friends… 

More details to follow.

Warm regards,

Bernie, Frances, Marie Therese, Lauren 

Sign up here

Walking Hockey

Starting on Thursday 26th October

Walking Hockey – Fun sport for the over 60s.

Avoca Hockey Club is delighted to announce the introduction of ‘Walking Hockey’. This is a safe fun format of the game that lets those slightly older players get out and play some sport, as well as being a great way to meet and socialise.

Sessions will be weekly, in Sion Hill Secondary School on Thursday evenings at 8:30pm – for one hour.

Don’t let the name fool you, this is hockey with just a few restrictions that do nothing to reduce the fun and competitiveness of a game. When was the last time you did run on a hockey pitch!

Walking versions of all sports are popping up here and there – and with good reason – they offer everything participants want in sport “activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment”.

You play Hockey, walking, not running. It’s designed to help people keep an active lifestyle regardless of age, health, and ability. Whether you’re new to the sport, just not played for a while or had to stop due to injuries or other reasons, Walking Hockey allows you to pick up a stick in a fun and relaxed environment with like-minded people.

“The rules are the appropriate rules of 11-a-side field hockey except for the following…”

All players are restricted to walking, meaning that when in motion at least one foot must be always touching the pitch.

· The ball must stay below knee height.

· The stick must remain below waist height.

· Only pushing or slapping of the ball is allowed.

· No physical contact.

The playing area will be on a ¼ pitch (23m wide by 27.5m long). varied to meet the number of players or the available space.

Any goal that is approximately 8ft x 2ft x 2ft (2.44m x 0.61m x 0.61m) is acceptable.

Come and give it a try – I guarantee you will come back.

Declan Goulding

m: 0872 517161

e: declan@libirel.com

Signup information

To be insured you must pay just €10 to Hockey Ireland. Please do so here

If your comfortable with hockey just book your place now. Idea is to run it all season – weather and bodies permitting – so about 20 weeks to the end of March. For just €50. Bibs will be provided as part of the cost. Register here

ID Hockey Programme 2023/24: Avoca All Stars

After a successful pilot last year, we now have a season long programme for children and young adults (aged 10 and over) with Intellectual Disabilities (ID). The programme is mixed gender and free but participants must be registered with Hockey Ireland. https://hockey.ie/membership/ . Hockey sticks are provided but players must bring a gum shield and shin guards. Training sessions are on Mondays at 6 pm in Newpark. You can join the Avoca All Stars for 23/24 Season here https://avocahockeyclub.ie/membership/ If you would like to know more email Patrica Martin pjcimartin@hotmail.com .

2023/24 Season Welcome Message from the Club President 

The 2023/24 season is upon us, so I thought that this would be a good time to introduce myself, let you know what has been happening over the summer and share some thoughts on the future. 

Like many of you, I got introduced to Hockey (over a decade ago) when my eldest daughter joined the youth section. (I now have 3 daughters playing – Aela, Tess and Millie). Turned out that I was one of those parents that stayed at every training session and found myself getting interested in both the sport, the club and its great people- slowly but surely, I got more and more involved. 

I’ve had numerous roles in the club and have helped design the strategy that has brought us to where we are today. Avoca Hockey Club has become a passion. 

Avoca Hockey Club has a rich history and more importantly, huge potential. Over the last few years, we have focussed on structure, culture and growth – we will now focus on getting stronger, developing our product and embracing our members. 

The club leadership team never stop working and what you may not know is that the beginning and end of the summer are the busiest parts, where we close out one season and organise ourselves for the next. This year was exceptional, with the significant upgrade in Newpark: replacing the pitch surface and replacing and upgrading the fencing. This is being led by Ben Geoghegan and Ian Keogh. We have also completed a brand refresh process and launched a whole new kit design. The magic of the redesign was that it was driven by our members with almost 60% of the club getting involved and sharing their views. 

The key theme, or mission, of Avoca HCs current strategy is to be Irelands Premier ‘Hockey for All’ Club. This meant expanding the mindset from a focus on performance primarily, to providing hockey for all levels of ability and to offer an avenue into our sport to as wide a spectrum of the local community as possible. To this end we now have 6 Senior Teams in both Men and Women’s, 3 Women’s Vets and 1 men’s masters, social hockey for parents, u18s Hockey and Hockey ID for people with disabilities. We are now planning the introduction of Walking Hockey for the over 65s. This is all on top of our burgeoning youth section and the Give Hockey a Go! Campaigns. Mix in the summer Hockey club offerings for adults and the camps and we have the whole year covered – no downtime in this club!

So..onto the future. I’ll be working with the Club Team and our members to define what our strategy will be for the next 5 years and endeavouring to ensure that the club is set up to maintain its current success. 

Our 2 top teams successfully maintained their national status and retained their positions in the EY2 (IHL DIVISION 2) leagues, with a core focus of maintaining that position and driving higher over time. Key to this is enhancing the coaching team. Graham Shaw will continue his Elite Performance Director role for the coming season and will continue to work with both Trevor Dagg and Noelle Farrell, who are both working hard to strengthen their sides. I will be focussing on our coaching and player development models over my term. 

We also continue to increase our youth success at representational level in both Ireland and Leinster – the successful attainment of national status helps us strengthen these players as we work hard, build from within and push up. 

On the senior side we attracted a huge number of new players last season and expect to do the same this year. The level of interest took us a little by surprise. Feedback indicates that we have a very special vibe in this club – we have a very friendly, warm and supportive culture – you are welcomed with open arms and supported no matter your level of ability. Our social scene is also attractive – and we’ll be doing more in this space. 

Our youth section is thriving, and we have doubled our young players over the last 5 years through expanding our pitch footprint to include St Andrews and increasing the numbers in each age group. So that’s 5 pitches in use every Sunday. The u18s girls both got to their finals last year with the As taking gold. 42 have signed up for it this year so far. A huge success and something Avoca fought hard for within Leinster. 

A big one for us was all of our 6th class teams reaching semi-finals last year with a couple going on to take gold – this means that we are getting the team balancing and league level entry right – which makes for happy kids!

The boys section is at record levels with the u16s taking gold last season. We want more boys – so get your brothers, sons and friends involved!! It’s a brilliant sport. 

I want to talk about what we need from you, our members, players and families. Our club has grown, and, with our new Vice President Bernadette Keogh, I will be focussing on 2 areas that require some hard work- fundraising and volunteers. To continue delivering a quality experience and improving your Club we need all the support that we can get. Over the last while we have attracted some sponsorship, you will see an increasing number of pitch signs etc. This is one key part to funding our club and offering a quality product to our ~1200 players. We have purposefully held off on fundraising but will be getting into it in a big way over the next year – more on how you can help soon. 

We will also be looking at enhancing our approach to volunteering. We want to get families more involved in club life and get more people involved in coaching kids…. And yes, you’ll be supported and coached too – many parents are nervous and feel they can’t help because they don’t have a hockey background …. Neither did I! 

While we get all this in place, feel free to reach out and help in any way you can. Simply talk to someone in the club. 

Nearly done. 

I’d like to just mention the new club leadership team, the great people who make it all happen:

New Vice President Bernadette Keogh – New, Parent, took up hockey again after many years. 
Treasurer: Celine Furey. Parent – not a hockey player. 
Club Development Leo Sex; parent, player 
Head of Youth Hockey: Chris Stewart – Player, Coach 
Men’s Captain: Andrew Ramsey – player
Women’s Captain’s: Molly Cole and Jess Whelan – player/coaches 
Primary Girls Chair: Mait O’Faolain Parent and new to hockey player
Secondary Girls Chair: Niamh Kennedy Parent player
Boy’s Chairs: Belinda Crous – parent and player and Nathalie Carroll – parent 
Al Robinson- Secretary- Parent and Hockey all rounder

We also have an excellent board of directors, chaired by Dennis O’Connor. 

One exciting event that is being planned is our Newpark Pitch opening extravaganza. We plan to get the whole club involved! Keep an eye out for news on this soon. 

I am excited for this season and really looking forward to working with the team, the coaches, the volunteers and I hope to meet as many of you as possible over the year. 

So on behalf of the Club Team and the Board, please have a great season.


Paul Cronin

Pitch Update 2

We’re making good progress on the pitch project in conjunction with Newpark School. It was important we didn’t impact the leaving and junior cert exams so the project went into full swing early July.

Since then the majority of the fencing has now been removed for repair and upgrading.

The old carpet has been taken up and ready for removal with some of the cuttings being taken by members so they can practise at home in the garden!

The new pitch has been manufactured and is due to arrive next week which is very exciting! The contractor is currently preparing the surrounds and underlay in preparation for the new pitch to be laid this month!

We’ve also moved the blue container to help improve the viewing area on the left hand side as you walk into the pitch grounds.

We’ll be keeping everyone posted later this month and promise to post some more pictures when the new pitch goes down!

Ayeisha McFerran

A great suggestion for your summer reading! Great Irish Sports Stars: Ayeisha McFerran has been selected as part of The Summer Reading Challenge 2023 which aims to encourage children aged 4 to 11 to enjoy the benefits of reading for pleasure.

The inspirational story of Ayeisha McFerran: Olympian, Hockey World Cup Goalkeeper of the Tournament, Winner of Four All American Awards

Growing up in Larne in County Antrim, Ayeisha was fearless. If she wasn’t climbing trees, she was playing soccer, Irish dancing or throwing the javelin. When Ayeisha discovered hockey, she was hooked.

This is the inspirational story of one of the best hockey goalkeepers in the world.

Available from all good bookshops and The O’Brien Press!

Find out more details and how to get involved in the Summer Reading Challenge 2023

Pitch Update

We are really excited to see the installation of our new high performance hockey playing surface at Newpark School start this month! There was a comprehensive research and tendering process, headed up by long standing member and past first team player Ian Keogh, with the support of outgoing club President Ben Geoghegan and project team. “Edel Grass” has been chosen as the surface of choice and we will be installing their premium and highest spec surface called “Edel ID”; special thanks to all the clubs we spoke to while doing our research – your insights and experience were invaluable.

Why is this good for players?
The “Edel ID System 15” surface is designed for the best players which everyone can enjoy! Players should look forward to a very quick pitch with outstanding playing characteristics such as being highly consistent with straight ball roll and bounce. We are also completely replacing the underlay and shockpad so the pitch should be soft and promote much greater 3D skills. The surface will be extremely dense which will add to the feel of the ball and not take the skin off fingers like some other pitches! An interesting fact is there will be more yarn in this pitch than any other laid in Ireland at 1.5 million filaments per square metre. It has a double backing to make it strong and long lasting.

For more information on the Edel ID pitch go here.

Why Edel Grass
Edel Grass has over 30 years of experience designing high quality surface systems for sports and leisure. They are a preferred producer of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and continuously work with hockey professionals, coaches and top players to design the best pitches. Their core focus is around performance, durability and sustainability which aligned to our goals and requirements.

What colour will the pitch be?
The surface will be an “Olive Green” with a lighter “Summer Green” surround. There was a lot of debate about switching to blue however we had concerns how this might impact the residents that overlook the pitch and the potential of objections that could delay the project. It was agreed to keep the traditional green with the contrast of the surround to give players and spectators the best experience possible.

Who else uses this type of pitch?
This will be the only type of Edel pitch in Ireland! There are numerous installations at top clubs across Europe but probably the closet example would be Surbiton Hockey Club who recently laid two Edel pitches and recently hosted the England Hockey Premier Division finals.

Other great hockey clubs include: Wimbledon HC (England), TSV Mannheim (Germany), GHNC Haren (Belgium), Rotterdam HC, Kampong, Bloemendaal and Orange Rood (Holland), CD Terrassa and Real Club de Barcelona (Spain), and now Avoca HC!

Here are some pictures of the Rotterdam pitch:

Huge Thanks
Newpark School have been our very supportive partners as always in this redevelopment project and we hope more can be done in the future. Huge thanks to Headmaster Eoin Norton, Deputy Principle Andrew Adams, the board and everyone involved from the school.

Pitch updates!
Our plan is to post updates and pictures over the summer so you can see how the project is going! Once the junior and leaving certificate exams are over in June (and best of luck to all our younger members involved with that) our installation contractor will get started. The plan is to have the new pitch in place by the end of August and although this will slightly impact pre-season preparations, it will give players something really special to look forward to!