While storm Atiyah was battering the West Coast last Sunday, Abbeyleix U-16 girl’s hockey team were creating their own storm in winning the WL Hockey playoffs in Wilson Hospital School.
Wilson’s newly laid hockey pitch with its fast surface suited the Abbeyleix girls’ style and skills in playing fast free flowing hockey.
Having come through the East section of qualifiers that included Wexford, Carlow and Newbridge, Abbeyleix faced up to Mullingar and Tullamore in a double round robin format with each team playing each other twice.
Mae Looney had the Abbeyleix girls on the scoreboard early against Tullamore, being perfectly positioned at far post, and six further goals flowed in the four matches they played, with some strikes from Emily Brain, Tori Byrne and Aine Duggan, and the pick of them from an Alana Brennan strike in last match against Mullingar.
But it was not all about the attach as Ava Shirley playing in sweeper role had her fellow defenders of Lauren Mullaly, Niamh O’Sullivan and Laura Vesey working together as a strong defensive unit.
Behind them any nerves that Sarah Talbot (having only started as goalkeeper recently) had, were quickly dispelled as she made some fine saves and kept a clean sheet throughout morning.
Evanna Freeman and Camilla Black in midfield created some great link up play between defence and attack. MVP award for the morning went to Captain Tori Byrne.
Big thanks to Wilson Hospital School and Mullingar for their hospitality throughout the morning and thankfully threatened rain only materialized at end of last game.
The team and supporters were further feted at the Belvedere House Team rooms with lunch compliments of CaToCa.
Team: Sarah Talbot, Niamh O Sullivan, Ava Shirley, Lauren Mullaly, Laura Vesey, Alana Brennan, Emily Brain, Camilla Black, Evanna Freeman, Tori Byrne, Mae Looney, Aine Duggan, Orlaith McCorry (unavoidably missing on the day).
Management: Team Coach Jonathon Walsh and backroom group of Mary, Daniel, Rachel, Caoimhe, Garry and Ann.
The win is a great boost for Abbeyleix hockey, who have been performing very well at WL blitzes in first half of season at U-8, U-10, U-12 for boys and girls and the U-14 in the Extreme 8 matches.
The overall success so far this season is no doubt helped greatly by the pre-Season Camp in August (supported by Laois Sports Partnership) which had players and coaches ready for new Season.
With the continued success of Portlaoise ladies’ team and the work being done in Dunamase College, hockey is going from strength to strength in Laois.
Ireland Ladies team exploits in qualifying for 2020 Olympics has generated huge interest in the sport. Mums and Dads and Others (MDO) is an initiative in the club for 2020 in getting parents playing hockey.
Abbeyleix Junior Hockey club complete 2019 with their annual fundraiser with a Coffee Morning and Raffle after training in Fr Breen park on Sunday December 15 at 10am. Some fabulous prizes to be won. New members always welcome.