Katie Galvin examines the changing face of ladies hockey in UCD, and previews the forthcoming season.
The new ladies hockey season has come around and brings with it unprecedented excitement as UCD take their place in the newly formed All Ireland League. The team had fought hard to gain a Wildcard place in the roster with a win at the end of season playoff hosted in Belfield.
Hockey in UCD is as diverse as the college itself with all teams competing in league competitions in various divisions of the Leinster League as well as the Leinster Cups and Colours Competition, with the firsts of course entering the All Ireland League for the first time this term.
The Irish Hockey League gathers the top twelve teams in the country to vie for the title of national champions, and the winners of this will go on to compete for the Champions League of hockey, and the opportunity to conquer Europe.
The Belfield side have been given a boost by the arrival of Mary Logue as the new coach. Logue, a former Irish Captain, has previously coached the Under 16 and Under 18 Ireland teams, and though this is her first stint as a coach at club level, the indications are that her presence will be key as UCD enter unchartered waters.
Despite the playoff success, last year was not laden with victories, with no league wins for our seven ladies’ teams. Those involved are hoping for a more successful season this time around in the wake of the change of change of coach and league.
The club will field six teams this season and for the most part, it has been an encouraging start. The Firsts kicked off their season with a disappointing draw against Loreto in Belfield.
The home side had most of the chances throughout the match, and were unlucky to finish with a 1-1 draw. That said, however, it was Loreto who went ahead first, Rachel Burke not equalising for the home side until three minutes from time.
Opportunities were still there for the hosts to outscore their opponents and the late equaliser was the least they deserved.
The Firsts next saw off a struggling Bray team. Bray had failed to win either of their first two matches, both times settling for a point.
The UCD goalscorers were on top form. The students deservedly picked up their first win of the season with Rachel Burke scoring her second goal in two games. Catriona McGlip and Fiona Bradish also added one each to secure three points for UCD in a 3-0 victory.
Competing in Division One the Ladies Firsts took on Trinity in the first colours battle of the 2008/2009 season on Wednesday, 15th October. The action really took place in the first half, when the teams could best be described as frenzied.
Through the turbulent half however, moments of magic shone. A stunning reverse shot by Irish international, Lisa Jacob opened the scoring, while Rosie Carrigan
The UCD Ladies team fought toto win a wild cardcard placplace in the All Ireland scored the second from a short corner. Trinity’s Katie O’Byrne pulled one back, but it was little consolation to her team, as UCD displayed a clearly superior style and game. The Firsts have thus far earned seven points from their three matches and may yet challenge for a top four finish this year. On the back of this good form in the build up to the IHL, UCD began their fight for the Irish Hockey League title against Hermes at home this weekend.
UCD conceded a 3-2 defeat to the Hermes side, with Fiona Bradish stealing back a goal in the last minute of play. Despite the defeat, the UCD side were encouraged by the performance, Hermes being one of the best teams in the league.
Despite the Firsts’ good start to the season, however, the club’s other sides will be less pleased with their own fortunes. The Seconds playing in division three have lost their first two matches of the season.
Although their first match against Avoca was a close game ending 3-2 to the opposition, their recent match against Three Rock ended 3-0. This left them in ninth place going into last weekend’s away game against Corinthians.
The Thirds finished the 2007/2008 in sixth place, a massive sixteen points behind league winners Our Lady’s. Ahead of last Saturday’s home game against North Kildare, however the Thirds were nicely placed in third. They took four points from their first two matches, beating Muckross 1-3 away and drawing with Navan 1-1 away.
A new season brings with it new hope, and many within the club are confident that this season will prove to be unprecedentedly successful. Carrying on the early season form the ladies have shown throughout the Irish Hockey League season will be key to proving they can compete on a national scale.