It is now one week until the Junior Interprovincial tournament which will take place at Three Rock Rovers Hockey Club, Rathfarnham, Dublin, Leinster on April 27-28 and Mid-Ulster will have a huge representation of the provincial side.
This year’s coaching team is a mixture of new and old faces with Richard McGaw, a player with Cookstown and coach of Rainey Ladies, returning as Head Coach, ably assisted by fellow Rainey coach Colin Barnes. Former Ulster Junior player, Fiona Lee of Ulster Elks, is now in the dugouts as Manager and Team Physio whilst Cookstown men Adam Henry and Ian Hughes bring their own experiences of goalkeeping for Ulster to the table as ‘keeper coaches.
The squad boasts strength in depth with majority of the squad playing their club hockey in Senior or Junior 1. This year’s squad are captained by the vastly experienced Louise Creighton who has played for Ulster at every underage level and is a stalwart of Randalstown Hockey Club. Her second in command is new cap and fellow defender Sophie McGovern of Ulster Elks. They will be joined by several club teams including sisters Catherine and Jayne McGrillen and Kerry Coulter who return to the Juniors fold again with Becci Grant also of Randalstown playing in her first Junior Interpros as is Rebecca Davidson of Ulster Elks with midfield maestro Lyndsay Neish starring again.
Lisnagarvey provide four of the team in returnees Sarah Colgan and Rose Montgomery and new Juniors players Laura Johnston and Caroline Reid, as do Cookstown Hockey Club. Representing the Reds are Gemma Todd and sisters Claire, Ruth and Gail Brown with the sublimely talented Christine Waide of Carrickfergus and new cap Ruth Dalton of Larne making up the squad of eighteen.
The Women’s Junior Interpros is contested between Ulster, Leinster, South East (a sub-division of Leinster), Munster and Connacht. With four games in two days it is a demanding schedule and the Ulster Women’s squad have been preparing hard over the past few weeks.
Ulster will be looking to avenge the devastating lost of the 2011 Interpros (the last Interpros to be held at this level due to last year’s Olympic qualifiers) where they lost to hosts Leinster in a winner-takes-all tie in the final game of the tournament. It was defeat that weighs heavy on the minds of all who played and with a large returning contingent from that class of 2011 it will act as motivation heading into this year’s tournament. If that wasn’t motivation enough if Ulster were to win the Junior Interprovincial title it would make a clean-sweep of Women’s titles heading to the Northern province at all age levels this season.
Squad: Richard McGaw (coach); Colin Barnes (assistant coach); Fiona Lee (manager and physio); Ian Hughes and Adam Henry (goalkeeper coaches); Christine Waide (Carrickfergus); Gemma Todd, Claire Brown, Ruth Brown, Gail Brown (Cookstown); Ruth Dalton (Larne); Sarah Colgan, Rose Montgomery, Caroline Reid, Laura Johnston (Lisnagarvey); Rebecca Grant, Kerry Coulter, Jayne McGrillen, Catherine McGrillen, Louise Creighton (capt) (Randalstown); Rebecca Davidson, Sophie McGovern (v-capt), Lyndsay Neish (Ulster Elks).