UCD Ladie’s Hockey continue to dominate the provincial and national set up after claiming the Chilean Cup for a third year in a row last week in UCC. The team sailed through the group stages and were able to avail of their deep squad with comfortable 7-0, 6-0 and 10-1 victories against Skull and Crossbones, NUI Galway and Cork IT respectively. They were paired against hosts UCC in the semi final and came through a physical early morning encounter in a 2-0 win with goals coming from Irish Senior International Anna O’Flanagan and Caroline Hill. They met Queen’s University Belfast in the final and their clinical finishing was the catalyst to a 4-0 victory with a brace from Jeamie Deacon and goals from Emily Beatty and Caroline Hill.
I caught up with club captain Hannah De Burgh Whyte who had this to say about her team:
How satisfying is it to have won the Intervarsities for a third successive year?
It’s brilliant! We are all delighted. It really shows how much the team has come on in the last few years. We are going from strength to strength and hope to add some more Leinster and National titles to our trophy cabinet this season.
What has been the key ingredient to your success?
We have great depth in our squad and are all hard workers. UCD providing us with access to the High Performance gym and our Strength & Conditioning coach George has been a huge help to us. The availability to offer our top players elite athlete scholarships means we attract the best players in the country. It was also be remiss to not mention the team atmosphere. We are all great friends and I think that our friendship off the pitch really helps us to do our best, for each other, on the pitch.
Who do you feel were the star performers for the team?
Well our 9 senior Irish internationals; Anna O’Flanagan, Leah Ewart, Sarah Greene, Niamh Atcheler, Chloe Watkins, Brenda Flannery, Nikki Evans, Katie Mullan and Nicola Gray, speak for themselves.
Who presented the greatest obstacle to retaining the Chilean Cup?
Although our score line against UCC in the semi-final was the smallest of the weekend (2-0), our final against Queen’s (4-0) posed the biggest potential banana skin for us. As opposed to UCC who gave us troubles because of the physicality of the game they play, Queens were playing very good hockey and could easily have capitalised on some good plays.
How does this year’s team differ from the successful teams in the past 2 years?
We lost only a few people from last years extremely successful squad, but those people have been replaced with some more really talented players, including Senior Irish internationals Katie Mullan and Nikki Evans, and Irish U-21 player Emily Beatty.
How much of a benefit is it for the Women’s Hockey team having the Irish Hockey facilities here at UCD?
It means that we have one of the best pitches in the country as our home ground. It also takes a lot of pressure off our Irish players. It means that when they are living on or close to campus for college, they are also close to their Irish training grounds, which allows them to get the balance right between representing UCD and Ireland.
What are your aims for the rest of the year?
Our aim is always to win everything we compete in. Last year we won 5 out of the 6 competitions we competed in, including, among others, the prestigious Irish Senior Cup. Winning the ISC qualifies us to represent Ireland in the European Club Championships in Sicily in May, which naturally we would like to do well in, as we are not only representing the college but also our country. We are going from strength to strength and hope to capitalise on last year’s success. Hopefully you’ll be hearing a lot more about our successes this year!
The team followed up Intervarsity success with a dominant display in a 7-0 victory against Trinity at the weekend. It would appear that the trophy cabinet met yet be full to the brim before the year is out.
By Conall Devlin