The 2013 season saw Wicklow Hockey Club field a Senior Ladies team in the Leinster leagues for the first time. Playing in Division 13 it was always going to be a challenge bringing a squad together week in week out, but what a season it turned out to be!
Fresh from sealing the league with an unbeaten run the 5th of April saw the team take on Tullamore in the Division 13/14 cup final. The league meetings between the two sides had been very close with one draw and with Wicklow coming out on top by one goal in the other 2 games.
A well organised Tullamore side supported on the side lines by Mr. Brian Cowen were in confident form. However the story of the game was that the cup only ever going home to South East Leinster.
From the outset Wicklow dominated possession making good inroads down the flanks Tullamore struggling to get past the halfway line. On 15 minutes the Wicklow pressure paid off after Tullamore failed to clear the ball it broke across to the left post for Sheenagh Walker to sweep it into the back of the goal.
After the restart Tullamore made inroads up the pitch and for the first time put pressure on the Wicklow defence. They were up to the test though and quickly broke up the far end to force a penalty corner. After a run of 3 penalty corners in a row being awarded for Tullamore infringements, a reverse stick shot from Vicki O’Gara took a wicked deflection which looped over the keeper into the top left of the goal.
Tullamore saw more of the ball as the first half drew to a close with some great defending by Ruth Roberts denying entry into the circle. Laura Healy then pouncing onto the loose ball and going on the counter attack up the left wing. Emma Curry also put in a tireless shift bringing the ball out from the back with some strong runs and searching through balls into the opponents defence. As the halftime whistle went the Wicklow supporters were by far the happier after an excellent first 35 minutes.
It was always going to be vital as to who scored the next goal. Tullamore would have taken to the pitch thinking one goal would bring them back into the game. Those aspirations quickly evaporated as Wicklow went straight up the pitch from tip off and scored their third. This time some great work down the right wing saw the ball crossed into the circle for it to hit a Tullamore foot, the Leinster Umpire playing excellent advantage to allow Vicki O’Gara rifle home her second. It was a well-deserved goal for Vicki who had popped up all over the pitch to put in key tackles in the engine room of the Wicklow team.
From that moment on there was no doubt as to which team was going to be celebrating a cup win. Try as they might Tullamore could not create any clear cut chances, Leann Manning being the latest to fend off the opposition. The ball then finding Vicky who brought it up over the halfway line and passing to Laura in space. Laura attacked the Tullamore back line and slipping it to Tara Collins in space right of the circle. Tara then unleashed a terrific shot which flew into the goal to the bottom left of the keeper. Wicklow were now in dreamland being 4 up.
In the final minutes Wicklow made it 5, this time the captain Sheenagh Walker being in the right place to nick home her second of the game. The full time whistle saw great celebrations on the pitch with Wicklow Ladies winning the double in their inaugural season a feat that is very rare in any level of sport!
Big thanks go out to Jo Delahoyde for coaching the team through those bleak winter evenings, opponents Tullamore who battled hard with great spirit, all the supporters and the Leinster Hockey Association and Three Rock Rovers for hosting the finals.
Wicklow Squad: Sheenagh Walker (c), Emma Curry (vc), Angela Garland, Tara Collins, Hailey Fitzpatrick, Laura Healy, Anna O’Meara, Vicki O’Gara, Sophie Moy, Carol Jameson, Liz Clarke, Leann Manning, Ruth Roberts, Scarlett Tice, Claire Hopkins, Aisling Garland. Coach: Jo Delahoyde.
Interested in playing hockey? Wicklow Hockey Club caters for all ages and skill levels, and will be hosting mixed social hockey sessions starting on Wednesdays in Mid May open to everyone. Stay tuned to www.wicklowhockeyclub.ie for more details.