Portrush Hockey Club created another bit of history recently, when for the first time in at least 25 years it started a junior section.
The club started not one but three junior sections at the start of August, in Ballycastle and Coleraine.
“As a senior club, we draw players from all over the North Coast, from Coleraine to Cushendall,” explained Club Chairman, Trevor Kirkpatrick.
“We ran a couple of taster sessions last year for juniors in Coleraine and Ballycastle and the interest was great. The club took the decision to start up in these three areas to give boys from all areas and backgrounds and chance to play hockey. It’s great to see that it’s proving to be so popular.”
The club realised that despite the huge successes in the past few years, including the first team winning the Sussex Regt. Cup, promotion to Senior 1 and reaching a national final, not to mention the Seconds who have reached three finals and three promotions in three years, the location of the club meant that it was losing players through work, study and emigration faster than it could replace them through traditional ways.
The newly formed juniors now have an under 11s, Under 13s and Under 15s, who all for the first time in the club’s 105 years took part in Ulster Hockey tournaments. The first was at Cookstown in October, where both the under 11s and 13s recorded their first wins in the Blitz tournaments.
In the second of the Ulster Hockey Blitz days, both the under 11s and Under 13s took part for the first time in Portrush colours, as they received their new strips through Kukri. Both teams excelled themselves in all of their matches, playing against teams from the best of Ulster’s clubs.
The boys pulled off some excellent results, including a hard fought draw against Portadown and a well-deserved win over ‘local’ rivals Antrim. Even though it didn’t always go The Ports way, with heavy defeats to Lisnagarvey, the boys learned and developed in each game, and despite these teams being dominated by one or two exceptional players, the boys always played with a smile.
Assistant Coach Colin Manson said: “The boys got stronger and stronger each game, every player getting better and developing their skills.
“For our teams, who have only been training for 6-8 weeks, to play and outplay so many of the established clubs with boys who have been playing for years both in schools and at clubs, time and time again was fantastic to watch.
“We are very proud of their achievements and look forward to watching both of these young teams continue to develop. We also have to thank the fantastic travelling support of parents, friends and family who travelled nearly two hours to support the boys.”
The Portrush Juniors training is on a Wednesday night 7-8pm at the Ballycastle Talent Hub, Thursday evening 6-7pm at the Coleraine Talent Hub, Rugby Avenue Hockey Pitch and Saturday mornings 9:30 – 11am for the Minis in Ballycastle.
For more information contact Club Secretary on 07871677870 or firstname.lastname@example.org.