HOCKEY: Ulster Elks clinch European title

Ulster Elks skipper Megan Frazer is presented with the EuroHockey Club Champions Challenge I trophy in Prague. INLT 20-925-CON
Ulster Elks skipper Megan Frazer is presented with the EuroHockey Club Champions Challenge I trophy in Prague. INLT 20-925-CON

Ulster Elks claimed the EuroHockey Club Champions Challenge I on Monday thanks to a convincing a 3-0 win over Lithuania’s Gintra Strektre University in Prague.

Competing for the first time in Europe, the Jordanstown side not only took gold but secured promotion to the second tier in Europe for Ireland’s qualifier next season.

Rebecca Barry broke the deadlock in the fifth minute when she sent the ball high into the net with a backhand shot.

In the 25th minute, schoolgirls Hannah Irwin and Jessica McMaster combined for the latter to score from close range.

Barry got her second and the Elks’ third after being set up by Emily O’Leary on the stroke of half-time.

It’s the first time a team from Ulster Univerity has competed in Europe and the girls have made history by winning the competition. Megan Frazer was named as Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

Twitter has been awash with congratulatory messages for the team. Ulster University tweeted: “So proud: Ulster University Elks secure promotion on the international stage @eurohockeyorg Club Champs #Colours2016”

Ulster Hockey Union president, Davy Larmour, wrote: “Very well done Ulster Elks winning promotion in Europe. An excellent performance. Enjoy.”

Rebecca Barry, who opened the scoring in the final commented: “There’s few things quite like winning in Europe!”

The Elks qualified for the showpiece by virtue of wins over hosts Slavia Praha and Swansea City. Their third game - a 1-0 defeat to Edinburgh University was an opportunity to rest key players for the final.

The Elks bossed play and ran out comfortable 2-0 winners in Friday’s opener against Slavia Praha, with captain Gemma Frazer and Rebecca Barry getting the goals.

In Saturday’s crunch clash with Swansea City the girls put in a gutsy performance fighting all the way to the end. The final score was 3-2 with all five goals coming in the second half. Gemma Frazer, Emily O’Leary and Hannah Irwin were on the scoresheet for the Elks.

The students reached the European competition by winning last season’s Irish Senior Cup.