HOCKEY: Ulster Elks remain focused

Hannah Irwin, Ulster Elks, gets the better of Lurgans Kerrie Burns in Saturdays game at UUJ. INLT 14-921-CON Photo: Philip McCloy
Hannah Irwin, Ulster Elks, gets the better of Lurgans Kerrie Burns in Saturdays game at UUJ. INLT 14-921-CON Photo: Philip McCloy

Ulster University’s hockey pitches at Jordanstown were a hive of action over the Easter break as Ireland U18 boys and girls each hosted a three-game series against Scotland, followed by the Ulster Elks in action versus Ulster Premier League Champions Lurgan.

Jessica McMaster was one of two Ulster Elks players, the other being Hannah Irwin, who featured for Ireland as they beat their counterparts from across the water in all three games.

The most notable result was on Sunday when the girls in green ran out 6-2 winners with McMaster getting her name on the scoresheet.

Since winning the Irish Senior Cup in March, the Elks not appear in competitive action until April 16 in the EY Hockey League when they make the journey across Belfast to play Pegasus.

Until then it will be important for the squad to remain focused, as coach Ricky Lee explained: “We find ourselves with a longer than usual Easter break, that is due to the Irish Senior women playing in the Hawkes Bay tournament in New Zealand and so a halt as been brought to the EYHL programme. This is definitely the business end of the season and we cannot afford to be caught on the hop and so keeping on top of our fitness and close skills over this period will be crucial.”

To this end the Elks faced Lurgan last Saturday at Jordanstown in a friendly fixture.

Despite missing five key players the Jordanstown outfit ran out 2-1 winners with both goals coming in the first half, courtesy of Anna Kozniuk and Dawn Axon. Lurgan pulled one back in the third quarter and dominated large spells of play in the fourth.

Elks captain Gemma Frazer said: “It was a tough game, but hopefully the determination we showed will pay dividends in some of the big games to come over the next six weeks.”