Mossley hockey men prepare for Kirk Cup opener

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Mossley Hockey Club will return to competitive action on September 10 at the Glade when they host Cookstown in the Kirk Cup.

The club will have to approach the season without the services of John Jackson, Ross Beattie and Johnny McMeekin, although the return to the fold of two “old boys”, along with the emergence of several players from the excellent youth system should go some way to ensuring the team can continue to compete at the highest level, and hopefully build on last year’s achievements.

Coach Harry McNeill gave his assessment of the team: “Mossley made significant progress last season to achieve a comfortable mid-table position in the league.

“Although we have lost five squad players for the new season we are fortunate to have schoolboys James Lorimer and Neal Glassey ready to step into the team.

“Andy Coulter, after a year out, and Ivor Watt, recovered from injury, are both looking good in training. I am also hopeful Ryan McCrea will be fully fit by the start of the league.

“Needless to say, we would like to build on last season’s improvements and will be looking to all players to share that responsibility.”

While the off-season gave most a chance to rest and relax away from the game, many of Mossley’s players were off around the world gaining representative honours whether playing, coaching or managing at various levels.

John Jackson continued to represent Ireland at senior level, with appearances at the Celtic Cup and Euro Championships.

James Lorimer top-scored for Ireland U16s while winning the Tri-Nations Tournament in France. Ben McMillen travelled to Holland with the Irish U18s. Phil Hamill spent the summer in the USA, where he played for the USA U20 side.

Phil and James were joined by Neal Glassey in gaining selection for the Ulster Schools Games squad.

Mossley continued to provide a vast array of coaches and managers to the various representative set-ups. With numbers too great to mention, special note should be made of the achievements of Alison McNeill (IHA Under 18 Coach of the Year, Newtownabbey Borough Coach of the Year) and Peter Jackson (Irish Presidents Award).

Off the pitch, new chairman Trevor Lorimer took over the reigns from Dougie Sleith. Richard Johnson was installed as the captain of the Firsts. The ever-present Jim Gordon won recognition for his devotion to the encouragement and development of the junior players over countless years, picking up Newtownabbey Borough Councils Services to Sport 2011 award.

The club continued to improve on its excellent facilities at The Glade.

The artificial pitch and impressive club house saw the addition of an external raised viewing balcony and fitness suite, improved car parking and perimeter fencing along with the installation of a new watering system.

Anyone wishing to contact the club can email secretary@mossleyhockeyclub.com