Its been a busy time for boys junior hockey in Portrush this past week.
First up, the Portrush Under 11s made it to the national finals day at Ballymena Academy last Sunday. Being placed in a tough group with big clubs as North Down, Lisnagarvey A (Eventual Runners Up), Mossley A and Raphoe A (Eventual Winners), the boys showed some phenomenal hockey skills and a clear determination not to be outshone by the bigger clubs.
With wins against North Down, Raphoe and a draw against Mossley in the pool stage, the boys progressed through to the quarterfinals against a strong Cliftonville side. Portrush dominated the game from the start, gaining in confidence and skills with each game.
Two nil up with minutes to go, Portrush were cruising along and into the Semi finals, however, a brief lapse in concentration and a good couple of breaks from Cliftonville draw the game even at 2 each with a minutes to go. Despite camping out in the Cliftonville scoring zone and peppering the keeper with multiple shots from all angles, Portrush could not get the ball over the line. With less than a minute to go a well struck shot on the Cliftonville keeper ricochet out to a Cliftonville player who along with a lone striker created a 2 v 1 on the Ports Keeper, who was rounded and the ball edging over the line off the post.
A disappointing result to finish up, after some fantastic individual and team displays during the finals day and over the course of the season, the coaches, parents and club are extremely proud of all of the boys, the majority are only P6 and have only just taken up hockey this year.
This Sunday, it was the turn of the under 13s who qualified for the national finals. placed in a group with some of the biggest names in hockey (Lisnagarvey, Instonians, North Down, Cliftonville, Banbridge and NICS), the boys had no illusions how difficult it would be to qualify out of the pool stage.The day started off with a great win over Cliftonville to give the boys a boost of confidence, that shone throughout the day.
This was followed by a narrow 1-0 defeat to North Down and NICS. with the hot weather taking its toll, the boys played exceptionally well against Lisnagarvey dominating most of the play and only caught on the break by a long range shot that ricocheted around the circle and trickled past the outstretched keeper and over the line. An excellent show of hockey followed in an end to end game against Instonians, that left coaches and supporters on both sides on the edge of their seats. Portrush were disappointed to come away only a draw against the Belfast Super Power.
Much has to be said of both keepers who were outstanding in a game that could easily have ended in a high scoring affair.
Going into the final game against the currently unbeaten Banbridge, knowing that a win would see them into the Quarters, and anything else would be in the hands of other teams results.
The boys played possibly their best match of the season. Showing a particularly mature Banbridge side that they were no roll over. fighting for every ball, peppering the ban bridge keeper and goals numerous times with no joy. The defence played a phenomenal game in clearing the ball out from the dangerous breaks from Banbridges star player, and passing it out to the midfield to feed the attackers. The end to end game was only decided through a controversial goal from above the head of Banbridges star player with a minute to go.
Sadly this was to be the end of the run in the finals, as Portrush were knocked out on goal difference, having matched Lisnagarvey, North Down and Instonians on 4 points. This was an amazing effort from all and should be seen as a proud day for all of those who have played throughout the season. it was noted how well Portrush had played throughout the finals day by other coaches and those at Ulster Hockey. Particular mention was made of our two Goalkeepers, who, once again who performed fantastically well under immense pressure from experienced strikers.
The club would like to thank al of the players, supporters and parents who came down to see both the under 11s and 13s take part in their finals days.
We would also like to congratulate Portrush Primary School who won the National Primary Schools boys plate this week at Lisnagarvey. This was made even more special as 5 of the boys who took part in the finals day played at the under 11s finals day the previous Sunday. Well done Portrush Primary.