In 2019 Dromore Ladies Hockey Club Under 15 team won an All-Ireland play off and as a result they were to represent Ireland in 2020 European Hockey League in Amsterdam. This was the first time that U15 girls had been asked to participate in this competition. What a fantastic opportunity for the girls to play against the top teams from Germany, Netherlands, Spain, England, and Belgium! Unfortunately, due to Covid this did not take place for 2 years. Finally in 2022 the girls got to represent Ireland at the EHL U14 competition playing against the top 5 countries in Europe.
Three months of additional training sessions and practice matches followed. The 20 strong and excited squad flew from Dublin to Holland to play in the EHL at the Wagener Stadium, Amstelveen, Netherlands. The squad included six pupils from Banbridge Academy: April McFarlane year 10, Ruby Johnston year 9, Darcey Milligan year 11, Taylor Barlow year 11, Maya Crawford year 11, Leah Rodgers year 12.
On Saturday 16th April, the Dromore squad played Junior FC from Spain, a closely fought match where the Dromore Ladies played both a steady defensive and attacking game but unfortunately were defeated 3-1. Match two was scheduled just two hours later against the Waterloo Ducks from Belgium. Another tightly fought match, the girls defended well and stood their ground but a series of short corners were to cost them the match, defeated by a strong Belgium team, 3-0.
Day 2, Sunday 17th April and the sun was still shining at the EHL tournament and the Dromore Ladies team were ready for another tough match against Den Bosch, Holland. The Dromore squad battled hard, making several attacking moves in the Dutch circle but just couldn’t hit the backboard. Several short corners and attacking opportunities were closely missed and fiercely defended by a skilful Dutch team. The final score of 4-0 didn’t reflect the sheer grit and determination displayed by the U14 Dromore Squad.
What an unbelievable opportunity, privilege, and honour for these Banbridge Academy girls from the Dromore Ladies Hockey Club U14 squad as they have made history by being the first team to represent Ireland at the EHL U14 tournament.
April McFarlane (Year 10)