02 Mar 2017
It may come as a surprise to many, but nestled in the shadow of the Student Centre lies the National Hockey Stadium, and our ladies’ hockey team have certainly been making good use of it this season.
With the team currently occupying top spot in the EYHL and with an Irish Senior Cup final to look forward to, I took a stroll across campus to hear first-hand what is behind their 14-game unbeaten run, which has already seen them better last season’s points tally with four games to go.
Goalkeeper Clodagh Cassin, part of the squad that finished last season in fourth place, knew after the first couple of games this season would be different. “Last year we were leading games and gave away goals from short corners right at the final whistle. It's harder to motivate yourself when you haven’t gotten off to the best start. This year we had a good start and it’s been so much easier to keep the ball rolling.”
Cassin, who picked up her first international cap last November, spoke of the team spirit emanating from the squad. “Goal scoring is spread pretty evenly around the squad, which is good because we've had injuries and we’re still able to carry on. Everyone’s carrying their own weight and putting in the same amount of effort. We're all working together and that’s gotten us where we are.”
Sarah Patton, who’s enjoying her first year as part of the team, echoed similar sentiments. “I've played for other teams where the age range is very big, sometimes 15-30+, but here everyone's the same age and at the same stage of life. We're all in college together, so that’s the nice thing about the team. We’re experiencing it all together.
While the majority of the squad is made up of younger players, they are supplemented by a number of internationals with vast experience. Gillian Pinder picked up her 100th cap earlier this year, while Deirdre Duke & Katie Mullan have both turned out for the national team over 50 times each. It is clear how much of an impact their presence has had on Cassin, Patton, and the rest of the squad, and Cassin was quick to point out how instrumental the international experience factor has been to the team’s progression. “All the experienced girls are easy to talk to. There’s no fear there. They've a wealth of knowledge and have helped us out by calming down situations on the pitch or if you're a bit lost with drill in training they’re always there to help you out constructively.”
Patton also acknowledged their impact. “Players like Deirdre and Katie bring a wealth of experience, which is great because the nature of a college team means we’re mostly young players and they’re helping us along.”
With a tight title race and that all important Senior Cup final on the horizon, that experience may prove crucial. Sarah Patton was certainly excited about what lies ahead. “It's incredible for what is such a young squad to be playing in big games like the Irish Senior Cup final. I've played in one before and it didn't go too well, so hopefully we’ll get the right result this time.”
Unfortunately, like a lot of teams on campus, attendance is mainly restricted to family and like-minded individuals, despite the teams continued success. However, Cassin is hopeful that the big games might draw some new faces to the National Stadium. “It's nice playing in front of crowds when you hear that cheer. You get a bit more fire in your belly to keep going, so a few more turning out would be nice, especially coming up to the final.”
UCD Ladies next home game is against Cork Harlequins on March 11th while the final of the Irish Senior Cup will take place in Belfield on April 2nd.
More information can be found on the Facebook page for UCD Ladies’ Hockey Club.
Article by By Ian Moore