Jackson wraps up season with Ulster selection against Scotland

Portadown's Zoe Jackson (front row, left) was selected for Ulster under 21s' International Series against Scotland on Monday and Tuesday. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Portadown's Zoe Jackson (front row, left) was selected for Ulster under 21s' International Series against Scotland on Monday and Tuesday. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Zoe Jackson signed off on her high-level commitments for the season with Ulster recognition across successive tests against Scotland.

Selection for the under 21s’ International Series - held in Belfast on Monday and Tuesday - marked a fitting finale to the Portadown goalkeeper’s campaign.

Jackson’s anticipated university commitments in England will signal a break from life with the Edenvilla Park club, having made a lasting impression.

“I got a phone call from Zoe three seasons back when, as a 15 year old, she asked to join Portadown from Lurgan,” said Jane McKimm, Portadown’s head coach. “I told her she was welcome but would have to work for an opportunity.

“She did just that and the Ulster selection this week helped her end the season on a great note.

“Zoe has really developed over the past three years, thanks in part to two Premier League seasons alongside excellent work with Alison Thompson.

“Alison is a wonderful one-to-one coach and Zoe has worked so hard on her game.

“You either sink or swim at Premier League level and her performances certainly attracted attention.

“She hopes to study music in Manchester towards a professional career so we will probably lose her from the club.

“However, we were all so proud of her development with Ulster across the under 18s and under 21s and wish her every success in the future.”

Portadown’s league campaign closed on Saturday with a 4-2 defeat at Lisnagarvey - two days on from the 5-0 reverse away to Ards. Leeanne Cassells scored both Portadown goals in the final fixture of the top-flight campaign.

Portadown finished bottom of the Premier League but the seniors’ future remains uncertain due to discussions to restructure the league.

“The future now depends on the IHL (Irish Hockey League) which, as far as I am concerned, was voted in last October by Irish Hockey and will be starting in the 2015/2016 season,” said McKimm. “At this stage, there is no direction from Ulster Hockey about promotion, relegation, play-offs or an indication of what the leagues will look like next year.

“We have no idea of our next step.”

Portadown ladies’ seconds defeated Armagh by 3-0 at Edenvilla Park on Friday.

The under 15s finished level at 1-1 with Harlequins and take on Rainey tonight (Friday) in the league.

The under 11s’ Ulster Hockey finals day ended with an exit before the semi-finals following maximum points from the group games.

Portadown registered four wins without conceding a goal then drew 0-0 with Pegasus but lost out to Dromore by 1-0 in the cup stages.

“The girls played brilliantly,” said McKimm. “They should be proud of what they achieved.”