Crunch time on two fronts
PORTADOWN Ladies’ Hockey Club players face a testing five-day period across cup and league.
Tomorrow (Saturday) the ladies’ seconds will line out at Edenvilla Park against Dublin-based Hermes in the Irish Junior Cup. On Wednesday, the seniors’ Premier League campaign will present a key clash - again on home soil - when Victorians arrive in town.
“We have quite a mix in the seconds of players with experience and those still in school,” said Portadown Ladies’ Hockey Club coach, Jane McKimm. “Taking on a side with Hermes’ quality will provide the schoolgirls with another important step forward, in terms of development.
“We had to cancel the juniors on Monday and a club training night due to the weather but I am sure everything will be fine for the big games coming up.
“The juniors’ training for primary three to five will return on Monday, depending on weather conditions over the weekend.
“To have reached the second round of the Irish Junior Cup marks a significant achievement by the seconds and they deserve to go out this weekend and enjoy the occasion, but take as many lessons as possible from the experience.
“In many respects, it is a similar situation to what the firsts face in the Premier League as every game offers an opportunity to learn, adjust to the new level and develop.
“On Saturday we lost to Lurgan by 3-0 but you could see signs of improvement and, given the fact that this marks a first taste of Premier hockey for most of the players, that is all I can ask.
“Zoe Jackson (pictured) has come into the team this season from Lurgan and was superb on Saturday.
“For a 15-year-old to get in touch and discuss the option of signing for Portadown tells a lot about Zoe’s character and her family support.
“She made a mature decision to leave familiar surroundings in Lurgan to gain regular playing time and we are delighted to have Zoe on board, with Alison Thompson extremely dedicated as a goalkeeper coach.
“Our defending from penalty corners was impressive for much of the match, to be honest, so that is something else we can take heart from despite the result.
“Lurgan would be similar to most teams in that they line out with a strong squad but present one or two players with real individual talent who can make a difference.
“We must learn to cope with that as it is the same challenge you face on a weekly basis, to be honest, due to the quality at this level.
“However, I have been pleased with the steps forward taken by the players.
“With Portadown and Victorians both on two points, both clubs will be looking on the midweek match with the same viewpoint.
“It is a game we must approach in a positive manner, especially with home advantage.
“To go out in any match with a defensive approach, I feel, can only lead to trouble as it is impossible to flick a switch and turn on the attacking momentum if something goes wrong.
“Therefore, we will continue to try and build on our positives and get what would be a massive boost.”
Play this weekend in the ladies’ Irish Junior Cup clash will start at 2.30.
TEAMSHEETS for forthcoming Portadown Men’s Hockey Club fixtures are as follows:
Firsts v Bangor (Saturday, away, league, start 2.30, meet 12.15): J.Knipe, S.Kirkland, J.Rea, N.Gilmore, S.Johnson, G.Croft, J.Ferguson, J.Hassin, Z.McClelland, G.Edgar, G.Titler, A.Stevenson, S.Bell.
Seconds v Cliftonville (Saturday, away, league, start 2.30, meet 12.30): Players to be notified.
Thirds v Saintfield (Saturday, home, league, start 1 o’clock, meet 12 o’clock): Players to be notified.
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Weather for Portadown
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west