Both girls & boys have use of excellent facilities at School. Every afternoon every square metre of pitch space is used. The added bonus is the availability of the astro turf surface tennis courts which is extensively used by all squads for skills practice.
Friends’ School has a vibrant Girls Hockey club. In recent years, such is the enthusiasm in all year groups, that Friends’ has fielded 5 senior teams and at least 2 teams in each of the age groups U14, U13 and U12. Practices take place every afternoon on the school astro pitches. Matches are arranged both midweek and every Saturday, when from late August to the end of March, often 9 teams compete against the top schools in Ulster. On Saturday mornings Year 8 girls are welcome to take part in a full morning of sport with both netball and hockey on offer. Teams are all entered in all the Ulster Hockey competitions available to grammar schools. Tours to Dublin, Holland and other top European countries are offered on a regular basis.
Girls' Hockey Report 2016-17
Over 40 Year 8 girls practised twice a week under the guidance of a team of coaches. The competitive season began with 8 a-side matches versus Wallace and Victoria College and Armagh Royal when everyone played. A squad was invited to the Victoria College 8 a-side competition involving 10 teams from the greater Belfast area. After 4 straight wins in convincing style the team played and beat Wallace in the final. Sophie Kidd was awarded player of the tournament. The first trophy is in the bag. The girls then progressed rapidly to 11-a-side with flair and skill. Talent is clearly evident at this level as the girls won the prestigious Grosvenor Tournament later in March – THE U12 competition in Ulster. Later there were 2 wins in the Helen Martin Trophy competition for the A and B squads proving that these girls can look forward to a very promising hockey career at Friends’.
The Juniors began their season with the bi-annual tour to Holland where an U13 and U14 squad play a round of matches and train at the HIC hockey club outside Amsterdam. Apart from some very challenging matches, and top class coaching, the girls enjoyed a boat trip on the canals whilst enjoying a 3-course lunch, sightseeing in the city. However, the squeals of delight were saved to the final night when during their go-karting sessions in Utrecht, Dave Harte appeared.
The U13’s coached by Ms McMillan and Mrs Thompson played some great hockey throughout the season and continue to develop their potential. The A’s captained by Sarah Kelly and the B’s captained by Eve Mahaffy worked with tremendous enthusiasm throughout the year.
The U14A’s captained by Thea Wilson had high hopes for the Junior Cup. Through the efforts of DJ Wilson, Thea’s father, Corona, Injection Moulding Technology sponsored the squad, so they certainly looked the part in their new red tops. They reached the quarter-finals with wins over Bloomfield Collegiate and Ballyclare HS.
It seems however that Friends’ rarely avoid a draw away from home against long standing rivals Lurgan Junior HS. On the day, Friends’ played the better team hockey with accurate passing and flow to their game. Sadly, they were not to have the luck they deserved when a perfectly good goal was disallowed. The final score was a more than worthy 1-1 but the girls lost on strokes.
The U14 BXI, captained by Seren Mageean, had many convincing wins throughout the season and can feel pleased there progress.
The 3rd XI squad, captained by Petra Reid, was made up of girls across all senior year groups. In the Gibson Cup, the girls won two of their matches in their section convincingly against Slemish College (3-0) and Royal School Dungannon (5-0), but unfortunately lost their third match against Wallace (2-0). This meant that despite their best efforts, the girls were sadly not able to advance in the competition this year.
The 2B XI, captained by Bethany Lockhart, had a fantastic start to the new season with two strong performances against Regent and Banbridge and Lauren Boomer, the top goal scorer, getting a hat-trick. The Gibson Cup run began with a 4-1 win against Dromore putting them through to the quarter finals. Sullivan was the opponent at home and it proved to be an exciting match. The girls fought hard against a strong team but unfortunately a very close 4-3 defeat put them out of the cup.
The 1stXI and 2ndXI squads set the scene for the season with an overnight trip to Dublin to play Wesley College and St Gerard’s, Bray. The matches were very competitive and allowed the veterans of the firsts to gel with some of the new young talent from the successful 2BXI of last year and the 2ndXI to welcome the ‘babies’ from the U14’s
Therefore, it was a shock when the 2ndXI, captained by Olivia Reid made a disappointing exit from the McDowell Cup when having dominated the 1st round game against BRA were then defeated by Ballyclare Secondary School against the run of play. The 2ndXI plate competition began with dominant wins over Foyle College and Cookstown HS with a tally of 14 goals. Strathearn were tougher opposition and it took a late goal to win 2-1. In the semi-final the girls were slow to start but came out 4-0 winners over Grosvenor Grammar School.
The final versus Methody was a real showpiece of their talent and a reward for all the hard work this relatively young side had displayed since the start of the season. Jessica Sandford got both goals – the win was never in doubt.
The 1stXI, captained by Rosie Henderson were entered into the A tier of the new Super League Cup. The rationale of the new event was to mirror the McCullough Cup format with 4 leagues filtering into play offs at the quarter final stage. A disappointing 0-0 draw with Regent House meant they had a mountain to climb. But from the ashes they shocked Rainey in the ‘shed’ with a 3-goal comeback to win 3-2. The girls then defeated Coleraine Grammar 5-0 and drew 1-1 with favourites Banbridge to reach the quarter finals. Wallace were their opponents having won their section. With recent narrow defeats against their neighbours last season Friends’ took the game to Wallace and dominated throughout winning 3-1. The Friends’ attack of Beth Ravey, Eve McCready and Katie Jamieson were gifted some fantastic through balls from captain Rosie Henderson, who put on a first class performance worthy of an Irish U18 player.
The format meant they faced Banbridge in the semi-final. It was scoreless at the end of full time but not without incident, Sara McGucken played her finest game in goal as Banbridge dominated the first half. So good were her fingertip saves the Banbridge girls were in disbelief. Friends’ had a much better 2nd half and came close to scoring. The game went to ‘silver goal’ and in the 3rd minute of the 1st half Banbridge scored an excellent deflected goal from a well worked penalty corner. It was a truly magnificent performance. Banbridge had learnt from their tight draw weeks earlier and knew they had to be at their best. At the end of the season as Irish Schools Championships they were quotes as rating Friends’ the best team they had played in Ulster.
As a result of this excellent performance, the 1stXI entered the Senior Schools Cup at the 3rd Round. In a tense, even first half either team could have taken the lead. It was captain Rosie Henderson who raised the game and scored both goals in a 2-1 win over BRA. The 1stXI now faced Wallace in the ¼ final. Played in front of a good crowd Friends’ pressed hard in the first half but could not break down a packed defence obviously wary of the experience they had had in November. It was Wallace who finished the stronger and broke away in the second half to win 2-0. Friends’ cup dreams over.
The Helen Martin trophy took place over two days in mid-March with 20 teams from Wallace and Friends’ competing in the customary 10 games. Friends’ retained the trophy with an emphatic 21-6 points win.
Helen Martin Trophy Results
1stXI lost 4-1
2ndXI won 3-1
2BXI drew 2-2
3rdXI won 3-0
U14AXI won 1-0
U14BXI drew 0-0
U13AXI drew 0-0
U13BXI won 2-0
U12AXI won 1-0
U12BXI won 1-0
At the end of the season the U12s and 13s hosted Wesley College, this yearly event being the highlight for the younger girls. Friendships were rekindled and a festival of hockey was greatly enjoyed by all.
Friends’ has been well represented this year on every representative squad
Kate Hamill and Cara McEwen were selected for the Ulster U16 Interprovincial squad. This was Cara’s 2nd season on the squad and clearly impressed the selectors so much that she went on the train with the Irish U16 squad gaining 3 caps against the USA.
Rachel Barnes was rewarded with Ulster caps for the U18 and was selected for an Irish Trial
During the season Kate Gourley and Kate Hamill trained with the Ulster U17 Development squad and travelled to Lilleshall in April to play a series of matches against England. As a follow on, Kate Hamill was joined by Cara McEwen on the Ulster U17 squad to face Scotland in June. Kate Gourley was also selected but missed the trip as she was recovering from the ankle injury sustained at Lilleshall.
In March Friends’ had a strong representation on the U17 SE Area squad with Cara McEwen, Kate Hamill, Rachel Geddis, Tyla Eley, Kate Gourley and Cathy Fox all contributed to first place gained in the Tournament.
Rachel Paul, Ella Agnew, Thea Wilson, Rachel Kennedy were selected for the TDS U15 programme. Bethany Au, Rachel Kennedy and Rachel Paul also played for the SE Area team that also won the tournament.
Ella was selected for an Ulster U14 Development squad and played in an invitation tournament in Rotterdam.
Rachel Kennedy continued to train with the Ulster U16 squad and along with Ella Agnew was selected for the squad to face Scotland in June.
The talent continues to develop in the Junior ranks. Lara Wilson, Sophie Kidd, Ella Brown, Darcy McGall and Melissa Wilson are training with the U13 TDS squads.
This season is somewhat the end of an era with many of the 1stXI leaving. Great credit goes to all the Year 14 girls who continued to enjoy their hockey for 7 years and brought honour to the school.