Bready Jubilee Primary School’s hockey team have qualified for the Ulster Championship Finals after winning the Western Region McCloy Cup qualifiers in Omagh earlier this month.
The victory represents a remarkably quick turnaround for the Strabane school who have only been playing together for a matter of months through Derry City and Strabane District Council and Sport Northern Ireland’s Everybody Active (EBA) 2020 programme.
Their EBA Coach Kathryn Rough has been visiting the school to deliver tuition since early January and believes they can now go on to make an impact at the provincial finals in Lisnagarvey.
“I was extremely pleased and impressed with how they played,” she said. “We have been training on the tarmac of the school playground so to go onto astro turf for the first time and win a tournament is outstanding. Some of the girls are involved locally with the ‘minis’ section of Priorians Hockey Club but only one of them had played competitively before and this was their first time playing against other schools as a team. Lauren O’Neill stood out in attack and, for me, she was Player of the Tournament but the whole team were excellent, defending and tackling well to concede very few goals and attacking effectively to score 29 times in their eight games. It’s going to be a big step up in class when we play the best teams in Ulster at Lisnagarvey but the girls are looking forward to the challenge and I’m sure they will score goals with the quality they have shown in attack so far.”
The EBA 2020 programme aims to reach out to sections of the community who aren’t regularly involved in physical activity and encourage them to get active together.
Kathryn believes the programme has offered the Bready PS girls a pathway to play hockey for years to come: “Hopefully the girls who aren’t already involved with their local hockey clubs will do so in the future because they clearly have the talent and enthusiasm to enjoy a long career in the game. Some of the younger girls in the group who weren’t involved in Omagh can still aspire to what the older girls have achieved and hopefully the programme will keep them engaged in sport.
“I have been involved in hockey since I was young and still play at Masters level so it’s a sport that you can stay involved in and enjoy for years to come.”
Principal of Bready Jubilee Primary School, Brian Guthrie added: “The whole school are proud of the girls’ achievement and they can now look forward to the experience of playing in the finals day at the home of Ulster hockey in Lisnagarvey.
“Only one of the squad of ten had played a competitive game of hockey before which makes the achievement all the more impressive. The school were keen to get involved in the EBA 2020 programme and we would like to thank Kathryn for the expert tuition she delivered to the girls which has brought them up to a high level in a short period of time.”