Alana Doyle simply can’t wait for her European debut with Ards as the Indoor Club Trophy tournament kicks off in Lithuania on Friday.
The 18-year-old faces a tough baptism, however, as her team are up against the champions of the host country and Ukraine, where the six-a-side game is taken more seriously than the outdoor version.
The talented teen is one of three newcomers in the Ards squad which is making its fifth successive appearance in Europe as Irish champions.
Royal School Armagh head girl Alana is determined to make the most of the opportunity in Lithuania where Ards will also be up against teams from England, Scotland, France and Sweden.
With one team having withdrawn, the tournament is being staged on a round-robin format with a gruelling schedule involving two games a day and only the side that finishes bottom being relegated.
But It will be a tough ask for Ards to stay in what is the second-tier of European indoor hockey as they are competing against clubs who play indoor hockey on a much more sustained basis during the the winter.
“I am really looking forward to the opportunity to playing in the tournament but I’m aware that the indoor game is very strong in other European countries and I am relishing the chance to pit my skills against top-class players and teams.” said Alana.
“Obviously in countries with more severe winter weather the onus is on the indoor game during these months and their structures are geared towards a more prolonged indoor campaign,” she said.
“Therefore the first objective is to maintain Ards’ position in this division and, beyond that, we will be aiming to win as many matches as possible.
“I hope to play as well as I can during the event and contribute to the team’s performance but It is a different skills-set for indoors.
“There is greater emphasis on particular skills so I am excited about playing against high quality opponents and adding to my bank of experience.”