Lurgan will have revenge on their minds as they prepare to take on Queen’s in the Denman Ulster Shield final at Stormont on Boxing Day (1pm) and attempt to lift the famous trophy for the first time.
Last season, the students defeated Robbie McMinn’s team 2-1 at the semi-final stage but, since then, Lurgan have more than made amends by lifting the Ulster Premier League title for the first time.
In the current campaign, the Co Armagh side are sitting proudly at the top of the Ulster Premier League table and are unbeaten in domestic hockey.
McMinn is naturally delighted with his club’s recent success after taking over the reins at the start of last season and he attributes it to a work-ethic among his players.
“The season so far has been very good and to have reached the Shield final and to have won all our league games to date and go top of the Premier League is phenomenal really.” he said.
“The girls have been working hard in training since August, and playing consistently. and although we lost to Ards In the Irish Senior Cup, we played well.
However he realises that Queen’s will provide tough opposition and he is very respectful of the ability of both their players and coaches..
“Queen’s are a very good, talented side, who are going to be in the mix for all Ulster competitions this season and they have terrific players all over the pitch.” he continued.
“Simon Bell and Graham Quincey are two excellent coaches, whom I have known for a long time; they have great insights into the game and will have Queen’s really well prepared.
“The other factor that may influence things is that Queens played in the final last season so they will be used to the occasion, the build-up and hype that goes with it.”
“We haven’t played each other in the league yet but this is a cup final and l think both teams will give it a real go as both of us like to play attacking, fast hockey.”
Queen’s coach Bell is hoping his team can benefit from the experience of last season’s final as they bid to lift the trophy for the fifth time.
“Last year was the first Queen’s University appearance in an Ulster Shield final since the 1965-66 season so it was disappointing to lose on penalties to Randalstown at the end of a very good final.” he said.
“However, we are delighted to be back again this year and hopefully we will have learnt from the experience.
“We have 10 of last year’s squad back but it will be a really difficult match, against a very good Lurgan side that has a 100% record in the league to date.
“Our preparation has not been ideal with our final league match before Christmas, against North Down, postponed due to frost.
“We have played some good hockey in patches this year and our challenge is to improve our consistency and be more clinical in front of goal.
“Having lost to Ballymoney in a shoot-out in the Irish Senior Cup this year, we may also need to practise some penalty strokes.”
Lurgan: Susie Taylor, Charlene Hull, Chloe McCann, Phoebe Preston, Sarah McClure, Carly Johnston, Jo-Anne Wilson, Jenny Morrow, Kathryn Edgar, Amy Edwards, Kerrie Burns, Emily McStea, Hannah Magowan, Emma Lindsay, Kate Hamill, Lauren Wright.
Queen’s: Megan Todd, Ellen Hood, Emma Kernohan, Jessica McMaster, Claire Whiteside, Robyn McKee, Tori Hastings, Linzi Hamilton, Paige Brown, Rebecca Quinn, Rachael Henderson, Megan McKenna, Leah Crooks, Anna Hutchinson, Stefanie McCullough, Kathryn Bryans.