HOCKEY: Under-15s take centre stage at Antrim Forum tournament

Jonathan McMeekin. Mandatory Credit:  Rowland White/PressEye
Jonathan McMeekin. Mandatory Credit: Rowland White/PressEye

With the risk of overnight frost, the outdoor hockey fixture-list may well be curtailed this weekend but one event that is sure to go ahead is the inaugural Ulster Hockey Under-15 indoor tournament at the Antrim Forum on Sunday.

It’s the brainchild of Ulster Hockey’s Workforce Development Officer Jonathan McMeekin, who is a big fan of the six-a-side version of the sport.

He played it in at a high level with Glasgow Western and local sides Team Kaliber and Holywood’87 in Europe in the past. These days, McMeekin is a regular with Ulster Premier side Antrim, who are holding their own in the new expanded outdoor league. McMeekin is excited about the prospect of the new youth event which will see over 140 boys and girls, representing 12 teams, in action at the Forum.

He said: “The event was fully booked within 24 hours of going out to clubs, so the interest is there.”

“It would great to see the indoor game return to its popularity in Ulster and the only way to do this is to start at youth level. Giving to young players positive experience this weekend is important, so let’s hope that the hockey public get behind the event and support their clubs future stars.”

“Indoor hockey is a fast, technical and exciting game. Philosophically speaking, the indoor format shows no mercy for your weaknesses or mistakes, and is a sharp, edgy and purist game.”

“The aim over moving forward is to increase the playing opportunities and get more clubs involved.” he added.

Meanwhile, in the women’s Ulster Premier League, weather permitting, leaders Dungannon will be expected to stay at the summit with a win over struggling North Down while Ballymoney, who trail only on goal difference, host Ulster Elks.

Queen’s will be out to repeat their Denman Ulster Shield semi-final win over Banbridge when the teams renew their rivalry at the Dub while Portadown have an important clash with Randalstown tonight.

The top game in the men’s Premier sees Instonians travel to Comber to face North Down who are just a single point in arrears of the Belfast team. Kirk Cup finalists Kilkeel and Mossley are away to South Antrim and Cliftonville respectively while leaders Bangor travel to the Dub to play Queen’s.