Ulster Hockey’s High Performance manager Stephen Watt has heaped praise on the Ulster players and coaching staff who returned home from Dublin on Sunday with the Under 18 inter-provincial trophy.
Watt was an interested spectator at the event at Grange Road and he watched Ulster score 20 goals in their four matches and concede only four in reply.
It was a terrific display by Ulster who had lost several key members of the squad from last year that lifted the silverware at Lisnagarvey’s Comber Road headquarters.
The likes of Tori Hastings and Ireland senior panelist Zoe Wilson were among the absentees but the players who filled the void excelled themselves to retain the title.
The squad roughly mirrors the one which competed at the inter-pros not so long ago and enjoyed a lesser degree of success.
The transformation is down to the players’ development under Watt and Under 18 coach Steven Arbuthnot who left no stone unturned in the build up.
“Two years ago this group of players were third in the Under 16 inter-provincial tournament,” Watt explained.
“I am delighted for the group and the core players who have given a lot to their hockey over the past three years and they have been well served by Steven and his coaching team.”
Ulster went into the final game of the tournament needing a draw against Leinster to take the honours and they were seldom in any danger of losing the game and the trophy after leading 1-0 and 2-1.
Goals from Jessica McMaster, who scored in all three matches, and Erin Getty were enough to clinch Ulster the trophy.