HOCKEY: Bann Ladies targetting the top

Banbridge Ladies Firsts are flying high at the top of the table. INBL1537-286PB
Banbridge Ladies Firsts are flying high at the top of the table. INBL1537-286PB

Banbridge could well have a ladies team in the top level of Ulster Hockey next season.

That’s the hope of Banbridge Hockey Club’s vice-captain Alex Jenkinson, who has helped the ladies first team to go five points clear at the top of Senior One.

With six wins and a draw from their opening seven matches, hopes are high that this is their season to reach Ulster Hockey’s Premier Division for the first time.

“If we keep going the way we are going, we will have a good chance,” said Jenkinson, who netted the winner against strugglers Larne on Saturday.

“It’s our second season playing under our coach Robin (Madeley) so everything that he is trying to put in is finally working its way through and showing on the pitch.”

On Saturday, Bann host seventh-placed Grosvenor at Havelock Park (pass-back 2.30pm) and Jenkinson is hoping for more than last weekend’s nervy 1-0 victory.

“These are the games that we have to be winning and using to get our goal count up as well,” she said.

“We have to win comfortably and use the match to implement all the things that we’ve been working on so that we are prepared for the games against the other title challengers.”

The strides forward are all part of a five-year plan to see the ladies first team join the men’s in the Irish Hockey League. Alex reckons this team have to what it takes to realise those lofty ambitions.

“100 per cent we do,” she said.

“We’re playing a much better game this year. We’re playing better hockey tactically and technically. We played Lurgan a couple of weeks ago in a friendly and the score was 3-1. It could even have been closer if we had taken more of the chances we created.

“Banbridge Ladies have never been in the Premier League before so it would be such a massive step forward for the club as a whole if we could achieve promotion this season.”

Their upturn in form, Alex reckons, is down a number of factors, not least a couple of key additions to the panel.

“D’Arcy Campbell has made the step up to senior hockey and has really added a whole new dimension to the team’s play,” the Waringstown girl told the ‘LEADER.’ “She brings a whole new skills base that we didn’t have before in a key position at centre-back.

“Jenny Grimes, as one of the more senior members of the squad, has brought a level of experience that none of the other girls have.

“Our captain Gail McConnell and Elaine Brown are playing a real key role for us in the centre as well.

“Everything is starting to gel together. We have the talent and now we have the experience to go along with it.

“There’s a better atmosphere in the squad this year too. It’s more positive and the team has really gelled well on a sporting and a social level.”

The Bann girls are also through to the semi-final of the Senior Cup, to be played on 6th December.