The news was superbly timed as the Senior 1st XI made their way to the Ulster Schools’ McCullough Cup final versus Wallace after defeating Cookstown HS 3-0 in their semi final.
The final, which is being staged at Comber Road, Royal Hillsborough on Wednesday 8 December 2021 at 2.30pm will see the locals pitch for another historic Ulster win when they face a fancied Wallace HS team full of experience and talent. The Academy boys though will show plenty of respect but no fear and will be buoyant after demolishing RBAI in the Irish Schools’ in tough conditions at UUJ on Saturday – running out 8-0 winners. This confidence in patterns and play has much to do with the quality coaching and preparation of the side and that is what EMTEK have captured – a shared vision of excellence and supporting the already high levels amongst all age groups.
Master IC Boys’ Hockey Mr Mark Cordner is extremely proud of this new partnership and commented: “This is an exciting joint venture with EMTEK and will involve a whole school strategy for Boys’ Hockey. The emphasis and ethos of the school has always been reflected strongly in our playing tradition and fielding successful teams year after year. This additional funding and resource provided will allow the wider staff and coaching team to multiply their efforts in preparing players to compete at the highest level.”
Indeed, the junior school results this year have been very encouraging with the Year 8 boys having played 10 fixtures and remain unbeaten after a significant run of fine wins over RBAI, KJHS, Bangor Grammar, CCB and Friends SL to name but a few – racking up a plethora of goals with many of the squad who have lifted a stick for the first time.
“We pride ourselves on giving boys a chance to practice and play three times a week, sometimes four and this exposure to the game and experience gained shows in the Senior end of the school. By having the backing of not just EMTEK, but a following of tremendously supportive parents, makes us a strong opponent and the friendships go well beyond school days – as partnerships like this alongside existing links with local hockey clubs in the area keep our game at the forefront in Ulster Hockey.”
The Years 9-10 and 11 teams have all made tangible progress and with the extra support will shape significantly in the second period of the season. The Senior 2nd XI are also flying high after beating Kilkeel 1sts 7-2 in the last Prior Shield group game and will now progress to the quarter final after the festive break. They have the same depth and strength of selection issues to deal with and competition for Dowdall Cup places will be hot when the next phase of the season arrives. The partnership with University of Ulster Sport also continues to grow and the Senior 1sts received a training T-shirt from Dr Nigel Dobson, Head of Sport at UU as part of “Mentor Me” as the U12 shadowed the 1sts against RBAI. It certainly seemed to work as both sides won convincingly scoring 29 goals on the way and conceding just four.
This wonderful relationship has resulted in a deeper understanding of the performance side of the game and with focus shifting to strength and conditioning work twice a week will see an injection of some education in the area of long term nutrition gains for elite athletes being delivered in January 2022.
In the meantime, though the attention will swoop back to getting the coveted Ulster Schools’ McCullough Cup back into the Lurgan road trophy cabinet – good luck to all players and staff involved and our thanks to senior stakeholders EMTEK, Sintons at the Bridge and Mid Ulster Granite.