Dutch tour for Wallace boys

Wallace High School and HGC players pictured after their recent game in Den Haag.
Wallace High School and HGC players pictured after their recent game in Den Haag.

THE Wallace High School boys’ 1st X1 hockey team have enjoyed a busy time recently competing in the McCullough Cup, Irish Schools and also going on tour to Holland.

Pre Halloween, the school hosted the prestigious Irish Schools’ dinner in the Assembly Hall welcoming over 300 guests (including players and dignitaries) from all over Ireland.

The team found themselves in a tough group and realised that it would be difficult to emulate the 1st X1 who reached the final the last time that the tournament was held in Ulster. They got off to a great start, defeating Mount Temple 4 - 0 with goals from co captain Ross Kelly (2), Jack Wilson and an own goal, then drawing 1 - 1 with local rivals RBAI with Mark Acheson on the score sheet. This set up a final group game against Dublin powerhouses St Andrew’s College who were regarded almost universally as the favourites for the competition. The young Lisburn side took the lead from a superb Kelly penalty corner and held their own for much of the game before succumbing to two late goals which left the final score 3 - 1 to the team who eventually defeated Wesley College in the final.

As always the team played a friendly match on the last day, this one a real thriller with a 7 - 5 victory over another Dublin school, Sutton Park. Sean Murray, Ross Kelly (2), Mark Acheson, Luke Chambers, Daniel Nelson and Jack Wilson were on target in this game.

The week after the Irish Schools’ tournament saw the team visit Den Haag in the Netherlands where they toured for four days. Whilst there they played two games against top Dutch teams, the first a 0 - 0 draw with HGC and the second a superb 9 - 3 win against the world famous Bloemendaal HC. Daniel Nelson was the star man with four goals, whilst Aaron Dumican (2), Mark Acheson and Jonny Dalton (2) were also on the score sheet. This game was somewhat unusual as when the teams arrived the pitch was covered in snow resulting in the first half taking place on the adjacent grass pitch and the second half on the by now cleared astro turf. The squad were also glad to see Principal, Mrs Deborah O’Hare at this game as she was on vacation in the area.

The 19 man touring squad watched the first half of the Dutch Premier League game between two of the top teams in Europe, namely Bloemendaal and Amsterdam HC. Unfortunately the snow had by now turned to heavy rain and the second half was abandoned due to a flooded pitch. They were also coached by Great Britain Olympic captain, Barry Middleton and Great Britain women’s international Becky Herbert who are currently playing professionally in Holland. This is the third time that Barry has coached Wallace pupils having initially been introduced to the school through fellow Great Britain player Iain Lewers and was as ever much enjoyed by all players and staff.

On their return the Wallace team knew that they had two tough McCullough Cup group games to negotiate if they were to qualify for the semi finals of this competition for the fourth year in a row. A superb 7 - 2 victory over the traditionally strong Cookstown High School was enough to seal qualification with Nelson again the star of the show with an excellent hat trick. Co captain Kelly again scored two well executed drag flicks, whilst Acheson and Ryan Getty were the other scorers.

This weekend sees five Wallace pupils heading to the Interprovincial tournament in Cork. Co captain’s of the 1st X1 Ross Kelly and Jack Wilson are both in the under 18 panel, whilst Sean Murray, Ryan Getty and Mark McNellis are all in the under 16 squad. All at the school would like to wish all five players the best of luck for their games ahead.