'It will be brilliant for the profile of DULHC'
Published: 28th April 2017
Brian Scully, head coach of Trinity ladies hockey, had a strong affiliation to Trinity long before he took on the role last year.
“I played for the men's club when I was a student here in the early 2000s,” he says “and I met my wife in the hockey club.” So lots of positive memories are associated with Trinity hockey; even more so now that he has helped the ladies first XI gain promotion to the top-tier EY league.
Brian, who was recently named Coach of the Year at the Trinity Sport Awards & Commons, had a good feeling from when he took on his new coaching duties last year. “I met the co-captains during the summer - they were very organised and easy to deal with.”
The challenge facing all coaches of college sports teams is the turnover of players from season to season. However Brian saw this as a positive.
“I knew there was going to be a large turnover of players from the previous season. My experience of such situations meant I knew there was the possibility of moulding a brand new team, with a new ethos, so I viewed the turnover as a positive. In such scenarios there can always be a tendency to focus of what is being lost, rather than what can be begun.
“There are often players in a club that had not previously played for the first XI who probably had the talent to do so. To me this was clearly the case when pre-season began.”
They were also bolstered by the arrival of some new players of excellent ability. Going into the start of this season they had, Brian felt, the best of both worlds: “We had a mix of some older players, who were highly motivated, and extremely talented younger players who could gel into a team with a new philosophy.”
Brian and the girls set themselves a goal at the start of the season and that was to gain promotion to the EY league, which features the 10 best teams in the country.
“What really helped us over the course of the season was the qualification structure. If we won Leinster Division 1, which we did, it would give us a favourable path through the play-offs. So we were chasing the Leinster title on a weekly basis.”
The team knew this year would be their best opportunity to gain promotion. Having won Leinster in March, the next hurdle was the play-offs in which they had four matches in a round-robin style event over the course of two days. But it was nerve-racking to the end.
While the team beat UCC in their opening game, they didn’t manage to overcome Ulster champions Lurgan. This meant that they needed some results to go their way on Sunday.
“The last couple of minutes of Lurgan v Old Alex were agonising. A goal for Lurgan would have meant they would win the tournament. At the final whistle, and a scoreline of 1-1, there was huge relief. Our fate was back in our hands.
“This gave us great momentum heading into our final game; we felt like we had been given a second chance and were absolutely determined to grab it.”
Brian says the girls’ performance in that last game was outstanding. “To witness such a performance in a game of that magnitude made me feel really proud of the team.”
Now that they’ve reached the heights of the EY, Brian and the team will wait until exams are finished before making concrete plans for next season. The club also has a new president, Linda Maher, a distinguished player who couldn’t be arriving at a better time.
“Obviously the competition will be far more demanding but it will be brilliant for the profile of DULHC and Trinity Sport that we are in with the country’s elite 10 teams.”
Photo: Trinity ladies hockey first XI coach Brian Scully collects his award from Michelle Tanner at this year’s Sport Awards & Commons