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Ireland star Wilson proud to return as a coach at Ballyclare HS

 

By John Flack

Zoe Wilson is back where her hockey career took off as she has taken up a coaching role at Ballyclare High School, just over five years after scoring the winning goal for them in the Belfast Telegraph Senior Cup final as a 14-year-old.

Little did she know then that she would go on to be the proud possessor of a half-century of senior Irish caps, having reached the milestone during the EuroHockey Championship in Amsterdam in August.

The 20-year-old defender or midfielder has already made a big impact at her new club, scoring one of the goals and setting up another in Belfast Harlequins' epic 3-2 win over 2016 EY Irish Hockey League champions Monkstown in their opening game of the new campaign on Saturday at Deramore.

That result represented a huge turnaround from the corresponding game last season when they were crushed 10-1 by the Dublin side as Quins made their debut in the national league.

On Saturday, they have another tough test as they travel to Dublin to face a UCD side that surrendered their long unbeaten record last weekend when they lost 2-1 to Cork Harlequins.

"After our gutsy performance on Saturday, I know we will take confidence going into this weekend," said Wilson.

Wilson says she is delighted to be coaching at her alma mater, a role she combines with training and playing for club and country as well as her academic commitments at Ulster University.

"Since leaving Ballyclare High, I, like many past pupils, have returned to coach and umpire on a Saturday morning," she added.

"I have been coaching the senior girls alongside Lisnagarvey player James Corry.

"I enjoy the coaching aspect and getting to see players develop and grow in confidence over time makes it very rewarding."

Pegasus, who thumped newly promoted Trinity College 6-1, face a daunting trip to Cork where they will face a Harlequins side buoyed by that impressive win over UCD.

However, coach Ali McNeill was happy with her team's display, especially at penalty corners which had proved to be an Achilles heel last season.

Ards had a 2-1 win over Pembroke last weekend and are hoping to build on that when they take on Railway Union at home.

At domestic level, Dungannon are the early pacesetters in the Ulster Premier League following their 5-1 win over North Down, and the Tyrone side will be confident of making it two from two when they travel to Portadown.

The most interesting game looks to be the meeting of champions Lurgan and Queen's at Upper Malone, which is a repeat of last season's Denman Ulster Shield final.

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