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Becky on quest to lead Ards toward EY Irish Hockey League summit

Ice maiden: Becky Weir knows Ards have a mountain to climb in the All-Ireland League but at least she is aware what it takes after a summer on Mont Blanc
Ice maiden: Becky Weir knows Ards have a mountain to climb in the All-Ireland League but at least she is aware what it takes after a summer on Mont Blanc

By John Flack

Ulster champions Ards have a mountain to climb if they are to win the EY Irish Hockey League but one of their players is more than used to such a challenge.

Midfielder Becky Weir helped the club to a Premier League and Ulster Shield double last season, and then spent her summer holidays climbing in the Mont Blanc region of France and at one stage diced with death.

After stepping on to what she thought was solid ice, she plunged down a crevasse and was left suspended by a rope hundreds of feet above a bottomless pit.

So it's not surprising that travelling by car to play for Ards against Hermes in Dublin this Saturday holds no fears for the 23-year-old after what she has been through.

She is expecting a different sort of challenge over the course of the hockey season as Ards attempt to translate their success at domestic level to the bigger stage.

"I believe we don't always play to our true potential at all-Ireland level," she said. "But this is a great platform to show why we have been so successful in Ulster, and that we aim to do so in this league."

Ards came back from three goals down to draw with IHL champions Pegasus at the weekend while their opponents on Saturday, Hermes, also came from behind to beat UCD 3-2 with a hat-trick from Ireland striker Anna O'Flanagan.

"We are aiming to win as many games as we can and if we do that, then hopefully we will be there at the business end of the table," continued Becky.

"We wouldn't be competing week in, week out if we didn't believe we have the ability and drive to compete in this league."

Regards the episode on Mont Blanc, Becky came through it very well.

"My uncle is an experienced climber and promptly went into rescue mode after my fall, pinning himself on the ground and taking my weight as I hung like a piece of bait," she recalled.

"I had to use my ice-axe to climb my way out of the crevasse, and it was frightening.

"Altogether we climbed glaciers for 11 hours and reached the summit of two mountains and also a ridge of Mont Blanc which was vertical rock climbing. Now, in hockey terms, I know exactly what they mean when they say you have a mountain to climb!"

Ireland captain Megan Frazer, meanwhile, is hoping for a belated birthday celebration this weekend after playing a starring role for Ulster Elks in the opening 3-1 win over Pembroke as her team prepare to face Cork Harlequins on Saturday.

Frazer said: "We'll be travelling down on my birthday on Friday so it will be a quiet night, but hopefully we can get revenge after losing 2-1 in the corresponding fixture last season."

Pegasus will start as favourites to get their first win on the board when they host Pembroke while, at domestic level, there is a full programme of fixtures in the Ulster Shield tonight and in the Premier League and Senior One on Saturday.

Belfast Telegraph


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