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Champions Lurgan setting sights on big return to Irish Hockey League

By John Flack

Lurgan have set their sights on a return to the EY Irish Hockey League after lifting the Ulster Premier League title for the first time in the club's history.

A 2-1 win over Queen's on Monday night clinched the trophy for the Co Armagh team and they will now go into the IHL play-off tournament next month.

The overall winners will qualify for the 10-team All-Ireland tournament next season with the runners-up facing the side that finishes in ninth place in this season's main competition.

Lurgan captain Charlene Hull paid tribute to team coach Robbie McMinn after scoring the opening goal in Monday night's decisive win over Queen's.

A draw would have been enough for Lurgan to clinch the title but they went one better after Emma Lindsay hit the winner following Tori Hastings' equaliser for the students.

"Robbie's experience in the men's game was crucial to our success and he helped us to achieve peak fitness and improve our basic skills," said Charlene.

The skipper is delighted with her team's first Ulster title and feels that the absence of the top three finishers from last season didn't diminish the achievement.

Ards, Pegasus and the Ulster Elks, of course, are representing Ulster in the IHL and Lurgan's goal is to join them next season.

"We are thrilled to have won the title for the first time in our history and it gives us a potentially less difficult draw in the qualifiers at Lisnagarvey," added Charlene.

Belfast Harlequins are also through to the play-off tournament and Randalstown are likely to join them.

Meanwhile, Queen's II have booked their place in next month's Irish Junior Cup final against Loreto II after Kathryn Bryans scored in the 1-0 win over Trinity II on Sunday.

Ireland women were narrowly edged out 1-0 by a strong Great Britain team in the first of three internationals at Bisham Abbey yesterday.

Ireland, with five Ulster players in the 20-strong squad, matched their opponents, who are preparing for the Rio Olympics, for much of the game.

With two minutes remaining, GB scored the winner but Ireland will take great heart from their performance with two more games to come, starting with this afternoon's clash (1.45pm).

Belfast Telegraph


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