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Frazer keen to inspire Armagh to Cup delight

 

Changed sides: Gemma Frazer in action for Harlequins, who she left to return to Armagh
Changed sides: Gemma Frazer in action for Harlequins, who she left to return to Armagh

By John Flack

Gemma Frazer is looking forward to the chance of getting her hands on a first piece of silverware with Armagh, who take on Priorians in today's Senior Cup decider at Stormont (2pm).

The Ireland international midfielder caused shockwaves in the summer when she opted to quit Irish top-flight side Belfast Harlequins and return to the Orchard County club, who play two leagues below in Ulster hockey's second tier.

But she is loving her hockey with Armagh, who are chasing a Cup and Senior One double success, as they go into today's game boasting an unbeaten record which has taken them to the top of the league standings.

Frazer played senior international hockey as recently as last January when she was part of the Ireland squad which went on a four-match tour of Chile in Santiago.

However, she was omitted from the panel under previous national head coach Graham Shaw and, perhaps realising her Ireland days might be over, she made the decision to move back to Armagh where she started her hockey career as a teenager.

She is no stranger to silverware, having been a member of the Ulster Elks squad that captured back-to-back Irish Cups in 2015-16, and now she wants to get her hands on more trophies, starting this afternoon.

"I am really looking forward to playing in the final, it's every athlete's dream to take part in such occasions and I am no different," she enthused.

"It was one of our goals at the start of the season to reach the final, so we are pleased, as a team, to have attained it and the girls are really excited about the game.

"I am really enjoying my time back at Armagh and it is, and has always been, a fantastic club.

"We have lots of potential to make a big name for ourselves again due to the quality of the management and coaching staff, and their ambition is to compete at the top level once again and we are all anticipating great things in the coming seasons."

Armagh, coached by Ian Hughes, who is the brother of recently-retired former Northern Ireland captain Aaron, played in the Irish Hockey League in its previous format not so long ago.

They were then relegated from the Ulster Premier League a couple of years later and had been struggling in Senior One until Frazer, along with a few other newcomers, arrived on the scene.

But Frazer isn't looking too far beyond today's final with the Londonderry side, who are also in good form having been unbeaten in six matches before losing to Portadown last weekend.

"As regards Armagh's longer-term ambitions, within a season I don't tend to look too far ahead," she added.

"I just want to focus on the next task in hand and try to keep reaching our goals which starts with the game with Priorians.

"We drew with them in the group stages of the Cup and then managed to beat them 3-2 in the league, so I reckon it's going to be another tight game."

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