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Naomi Grundie relishes Ulster bid to retain inter-pro title

By John Flack

Naomi Grundie is planning to return to the Ards line-up for the tail end of the season once she finishes her maternity leave but, before that, she is looking forward to her first tournament in a coaching capacity at representative level.

The former Ards captain will be assisting Stephen Watt, who will be coaching the Ulster U18 squad at this weekend's inter-provincial series in Cork.

Naomi says she misses playing, having led her team to back-to-back Ulster Shield successes and a Premier League title during her term as skipper.

But she's been enjoying the new challenge that coaching presents and is relishing the chance to help the Ulster youngsters in their bid to retain the title they won last year in Dublin.

"They say there's no substitute for playing but, when you're expecting a baby, you don't really have a choice do you?" she said.

"I am looking forward to getting back playing again in the new year and, while I'm not the best of spectators, it would be worse and more frustrating if I was injured rather than in a happy situation."

In the meantime, Naomi, whose husband Gareth coaches Ards, has been satisfying her appetite with preparations for the weekend showpiece in Cork.

She added: "Quite a few of the girls played in the Ulster squad that won bronze at the UK School Games last month, including Banbridge Academy's Katie McKee."

Ulster's U16s, who are coached by Ireland's most-capped female international Shirley McCay, will be aiming to improve on last year's third-place finish.

Due to the inter-pros, there are three fixtures in the Ulster Premier League on Saturday. Ballymoney host Raphoe, Queen's travel to Dungannon and North Down take on Portadown.

Ulster U16s: Erin Anderson (Rainey); Nadia Benallal (Banbridge Acad.); Olivia Berry (Royal School Armagh); Laura Chestnutt (Ballyclare HS); Anna Doherty (Ballymena Acad.); Harriett Dougan (BRA); Molly Dougan (Ballyclare HS); Olivia Gibson ( Lurgan Junior High); Kate Hamill (Friends); Jess Hood (Omagh Acad.); Rachel Mercer (Regent); Ellie Montgomery (Rainey); Olivia Mullan (Dalriada); Cara McEwen (Friends); Niamh McIvor (BRA); Ellen Reid (Banbridge Acad.); Olivia Savage (Methody); Charlotte Stacey (Ballymena Acad.)

Ulster U18s: Rachel Barnes (Friends); Alex Burns (Rainey); Gemma Ferguson (Ballyclare HS); Emma Gregson (Banbridge Acad.); Alyssa Jebb (Wallace HS); Jade Lamont (Ballymena Acad.); Jenny Morrow (Lurgan Coll.); Lauren Mulholland (Rainey); Rebecca McConnell (Ballyclare HS); Rebecca McCullough (Ballyclare HS); Sophie McDowell (Ballyclare HS); Katie McKee (Banbridge Acad.); Emily McStea (Lurgan HC); Anna Nawn (Limavady Grammar); Ellie Nugent (Ballyclare HS); Alice Reid (BRA); Holly Taggart (Ballymena Acad.); Lauren Wright (Royal School Armagh).

Belfast Telegraph


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