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Northern Ireland kids are aiming to emulate their heroes

By Graham Hamilton

A total of 30 rising hockey stars will be representing Northern Ireland in the Sainsburys UK Games in Manchester over the next few days, hoping to emulate a handful of their heroes.

Steven Arbuthnot's girls and Shirley McCay's boys are in the U18 category which features three teams from England and one from Scotland and Wales.

Among those who took part in the Games in the past are Matthew Bell and Michael Robson who were part of the Ireland squad which won European bronze last week, while Megan Frazer, Katie Mullan and Chloe Brown won European Division B gold the previous month.

Meanwhile the domestic season begins on Saturday with the opening round of Kirk Cup pool games.

It has a different look about it, with Banbridge, Lisnagarvey, Cookstown and Annadale now in the Irish Hockey League.

NORTHERN IRELAND GIRLS: S Brown (Ballymoney), K Burns, K Edgar, O Thompson (all Lurgan), R Burns, L Mulholland (all Rainey), A Doyle (Ards), A Edwards, R Henderson, M Todd (all Pegasus), E Getty (Randalstown), H Irwin, K McKee (all Armagh), J Kilpatrick (Lisnagarvey), J McMaster (Ulster Elks).

NORTHERN IRELAND BOYS: M Crookshanks, C Robson (all Annadale), K Marshall, L Roleston, J Rowe (all Banbridge), S McCabe, M Nelson, A O'Hare, J Taggart (all Lisnagarvey), B Palmer, S Pinion (all Instonians), D Rae (Kilkeel), A Tinney, B Wallace, L Witherow (all Raphoe).

KIRK CUP Pool A: Newry v Instonians; Portadown v South Antrim. Pool B: Raphoe v Kilkeel, North Down v Belfast Harlequins.

LINDEN CUP Cup Pool A: Newcastle v Queen's, Campbellians v Armagh. Pool B: Antrim v PSNI, Cliftonville v Bangor.

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