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Shock Ulster Elks return is just a one-off, maintains Angela

By John Flack

Angela Platt will return to her day job with local hockey's governing body this week after making a surprise return to the playing arena in the Ulster Elks' great European Champions Challenge triumph in Prague.

Ulster Hockey's executive manager travelled to the Czech Republic primarily as a goalkeeping coach but was included in the squad just in case No.1 Rebecca Davidson got injured.

Platt was surprised when she was asked to come on as a second-half substitute in the Elks' final group game with Edinburgh University and she bowed out with a clean sheet as the Scots held on to a 1-0 interval lead.

But the 36-year-old former Ballymoney and Ireland keeper, who played in the 2002 World Cup in Australia and also represented Northern Ireland at football, insists her playing days are now over.

"I have been coaching in my own time with the Elks for a while now and that was my role out in Prague as part of the management team," she explained.

"I was only named as back-up goalkeeper to help them out as the other keepers couldn't travel due to exam commitments.

"That meant they could have 16 outfield players but there was never any intention for me to play at all.

"I had no intention of playing again and the Edinburgh game was just a one-off as the team had already qualified for the final prior to the match.

"But the focus should be on the brilliant achievements of the Elks squad as they played some really great hockey and have been a superbly committed group of players and management team."

The Elks went on to beat Lithuanian side Gintra 3-0 in Monday's final to claim gold medals on their European debut and it's likely Ireland will have two teams in the second tier next year.

Pegasus finished last in the top-flight series in Bilthoven near Utrecht after losses to Club de Campo Madrid (5-0), Canterbury (3-0) and Russian team Krylatskoye (4-2).

Coach Arlene Boyles says her players will have learned from the experience of playing against some of the top clubs in Europe and that can only be of benefit going into next season's EY Irish Hockey League campaign.

"Obviously we were disappointed with results and clinical finishing was the huge learning point for this group," she said.

"Against Madrid on Friday we created opportunities but we were off the pace in that game and then Canterbury took their chances and we didn't.

"We played some great controlled attacking hockey but our finishing let us down and to lose to the Russian side was gut-wrenching.

"This young squad learned so much from this experience with nine players making their European debut.

"But well done to the Elks in winning their series, as it was a brilliant achievement."

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