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The two Ulster connections out to wreck Ireland's Olympic bid in Banbridge

 

Friendly foes: Former Irish U17 team-mates Lucy Camlin (left) and Katie Mullan (right) with Lucy McKee (centre)
Friendly foes: Former Irish U17 team-mates Lucy Camlin (left) and Katie Mullan (right) with Lucy McKee (centre)
Scotland coach Jennifer Wilson played for Coleraine and Ulster Under 21s.

By John Flack

Former Coleraine and Ulster Under-21 player Jennifer Wilson will be hoping to have the task of plotting Ireland's downfall at the FIH Hockey series semi-finals in Banbridge on Saturday.

The South African was appointed Scotland head coach last year and will be aiming to steer her team into a semi-final meeting with the hosts with victory over the Czech Republic in a crossover match this afternoon.

And the Ulster connection doesn't end there as the Scots' goalkeeper Lucy Camlin was actually born in the province and represented Ireland at under-age level before switching her allegiance three years ago.

In fact, she was a team-mate of current Ireland player Zoe Wilson in Ballyclare High School's Belfast Telegraph Senior Cup winning team back in 2012.

The 25-year-old went on to win an Irish Senior Cup and Premier League double with Pegasus before moving to Edinburgh University to study.

Camlin qualified for Scotland after fulfilling the three-year residency requirement and was eligible to make the switch as she had not played senior international hockey for Ireland.

She has played against her native country before when Scotland travelled to Stormont and Banbridge for an international series in 2017 and obviously would welcome the opportunity to do so again when the stakes will be higher on Saturday.

Scotland coach Wilson arrived in Northern Ireland back in 2000 when she joined Coleraine who were newcomers to the Ulster Premier League, having been lured to the club by its then player-coach Caryn Bentley.

Wilson was picked for the Ulster U21s and went on to lift an inter-pro winner's medal in Cork.

Jennifer Wilson (1).jpg
Scotland coach Jennifer Wilson played for Coleraine and Ulster Under 21s.

After that she caught the eye of the South Africa selectors and went on to play at three Olympic Games from 2004 to 2012.

She also took part in three Commonwealth Games and three World Cups, scoring two of the goals in a 6-0 win over an Ireland team that included current manager Arlene Boyles in 2002.

Wilson said: "I don't think I would have had the opportunity to work and play and coach hockey in the UK had I not decided to move to Coleraine all those years ago.

"It was the start of a long and enjoyable journey and I will always cherish my time in Northern Ireland where I had so many happy memories."

Fast forward 19 years though and there will be no room for sentiment if Scotland can book their place against Ireland in what is the first stage of the Olympic qualifying process.

Today's FIH series schedule (Havelock Park, Banbridge): Play-offs: Malaysia v France (3.45pm); Scotland v Czech Republic (6pm)

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