Ulster Elks hockey coach Ricky Lee is urging supporters to come out in force for the University of Ulster team’s final of the ONE 1918 Ulster Shield.
The Ulster Elks women’s team take on Lurgan Hockey Club at Lisnagarvey HC’s pitch in Hillsborough this Sunday [14 March] at 1pm, in the showpiece event of Ulster hockey.
In the final last year, the Elks were narrowly beaten 2-0 by Pegasus and coach Ricky Lee is hoping his side can go one better this time around.
He said: “The girls have put in some tremendous performances this year and are up for the challenge on Sunday. We have played Lurgan twice already this year in the league and have drawn one and were beaten in the other, so it will be a tough game but I am confident that with the squad that we have, we will more than match anything they have to throw at us.
“We just have to get down to playing our own game, at our on pace and show the talent we have in the squad.”
The Ulster Elks have that strength in depth, with a host of international players set to star for the University. Already this season, international scholars Suman Bala, a Commonwealth Games gold medal winner with India, French international Philippine Berly and South African Roxanne Turner, have helped the side pick up the all-Ireland intervarsity title defeating UCD in October.
Former England international Alice Garrad has also been instrumental in the side’s run to the Shield final.
On the way to Sunday’s decider, the Ulster Elks qualified top of a group that consisted of title-holders Pegasus, Armagh, North Down and Ballymena. They then went on to convincingly see off Belfast Harlequins 5-0 in the semi-final.
The University of Ulster’s hockey stars have been in a rich vein of form this season, and with the men's intervarsity team securing the Mauritius Cup and the women's intervarsity side winning the Chilean Cup, the Ulster Elks could add a third major hockey trophy to the cabinet this season.
“It would be the perfect way to round off a fantastic season,” said coach Lee.
“This game has been a long time in coming, after the inclement weather forced its postponement just before Christmas. But we are in the right frame of mind, a winning frame of mind, and all I can ask of the players now is to give it their all and for all at the University of Ulster to get behind their team and lend their support.”