Greenfields Hockey Club will create history on Saturday when they become their first Connacht team to compete in the Electric Ireland Women’s Irish Hockey League.
The league comprises the top 12 teams in the country, grouped in two pools. Greenfields’ opponents include Catholic Institute of Limerick, Lurgan from Ulster, and the top three teams from Leinster, UCD, Railway Union and Hermes. These five matches will be played over the five Saturdays in March.
Greenfields open their campaign on Saturday at 2.30pm in Dangan against Catholic Institute, who have competed in the IHL over the last number of seasons. This season, Catholic Institute lie in second place in the Munster Senior League and field two Irish senior internationals and a number of Irish underage players.
They will go into the league with a mixture of confidence and trepidation as the new venture will be a steep learning curve.
However Greenfields have retained this season’s Connacht Senior League title to book their place in next seasons IHL.
Undefeated in this season’s Connacht league, winning all 12 of their league matches with 49 goals and the concession of just three, they now turn their attention to this bigger challenge. As an un-seeded team, they have three away matches and two at home, so it is vitally important they hit the ground running on Saturday against Institute.
The squad of 25 includes a mixture of youth and experience with 13 players holding two Irish Trophy medals following the club’s back-to-back trophies in 2012 and 2013. Greenfields’ success over the last few years has been built on its experienced defence of goalkeeper Sinead Collins, and back four Sarah McDonald, Clodagh Grealy, Catherine Moore and Aine Collins. During the five IHL matches in March Greenfields will need these players to be at their best.
This Saturday Greenfields, led by captain Alma Whelan, will hope to get their campaign off to a winning start. It is an opportunity for the players to show their abilities on the national stage, and also for the supporters to experience hockey from the top teams in the country.