Galway’s Colaiste Iognaid are bidding for a second successive Irish title when this year’s senior school hockey championships get under way in the city today.
The Jes, who last season won the national crown for the first time, are now intent on successfully defending their title, but they will be up against the best in the country from Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and the South-East, in addition to Galway’s Salerno, who lost to the Jes in the recent Connacht final.
Salerno pushed the Jes all the way, but in a tightly-fought contest, the holders overcame the challengers courtesy of an Elaine Carey goal scored early in the second half.
Now the Jes, with eight of last season’s starting line-up, are intent on putting in a bold bid to retain the championship. Coached by Imelda Brennan, alongside manager Rita Ryan and fitness advisor Darragh Leonard, the Jes also boasts five internationals in the squad. And with home advantage, the Jes are keen to keep the Kate Russell Trophy in Galway. The only other Galway school to have won the trophy was Dominican College, Taylor’s Hill in 1998.
Salerno, however, will also contest the finals with confidence. They overcame Sligo Grammar in the semi-final by 2-1. Coached by Gerry Heaney, they are backboned by Irish international Freddie Timmins, keeper Vicki Hynes, her sister Alison, Saoirse McGath, and captain Sarah Johnson.
The action commences today at 9am when the Jes entertain the Munster champions. The other school in the group is South East champions Loretto Kilkenny or Loretto Wexford. The Jes match against the South East side begins at 3pm.
In the other pool Salerno face a formidable Ulster side. Leinster will be represented by newly-crowned champions St Andrews. The first Salerno group begins at 10.30am with the second starting at 1.30pm.
The final days matches are scheduled to take place tomorrow at 9.30am, 11.30am, with the decider at 1.30pm.