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Sunday 8 December 2019

Hockey club finds a home after 15 years

Wexford Hockey ladies second team playing their first game in Loreto against Carlow Seconds
Wexford Hockey ladies second team playing their first game in Loreto against Carlow Seconds

Wexford Hockey Club was rejoicing last week when it celebrated a homecoming with their first senior matches on the hockey pitch at the Loreto Secondary School.

The club has been without a home ground for more than 15 years, since the grit pitch at the old Loreto school on Spawell Road was deemed unsuitable for club matches. What followed was a series of moves until, in recent years, engaging with the Astro Active Centre in Enniscorthy and running all club activities from there.

With the turning of the sod of the long-awaited new Loreto school campus in December 2015, the club was finally able to see some light at the end of the tunnel that was their accommodation challenges.

Now, after various unforeseen bumps in the road, the club has found its way back to what has always been its spiritual home. Junior and senior members of the club have begun training sessions on the new astro-turf pitch and the two senior teams played their first home games on the surface in the last week.

The club has always been intrinsically linked to the Loreto secondary school, sharing facilities and personnel down through the years, as well as giving players the opportunity for extra game time on weekends.

One of the most pivotal figures in that ironclad relationship is Kai Gahan, who trained hundreds of hockey players during her four decades as a PE teacher and hockey coach in the school, and continues to do so now, in her retirement, with the club.

Current Loreto hockey coaches Elaine Kinsella and Ruth Kennedy are also past club members.

Throughout the years, numerous club and school players have been part of various inter-provincial and international panels and teams.

Most recently, three former Loreto students and current first team players, Leonie Grant, Sinead McDonnell and Ciara Pettitt represented Ireland at the Over-40s World Cup in Terrassa, Barcelona last year where they finished fifth overall.

Club chairperson Therese Finan said: 'It is a wonderful feeling for us to come home to Loreto Wexford. We are very grateful to the school, who have welcomed us with open arms, and we look forward to reviving the strong relationship we previously enjoyed with them.'

The club, she said, had travelled a lot of miles over the years but was very grateful to have found a superb interim home in the Astro Active in Enniscorthy, a pitch which, until recently, serviced three clubs, two of which had men's teams as well, meaning that pitch space was at a premium.

Ms Finan added: 'This has been a long time coming but it comes at a great time for the club. Our junior section continues to grow while our adult teams are performing very well in their respective leagues. Our first team made the historic move to the Leinster league last year and our second team is likely to do the same next year.

'Having a home venue like this is crucial for the growth of the club and, after the achievements of the Irish ladies team last year, we hope that many more young women in Wexford will want to pick up a hockey stick and, hopefully, follow in their footsteps.'

The club is always open to new members from first class up.

Training on Monday runs from 5.45 p.m. to 6.45 p.m. for first, second and third classes; and from 6.45 p.m. to 7.45 p.m. for fourth, fifth and sixth classes. On Tuesday it runs from 5.45 p.m. to 6.45 p.m. for first, second, third and fourth years; and from 6.15 p.m. to 7.45 p.m. for fifth and sixth years, and all adult players.

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