McAuley gunning for historic sixth straight hockey crown
HOCKEY: They have had to wait a little longer this year but reigning Grafton Hockey Association women’s premiers McAuley White are ready to defend their crown once again.
One of Grafton hockey’s most dominant clubs, McAuley sealed their fifth straight title last season with a 4-1 win over Sailors Roches Hotel and they already have their eyes on a sixth.
After providing an entertaining end to the season in 2019, women’s first grade will take centre stage this year as men’s first and second grade will be set aside for a solitary third grade competition.
The women will boast a strong field across the grades, with six teams taking part in second grade and four vying for the third grade title along with another four in the top flight.
Kicking off their campaign against Barbs Helgas at Brent Livermore Field on Saturday afternoon, McAuley will want to open the season on a high after a delayed start date.
Their grand final challengers, Sailors, will face Coffs Crusaders in their own opening tie at the Grafton Hockey Complex directly after the opener.
Top scorer last year, McAuley’s Ellynie Cameron will be ready to hit the ground running at the attacking end as midfield anchor Sam Lawson will look to solidify the squad’s spine in 2020.
But with young gun Ashleigh Ensbey maturing alongside a number of other young prospects in blue, the challenge could be on from McAuley’s opposition.
Former McAuley coach Harrison Smith said he was confident in the side’s ability to stay on top.
“They’ll keep pushing themselves. We can’t keep winning forever but we can keep going for a few more years at least,” Smith said after last year’s grand final victory for McAuley.
COVID-19 has continued to cause headaches for GHA and their stakeholders but through sheer will and persistence, the board have managed to put together what resembles most of a hockey season and will continue to provide a safe pathway for the sport in the Clarence.
As the seniors embark on the season ahead, the juniors get ready to return for a condensed competition from late next week.