OMAGH Hockey Club coach Lyndsey McCay is quietly opitimistic about the new season ahead despite the loss of a number of experienced campaigners from last year’s squad.
With a number of players leaving these shores for university and others taking a maternity break, McCay has something of a new-look squad to work with ahead of what is sure to be another challenging season in Senior League One.
However it’s not all bad news for McCay, who this season has taken a break from playing to take over the coaching duities. Familar faces Holly Nelson and Georgia Stewart have returned to Omagh’s ranks while ex-Derg Valley player Honour Nethery will prove another valuable addition.
Academy schoolgirls Mia Nethery and Amy Sproule will bring some youthful exuberance to the Omagh party as McCay sets her sights on a top half finish in the league.
Last year Omagh just missed out on promotion to the Premier division by finishing third but on reflection that, according to McCay, has been something of a blessing in disguise.
“Given how the squad has changed since last season it’s probably a good thing that we didn’t go up,” she said.
“That said I think we’ll do alright. We have plenty of youth coming through, a few players coming back so we are looking forward to the challenges ahead. We’ll be happy in mid-table looking upwards. I’d be hoping for something similar to last season.”
Last season Omagh’s first XI created history by winning the Senior One League Cup for the first time by defeating Raphoe in the showpiece final at Stormont.
McCay’s charges begin the defence of the trophy this weekend when they host Coleraine at Campsie (push-back 2.30pm). Prior to that the club’s seconds, who following their promotion and Intermediate Plate success last season, will this season compete in Junior League One, face Ards seconds in their league opener (push-back 1pm).
Last weekend Omagh competed in a tournament at CI and finished fourth out of a 11 teams.
“The team which went to CI was more of a select side and as is always the case in pre-season there is still plenty to work on,” contined the coach. We will also have a few players missing for Saturday’s game so we know it’s going to be a tough start. But on the whole we are relshing the challenges the new season will bring.”
All hockey players, past, present and new are welcome to join the club and come to training on Thursday nights, including tonight, at Campsie; 7-8.30pm. Supporters are also welcome.