Two new senior hockey clubs have been formed over the summer months in Munster with Kenmare and Cashel/New Inn joining the southern ranks, bringing the entry to their leagues to 49 teams for the 2010/11 season.
Kenmare – the first hockey club in Co Kerry for a number of years – was set up by former UCC Director of Hockey, Michelle O’Brien, who is based near the town.
Already the club has attracted 25 members with all but three new to the sport, including nine school girls. Currently, there are no registered secondary schools playing in the Kenmare area.
The setting up of the club is remarkable given that there is currently no hockey standard astroturf facility in Kenmare or nearby Killarney and the team have to play all of their games away, which requires a huge commitment on behalf of the players. Training is conducted in an indoor facility and on a small football standard astroturf pitch.
Michelle O’Brien, speaking at the launch of the new club said: “I am delighted by the reaction and interest we have received in the area.
“It has been great for us to be able to enter into the Munster league in our first year and some of the existing clubs have been very helpful in the support they have given us”.
Having played some preseason friendlies as a means of fully introducing hockey to their new players, the club took to the field on September 26 in a Division 6 encounter in Fermoy, losing by the narrowest of margins in a 1-0 defeat.
Meanwhile, in Tipperary, Cashel/New Inn have set up base at Rockwell College. The club’s formation comes only one season after nearby Moyne Thurles HC ceased playing and is a welcome development for the area.
As with Kenmare HC, the club have entered the Munster Senior League Division 6 and are due to play their first match on the first weekend of October. The team is coached by former Munster underage interprovincial player Margaret Ann Cooney, who is also a qualified PE teacher.
Commenting on the set up of the two clubs, IHA Regional Development Officer Phil Oakley said: “This is fantastic news for Munster Hockey, especially given the fact that we lost two senior clubs last season.
“To have two new clubs in new areas for hockey is a marvellous development. Hopefully this will lead to similar projects in new areas in the coming years”.