YMCA capped an excellent season with men’s division five and six titles to add to their men’s first team’s run to a first national final since 2001 and their pair of women’s promotions.
For their third team, it was a monumental turnaround from the 2010/11 season which saw the side coming dangerously close to demotion. A combination of players moving down from the seconds, a number returning to competitive hockey and the youths moving into more regular men’s hockey meant that the side had a regular core team of about 10 players throughout the season, a stark contrast from the year previous.
The campaign got off to a great start in September with victories against Pembroke Wanderers, Avoca and St James Gate. The first blip of the season came with a loss in an away match to North Kildare, never an easy place to visit.
Rathgar were setting the pace but YM had them in their sight when they met in November with a chance of swapping league lead.
In what was one of the most memorable games of the season, and toughest, YM team dug deep and came away with the win, 4-2, and they retained the lead into the New Year despite a loss to Avoca in their last game of 2011.
Form continued into the second half of the season with solid wins over Monkstown, Rathgar and St James Gate. But, with the lack of consistent game time – out of the cup combined with other fixture issues – the league deciding fixture against Weston who were chasing them down all season was always going to be a close call.
Their plight was made more difficult as YM’s captain Andrew Faulkner dislocated his knee and tore his ACL during the second half and Weston took a 3-2 lead and the impetus in the title race.
The following week, the Y lost again to a lucky Three Rock Rovers side. The pressure was now on to win the remainder of the matches for the season, and for Weston to drop some points.
From their perspective, both scenarios came good. Weston lost to Pembroke, and YM won all their fixtures, closing with an excellent 6-0 victory against North Kildare in the final match of the season with experienced heads like Charlie Carroll, Pete Thompson and Warwick Armstrong on the mark.
A division below, their fourth team finally pinned down some silverware after a couple of years knocking on the door.
The side had a fantastic season, going unbeaten at home all year, securing ten wins and a draw. Victories over closest rivals Athy, both home and away, were key to their successful campaign.
Captain Graham Walker came away as top scorer netting 17 goals – including two hat-tricks – from midfield. Leo Micklem, the rookie goalkeeper with a great future ahead of him, had an impressive seven clean sheets as YM continue to produce top class keepers.
Geoff Lenehan also had some incredible late goals over the season before jetting off to concentrate on becoming a professional golfer. Andrew O Leary, Simon Tobin and Ross Gribben all got their fair share of goals while Frank Kelly, Daragh Lyons and Adam Lee kept it tight and organised at the back. Jason Miller and Eoghan O’Mara Walsh brought what money can’t buy, experience.
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