Former Irish Captain Arlene Boyles was last night recognised for her contribution to the game when she was presented with the prestigious Winifred Templeton Award.
The award had its inaugural presentation in 1987 and was established to commemorate the contribution made to hockey by the late Mrs Winifred Templeton, MBE, Honorary Secretary of the Ulster Women’s Hockey Union for over 40 years.
Boyles recently announced her retirement from the game and was described on Wednesday night as the “perfect ambassador” for the sport over the past 25 years.
The Pegasus woman secured her first international cap in 1995 against China before going onto secure a further 122 came through the junior ranks starting at U-16s level. She competed in three European Campaigns, two Olympic qualifiers and was vice captain of her country in the 2002 World Cup in Perth. Last year, she was interim assistant women’s coach of the Irish senior women’s side that won bronze at the Champions Challenge.
At a club level with Pegasus, she has a massive eight Irish Senior Cup medals and nine club championships (including 1 Electric Ireland Irish Hockey League Title).
She recently made the tough decision to retire from competitive hockey, and was described at the awards as a ‘perfect ambassador’ for the game.
In an article on the Irish Hockey website, Boyles said of the award: “It’s a fantastic honour to have been recognised for the award as it comes from your hockey peers. Looking at the names on the trophy, I am incredibly humbled by the previous recipients.
“When someone reads out 25 years of your life it all becomes very emotional and very real but I wouldn’t have changed one thing from the wins to the losses to the friends I have made. It’s as much for my parents and Stephen as I wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without their support, for which I will be eternally grateful.”
Among other winners on the night were Cookstown man Godfrey Irwin who picked up Personality of the Year. He returned to playing this season after a lengthy spell out following the Co Tyrone club’s trip to the EuroHockey League when Taeke Taekema’s drag-flick struck him on the head.
Many suspected it may end his playing days but he has recovered from a fractured skull and a perforated eardrum to line out in the first team once again.
Banbridge were the big winners, taking club of the year while Gareth Lennox was named as the men’s Player of the Year.
He played a key role in steering Banbridge towards the Men’s Premier League Keightly Cup, the final of the Irish Hockey League and the semi-finals of the Irish Senior Cup.