Sandford Park played their first ever girls hockey fixtures last week when they took on John Scottus in games at form one and two level.
The Ranelagh school – the alma mater of Irish internationals Ronan Gormley and Maurice Elliott – became co-educational in September 2013 and has seen their sports programme grow to be able field teams at first and second year level.
Last Wednesday, they lined out against John Scottus School in Serpentine Avenue. The Form One side, proudly led by captain Maeve Rigney, got off to a lively start with both teams playing entertaining hockey.
In the opening minutes, forward Juliet McGuckian was unlucky not to put the Sandford girls ahead with an excellent through ball from Rachael Lamb. Johns Scottus then began to exert pressure and in the tenth minute took the lead with a well deserved goal.
The game continued in attacking fashion and midway through the first half it was honours even with Sandford scoring through Lamb but the Ballsbridge school scored two well taken goals to lead 3-1 at half-time.
In the second half, the Sandford girls came out fighting, with some lovely play by Patricia O’Reilly and Lucy Brady. It wasn’t long until the pressure paid off and two excellent goals from Juliet McGuckian and Marit Mulders had honours even.
As the game looked set to be played out in a draw John Scottus struck a deadly blow in the dying minutes to snatch a 4-3 victory.
In the Form Two fixture, captain Beth O’Neill led from the front against a well organised John Scottus team. At half-time, it was honours even at one a piece with Eleanor Hartnett scoring after a 40-metre run to get the Sandford goal.
Special mention must go to the Sandford goalkeeper, Seoirse Claffey, who was playing in her first ever hockey match pulled off a couple of excellent saves like a well seasoned pro.
In the second half there were excellent performances from Emer Connolly, Karen O’Connor and Aisling Lawrence. With ten minutes left on the clock, Hartnett snatched her second and the decisive goal of the game for a 2-1 win.
With a small but growing number of girls attending Sandford Park School, it is an excellent testimony to coaches Claire Shillington and Albert Van de Merwe to be able to field two teams.
Back row: Ms Burns, Grace English, Marit Mulders, Juliet McGuckian, Anna McGarry, Hannah Hilliers, Ava Lowry, Sarah Carway Poynton, Ms Shillington.
Front row: Patricia O’Reilly, Rachael Lamb, Maeve Rigney, Lucy Brady, Caoimhe Flynn, Roisin Long, Kayla Golding.