Hermes coach Rudi Wortmann said an early season “wake-up call” from Pembroke served to give his side the kick to refocus toward a winning Leinster women’s division one push.
He admits “preseason wasn’t that good” while their 1-0 loss to the Ballsbridge club served as a powerful warning of the close-knit battle ahead for a new look panel.
Wortmann took on the side for a second spell having won most of the tophies in the game during his first stint almost a decade ago. He took on a side that had lost Lisa Jacob to the Irish rugby sevens game with Audrey O’Flynn set to follow during the campaign.
UCD snapped up Orla Patton, Sara Twomey and Sadhbh Hoban Logan while Sinead McCarthy’s departure to the UK meant that a panel that had endured a mixed 2013/14 season was thinned. Despite this, Wortmann says he “not surprised his side” won the title “because the different type of people and players in the team”.
Aisling Naughton and Sinead Loughran were late additions to the squad who have proven an irresistable force while 16-year-old Suzanne Kelly – who moved up from Mount Anville’s junior club – has been an almost ever-present in defence.
Her development, along with Sarah Patton, have been among the key additions to a panel otherwise well-versed in top-tier hockey, owing much to graduates of UCD – the likes of Eimear Horan, Kerry McComish, Rosie Carrigan, Megan Tennant-Humphreys, Christine Quinlan, Caitriona McGilp and Kerry McComish.
“Our key players are basically the whole team. I’m not sure if we could have done without any of the players. I know it sounds trite but that is my genuine feeling,” said of his panel.
“Aisling and Sinead did make a difference. They are a different type of player while Suzie fitted in just like that. She and Sarah Patton have made huge progress during the season and I’m hoping to keep both of them on for next year, seeing how they have improved.”
After that opening loss, Hermes quickly found their mojo, especially in front of goal. They hit big scores against Old Alex (eight) and Glenanne (five) before an eye-catching 3-0 win over Railway in the IHL showed they meant business.
“Goalscoring has been a key strength this season. We have a composure not to panic when we fall behind which has happened against UCD twice, Trinity, North Kildare, Old Alex and Belfast Harlequins.”
Indeed, those two draws against UCD – 4-4 and 2-2 – came from two-goal deficits, results that helped nudge them two points clear of the students in the final reckoning.
With a perfect record against the sides in the bottom half, Wortmann said his side hit their targets for points against the other sides in the top five.
“We’ve gelled as a team very well. Its a good balanced team with leaders and unselfish players. We managed not to drop any points agains the lower five teams which I set from the start as a must. We collected 12 out of a possible 24 agains our rival top-five teams. And that was a key factor. By contrast, Loreto only got seven points from those games.”
Now, his side is looking to add more trophies to the league title with, incredibly, another three potentially in the offing. First up is the Jacqui Potter Cup final on St Patrick’s Day against Railway Union – the fourth meeting of the sides this term.
The Irish Senior Cup final follows on March 29 while they have an Irish Hockey League semi-final against Loreto is also on the horizon for the Booterstown club.