Sharon Hutchinson recalls the great UCC Hockey team of the early 1990s
This is a short piece written by Sharon Hutchinson who played in goal for the all-conquering UCC Womens Hockey team of the early – mid 1990s. Sharon now runs her own sports website – www.sportswomen.ie
I entered UCC in 1988 and played in goal with UCC Hockey Senior Team until I left in 1995. Playing with UCC brings back many happy memories and the opportunity to play with your peers was great.
The team of 88/89 had the legendary Mary Logue who later captained and played for Ireland, we won the Chilean Cup that year which was a great start to my hockey career in UCC. It was also a time of transition for the women’s hockey club. The club was run by the students with no-one really minding us except ourselves. While third level students are mostly adults it can be difficult to manage studies, living away from home (for some) and general student life, as a result the team suffered with mixed results. Under the guidance of a group of alikadoos, Maeve Hyland, Gillian Harte, Noreen Ryan, Pauline O’Callaghan and others who got involved with the club from about 1989/90, the club went from strength to strength.
In 1992 Rachael Kohler joined the UCC ranks, Rachael is one of the most capped Irish players of all time and recently the Irish coach was wondering who she was, not knowing that she had retired from International hockey a few years ago. Her tenacity on the ball and sheer determination was an example to any young player starting off and she is one of the true legends in the sport.
Sarah Kelleher, who captained the World Cup Squad in 1994, joined UCC in 1992. Sarah was a CIT student who transferred to UCC to complete her degree. Sarah was one of the greats and her skill level was hard to match, she was an individual player who could run from one end of the pitch to the other and score a goal. Sarah is a coach for England Hockey across the Junior programmes.
Shirine Young a member of the World Cup Squad 1994, also played with UCC for the 1993/94 season. Debbie Gaye and Michelle O’Sullivan were also senior internationals and added great strength and depth to the team. On a hockey level, 1994 was a disappointing year for me as I did not make the World Cup squad but the successful club season was some consolation !
In 1992/93 the fruits of our new organisation began to show with UCC reaching the Munster Cup Final against Ashton. We were beaten 2-0 but got our revenge winning the Cork Examiner Cup and beating Ashton 3-0 in the final. It was a sign of things to come. In the 1993/94 season we had our most successful season with the League Cup Double. We won the league for the first time since 1958 and won the cup against Harlequins 1-0. We went on to represent Munster in the All Ireland League Finals that year and played Hermes at home in the Irish Senior Cup. A draw at home brought us back to Dublin for the replay but unfortunately we were beaten in Dublin.
We didn’t win a Chilean Cup again until the 1994/95 season. Rachael and myself played on this team. There were many penalty stroke competitions lost by UCC between 1988/89 and 1994/95, including a pulled ham-string and Lynn Kiernan having to put on the pads !! We also won the cup final in 1994/95 against Harlequins winning 1-0.
I was beginning to feel the age gap between the young students coming in and being the “oldie” on the team so I decided to leave in 1995 and continue my hockey with Harlequins, the club I played with while in school.
Playing with UCC was a fantastic time in my hockey career, it was great fun, rewarding and I made many fantastic friends from those times.
This is a photo of the 1993/94 team
Back Row: Vivienne Fenton, Clodagh Mahony, Sharon Hutchinson, Sarah Kelleher, Elaine Attridge
Middle Row: Gill Harte (Manager), Tara Sheehan, Mairead Attridge, Aisling Walsh, Shirine Young, Alan Dobson (Coach)
Front Row: Aisling Keane, Lorraine Murphy, Aisling Deasy, Joyce Kehilly (Captain), Debbie Gaye, Rachael Kohler, Michelle O’Sullivan