Hockey gaining momentum in Laois as local girl selected for Leinster Hockey squad

Hockey gaining momentum in Laois as local girl selected for Leinster Hockey squad

A Laois hockey player has been selected for Leinster in their upcoming Women’s National Development – U23/21 competition being played in August. Leinster are limited to 6 x U21 players in each Match against other provinces this weekend at Abbotstown.

Tory Byrne from Portlaoise and member of Abbeyleix Junior hockey club is one of 6 x u21 players selected and the only player outside of Dublin.  Tory won West leinster league play-offs with Abbeyleix on two occasions at u16 level and just missed out on cup success with a 3 – 2 loss to Wexford in semi final in March 2020, the last match played since disruption in underage hockey due to pandemic.

Tory has also won numerous honours with Villiers Secondary School in Limerick as well as being part of South East Interprovincial squads over last 3 years. Tory is the latest in a growing list of Abbeyleix players including Daniel Brain, Rachel Fitzpatrick, Emily Brain, Penny Conroy and Molly Finlay, who have been involved with provincial and Development squads. Daniel and Rachel are looking forward to new season with Kilkenny Men’s and Naas ladies First senior teams. A number of players have also gone on to play with Portlaoise ladies.

Johnny Walsh Chairman of Abbeyleix Club was delighted for Tory and commented;

“A great honour for Tory and for Abbeyleix club, and its also an exciting in time for Hockey in Laois”. 

While Summer is usually the closed season, there has been a lot of activity in promoting hockey as a real option for anyone looking to get involved in country’s fastest growing sport".

Abbeyleix ran a very successful Summer Camp recently with over 50 participants, and led by Clubs own coaches, and ably assisted by 13 Young leaders fresh from achieving their Young Leader award from Hockey Ireland. Laois Sports Partnership have just been allocated 27k towards equipment for Laois National schools from Sports Capital & Equipment Grant scheme, and leinster Hockey were also allocated 17k towards developing hockey in Leinster. Abbeyleix & Portlaoise clubs, Laois Hockey and Dunamase Secondary will work with LSP and Leinster Hockey in rolling out this development.

While Irish women’s teams’ success at world cup and Olympic qualification have given a great boost to hockey at National level, growth has been slower locally, due mainly to lack of facilities, with no full-sized hockey pitch in Laois.  Over last few years both Abbeyleix & Portlaoise clubs have worked together in looking at options and subsequently formed Laois Hockey.

In 2020 a partnership agreement was signed between Dunamase Secondary School and Laois Hockey to create a Hockey pitch in conjunction with new school build in Augharney Portlaoise. Earlier this year an application for a regional hockey facility was made as part of a Sports Capital Grant Scheme. Hopefully all the good news from Summer will follow through to Autumn, when allocations are announced, and Laois hockey won’t be left behind.

Meanwhile after almost 18 months of inactivity on playing pitch, competitive hockey will shortly resume. Portlaoise ladies competing in Leinster league and hoping for promotion to Division 8 will recommence training on Tuesday Aug 24th at 7.30pm on Abbeyleix astro pitch.

New members welcome and looking forward to taking on some of the successful Abbeyleix u16s. Abbeyleix catering for u8s to u16s will resume on Sunday 5th of Sept at 9.30 in Fr Breen Park. They will compete in West Leinster & Leinster blitzes and leagues. After all the uncertainty of the last 18 months, all involved in Laois Hockey are looking forward to new season and a return to competition.

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