Hockey has always been the main traditional sport for girls since Armagh Girls’ High School amalgamated in 1986 with the Royal School. The club has had great success with junior and senior teams and individuals at Ulster and Irish level.
In 2002 the 1st XI won the Belfast Telegraph Ulster Schools’ Cup for the first time ever, showing their strength in Ireland by going on to win the Kate Russell All-Ireland Trophy. The Ulster Schools’ Cup is the highlight of every school girls hockey career, when over 40 of the country’s top schools competing.
The 1st XI dominated Ulster and Irish schools’ hockey for the next 9 years, wining the Ulster Cup in 2004, 2006 (Ulster Cup Centenary year), 2007, 2008 and 2010 and the All-Ireland Tournament in 2004, 2006 and 2007, coming runners-up the other 3 years.
This allowed the girls entry into the European Youth Tournament in Holland, in which the girls finished runners-up in 2003, 2005 and 2008, losing 2 of these by penalty strokes. This gave the girls the opportunity to play against some of Europe’s best players. In 2003 and 2005 Emma Stewart made her mark at international level winning the ‘Player of the Tournament Award’.
The 1st XI has reached 6 more Ulster finals since then, winning the Ulster Shield in 2014 and 2015 and then the newly formed Ulster Schools’ League (The Super Cup) in 2016 and 2018. The U14XI regularly reach the Ulster Junior Cup ¼ finals, going on to reach the final 3 times in the past 10 years, wining it in 2005 and 2011.
2004 was a special year for the school when the 1st XI hockey girls and the 1st XV rugby boys both won their Ulster Schools’ Cup, not achieved since Methodist College Belfast in 1936! The teams were presented with special merit awards at the Belfast Telegraph Awards and the Armagh Sports Awards that year.
Players regularly represent the U15 and U17 Southern Area Board squad and Ulster and Ireland U16 and U18 squad. In 2004 Emma Stewart at only 16 became the first player from the school and the youngest in Ireland to represent the Irish Senior Ladies Team. She competed in the European Cup as a 17 year old in 2005, in Dublin, against World Champions the Netherlands, going on to confidently win a penalty corner with her first touch of the ball! Emma was later joined on the squad by her sister Amy Stewart (who beat her ‘youngest player’ record), Hannah Bowe, Alex Speers and Leah Ewart. Alex went on to Captain the Irish Team for 3 years, wining over 150 caps in the process, becoming our most capped senior player! Alana Doyle and Olivia Berry are currently (2020-21) both playing at Irish U23 level respectively with a target of gaining their first senior cap in the not so distant future.
Girls’ Hockey club currently runs 11 teams from U12 A & B teams up to the 1st XI. The girls train once or twice a week after school and during their Games afternoon and most play competitively on Saturdays all over Ulster, as well as regularly in the local Mid Ulster Leagues and the Ulster Cups. The senior squads have recently toured countries such as Scotland, The Netherlands, Spain and Germany where they got to experience top class training facilities and compete against international opposition. (Both the U14XI and 1stXI were due to compete at European level at one of their top tournaments in The Netherlands in 2020, unfortunately that was cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions.)
All girls in Year 8 are invited to our Hockey Club on Tuesdays after school and begin matches after Halloween. The girls get expertise coaching in school from UHU qualified coaches and from the local Development Officer Christine Russell.
At present we have a very healthy number of girls from Year 8-10 girls selected for the Ulster regional development squad, Years 11-13 in their respective Ulster Development Squads and have 3 girls in the Ulster U18 Squad, and 2 on the Irish U23 Training panel.
Most of our players go on to play hockey for their University or local Club playing in the Ulster and All Ireland League, some have even gained hockey scholarships and are playing in America, all players report back to us how much they love playing hockey and the great social side of the game, making friends for life!