Kelly shocked by title loss

By TONY WHITE

GRAFTON-born hockey player Peter Kelly is in a state of shellshock.

Three weeks ago Kelly was celebrating a career-high achievement when he and fellow Graftonians, Olympian Brent Livermore and Robbie Green, were members of the NSW senior team that won the Australian Hockey League Championships in Brisbane.

Last week in Perth, Kelly's fortunes nosedived when defending Under-21 national title holders NSW plummeted to a lacklustre eighth.

"It was pretty ordinary. Everything that could go wrong did," the 21-year-old lamented. "The team just didn't play well. Nothing clicked."

After several defeats in the preliminary rounds, NSW failed to make the semi-finals.

Then, in the playoffs for fifth to eighth, the John Beffelcoached team dived into further depths of despair.

"We got beaten in the first game then again in the other playoff," Kelly said. "It left ev- eryone with an empty feeling, total disappointment.

"It got to the point where we were asking ourselves 'what did we do so wrong.'"

Western Australia are the new Under-21 champions.

Kelly, who had been in great form leading into the tournament, headed to Perth as a player considered in the forefront of candidates for the Australian Under-21 team.

After NSW's dismal performance that was shattered when he missed selection.

Kelly said a lack of preparation before the national Under21 titles didn't help NSW.

"Because the AHL finals were so close to the Under-21s the team only managed three training sessions together before we left for Perth," he said. "It wasn't an ideal situation."

Sydney-based Kelly is in his final year of an exercise science degree at university.

"This was my final year in Under-21s," Kelly said. "I'll now concentrate on finishing my degree and playing with GordonNorth Sydney in the Sydney hockey league."



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