The under-17 side comprised Justin Alford, Jacob Purser, Louis Weller, Hugh Cameron, Simon Colgrave, Justin Donoghue, Harrison Smith, Thomas Smith and Brent Russ. Photo: Contributed
The under-17 side comprised Justin Alford, Jacob Purser, Louis Weller, Hugh Cameron, Simon Colgrave, Justin Donoghue, Harrison Smith, Thomas Smith and Brent Russ. Photo: Contributed

Big hockey victory for Grafton Under-17 Indoor team

GRAFTON Hockey Association continues to punch above its weight, this time winning the boys Under-17 Indoor State Championships in Unanderra, Wollongong, from October 12-14.

Grafton's U17 Indoor Hockey team are now Division 2 State Champions following an impressive display in Wollongong. The team was undefeated all weekend, scoring 49 goals and conceding only 12.

The team comprised Justin Alford, Jacob Purser, Louis Weller, Hugh Cameron, Simon Colgrave, Justin Donoghue, Harrison Smith, Thomas Smith and Brent Russ.

Grafton's tournament got off to a late start with the first game against Sydney at 7.40pm on Friday night. Sydney felt the full force of Grafton's skill and were comprehensively outplayed 10-2.

On Saturday, the boys continued where they left off, defeating Macarthur 13-1, Coffs Coast 8-2 and Southern Highlands 6-2.

Winning their pool convincingly, the boys played Parkes in a very exciting semi final on Sunday morning, running out winners 6-4.

Their final was against Southern Highlands. The boys were completely untroubled with a comfortable 6-1 win giving them the medal.

Winning Division 2 means that next year Grafton will compete in the prestigious Division 1 competition.

The team was coached by Dave Kelly who did a tremendous job keeping the players focused all weekend. Dave instilled a quiet sense of self-belief in the players which certainly paid dividends.

He said at the conclusion of the tournament: "It was a great effort by the team,they had the best attitude toward the game and the officials. They dominated the division 2 throughout the championship,and these young men could easily match the division 1 teams."

Dave's indoor coaching CV is looking good as he was also the coach of the winning 2011 U15 team.

The boys were well supported by a diligent group of parents and surprise visits from well-known former Grafton players, Peter Kelly and Robbie Green.

The success of the boys in this age group is exceptional given the lack of exposure local players get to the indoor game. Indoor hockey is in its infancy in Grafton. While teams have been attending Indoor State Championships for some time, the local competition has been limited to a five-week out-of-season period in February /March each year. This obviously limits the players' experience and ability to adapt to this specialised form of the game.

Other associations competing at state championships enjoy year-round indoor competitions, giving them a distinct advantage.



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