Fourteen years ago, Muckross Hockey Club were relegated from Leinster Division One for the first time in the club’s history. There have been ups and downs, twists and turns, and everything in between since that fateful day – but last Saturday, Muckross secured automatic promotion to Division One with a victory over Rathgar in the final match of the 2014/2015 division two campaign.
To say that this day has been a long time coming is an understatement. Consecutive relegation in 2001 and again in 2002 were followed by a decade of uncertainty as the club fluctuated between divisions two, three and four. But by its very nature, sport is filled with both exhilarating highs and crushing lows – something that Club President Sarah Green can personally attest to:
“The last 14 years have been bittersweet, and I know this all too well – I’ve played on the first XI for 13 of them! We’ve undeniably made some mistakes along the way – but what’s
more important is that we have learned from them. A lot. And now, after all of the headaches and the heartbreak our club is entering an exciting new era. Strategically, we have
planned for our resurgence back to where we feel we belong, in division one, and now that we're there, we’re going to make it our business to compete!”
This promotion is the culmination of several years of intensely focused momentum. The 2012/2013 season proved pivotal in the first XI’s resurgence as a return to division two was secured, ushering in a new era and instilling a hunger to once again dine at the top table of provincial hockey. Back-to-back promotions proved a bridge too far as Muckross lost the 2013/2014 Division One playoff on penalty flicks – but they did what any great team does in the aftermath of a tough loss: picked themselves up, learned from it, and moved on. Coach Una McCarthy led Muckross into this 2014/2015 league season with a clear-cut vision to bypass the playoff jeopardy and secure that elusive promotion outright – and now, they have finally earned their just reward.
At the core of first XI’s resurgence has been a gradually administered injection of youth, spearheaded by Muckross’ Junior Development Officer Ann Ronan:
“Over the past decade, we’ve been consistently working on junior player development
with a view to integrating young players into the top senior teams – and our triumphant first XI are testament to this approach.” Indeed, ten of the current squad have come through this programme since 2011 – and the future is looking very bright!
The relocation of Muckross Hockey Club to its historical home of Muckross Park College in advance of the 2014/2015 season also proved an integral part of the club’s evolution by providing high quality training facilities, uniting all sections in one home and rejuvenating club pride. The results speak for themselves. Beyond the first XI, ALL other senior teams are in contention for titles and promotions as we enter the final week of league matches. The Junior section is thriving, and the ranks of the Vets team have swelled with retired players returning to play. There is Muckross Magic in the air!
Finally, this triumph quite simply could not have been achieved without the dedication, loyalty and support shown by the Muckross community down through the years. A special word of thanks from Club President Sarah Green:
“In Muckross, there is an unbeatable fighting spirit – and that’s something that has been passed on from each generation to the next. To all of the players past and present, coaches and supporters that have stood by this club through the hard times – I want to sincerely commend you all. To those who have led by example throughout the years, and taught us all an indelible lesson in club loyalty – you are the ones who make occasions like this all the more poignant. THANK YOU!”