The Armagh Stars Inline Hockey under-15 team has unveiled their new 2023 Playoff Champions banner to mark the momentous achievement for the young squad.
DUP Councillor Scott Armstrong was guest of honour at the unveiling, held at The Rink Sports Arena & Multipurpose Centre in Portadown on Wednesday, August 30.
Armagh U15’s ended the regular season in second place in their respective group with six wins and two close defeats. This placing qualified them for the playoffs which were held in Gormanston Park in County Meath on June 17 2023.
Here they faced Cork Wolfpack in the semi-final where they won 5-3 in a hard fought game, advancing to the finals versus the league champions Kilkenny Storm.
The final ended 9-3 with the Stars taking the All-Ireland title and the under-15 Playoff Champion trophy, which was lifted by captain Emma Storey alongside assistant captains Toby McKelvey and Sean Óg Brady.
Speaking on the banner unveiling, Councillor Armstrong stated: “To be invited as special guest to the banner unveiling for the Playoff Champions was an absolute honour. This team should be proud of their achievements. Inline Hockey is a sport that I was not that familiar with, however after watching their training last night I am hooked.
“The speed of the game and the skillset is awe-inspiring. It is great that this team is recognised for their accomplishments.”
He continued: “Speaking with the parents showed me how much this meant to them. This is a sport, and a team, that caters for all abilities and all children. One parent was telling me how her son, who is in the process of getting statemented and has difficulty mixing with other children, absolutely loves inline hockey as it is a way of him expressing himself.
“This is what sport is all about, it brings people together and gives them an avenue to express themselves, learn new skillsets and make friends for life. Every member on this team will look back on this in years to come and remember how good it feels to be called a champion over the whole of Ireland at this level.
“I will be back at the Rink in the future as a fan of this ever-growing sport and I wish them and the club all the best for their upcoming season.”
Coach Sinead Rafferty commented: “What a way to finish the year with our U15’s All Stars Inline Hockey team banner reveal. Our first Junior Title as a club. I am so proud of these kids, I have watched and taught most of these kids from a young age and them getting beat by all teams but always came back with more drive and determination and it paid off.
“I would like to thank Councillor Scott Armstrong for taking the time out of his busy schedule to congratulate the team and chatting with parent’s, kids and representatives, he was very impressed. Well done class 2023 Armagh Stars Inline Hockey Club.”