Nathan Hooper (facing).
Nathan Hooper (facing). Rob Williams

Ipswich pride

PRIDE, commitment and a fierce determination to succeed secured the Ipswich men's hockey side a return to Division 1 at next year's state championships.

After winning yesterday's Division 2 final 4-1 over Gympie, Ipswich can contest Queensland's highest intercity competition again, having been a regular representative before being demoted two seasons ago.

Last year ended in heartbreak when Gold Coast denied Ipswich promotion by winning the final in extra time. However, the mood in the Ipswich camp last night was elation rather than dejection.

"I couldn't be more proud of the boys. This is all about them this one," coach Nathan Hooper said.

"It means everything. We worked so hard over the last two years.

"All the boys brought the memory of last year into this game and really stood up and showed who was boss out there."

Being unbeaten during the three-day carnival in Brisbane added icing to Ipswich's success.

Before yesterday's final at the State Hockey Centre, Ipswich had overpowered Maryborough 7-1, Brisbane (2) 3-2, Gympie 3-1 and Ipswich (2) 6-1.

"They really put in all weekend and everyone played to their potential," Hooper said, eager to coach again next season.

"I just love being around the boys and seeing the hard work pay off.

"Their response, enthusiasm and effort is absolutely fantastic.

"The team couldn't have been any better led from Mark Pocock and Tobias Figura. They really set the standard for everyone in Ipswich hockey, having the right attitude and having pride in the shirt.

"As long as those boys come back, I'll definitely be there."

In yesterday's final, Gympie only scored their goal late after Steve Bayliss (two), Todd Watson and Anthony Woodward put Ipswich 4-0 up.

Earlier in the day, the Ipswich women's side finished equal second in Division 2 after drawing 2-2 with Maryborough. Jess Fox scored both Ipswich goals.

Ipswich had to contest the Division 2 playoffs after losing two of their three matches in a tough pool. However, Ipswich only went down 1-0 to Gold Coast and 2-1 to Cairns before beating Rockhampton 2-1.

A 5-0 loss to Mackay on Sunday night was the team's only blowout.

With eight under-18 players in his side, coach Kel Iszlaub praised his team's performance over the long weekend.

"Out of those eight, six are just 16. They'll be back next year bigger and better for it," Iszlaub said.

"The girls gave more than their all. You rate them on 100, you'd give them 110.

"Every game, except Mackay, we were right in it."

Ipswich also had to battle on after losing co-captain Bridget McLean to a hamstring injury in the first match.

Co-captains Sara Rogers and Kiah Ahern led the way, along with Kayla Tierney.

Carly Young was named one of Ipswich's big improvers.

Ipswich regional coaching director Neil Shearer was also heartened by the commitment of the youthful women's side which slipped from Division 1 to Division 2.

"For a young side, they played really, really well," Shearer said.

"It's good for the future.

"Sometimes you have to take one step back to go two steps forward."

 

STATE OF PLAY

Ipswich is back in Division 1 for next year's state open men's hockey championships after an unbeaten performance.

Ipswich beat Gympie 4-1 in yesterday's final to gain promotion.



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