Neil Shearer
Neil Shearer

Shearer celebrates birthday, healthy state of juniors

EVEN on his 44th birthday, Neil Shearer had trouble escaping the demands of being Ipswich Hockey's regional coaching director.

However, on a rare day off, he was happy to chat about Ipswich's recent progress at the under-13 and under-15 state championships.

Ipswich's under-15 boys came second, the city's under-13 girls came third and Ipswich's under-15 girls finished fifth.

A spate of sickness left Ipswich's under-13 boys battling hard to finish eighth.

Shearer said that result didn't represent the promising players in that side.

But the under-13 boys' misfortune aside, Shearer was overall pleased with Ipswich's performance and the state representation that followed.

"It was solid allround," he said.

"The centre as a whole is looking pretty healthy."

Ipswich players chosen in state teams were Caleb McCoombes, Mitchell Moran, Cade Banditt, Ryan Smith and Layla Eleison (under-15) and under-13 quartet Gabrielle Nicholls, Lauren Hess, goalkeeper Emily Witheyman-Crump and Angus Robertson.

Centre half Hess was named Queensland co-captain.

Zac McCoombes was selected as a shadow in the under-13 state development team.

Kylie Dolan and Thomas Picton were named under-15 shadows.

Kelly McNamara was chosen in the under-15 development team.

The state representatives can attend national titles from September 28-October 5.

The under-13 boys play in Melbourne, the under-13 girls are off to Hobart, the under-15 boys travel to Darwin and the under-15 girls head west to Busselton.

"As a centre we're doing quite well," Shearer said.

"The numbers are rebuilding and hopefully we'll have the three boys' grades back next year."

Having his regional coaching director's contract extended for three years was more than a deserved reward for Shearer's work at Ipswich.

It maintained his strong ties with centres outside of Brisbane.

"Country players always have an advantage over their city rivals," the experienced coach said, having previously enjoyed success at grassroots and international level in Rockhampton and Gladstone.

"It's because we get to play senior hockey earlier."

Shearer cited the example of Ipswich's under-13 state player Gabrielle Nicholls.

"Gabby gets to train and play every now and again with the likes of (former international) Amy Korner," Shearer said. "That helps strengthen the young players.

"In Brisbane, it's a lot harder for them to do that."

Ipswich's under-13 and under-15 state representatives and shadow players have a six-eight week training program leading into their national campaigns or development series in Grafton.

Meanwhile, Ipswich's under-11 teams resume training this week for Coulter Shield and Southern Cross tournaments next month.



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