Hancocks midfielder Kelly McNamara is relieved to have finals on consecutive days rather than hours apart this weekend.
Hancocks midfielder Kelly McNamara is relieved to have finals on consecutive days rather than hours apart this weekend. Rob Williams

Two finals in two cities: Check out these loyal players

FOR many sporting men and women around Ipswich this weekend, playing in one final will be a big enough challenge.

At this time of the year, players have to find extra mental and physical stamina to fulfil their premiership goals.

However, spare a thought for three loyal Hancock Brothers A-Grade hockey players this weekend who have to endure two high quality finals.

Hancocks captain Sara Rogers, Queensland representative Layla Eleison and skilful utility player Kelly McNamara have top grade finals in Brisbane on Saturday before backing up in the same Ipswich club side on Sunday.

Rogers, with Ascot in Brisbane, plays against Eleison's Easts Carina side on Saturday afternoon at the State Hockey Centre before the Hancocks teammates reunite in Ipswich's major semi-final at Raceview 24 hours later.

McNamara is lining up with Brisbane competition minor premiers University of Queensland in Saturday's 4.30pm semi-final against Kedron Wavell at Chermside. She will then join Rogers and Eleison back in Ipswich on Sunday.

Grand final spots are on the line in both games. It will be the first time McNamara is involved in such important matches in two cities on the same weekend.

However, as strange as it might seem, she's relieved about the scheduling of this weekend's twin finals assignment.

She said playing two big matches a day apart was much better than both on the same day, as she has done during the season.

McNamara, who turns 19 in October, has raced back to Ipswich on occasions to help her Hancocks teammates after lining up for UQ hours earlier.

"It was pretty tough,'' McNamara said of that hockey test. "Your legs hurt after a while in the second game.

"But it's a bit of a challenge.''

The former Ipswich Girls' Grammar School student is bubbling about playing fullback for UQ on Saturday before resuming her regular midfield role with Hancocks on Sunday.

"It's a bit of excitement and bit a nerves kick in,'' the personable player said.

"Hopefully we do well in both Brisbane and Ipswich.''

Being on a two-week university break has also come at the right time. She's in her first year undertaking an Associate Degree in Business at UQ.

McNamara regularly travels between her family home at Marburg and her Brisbane base to play for her teams, train and study.

But she modestly accepts being recognised as one of Hancocks' most loyal players.

"It's so good playing with Sara and Layla and playing against them in Brisbane,'' the former Queensland Schoolgirls representative said.

"It's pretty fun for the team.''

 

Experienced Hancocks captain Sara Rogers discusses tactics with her team.
Experienced Hancocks captain Sara Rogers discusses tactics with her team. Rob Williams

Rogers said it was loyal and dedicated players like McNamara and Eleison who helped create such a positive environment at Hancocks.

However, Rogers has an additional responsibility this week-end along with playing in the Brisbane and Ipswich competition finals.

She's also coach of the Hancocks men's team tackling Norths in Sunday night's major semi-final.

Like the women's game she's involved with, the winner of the men's clash advances directly to the grand final.

However, like McNamara and Eleison, Rogers takes it all in her stride being such a proud Ipswich sportswoman.

She is happy that neither Hancocks team has any major injury issues and the men support her multiple roles.

"The boys are good like that. They know what to do,'' the Ipswich personal trainer said.

"They've just have got to put it in action.''

The Hancocks men beat Easts 6-3 and the Hancocks women got up 3-1 over Swifts in their final regular season matches.

"Both teams didn't play their best hockey but they did enough to win, which is a good platform for the final series,'' Rogers said.

"Both teams have been there before and a lot of them have played finals hockey before so you know what's expected of us to play good hockey.''

 

Queensland and Hancocks player Layla Eleison.
Queensland and Hancocks player Layla Eleison. Rob Williams

The Hancocks men have no players with Brisbane commitments so Rogers worked them hard at the final training run.

"It was a tough session. I certainly pushed them last night,'' she said.

Thrilled to share in UQ's first major success in the Brisbane competition, McNamara was also focused on helping Hancocks upstage defending champions Wests.

"We drew with them (Wests) a couple of weeks back so we're hoping to take it to them again,'' McNamara said, expecting another exciting duel at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.

"It's more a mental game now, the finals.''

Apart from the first weekend of senior finals starting on Friday night, junior preliminary finals are also being contested.

Junior grand final day is September 8 before the senior title deciders the following weekend at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.

Ipswich A-Grade hockey finals this weekend.

Saturday (5.30pm) - Women's elimination final: Swifts (3) v Norths (4). 7.15pm: Men's elimination final: Wests (3) v Easts (4).

Sunday (5.30pm) - Women's qualifying final: Wests (1) v Hancocks (2). 7pm: Men's qualifying final - Hancocks (1) v Norths (2).

All matches at the Ipswich Hockey Complex, Raceview.



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