Next stop, division two: state title means Shea's boys can dream bigger

WINNING COMBINATION: Orange’s under 18s boys’ hockey team were all smiles after winning a state title. Pictured are (back, left) Louis Shea, Michael Sturt, Jayden Watson, Gerry Shea, Jack Bush, Mitch Vennard, Andrew Eather, Andrew Reddan (assistant coach), (middle) Samone Vennard (manager), Adam Skelton, Jake Skelton, Henry Jones, Connor Morris, Beth Shea (coach), (front) Caiden Reddan and Matthew Job. Photo: contributed.

WINNING COMBINATION: Orange’s under 18s boys’ hockey team were all smiles after winning a state title. Pictured are (back, left) Louis Shea, Michael Sturt, Jayden Watson, Gerry Shea, Jack Bush, Mitch Vennard, Andrew Eather, Andrew Reddan (assistant coach), (middle) Samone Vennard (manager), Adam Skelton, Jake Skelton, Henry Jones, Connor Morris, Beth Shea (coach), (front) Caiden Reddan and Matthew Job. Photo: contributed.

AFTER securing the division three NSW Hockey Under 18 Boys Field State Championship at Broadmeadow last weekend, Orange coach Beth Shea wants her team to dream big.

Last weekend’s tournament was the first time in recent memory Orange sent an entirely local team to compete, and as a result, Shea said winning the title wasn’t their goal.

Now, she’s thinking differently.

“We’ve sent 18s teams before but relied on other associations to fill them completely,” Shea said.

“This year we had one player from Parkes choose to play for us, so we consider it an entirely Orange team. 

“Winning was hugely exciting, and a real thrill for Porky (assistant coach Andrew Reddan) and I. We get lifted to division two now ... our goal is to win that in two years.”

Shea said the win bodes well for Orange’s junior hockey development, before highlighting the commitment and determination of her troops.

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Orange started the competition slowly, with a draw (4-all) against Port Macquarie and a loss (6-3) to Wagga Wagga, before finishing round robin pool games with a 4-2 win over Nepean.

“The win over Nepean meant we finished second in the pool, rather than fourth,” Shea explained.

Orange faced third-placed Nepean again in the semi-final, drawing 4-all. 

Thanks to it’s higher standing, Orange progressed to face deserved favourites Wagga in the final.

“They got complacent,” Shea said.

“Our boys played their best half of hockey in that first half of the final. 

“We were 2-nil up at half-time and held on, through sheer desperation more than anything. They were just fantastic all weekend.

“We’re young, and we only lose two players next season in division two and give it a real run the year after.”

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