EMMA RYAN: Denise back playing soccer after hockey joy

Ryan Ferry, Donegal News presents the April Sports Personality Award to Denise McElhinney, Raphoe Hockey Club.

Ryan Ferry, Donegal News presents the April Sports Personality Award to Denise McElhinney, Raphoe Hockey Club.

After a successful hockey season, Bonagee United’s goalkeeper Denise McElhinney is back between the posts for another year and is looking forward to the 2016 season.

McElhinney featured in their opening day victory against Glenree United, but was forced to sit out Tuesday night’s defeat to Lagan Harps.


After winning the shield with Bonagee last year, Denise McElhinney is back in goals and ready for the season ahead.

“This year I am looking forward to just playing football. There is a good buzz around Bonagee this year and if we can go and enjoy playing our football that’s all I look forward to. We are also in the FAI National cup too so if we can stay in that competition, a nice away trip would be good too, just to keep team mural up. Enjoying and improving our football will be our main aim this season, if silverware comes with it, it would be great. The biggest thing to impress me this year so far, is the attitude to play football, we want to get the ball down and play which is always encouraging to see.” said McElhinney.

The 29-year-old has already had a busy 2016 with the Raphoe Hockey team. The Raphoe Ladies played out a hard fought season and were recently promoted to the Ulster Premier League. McElhinney was at the core of the team as they gained promotion to the top flight, saving three penalties against Rainey in the last game of the season, and securing their position in the promotion play-off. The playoff was then cancelled and the ladies were automatically promoted to the Ulster Premier League.

McElhinney was rewarded for her exploits this week, when she picked up the Donegal News Sports Personality of the Month award for April.

“This season with Raphoe was a rollercoaster, but a really exciting one, one that has got us to where we only dreamed about going in our wildest dreams. The start of the season was funny as our aim was to keep it tight at the back and see where we got. By December we were sitting in second in the league, unbeaten and going into the semi-final of cup. We lost our unbeaten run to Banbridge, but knocked them out of the cup the following day. Unfortunately we were defeated in the cup final when it went to penalties.

“That hurt to be honest, and it reflected on our next few games as we dropped to fourth in the league. Then we pulled together again and managed to get up to joint second with one game to go against Rainey, who was sitting second. So it was winner takes all to get promoted. It came down to penalties but thankfully we did the job this time and now we are looking forward to premier league hockey.”

This is the third year in-a-row that Raphoe have received promotion, but their goalkeeper is aware of how difficult the top tier will be, but she is determined that Raphoe will work hard to stay in the Premier Division.


“I was delighted to get promoted; no one can take that away from us. We got Raphoe up to the top tier in Ulster but there is no doubt that staying here will be difficult. Hard work got us here but it will take even more work to stay here but if your dreams don’t scare you, they ain’t big enough….dream big.”

Next year will be a huge challenge for Denise and the Raphoe Ladies, but at the moment the goalkeeper is concentrating on winning some silverware with Bonagee in the Donegal Women’s League.

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