Portrush Hockey Club

Portrush Hockey Club was formed in 1909, following a meeting in the town’s Osborne Hotel on 29 September. The first President was F Audinwood, and the first Captain was RA Bailey, who chaired the original meeting. The Club achieved early successes, winning the Derry and Antrim League in 1913 and 1914, and the Kerr-Smiley Cup in 1912, 1913 and 1914. The Club’s success was mirrored by the individual achievement of the youthful James McVicker of Portrush and Queen’s who was capped for Ireland against Wales in 1914, winning 2-1 at Cardiff. That Season Ireland also beat Scotland 4-2 in Dublin and drew 1-1 with England in Birmingham.

After the First World War, during which hockey was suspended, the Portrush Club began playing again, and achieved success in 1922 by winning the Braddell Shield in the Final against Lisnagarvey Second XI, and winning the Intermediate Cup the next year – again by beating Lisnagarvey Second XI Success continued in the Twenties, with Portrush winning the North-West Senior Cup in 1924, 1927 and 1928.

Portrush Hockey ClubFurther success was to follow, and with a new generation of players in the Thirties.  A spirited Portrush team blazed its way to the Ulster Final in 1932 and won through to represent Ulster in an all-Ireland trophy for the first time. Accompanied by a bus load of supporters ” the Seasiders” as the newspapers were calling them travelled to Dublin and won the cup. When the victorious all-Ireland Junior Champions arrived home that night they were greeted by bonfires on Ramore Head  and the triangle at Dunluce Street. They almost repeated the feat in 1933 but were beaten in the final, again in Dublin, by Portrane.

For the rest of the Thirties, Portrush played in the Senior Qualifying League, and towards the end of that decade they won the Ulster Section of the Irish Senior Cup. Though hockey was suspended at the beginning of the Second World War, the all-Ireland Cup competition continued, and Portrush won the Irish Junior Cup in 1943, for the second time. Donald Minihan, a member of that Cup-winning side, later played for Ireland. In 1946 Portrush again won the Irish Junior Cup, by beating Monkstown. Senior status was granted in 1947, and was marked by the club winning the Kirk Cup and the Ulster Section of the Irish Senior Cup. The Anderson Cup was won for the first time in the 1949-50 season. Then into the 1950’s Portrush tied a Test Match against Banbridge and both were declared joint winners of the Keightley Cup for the Ulster Senior League champions in 1957-58. The Sixties proved to be Portrushs last decade at the height of Ulster and Irish Hockey and also the 1969-70 season would be the last that Portrush would win a Senior Trophy.

In 1963-64, Portrush beat Lisnagarvey in the Ulster Final of the Irish Senior Cup, but went on to lose to Cork Church of Ireland in the all-Ireland semi-final. The following year, 1964–65, was the club’s most successful year. Portrush won the Anderson Cup for the third time and they also beat Banbridge in the Kirk Cup Final. In addition, the Final of the Irish Senior Cup was reached for the only second time in Club history. After a 1-1 draw in Belfast, Portrush lost after extra time to Dublin YMCA in the replay. The Kirk Cup success in 1969-70 was the last time that Portrush would win a Senior trophy. The closure of Bushmills Grammar School in 1975, meant that Portrush no longer had a feeder school. A long decline eventually led to the loss of Senior status in 1988.

Senior status was obtained again for three years from 1993-94 until 1995-96 and for two years in 1999-00 and 2000-01. Portrush got their first trophy since the 1999 Linden Cup victory on the 1st January 2014 with a 3-2 win over Ballynahinch to clinch the Sussex Regiment Cup. On the same year Portrush obtained Senior status in Ulster in 2013/14 for the first time since 2001. They clinched the 2013/14 league title with only one defeat all season and finished 9 points clear of 2nd place Ballynahinch. The club was going for a Treble in 2013/14 when they travelled to UCD Dublin for the Final of the Irish Hockey Challenge against Limerick Hockey Club. In a tense and hard fought Final Portrush eventually lost 3-2. However the Double winning season of 2013/14 will always live long in the memories of all the players involved.

The club currently has two teams in the Ulster leagues, the 1st XI in Senior League 1 and the 2nd XI in Junior league 5.

Content taken from Portrush Hockey Club’s Face Book and Jake Speers’ book Portrush Hockey Club – The Golden Years 1910 -1965.