Sheffield University Bankers women’s first team have the Yorkshire Premier Division title and Yorkshire Cup gleaming in their trophy cabinet.
And their captain has praised her side’s “magnificent unity,” .
Emer Murphy presided over one of the Sheffield side’s most successful seasons in their history, as they finished 19 points ahead of league rivals Chapel Town after winning 20 of their 22 games and hammered Harrogate 6-0 in the Cup final.
The skipper, who is passing on her captaincy next season after two years at the helm, is confident that the side will perform well in North Division Two and believes it is the right time to step down from her leading role.
“We have overachieved on every level this season. Our goal at the beginning of the season was for promotion but I didn’t expect to win the league with such a huge gap,” explained the right-half.
“The best performance was our 5-1 win over City of York 2’s in March as we’d had some very close results just before this game but the girls really pulled the performance out and set us up to finish the league unbeaten.
“And then to end my captaincy on the magnificent cup win was the best feeling in the world. We were the favourites going in but the side didn’t let up in the preparation and we played untouchable hockey in the final.
“I’d like to thank the girls for giving everything this season and everyone knows that each game from September will have to be treated like a cup final because there won’t be any easier teams in the division above.”
The Sheffield side, who are coached by Will Hearne, finished this league campaign as the highest goal scorers with 70 whilst conceding just 18.
At the end of season awards goal keeper extraordinaire Nikki Hilton was voted players player of the year whilst midfielder Elaine Livera, who will replace Emer as captain next season, was named coaches player of the season.
“Nikki has had an absolutely brilliant season for us and because we knew we were so secure at the back it helped give our attacking players to go forward and be adventurous,” said Dublin-born Emer.
“You only have to look at how little we conceded all season to know the huge impact Nikki has had on this side.
“Also Elaine has been outstanding, both in tracking back players and pushing forward. She has been a player that we know we can rely on and she will bring fantastic leading qualities to her role as captain.”
The women’s teams as a whole have been very successful this season for Bankers, with the second team being promoted into the YHA Yorkshire Division 4 and the thirds into the league below.
In the future Emer is hoping all the female sides will continue to develop and improve whilst moving up the divisions.
“I’m so proud of all of the ladies clubs this season. Each of the teams want to keep moving on up because we have to be more competitive and improve the overall standard,” said the Sheffield University PHD student.
“We lose a lot of potential players who come here to study as they go to other clubs such as Wakefield, Doncaster and Sheffield but we want to stop this trend.
“The club has been very supportive of the women’s set-up here and we want to see a huge recruitment drive in the next five years. I want this club to be a leading force for female hockey in this county and we’re certainly heading in the right direction.”