On Saturday 11th July in Plymouth the season culminated for TSW Dawlish Juniors Octopush at the National Championships. The Dawlish youngsters were defending national titles, having held at least one age group championship every year since 2006. Every team in Britain strives to beat the all-conquering TSW Dawlish, and the opposition is drawing closer; a tumultuous day’s competition unfolded. This year Dawlish emerged with 2 sets of gold medals, National Age Group Champions at Under 14 and Under 19 levels. This year the Under 12’s and Under 16’s played out some titanic battles, but lost out to the re-emerging Batley favourites.
The Under 12 team played a series of very close games, losing out to bronze medallists Pembroke with a goal with just 2 seconds left on the clock. Xarifa of Manchester took silver, Batley gold. Most satisfying was the tense draw with closest neighbours Plymouth. Plymouth recently defeated TSW Dawlish in a routine fixture by a significant margin; it was thus a shock when Dawlish took the lead with a fine goal by Daisy Wright, top scorer for Dawlish, who realised her full potential and terrorized opposing defences. Plymouth equalized late in the second half; it was a clear measure of the team’s progress. The team further comprised Alex Cole, Morley Atkins, Louis Atkins, Seb Curle, Joel Davis and George Correy. Additionally Paige Connolly superbly captained a South West select team and was joined by Leah Kelley, who hammered home two goals, James Strutt, and by Abigail Landon and Robert Richmond, both making competitive debuts. Their futures look bright.
The Under 14 team was in outstanding form; they fought through the entire tournament without conceding a single goal, but it was not all plain-sailing as the quality of opposition was fierce. Joe Broom, Ted Ironside-Smith, and Guy Ashworth were superb in obdurate defence; whilst Toby Curle was the lynch-pin in the central position. In attack Caleb Pullan was top-scorer for the tournament, but Tom Nuttall, Lewis Bartlett, Aidan Leigh-Brown, Joe Smith, Rachel Davis and Josh Cooper also registered goals in a dominant series of performances. Hannah Colley and Carrie Strutt played in a South West select team; they “played out of their skins”.
It would be fair to say that the Under 16 team under-performed in their age group, but it would also be fair to say that they were desperately unlucky to concede some very late goals in several matches. They could as easily have won gold as finished out of the medals, it was that close. The Under 16 squad is possibly the most talented squad at TSW Dawlish; it was not their day. Ellie Shelley (top scorer), Louisa Colley, Alice Nuttall, Elliot Wilkinson, Gemma Morgan, Kieran Tucker, Laurence Ashworth, Louis Pyper, Oliver Curle and Lucas Bagnald were stricken by disappointment; they have plenty to work on in a season blighted by non-availability of pool time through damage to tiles in Teignmouth Lido.
The Under 19 team had easy victories over Manchester and Saint Albans, but their other matches were supremely tense as a host of new junior GB internationals from all of over Britain, peaking ahead of next month’s world championships, clashed in some titanic struggles. Alyssa Oates underlined her pre-eminence as a striker with 12 goals over the tournament, marginally ahead of Harry Elsmore on 10 goals and Isaac Horne on 8. Elliot Atkins, Tom Burgess and Rupert Ironside-Smith also contributed. Only Aaron Lindsay, the “Rock” in defence, failed to get on the score sheet, but his contribution was immense. Tom Richards was outstanding for a South West select team which also featured Dawlish’s Sam Peat, Isaac Martin and Luke Farmer.
Eight TSW Dawlish Juniors now have the honour of representing Great Britain in the Age Group World Championships in Castellon, Spain, throughout August; they are: Aaron Lindsay, Alyssa Oates, Elliot Atkins, Thomas Burgess, Rupert Ironside-Smith, Harry Elsmore, Rob Williams and Ellie Shelley. Last Saturday’s competition and victories in Plymouth suggest they will be in peak condition.
Congratulations to all who took part.
Congratulations indeed. Well done to all involved in this.