Royal Gibraltar Regiment Wins Northern Ireland Hockey Tournament
The Royal Gibraltar Regiment’s hockey team recently returned from a tour of Northern Ireland where they won a tournament to commemorate the disbandent of the Royal Irish Regiment (Home Service). The RG’s team remained unbeaten against strong squads from two Battalions of the Royal Irish, the Royal Regiment of Scotland (now the UK’s largest Infantry Regiment) and the Royal Engineers.
The Gibraltar team was greeted by a typically wet Northern Irish morning as the draw took place, which resulted in the Regiment been first up against 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish. It took the Regiment a few minutes to acclimatise itself both to the weather and to the tough opposition. An early penalty converted by Lance Corporal Donald Drimmie put the Regiment in the lead, with victory sealed from a short corner strike by Second Lieutenant Charles Bonfante.
Next up Regiment next was the Black Watch. It was anticipated that this would be the hardest match as some of the Black Watch players had played for the Army. The first half was quick and intense, without score. A strong halftime address by team manager Captain Gareth Flower, no newcomer to hockey, bounced the team back to dominate the second half. An excellent performance by midfielder Lance Corporal Andrew Perez forced the team into the lead with two open play goals from, Corporals Donald Drimmie and Phil Jessop.
In the next match the Regiment played a selection from all Battalions of the Royal Irish. Our team fell behind on the scoreboard for the first time after an early goal, but the equaliser came soon from a strong open play performance by Lance Corporal Jobim Torres. Still a draw at the halftime whistle the Regiment was once again quick to react. A foul by the 25 yard line proved costly as Lieutenant Bonfante’s screaming pass found Corporal Jessop’s stick sending the ball up into the net in undoubtedly the goal of the tournament. With little time left and a narrow margin the Regiment continued to press for a final goal which came in the form of an open play belter by Bonfante ending the game 3-1.
The final game was against the Royal Engineers. By this time legs were becoming heavy and so was the rain! The opposition did not prove as tough as the previous two matches though both teams were visibly strained. Another early open goal from Private Ivan Massetti helped the Regiment sit back and control the game. He then went on to score a second allowing the team to comfortably begin the second half and dominate the rest of the match, ending 3-0 after a late goal from Cpl Jessop.
The Regiment convincingly won the tournament unbeaten, seeing off the best opposition the British Army could muster. The title of Player of the Tournament was awarded to young Bonfante. The tournament has kept the name of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment at the top of Army Hockey for years to come, building on its past success as Champions if the Infantry.