THE captain of Dunfermline Carnegie Hockey Club’s men’s first XI says he is “immensely proud” of their achievements last season.

Michael Ross believes that they “couldn’t have asked for much more” than finishing in the top six of Scottish Hockey’s Men’s Premiership, in their first-ever season at that level, as well as winning the indoor league and reaching the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup.

The team began the new season at home to Erskine Stewart’s Melville Hockey Club, promoted from the National League, at Woodmill on Saturday, winning 6-2, but Ross, speaking ahead of that fixture, acknowledges that this year may be a more challenging one for Carnegie.

“I think it’s going to be tougher this year. More teams will take notice of us, whereas maybe we were able to fly under the radar a little bit last season,” he told Press Sport.

“We achieved massive things last year and it would be really, really good to continue that.

“It’s difficult to replicate that, and it’s up to me and Stevie (Steven Glass, the team’s coach) to try and do that. But it’s going to be very difficult because we set the bar pretty high.

“The season ended and results were pretty poor. From the outside looking in, we didn’t play particularly well, but guys just put so much effort into that.

“There was a top six, bottom six split. We put so much effort into the first part of the season, and then we won the indoor league, so we put so much work into that, after Christmas, boys were just spent.

“They’d carried injuries and suspensions but, when you sit back and reflect, OK, it was disappointing that it became a bit of a damp squib in the end, but I’m immensely proud.

“A lot of the boys had never played at that level, ever, so to go up, compete against the best that Scotland has to offer and finish top half, win the (indoor) league, and get to the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup – you couldn’t have asked for much more, to be honest.

“It really was very, very impressive what we achieved last year.”

Ross continued: “We’ve had a bit of a turnover of players for a multitude of reasons – going to different clubs, retirement, a couple of young boys have gone to university – so we’ve had six, seven players move on.

“It’s meant we’ve had to recruit six or seven, and a couple of youngsters are starting to make steps forward to try and hopefully get into the first team.

“It’s been difficult because, with such a high turnover, it can take players time to gel, find their feet and get used to how we play and suchlike.”

Carnegie have, however, enjoyed a productive pre-season and, on their prospects for the season ahead, Ross added: “I think we’re realistic.

“For me, as long as we avoid relegation, that’s my main aim, but there’s part of me wants to finish in that sort of mid-table area.”