There hasn’t been much to report on recently from Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club, with the girls last being in action in the 3-2 loss to Mossley on 29th January. Since then, the Dee should have travelled to Magherafelt to play top of the league Rainey, followed by an away trip to Ballycastle, but on both these occasions, the Dee have been unable to field a team to travel. Having already conceded a match earlier in the season to Ballycastle, Donaghadee have now lost the points equivalent of one very hard-fought victory and it leaves them sitting in 9th position, one point above College Hill, 4 above Malone, and 14 above Ballynure, the only team to have conceded more games this season.
Donaghadee are by no means the only club struggling to field a team in this league this year, with Ballynure having been penalised as mentioned and Newry also struggling to find 11 willing to take to the pitch on occasion, but with a serious lack of strength in depth, it is sadly all too apparent when one or two of the Dee regulars aren’t available for one reason or another. Long term injuries to Katie Drummond, suffering from damage to her ankle ligaments during a game just after Christmas and to Ali Gordon, still out after the horrific incident involving a Ballynahinch player in November has left captain Jen McVeigh – also currently on the sideline – really struggling to find enough players to field a team since the turn of the year. With near neighbours Bangor enjoying big numbers at training and Ards fielding 5 teams, Donaghadee finds itself on the edge of a hockey wilderness with no feeder schools to provide young blood and lack of facilities to tempt new players.
With the green light given for building new hockey facilities and yet more astroturf pitches in Newtownards, it is hard to see how Donaghadee will be able to survive if their home facilities continue to exist on the gravel pitch at Crommelin Park, but members of the club are now on various borough sports committees to try to ensure that the Dee has a voice in the future plans of sports facilities on the Ards Peninsula. In the meantime, the club can offer the expert (and very welcome) coaching of Brian McKee who has a wealth of experience gathered from many years in the men’s leagues, and his influence at the coaching helm is evident for anyone who follows the results of the Dee. Gone are the days of the Dee going out and getting hammered every week; yes there have been a couple of scorelines to forget this season but on both occasions – Mossley (A) and Bangor (A) – Donaghadee have either travelled with several key players missing, or indeed lined up with 10 players at pass back. The rest of the games lost have been lost by a single goal. The team is now scoring with much more regularity and the girls recorded their biggest win certainly of this campaign, and definitely in the last good number of years, when they beat Malone 6-0 a few weeks ago. It will only take the arrival of two or three players to make the difference to this club and give a little bit of breathing space when unavailability strikes – could you be, or do you know that player?
The beauty of Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club has always been its friendly, laid back atmosphere, and now that the wins are starting to come the enthusiasm for the game is all the more apparent from the stalwarts who keep the club afloat from week to week. The ages range from 16 to older than I’m allowed to say, with ability on a similar scale, but the things we all do enjoy are the camaraderie, the fun and the enjoyment of making that odd good pass, not to mention the wee scoop in the pub afterwards. We are absolutely desperate for players to keep this great wee club going, so if you played hockey back in the day and fancy getting back into it, you’re just out of school and want to keep it up, or you just fancy getting some fresh air of an evening or Saturday afternoon, please come down and have a chat, we’re a friendly bunch! We train at Crommelin Park, Donaghadee every Wednesday evening from 7.30-9pm with league matches most Saturdays. We’re in action on Saturday against Ballynure at home, pass back at 2.30, so why not come down then and check us out? You can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more info or look us up on the internet at www.donaghadeelhc.co.uk.