After a week of inaction as other teams competed in the Plate, Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club travelled down the A1 on Saturday to play Newry Olympic. There hasn’t been much to choose between these two teams this season, with both sides sitting just below halfway in the table.
The Dee ran out 3-2 winners when they met just before Christmas, but with several players, including scorer of 2 goals that day Jackie McKee, unable to travel this time around, the Dee were going to have their work cut out. The team has been cut to the bare bones recently with injury and unavailability both playing a part and although only ten made the trip at the weekend, it was great to see a return to midfield for Katie Drummond after several matches out due to an ankle injury, and even better to see Ali Gordon back on the pitch for the first time since the Ballynahinch match.
Deputising in the captain’s role with Jen McVeigh recovering from an operation, Carolyn Scott won pass back and the match got underway in the late Newry sunshine. With the Dee opting to pack the defence and midfield, centre forward Kerrie Turtle was left to lead the line, and lead it she did, holding the ball up superbly and taking on defenders, often with two or three Newry players round her. The Dee had a great chance very early on when some nice passing between Kerrie and Carolyn put through Katie, bursting from midfield to the edge of the circle. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to get her shot on target and the score remained level. Newry began to settle, and although they didn’t overly threaten the Donaghadee circle in the opening exchanges, they were increasingly making use of their extra player in midfield. A lot of the play was coming from their right, but straight from the first whistle, Ali G settled any nerves she may have been harbouring and got stuck in with a couple of great tackles. On the occasions she was beaten, Newry were faced with Lisa Higgins who was her usual rock solid best in defence. Also her usual excellent self was Nina Wells, mopping up anything that came her way with the calmness on the ball that has made her a great defender this season. Adding support to the central defense were Carmen van der Schyff and a guest appearance by Ann Savage, both of whom tackled tirelessly and broke up play from the wide positions. It was Newry however who scored first, wrong footing stand-in keeper Alison McNeice, but it didn’t take long for the Dee to equalise through a well worked penalty corner – Ali Lawther getting the strike and giving the midfielder her first goal for the club.
The match continued to be reasonably evenly contested, with Katie Drummond and Ali L doing really well in midfield and Carmen, switched from the back to give Kerrie some support up front, doing really well to get forward and get a couple of lovely reverse stick crosses in. The killer blow however came from Newry with not long remaining in the match. A free hit was conceded by the Dee just outside their 25, and with the defence backing off, the Newry forward carried to the edge of the circle and lashed an unstoppable shot to the top far corner leaving the final score 2-1 to the home side. Despite having travelled with only 10 players, the Dee gave a very good account of themselves and can count themselves a little unlucky not to have come away with something from the game.
Next up for the Dee is a trip to Ballynahinch on Saturday, but at the time of writing, the Dee are waiting to hear whether or not they have to travel, following the unseemly incident which took place when Ballynahinch came to Donaghadee back in November. For further details on the players, club and training click on www.donaghadeelhc.co.uk