In a week where the third team in 2 seasons has folded in Senior League 4 of the Ulster Hockey Union, Donaghadee played Ballynahinch at Londonderry Park, Newtownards after heavy rain shortly before the scheduled pass back time rendered Crommelin Park a bit of a lake. Ballycastle LHC are the latest victims of a league which has shown no mercy on the smaller clubs in recent years, with Malone LHC and Ballynure LHC forced to concede their places in Senior 4 last year. Ballycastle have struggled badly since the 11/12 league programme started in mid-September with a combination of losing a number of players since last season and possibly having to make a day trip of every single away match – their closest match geographically is probably against North Belfast side Mossley has meant they finally admitted defeat last week.
Their withdrawal from the league has unfortunately had the knock on effect of Donaghadee LHC losing the hard won 3 points after they travelled up to the north coast at the start of November and came away with a convincing 4-1 victory against Ballycastle and sees Donaghadee (5 points) now placed between bottom side Newry – who have incidentally also struggled to field a team on numerous occasions this year, reflected in their points tally of -3 – and Instonians on 8 points. Donaghadee do however have a game in hand, and they will be looking to maximise this advantage when they play Instonians this Saturday (3rd December).
It is testament to the renewed dedication of the Donaghadee girls that, a Friday night cup game excepted, the Dee have had at least 12 players for every single game this season (in comparison with this time last season when they turned out on several occasions at least one or two players short) and Saturday’s game against Ballynahinch was no exception, with 12 hockettes donning their wellies and rain macs for the fixture. There has been very little between these two teams over the last couple of games, with both matches home and away ending in draws last year, and to be honest there wasn’t a lot between them in this match either, despite the scoreline suggesting otherwise. With Nina Wells, Jen McVeigh, Susie Ferguson and Siobhan McAdam dealing well with any blue attacks, Teegan Greer in goal didn’t have an awful lot to do and, with the defence able to set up the midfield trio of Lisa Higgins, Ali Lawther and Katie Drummond, Donaghadee saw plenty of the ball and were able to put the Ballynahinch defence under pressure, with all the Donaghadee forwards – Leona Wells, Kerrie Turtle, Carolyn Scott and Carmen van der Schyff having their chances in the circle.
The final score came down to Ballynahinch converting their chances where Donaghadee didn’t but there were positives to be taken from the match. Captain Carolyn Scott wasn’t too downbeat after the final whistle: “I can’t be too unhappy with how the girls did today – on another day, the chances we created could have gone in and we would have been a couple up within the first ten minutes. We’re certainly playing better together as a team, and we’re all looking forward to the game against Instonians this weekend.”
Many thanks to Mike Smyth for umpiring again, and the match ball was sponsored by Regency Cars, Newtownards. The next game for the Dee is against Instonians (away), time and place to be confirmed. For up to date info on the club please visit http://www.DonaghadeeLHC.co.uk