This time last year no hockey was to be played for almost two months as Arctic conditions put paid to any thoughts of venturing outdoors, let alone baring arms and legs in the name of sport. While last Saturday’s conditions weren’t quite so adverse, it was certainly a bitingly cold day at the Dub in Belfast when Donaghadee travelled to Instonians. In the first league fixture of this season back in September, these two teams played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Crommelin Park, with last season’s top goal scorer Kerrie Turtle bagging both the Dee goals. Only 3 points separated the two teams before pass back, so it promised much in the way of open and attacking hockey.
With Connie Singleton and newbie Maura Hennessey both having missed much of the season due to injury, the Dee’s injury curse continued with Leona Wells suffering bad ankle ligament damage playing netball the night before the Inst match, ruling her out for certainly the rest of 2011. As mentioned in last week’s report however, it has been testament to the continued excellent numbers at training that captain Carolyn Scott was able to promote from within the training ranks and regular attendee, Johneen Palmer, stepped up to the mark.
Donaghadee were a little bit slow to get going when Instonians got proceedings underway – possibly a combination of the cold weather, lack of game time on astroturf and an element of players finding themselves in different positions from the usual line up, but with Jen McVeigh and Siobhan McAdam clearing the lines well from the back, the Dee ship was steadied a little. With Suzie Ferguson’s typical calmness on the ball on the right and Lisa Higgins’ tigerish tackling on the left, the Dee slowly started to put some passing and moves together and were increasingly threatening the Instonians circle. The home side were in no mood to roll over though, and it is they who drew first blood, opening the scoring when, even after numerous attempts, the Dee failed to clear the ball. They added a second shortly after, when again, the Dee got into a bit of a mess when trying to get the ball away.
There is the old adage in sport that the best time to score is just before half time, and Donaghadee were to get some reward following centre forward Kerrie Turtle’s tireless chasing of seemingly hopeless balls when she won a penalty corner after an Inst indiscretion in the circle. Despite the Inst keeper partially saving Carolyn’s first time shot, and an Inst stick on the line also taking some of the sting out of it, the ball somehow found its way over the line and Donaghadee went into half time with their heads up and only 2-1 down.
The second half however started much as the first had, with Donaghadee slow to get going. Katie Donnelly, Ali Lawther and Carolyn started to exert a little bit of pressure in midfield which released Kerrie up front but the Inst defence held strong. The Dee did try to spread the ball to the two wide players, Johneen and Carmen van der Schyff, and on a few occasions did manage to penetrate the home defence, but their keeper remained up for the task.
Speaking of keepers, Teegan Greer had an absolutely storming game in the Dee goal, making numerous athletic saves to keep the Dee in the match right up until the dying minutes. There was little she could do however when Instonians sealed their victory late on in the game, leaving the final score 3-1 to the home side. Many thanks to Mike Smyth for doing the honours with the whistle. Donaghadee’s last match of 2011 is on Saturday 17th December at home to Bangor. Check out the website http://www.donaghadeelhc.co.uk or Facebook for up to date information regarding this match and all other club info.