For the first time since October, Donaghadee LHC were back at Crommelin Park for a league fixture. A little pre-match pitch care was needed to ensure the previous night’s rain didn’t prevent the game going ahead, with Saturday morning’s bright sun and strong wind also helping dry the gravel out.
Newry have struggled for numbers this season – a problem Donaghadee has known all too well in recent years – and this has seen them conceding a number of fixtures and therefore dropping points, but despite their current position at the bottom of the league, the Dee were taking nothing for granted having had some very tight contests with this team in the last couple of years.
With so many of their games now taking place on astroturf, the Dee took the early period of the first half to settle into any kind of rhythm but after several opening exchanges, Donaghadee started playing some better hockey. The midfield trio of Natasha Cameron, Ali Lawther and Katie Donnelly were finding a fair amount of space to feed their forwards, all of whom found themselves through into the Newry 25 on numerous occasions. Dogged defending from the visitors kept the score level however.
It was one such attacking run which saw Ali bursting from midfield on the left, and her ball into the circle found an unmarked Carolyn Scott who, having cut in from her right wing position, finally got the scoreboard ticking over. 1-0 to the Dee and so it somehow remained for the rest of the half – Donaghadee created a lot of chances but were unable to make them count.
After the teams switched ends, the match continued in the same vein, with the emphasis on Donaghadee keeping calm and stringing a few more passes together to find the killer end ball. The Dee started building from the back, with Nina Wells and Jen McVeigh playing the ball nicely across the back, and Suzie Ferguson and Lisa Higgins making more forward runs down the flanks in support of their midfield. Newry began to bow under the pressure and a free hit was awarded just outside the Newry 25. Straight from the training pitch, Ali belted a ball straight at centre forward Kerrie Turtle who was positioned just in front of the Newry keeper. With the slightest deflection, Kerrie tipped the ball beyond the visiting No 1 to make it 2-0.
With much of the game being played in the Newry half, the Dee were finding a lot of joy down the left, with Ruth Kennedy in particular causing panic in the Newry ranks when she was on the ball. After another melee in the visitors’ circle, Kerrie capped a typically hard working performance with her second of the day to make it 3-0 to the Dee.
As has been the case with every match this season – wonderfully so – Donaghadee had the luxury of subs on the sideline and they were to make full use of Carmen van der Schyff and Hannah and Siobhan McAdam – each of the three playing a vital role in the rolling subs policy adopted for this match, bringing on fresh legs and impetus to the Dee attack.
Newry did threaten late on with a couple of long corners, with one stinging shot in particular forcing the Dee keeper Teegan Greer into a tremendous save, but Donaghadee were good for this confidence boosting 3 points. Many thanks to Gina McFall for umpiring duties.
Donaghadee have a week off before they travel to Ballynahinch on 3rd March in their final away game of the season, with the final two league games against Newcastle and College Hill at home on 10th and 24th March respectively.
The club has been starting to piece together bits and pieces of the history of DLHC and already a number of wonderful old photographs from the early years of the club have been unearthed. A meeting will take place in late March (venue and date to be confirmed) for all members past and present of Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club to get together to view the photos, reminisce about old times and hopefully add to the information already collected. For further information on the evening or if you have any old photographs from your time at the club, please email the club on firstname.lastname@example.org, visit http://www.donaghadeelhc.co.uk or find us on Facebook/donaghadeelhc.