JUNIORS TAKE PART IN THEIR FIRST TOURNAMENT
Last weekend saw a double bill of action for the members of Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club with not only the Seniors in action in the league, but also DLHC Juniors taking part in their first ever tournament on Friday evening. Organised by DLHC in conjunction with the Grass Roots Office of Ulster Hockey, girls’ teams from Ards LHC, Bangor LHC, Knock LHC and North Down LHC all took part in this Junior tournament.
For the Dee girls, it was the culmination of 5 weeks hard work on the astroturf at Bangor Academy, and a chance to show off their skills and pit themselves against other teams of a similar age. They faced a difficult opening game against a very strong Ards team who took advantage of their opponents’ inexperience, running out 4-0 winners. Considering the fact that Donaghadee had never faced outside opponents before, and that they played without a goalkeeper, this was not a bad result. In the next game, Lauren Fisher stepped in to the pads and kickers – never having done so before – and proved herself to be a tremendous keeper, saving numerous times in the following matches – definitely one to watch for the Dee if she decides to keep on keeping goal! Knowing they had Lauren behind them, the Dee team of Kirsty O’Neill, Loren Rutherford, Imogen Forbes, Olivia Crilly, Zara Cosh and Emily Anderson started showing just how good they are, with 0-0 draws against Bangor and North Down and losing only narrowly 1-0 to Knock, teams which all play regularly in Ulster Hockey Junior leagues. Such was the success of the tournament and enthusiasm shown by the Dee team, the club is already looking in to another Junior session in the spring, and also the possibility of running a similar tournament. Watch this space!
SENIORS IN LEAGUE ACTION
So following on from the impressive display shown by the Dee Juniors, it was up to the Seniors to try and match the effort and commitment on Saturday when they played Newry Olympic at home in the league. Last year Newry struggled for numbers – a problem Donaghadee has known all too frequently in the past – and as a result, their league position suffered, but there has never been much to choose when these two play each other. Newry were coming off the back of an 8-1 victory over College Hill the previous week, so there was an air of caution in the Dee camp prior to pass back.
With new players Christine Hooks and Emma Gray coming in to the Dee side and Kerry Savage hot on the goal trail this season – 2 goals in the opening 3 games, the Dee have most definitely added both strength and depth to the ranks and with competition hotting up for places on the team, it’s so encouraging to see. Both teams started well in what quickly became an open, free-flowing and end-to-end game of hockey. Donaghadee probably just shaded it in terms of real chances on goal but either the final pass was overcooked or the shot didn’t quite find the target. The deadlock was broken just before half time when that goalscoring machine, Kerry, popped up close to the back line on the right hand side. As with one of her goals a couple of weeks ago, she scored from what was an improbably tight angle to put the Dee 1-0 to the good.
The chat at half time was to keep playing the short passes and working the ball wide for runners in to space and that’s exactly what the Dee kept doing, with just reward coming towards the end of the second half when a ball pulled back from the bye-line cut out the advancing Newry keeper and found last season’s top goalscorer Kerrie Turtle – obviously in no mood to relinquish the goalscoring title to her namesake without a fight (the pair are now on 3 goals apiece)! The whole team can be very pleased with how the passes are starting to click – there was a lot of good hockey on show last weekend and plenty of excellent team work – long may it continue! Many thanks to Mike Smyth for umpiring duties and to Kate of Dunn’s Footwear who sponsored this week’s match ball. The girls are next in action this Friday night when they travel to Shaw’s Bridge to play bottom team Instonians.
It is with great delight that, following some very barren years when players were very hard to come by, DLHC has been getting enough Senior players to training this year to organise several friendly matches for a development 2nd XI. Matches against South Antrim, Bangor, Holywood and Civil Service have already been pencilled in over the coming months and it is hoped that this will allow all club members to get some competitive game time under their sticks. Exciting times indeed for the club and a truly welcome development in the latest chapter in the DLHC history. If you would like more information on being a part of this growing club, you can find out more on http://www.donaghadeelhc.co.uk and on Facebook.com/DonaghadeeLHC.
Photo: Members of the team (Kerry Savage, Carolyn Scott, Lisa Higgins and Suzie Ferguson) with Kate Boyd, Dunn’s Footwear who sponsored the match ball