Last Saturday Ballynahinch came to Bangor Academy for the last fixture in the first half of the season for Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club. With Ballynahinch sitting in second place in the league, it was never going to be an easy game but to this point in the season, Donaghadee have put together some heartening performances, with 4 wins from 9 seeing them occupy the 5th position in the table – certainly the highest the team has been for many a year.
Some days it just clicks, and this game fell on one of those days for the Dee. There was never going to be very much in it so the Red and Green knew they would have to be on top form to take something from the match. The Dee won pass back and right from the off, the tackling, support and willing runs all over the pitch were very much in evidence. Captain Ali Lawther and Katie Donnelly bossed the midfield and distributed the ball beautifully to the forward line of Ruth Kennedy, Kerrie Turtle and Kerry Savage – the latter two of whom lead the goal tally with 4 goals apiece so far this season – and all three of whom were certainly giving their markers plenty to deal with in the opening exchanges.
Ballynahinch were proving themselves lively opposition but Hannah McAdam and Nina Wells were working well together as a unit at the back and providing the platform for spreading the ball wide to Suzie Ferguson and Lisa Higgins. It was from one such move worked from the back which resulted in a Donaghadee attacking penalty corner. The Hinch runner was out quickly to try and block the initial shot but the Dee worked their way closer to the back line, only to see the ball bounce agonisingly off the far post and away to safety. There were several other opportunities for the Dee to take the lead but the chances went begging. In fact, shooting-itis seemed to affect both teams, with Ballynahinch putting the ball wide themselves on a few occasions.
The frustration started to show on the visiting side’s part however, with a Ballynahinch player finding herself on the side line for two minutes after a green card for saying too much to one of the Union-appointed umpires just before half time. After the half time oranges Donaghadee knew that by sticking to their game plan, they could certainly come away with something from the match. More pressure from the Dee saw a free hit awarded just inside the Hinch 25. A quick pass was taken by Ali to Carolyn Scott high in the right wing position. She duly crashed the ball across a crowded Ballynahinch circle, finding Kerrie who made no mistake with this one. 1-0 to the Dee.
As can be their wont when they go ahead, the Dee perhaps started to sit back a little to try and protect the lead and this invited the visitors to press in search of an equaliser. It certainly made for a long last 15 minutes for the Dee, with keeper Laura Gibson called into action a couple of times, but the girls managed to hold on for a very satisfying 3 points. A cohesive team performance with not only the 11 players on the pitch all pulling together but both unused subs, Leona Wells and Natasha Cameron, goalkeeping coach for the day Siobhan McAdam and Statman Will McAdam on the sideline adding their support. This was probably one of the best performances of the season so far and if the Dee could put together a few more performances like this in coming matches, there’s no reason why they can’t start moving even further up the table. They’ll be looking to do just that after a week’s break when they head to Mossley on Saturday 8th December, pass back time to be confirmed. This will be a busy weekend for the club, with the Seconds hopefully getting their first competitve match against a Bangor XI on Sunday 9th December.
There may be no league action next weekend but why not head in to Donaghadee on Sunday 2nd December to cheer on members of DLHC as they take part in the 5k Santa Fun run in aid of the MRI Scanner Appeal for the Royal Hospital for Sick Children. With over 30 entries for the run confirmed at the time of writing, the Hockettes will make up a good number of what will be a great spectacle of Santas careering round the streets of the Dee. For more info on the Santa Fun Run please see http://www.visitdonaghadee.com and for more info on the club you can visit http://www.donaghadeelhc.co.uk or facebook.com/DonaghadeeLHC