Last Saturday (5th) saw the resumption of league duties after the Christmas break for Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club. Having started back at training the previous week to dust off any lingering festivities, the Dee were keen to make the short trip to Ashfield Girls School to play Holywood LHC. Holywood have been vying with Mossley for top of the league all season so this wasn’t going to be an easy task by any means but with a strong side available to her, Captain Ali Lawther was in positive form.
The Dee won first pass back and were very quick to settle into their game. Whether it was home side sluggishness, or the Dee’s packed midfield – Ali opting to play four across – herself, Katie Donnelly, Leona Wells and debutant Kerry Kennedy – or a happy combination of the two, Donaghadee started very brightly. The passing and movement was a sight to behold for the Dee spectators on the sideline and it wasn’t long before the Dee forwards Ruth Kennedy and Carolyn Scott were worked into the circle. Despite a number of chances – both from penalty corners and open play, with Kerry K making one great burst in on the home goal – the Holywood keeper was able for the task, and the score remained resolutely at 0-0.
All too aware that Holywood are at the top of the table for a reason the team knew that they would need to continue to play as they had done in the first half if they were to get something from the match. Full use was made of the Dee subs with Kerry Savage, Emma Gray and Natasha Cameron all rolling on to provide fresh legs and added impetus. Holywood were starting to string more passes together and threaten the Donaghadee circle however. In a defensive partnership which has started to blossom over the last number of games, Hannah McAdam and Nina Wells dealt admirably with the increasing pressure from the home side, getting the ball out to the two wider half players Lisa Higgins and Suzie Ferguson, and the Dee continued to play some of the best hockey they’ve done all season. Midway through the second half though, Holywood’s attacking pressure told when they were awarded a penalty corner. The finish was clinical and Holywood were ahead. It wasn’t long before history repeated itself and the home team were 2-0 up. Shortly before the end, Carolyn managed to pull one back for the Dee when her shot in a crowded circle squeezed agonisingly slowly between the keeper and the post. It got there eventually though and gave the Dee a renewed sense of hope that they could get something from the game. It was just too little too late however, with the final whistle blowing minutes later. Final score 2-1 to Holywood. Many thanks to William McAdam for umpiring duties.
While this really was the one that got away and the Dee will be frustrated not to have taken something from the game, it is a measure of just how far the team (and the club) have come over the last few years. It wasn’t so long ago that Holywood put seven past the Dee, yet in this match goalkeeper Siobhan McAdam didn’t have an awful lot to do (though when called into service, she was up to the challenge, naturally!) and there are many reasons to be optimistic as we start a new year. This Saturday will see the fielding of two Donaghadee teams, with the 1st XI away to Larne in the Plate (time tbc) and the 2nd XI away to Civil Service at Stormont, pass back 4pm. Further info on the club can be found at http://www.donaghadeelhc.co.uk and on Facebook/donaghadeelhc.