It was a double bill last weekend for members of Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club with two teams in action on Saturday. The 1st XI travelled to Larne for the first round of the Plate and the 2nd XI headed to Stormont to take on Civil Service 3rd XI in the 4 o’clock slot.
With several players unavailable for the trip to Larne, Captain Ali Lawther was down to her starting eleven for this first round match in the Intermediate Plate. Undaunted, the Dee started well with the midfield quartet of Ali, Christine Hooks, Kerry Savage and Kerry Kennedy linking neatly and ensuring the ball was kept moving forward to the front two of Kerrie Turtle and Carolyn Scott. Great stick work from Kerry K bursting in to the home circle won the Dee a penalty corner which Ali converted thanks to her shot from wide left sneaking in at the near post. Despite further end-to-end play from both sides, the score remained 1-0 to Donaghadee for the rest of the half, with defensive duo of Hannah McAdam and Suzie Ferguson in particular both calmly clearing when called in to action.
Both sides came out with renewed purpose in the second period, knowing that a win was necessary for one team on the day. And what an exciting half it turned out to be. It didn’t take Larne long to respond, scoring from a well worked penalty corner to level things up at 1-1. Donaghadee weren’t done yet however and after some lovely play in midfield the ball was worked down the Dee right from Emma Gray to Carolyn with Kerry S providing the final cross in to the circle where Kerrie was unmarked. Twisting away from goal and seemingly on her back foot she somehow managed to get the shot away and, with the nearby defenders also all wrong footed, the ball was in the back of the net – 2-1 to Donaghadee. Larne showed great resilience, soon answering with another goal of their own and it was back to all square. The home team had a great chance to finish the match in normal time with a penalty corner right on the final whistle, but a combination of a great charge out by Lisa Higgins and subsequent save by keeper Siobhan McAdam kept them out.
Neither side was able to score the winning goal in extra time so penalty flicks were to decide the match. In only her second game for the Dee Kerry K stepped up to take the first flick, making no mistake to get the Dee off the mark. Larne were also successful with their first flick. Both teams failed with their second attempt then Larne edged ahead after converting the third. Unfortunately for the Dee, Carolyn was the only other to convert, meaning that Larne progress to the next stage with the final flicks tally of 4-2. Many thanks to Larne for providing two umpires on the day and good luck to them in the next round.
Following an initial game against near neighbours Bangor in early December, Donaghadee LHC 2nd XI took to the pitch for their first away match, on this occasion travelling to Stormont for a game against Civil Service 3rd XI, a team playing regularly in Ulster Hockey’s Junior 8 league and currently sitting in 3rd position. If the Dee are to enter a 2nds in to the league programme next year, they will do so at Junior 10 level – two below Saturday’s opposition; Saturday was therefore a great marker of where the Dee team is and the standard of hockey required.
Both teams started well with plenty of action in the midfield section of the pitch, and Donaghadee’s Deborah Gilmour, Caroline Davison and Jessica McCready were not to be over-awed by their young opponents. Once the match settled down the Civil Service forwards started to find some joy down the wide channels, but Natasha Cameron and Norma Ewart were alert to the danger and did well to ensure the crosses didn’t meet their targets. Any attacking balls which came through the middle were met by a determined Hannah McAdam – playing her third match of the day! – and captain Lisa Alexander at the back.
The break through came for Civil Service when a hopeful ball forward from well outside the Donaghadee circle was parried away by Dee keeper Tina Sterling. The home side reacted more quickly and were delighted to slot the ball home to make it 1-0 going in to the break. In the second half the Donaghadee forward trio of Emily Morris, Caitland Crockett and Andrea Girvan began to assert themselves on the game and, thanks to some tireless running, posed a few questions of the home defence. Service were able to draw on the experience of playing regular league hockey however to add another 2 goals to their tally before the final whistle, making it 3-0 for the home side. Despite this scoreline, Donaghadee were more than up to the task and it was a really good performance from a team which had not played together competitively. There will hopefully be a return fixture on Saturday 2nd February, time and venue to be confirmed. Many thanks to Will McAdam for umpiring duties.
Next up for DLHC is the bus trip for the league fixture against Newry on Saturday (19th). With 22 current and former club members signed up for the shenanigans, there will be plenty of support for the 11 who take to the pitch! If you’d like to be part of this exciting time in Donaghadee LHC’s history, you can find out more info at http://www.DonaghadeeLHC.co.uk or on Facebook.com/DonaghadeeLHC. Training continues at 7.30pm at Bangor Sportsplex – all ages, abilities and experience most welcome.