Senior League 4: DLHC 1XI 2-0 PSNI 1st XI
Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club’s 1st XI were at home to PSNI on Saturday – the first of a home double header for the Dee against PSNI, with the 2nds against the same opposition in the second slot of the day. Confidence was high and optimism plentiful, with DLHC 1st XI having won their opening two league matches against South Antrim and Ballynahinch. PSNI came down from Senior 3 at the end of last season and were therefore an unknown quantity for captain Ruth Kennedy and her team but Dee coach Brian McKee was clear in his instruction to continue trying to play the expansive passing game which has stood them in good stead so far this season.
With Ali Lawther and Kerrie Turtle both returning to Donaghadee’s starting line up, the Dee had their strongest team available for the fixture. The girls were quickly into their collective stride, with Lisa Higgins, Kerry Savage and Ruth Kennedy finding joy down the left and Kerry Kennedy and Carolyn Scott combining on the right to stretch the visitors. Kerry K has started the season in scintillating fashion with 3 goals in 2 games, and her run of good form continued when she worked some room for herself at the top of the opposition circle to unleash a stunning reverse stick shot into the roof of the net to open the scoring for Donaghadee.
PSNI responded with much of their play coming through the middle; fullbacks Suzie Ferguson and Claire Stewart were quick to snub out any forays into the last third from the visitors. One ball did sneak through however and a lone PSNI forward found herself one on one with Dee keeper Siobhan McAdam. She failed to control though, and Siobhan was able to watch the ball over the back line to safety without having to make a save.
Donaghadee were making good use of their subs to keep things fresh with Paige Reilly slotting into Claire’s position – proving herself a more than able deputy in the defensive role beside Suzie. The relentless Donaghadee pressure continued with Victoria Speers working tirelessly in tandem with Ali in midfield to keep the momentum going, with forwards Maura Hennessey and Tasha Paxton coming on to add extra pace to the Dee attacks. Centre forward Kerrie added goal number two to the Dee tally when she went through on the PSNI keeper and, while there were certainly chances for more, Donaghadee were delighted with the final 2-0 scoreline to keep their 100% record intact.
Junior League 9: DLHC 2nd XI 0-1 PSNI
Donaghadee LHC’s 2nd XI were straight on to the pitch following the 1st XI’s win looking to emulate the performance of their clubmates. With many of PSNI’s players playing in both matches, Donaghadee were able to start the match strongly and broke through the middle of the pitch, with Natasha Cameron having a shot at goal within the first minute of play. This opening shot was saved by the PSNI keeper, clearing it wide to force play back into the Dee’s half. A strong ball from the half way line found a PSNI player free in the circle to have a shot at goal. Donaghadee keeper Janice McVeigh was quick to react with an excellent save, keeping the score at 0-0.
A string of good passes between Emily Morris and Jan Morrow got Donaghadee back in to the PSNI circle for another attempt on goal, which again was cleared by the PSNI keeper. PSNI repeatedly forced play down the Dee’s left side, putting continual pressure on defensive players Melissa Rollo and Lisa Alexander to break down the attacks. A quick switch of play by PSNI to the far side of the pitch then called on Tori Rollo to defend her goal with a strong reverse tackle, stopping the ball making it to the circle. Both teams had a number of chances at scoring but the score remained 0-0 at half time.
Donaghadee came out fighting in the second half with captain Deborah Gilmour and Carmen van der Schyff getting through a lot of work in midfield to try and release centre forward Karen Fegan high in the PSNI circle. The visitors’ defence didn’t falter however and any through balls by Donaghadee were coming straight back. A PSNI attack resulted in a penalty corner being awarded. A first time strike allowed PSNI get off the mark to a 1-0 lead. The Dee central defensive duo of Amy Long and Ruth Howell were working hard to keep the play in the home side’s favour, with Emily doing well to get another few shots on target. The PSNI keeper stood firm however and Donaghadee failed to get the ball in the back of the net.
The final whistle went just as PSNI were awarded a penalty corner. With 10 PSNI players lining up around the circle against 5 Donaghadee defenders, the outcome seemed inevitable. First runner Teegan Greer thundered to the top of the circle and intercepted the ball however, clearing it wide and denying PSNI a second goal, signalling the end of the match and a final scoreline of 1-0 to the PSNI.
Many thanks to Mike Smyth for umpiring both matches. Next week, DLHC 1st XI are away to Cooke while the 2nd XI are away to Bangor 2nd XI for the second time this season following the amalgamation of Junior 9a and 9b. The club would like to wish 2nd XI player Hannah McAdam all the best as she heads off to play for her university team at Coleraine – adding an extra interest to the Donaghadee v Coleraine match in a few weeks’ time!