Senior League 4: Ballycastle LHC 2-3 Donaghadee LHC 1XI
Donaghadee LHC’s 1st XI made the journey to the North Coast to play Ballycastle LHC last Saturday aiming to make it five victories from five played so far this season – a run of results unheralded in recent times for the Dee – and captain Ruth Kennedy and her team headed off without the luxury of a single sub; current top goalscorer Kerry Kennedy and forward Carolyn Scott both unavailable for this match.
Donaghadee have traditionally been slow to start in this fixture in previous seasons but with the team there in good time and having completed a rigorous warm up, the Dee girls were determined to carry on the momentum gained from their terrific start to the season. It was unfortunate then that, especially given the lack of extra personnel, midfielder Kerry Savage was injured within the first few minutes of the game; a raised ball hitting Kerry on the hand, leaving Donaghadee with 10 players on the pitch almost straight away.
Despite being a player down, Donaghadee pressed forward, with Lisa Higgins intercepting a pass in midfield with a good run onto Ali Lawther, who spread the ball wide to Ruth. Some quick movement from the winger set Maura free in the circle and she finished the move off superbly, giving the Dee a 1-0 lead within the first five minutes.
With Paige Reilly dropping back into defence alongside Claire Stewart and Suzie Ferguson, Donaghadee were able to work their passing well round the back, limiting Ballycastle to only a few opportunities to equalise – none of which were taken by the home team.
With Kerry S sufficiently recovered to come back on to the pitch, she made up for lost time with some skilful passes down the right with Victoria Speers fitting in well on the right wing. One such move produced a lovely cross from Kerry which found Kerrie Turtle in the circle; Kerrie’s pinpoint accuracy finished it off nicely and doubled Donaghadee’s lead to 2-0 at half time.
After the half time turn around Ballycastle started much more strongly, with their forwards enjoying a lot more possession but Siobhan McAdam made several cracking saves in the Dee goal to keep Donaghadee’s 2-0 advantage. Despite all Siobhan’s good work, Ballycastle was awarded a penalty corner for a stick tackle in the Dee circle and they finally found some luck with a clean strike making it 2-1.
Donaghadee have been working hard on their fitness and as the match wore on, they were able to maintain the high intensity, high tempo hockey requested of them by coach Brian McKee, using this to their advantage with some lovely passes from attacking players Lisa H and Ali. With Ballycastle tiring, Donaghadee broke again with another great run down the right wing which, again, was finished off perfectly by Kerrie to restore the Dee’s two goal advantage.
The Ballycastle forwards were desperate to relieve the pressure on their defence and with only minutes remaining, they were delighted to be awarded another penalty corner due to a Dee foul in their attacking circle. With the full time whistle blown, Ballycastle were able to crowd the edge of the Donaghadee circle, with all ten outfield players up to try to force the ball over the Donaghadee line. Their luck was in and they did indeed score their second, but with time blown, the final score was 3-2 to Donaghadee, with the superb unbeaten record for the 1st XI continuing.
Donaghadee LHC 2nd XI also got three points at the weekend but without touching a ball thanks to Instonians 2nd XI conceding. This week the 1st XI are at home to Saintfield in the first round of the Intermediate Cup, pass back 1pm at Bangor Grammar on Saturday, while the 2nd XI are away to Coleraine.
Members of DLHC will be cycling the virtual 123 miles from Donaghadee to Dublin on static bikes in Bloomfields on Sunday to raise money for club funds so all support and encouragement will be most welcome!