Senior League 4: Donaghadee LHC 1XI 4-2 Ballycastle
Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club’s 1XI were back in action on Saturday following a week of inaction due to a frozen pitch, with Ballycastle making the trek from the North Coast to Bangor Grammar. Back in October, when the Dee travelled north, they ran out convincing winners with Maura Hennessey and Kerrie Turtle (2) on the score sheet in that 3-2 victory.
Donaghadee came out of the blocks like the clappers on Saturday, clearly eager to put early pressure on the visitors and, within the first five minutes, they had the goal to complement the dream start – midfielder Ali Lawther crashing a free hit in from outside the Dee’s attacking 25 to find Maura free in the circle. A quick turn by the forward gave her the space to get the shot off past the Ballycastle keeper to put Donaghadee 1-0 up. Following almost constant attacking pressure for the next 10 minutes, the beleaguered visiting defence finally caved and conceded a penalty corner. Ali and Maura were involved again, with Ali slipping the ball for Maura to grab her – and Donaghadee’s – second of the game.
Donaghadee’s midfield were clicking through the gears, with captain Ruth Kennedy in particular tormenting her marker as she dominated her area of the pitch. Lisa Higgins was also enjoying freedom in midfield, making several lung-bursting runs into the attacking circle, and drawing a number of great saves from the Ballycastle keeper. Not to be outdone, forward Kerrie Turtle got in on the shooting act when she pounced on a defensive error and, one on one with the keeper, slotted the ball low to give Donagahdee a 3-0 lead. Just before half time, Maura got her hat-trick following a melee in the Ballycastle circle: 4-0 to Donaghadee at half time.
After the half time turn around, Donaghadee’s defence were called into action as Ballycastle started to play higher up the pitch, with Paige Reilly and Claire Stewart working in tandem at the back to clear wide to Amy Long and Suzie Ferguson. Dee keeper Siobhan McAdam needed to be on her toes when the inevitable shot came in, and any danger was successfully cleared. Tasha Paxton was also doing her bit but her afternoon was cut short when she had to retire injured having taken a direct hit in the defence of a penalty corner. It was from a subsequent penalty corner that Ballycastle found some luck; despite Siobhan making an initial double save, the ball still ended up in the back of the net. Encouraged by this purple patch, the visitors pressed forward and were rewarded with another penalty corner – with the same outcome: the score line now reading 4-2.
Jan Morrow and Emily Morris – having already played for the 2XI earlier in the day – were on and off to provide fresh legs and both were involved in the final Dee attacks as the home side looked to finish the match on a high, but there were no more goals; the Ballycastle keeper had a storming game to keep Donaghadee to the four goals they scored in the first half. Many thanks to Mike Smyth for umpiring. Next match for the 1XI is at home to Newry on Saturday, pass back 1pm.
Junior League 8: Donaghadee LHC 2XI 1-3 Bangor
Donaghadee 2nd XI were back to usual league action on Saturday as they welcomed local neighbours Bangor 2nd XI to Bangor Grammar. After a few difficult weeks Donaghadee hoped to put on a stronger performance on their home pitch. With absence and illness from some of the regular players, Donaghadee had to shuffle their usual formation slightly leading to Bangor being the team that was quicker into their stride from the first whistle. They earned themselves a penalty corner early in the match which they duly converted to give them the initial advantage.
Donaghadee then produced some good play with the midfield trio of Natasha Cameron, Jan Morrow and Deborah Gilmore working well together and playing some nice passes forward to winger Emily Morris. The Dee’s early attempts on target were dealt with efficiently by the Bangor defence, denying any score for Donaghadee in the first half. Bangor were quick on the break and they picked up one loose ball to carry it to the Donaghadee circle where Amy Long, Teegan Greer and Lisa Alexander were well positioned to intercept. Bangor maintained their determination, creating chances and eventually working past sweeper Tori Rollo and keeper Janice McVeigh to increase their lead.
In the second half Donaghadee created chances of their own with some speedy play up the left side of the pitch from Natasha Cameron but still the Bangor defence remained tight. Bangor again earned another penalty corner from which they scored but as ever Donaghadee kept up their fighting spirit until the end of the game. Moments before the final whistle centre forward Melissa Rollo slipped the ball into the back of the net with a consolation goal for Donaghadee, resulting in the final score of 3-1 to Bangor.
Many thanks to Mike Smyth for umpiring. Donaghadee 2XI play Instonians next week at home, passback at 2.30pm.