Senior League 4: DLHC 1XI 1-0 Newry
It was third versus second this week as Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club’s 1XI welcomed Newry Olympic to Bangor Grammar. Earlier in the season, Donaghadee lost 4-3 in a thrilling, tightly contested match at Newry, and with only a couple of points and similar goal differences separating the two sides as the season starts to draw to a close, this promised to be just as keenly fought.
The freezing cold, gusty wind and the toss of a coin were a huge factor in determining a strategic start and finish to the game, with Captain Ruth Kennedy wisely choosing to play against the wind in the first half knowing that both teams would have their stamina tested to the very end. Newry had first passback and Donaghadee were quick to press from the start with midfielders Ali Lawther, Kerry Kennedy and Lisa Higgins using all their defensive skills to stop the strong Newry side penetrating the midfield line.
Using this as their platform, Donaghadee pushed forward, with a cross coming within inches of the reach of attacking Dee forwards Ruth and Kerrie Turtle. Moments later, following a well worked hit out by Claire Stewart, Kerrie made a fabulous run from midfield to the Newry circle and found Maura unmarked near the left post, Maura making no mistake to put the ball in the back of the goal. The rest of the half remained goal-less but with added confidence the Dee continued to put a panicking Newry side under pressure. The skilful passing around the back the back by the Dee defence of Claire, Suzie Ferguson, Paige Reilly and Amy Long was testament to the short work they made of the attacks by Newry, breaking each foray forward calmly and quickly to create another Dee attack.
The second half with the wind on the Dee backs was a welcome reprieve with Donaghadee keen to add to the goal tally to make the points secure. Kerry K made a graceful, skilful run from midfield which left three Newry defenders in her wake as she advanced. She took a strike on goal which found the back of the net but unfortunately the goal was disallowed. This only added to Donaghadee’s determination to increase the score line with the defensive line making a few attacking runs of their own, notably with Claire carrying and making an ultimately unsuccessful break for the Newry goal.
With five minutes remaining Donaghadee were to unfortunate to lose Ruth following a ball raised into her face, but super sub Emily Morris was on hand to keep the full Dee complement on the pitch. With play resuming, Donaghadee keeper Siobhan McAdam was to find herself really tested for the first time in the game when Newry were awarded a number of short corners, but Siobhan saw the ball to safety in a series of attacks which were the only real threat of the game by the Newry side.
In the dying minutes of the game the Dee won their second short corner of the match and Ali’s bullet of a shot narrowly missed Kerrie’s stick as she was waiting to pounce for the deflection. The final whistle heralded a hard earned but very much deserved 3 points as Donaghadee leap frog Newry into second place in Senior 4. Many thanks to Mike Smyth for umpiring. Next match is on Saturday week (14th) when the 1XI travel to Larne for the rearranged Plate match.
Junior League 8: DLHC 2XI 1-3 Instonians
Donaghadee 2XI welcomed Instonians 2XI to Bangor Grammar in extremely windy conditions on Saturday and, boosted by the great performance of the 1XI, the team were keen to get a strong start.
Using the wind at their backs to their advantage Instonians soon got into their stride and earned themselves an early penalty corner from which they scored. After the early shake-up Donaghadee defended well with Amy Long, Lisa Alexander and Lisa Higgins all playing their part to keep the attacks at bay. Play settled down and both teams enjoyed spells of good possession with the midfield being kept particularly busy. Teegan Green and Natasha Cameron played well linking together but Instonians eventually managed to carve the ball through the defence to earn themselves another shot on target putting them 2-0 to the good.
After the half time break Donaghadee predictably enjoyed more attacking play with the wind now on their backs. Natasha C fed the ball high to Melissa Rollo and determined play by Karen Fegan saw all three players with chances around the Instonians circle. Instonians continued to play well but were visibly tiring in the windy conditions. Right wing Emily Morris picked up a loose ball for the Dee and carried it up the pitch to find herself one on one with the visiting keeper. The initial strike was saved but not cleared and Emily showed good determination to slip the rebound into the back of the net to put the Dee back in contention. Shortly after, with a number of the Dee players pressing high looking for the equaliser, an error in midfield led to Instonians overturning the ball. Sweeper Lisa A and keeper Janice McVeigh did their best but were outnumbered and the visitors scored again, effectively putting the match to bed.
Final score 3-1 to Instonians. Thanks to Mike Smyth for umpiring and Brian McKee for coaching. The 2XI are next in action on Saturday 14th February away to Elks.