Senior League 4: Donaghadee LHC 1XI 1-1 Parkview
Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club played their last home game of the season on Saturday when mid-table Parkview came to the Grammar. With the team again down to bare bones because of injury and work commitments, the Dee were without the luxury of a sub, with the Seconds away to Ballymena and also only with 11 on the day.
Parkview were arguably quicker out of the blocks, immediately testing defensive players Amy Long, Claire Stewart and Nina Wells, with a lot of the opening exchanges seemingly going down the middle of the pitch where Ali Lawther manfully battled to stem the black tide. In one attack which saw the ball driven high to the byline by the visiting forwards, the ball snuck between keeper Siobhan McAdam to give Parkview an early lead.
Donaghadee started to spread the ball a bit wider, with Ruth Kennedy in particular doing her best to weave some magic on the left and find the opening for the Dee but the visiting defence held firm. Tasha Paxton was doing likewise on the right, using her pace to put her marker under pressure, and she was unlucky to take a ball to the hand midway through the first half which necessitated several minutes off the pitch while ice and running repairs were applied so she could soldier on in the absence of any Dee replacements.
A half time reshuffle by coach Brian McKee saw some added grit in midfield with Claire pushing up to help out Ali and Suzie Ferguson dropping back to partner Nina at the back, and the effect was immediately obvious – straight away Donaghadee started to make better inroads into the attacking quarter of the pitch, with centre forward Kerrie Turtle finally getting better service. Lisa Higgins had one of her customary bursts into the circle with the ball falling kindly to Tasha. Bad hand or not, a determined sweep saw the ball heading goalward with Maura Hennessey on hand just to make sure: 1-1.
With Donaghadee looking a lot more assured going forward, it was they who kept the pressure on as they searched for the winner but unfortunately none was forthcoming, leaving the Dee with a valuable point which all but secures them a top three finish with only three games remaining. Many thanks to William McAdam for umpiring. Next match for the Firsts is away to Instonians on Saturday at the Dub, pass back 4pm.
Ballymena 4XI 2-0 Donaghadee LHC 2XI
Donaghadee 2XI travelled to Ballymena showgrounds on Saturday to play Ballymena 4XI. Donaghadee were confident going into the match to repeat the performance of the previous meeting between these two teams when the Dee came out on top in order to put their recent run of bad performance behind them.
The home team started the match in determined style and quickly put the Dee defence of Janice McVeigh, Tori Rollo, Lisa Alexander, Ruth Howell and Melissa Rollo under a lot of pressure. Some good saves from Janice and effective clearances kept Ballymena from scoring for a good part of the first half. Donaghadee battled against the squally showers and did their best to keep the ball out of our circle with the midfielders of Carmen Van Der Schyff, Jan Morrow and Teegan Greer working tirelessly. However the relentless pressure from Ballymena took its toll with Donaghadee giving away a number of penalty corners, one of which Ballymena eventually converted.
After the break Ballymena quickly took control of the match and carved their way through the field scoring from open play to put them 2-0 to the good. Donaghadee then stepped up their game putting some nice play into action. A nice series of passes from Karen Fegan and Emily Morris found Deborah Gilmore in the circle, her final strike being saved by the Ballymena keeper. Shortly after Teegan made a great run with her strong cross into the circle not quite getting the deflection from Deborah which was required. Donaghadee continued to play better towards the end of the game but the final whistle blew with the scoreline reading 2-0 to Ballymena. Thanks to Mike Smyth for umpiring.
Vets Blitz Day
A number of former DLHC players dusted off their sticks to take to the pitch for a Vets Blitz Day organised by Ulster Hockey which took place at Civil Service at Stormont. Ably abetted by several current squad members, the results didn’t quite go the Dee’s way, but how wonderful to see Ann Savage, Nicky Banford, Alison McNeice and Jill Dennison back in the red and green of the Dee. Next blitz is in April, so for any further DLHC Vets interested in taking part, please speak to Alison McNeice.