16 September 2017: Bangor 0-0 Donaghadee LHC 1XI

Senior League 3: Bangor 1XI 0-0 Donaghadee 1XI
Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club’s 1XI got their 2017/18 league campaign underway on Saturday against neighbours Bangor.

There was little to choose between these sides last year, with a narrow 2-1 Dee win and a 1-1 draw, and much of the season spent in close contention in the league table, so there was much anticipation for this game.

Donaghadee have added to their ranks since their last competitive fixture with two players, Emma McGimpsey and Leanna Young making their red and green debuts, Sarah Harkness-Robinson returning after a year out and Catherine Armstrong joining her sister Kerry Kennedy in midfield.

The numerous Dee supporters were treated to some lovely hockey in the opening exchanges, with Donaghadee using the midfield of Kerry, Catherine and Emma to work the ball forward at every opportunity.

There were early penalty corners for Donaghadee with Carolyn Scott shooting just wide and Leanna mere inches away from connecting at the back post. Donaghadee also saw a number of shots agonisingly just off target and this, combined with stout defending from the Bangor rearguard, kept the game scoreless going in to half time.

Bangor upped their intensity after the break and it was Donaghadee’s turn to show some resolute defending; Claire Stewart was calmness personified in the centre, and Amy Long did well to curtail the attacking threat of Bangor’s speedy left wing – working with midfielder Ali Stevenson to put in a number of timely interventions to ensure the ball was cleared to safety. On the left, Sarah-Louise Baird patrolled that touch-line and made a number of quick bursts to turn defence into attack to try and catch the home team on the break.

Donaghadee were able to show their growing strength in depth with the introduction of Lisa Higgins and Emily Morris; both added fresh legs in midfield as the game became stretched. Two good chances fell to Donaghadee late in the second half with Catherine and Sarah both unlucky not to take more from their forays into the Bangor circle, while Donaghadee keeper Siobhan McAdam – who had little to do in the first half – was called into action to keep the sheet clean as the game drew to a close. Final score 0-0.

Donaghadee Captain, Paige Reilly thanked Hannah Simpson for umpiring and declared herself happy with the performance. “I was delighted with how the girls played today. We are pleased to have kept a clean sheet and to have come away with a valuable point and we’re very much looking forward to next week’s game against Annadale.” Pass back against Annadale is at 1pm on Saturday at BGS.

With Ulster Hockey rearranging a number of fixtures in Junior 8, DLHC 2XI had an unexpected free weekend, with their planned match against CI 5XI to be played later in the season. They will be looking forward to getting started when they face Newry away on Saturday.

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