10 Feb 2018: Donaghadee LHC 1XI 0-2 South Antrim and NICS 4XI 0-1 Donaghadee LHC 2XI

Claire and Amy strong at the back for the 1XI

Claire and Amy at the back for the 1XI

Senior 3: Donaghadee LHC 1XI 0-2 South Antrim
Donaghadee LHC 1XI played South Antrim back at the end of October in a 3-3 thriller which saw Donaghadee come back from 3-1 down in what was the beginning of an excellent run of 8 games with only one loss – away to league leaders Annadale in the first game back after Christmas.

Donaghadee were missing key midfielders Helen Hooks and Sarah Louise Baird (who’d taken her new kit to see Riverdance) which saw the versatile Leanna Young dropping from up front into midfield and youngsters Vicky O’Neill and Natalie Jamieson – fresh from their 1-0 victory for the Seconds the previous evening – were called up to bolster the numbers.

Donaghadee were dreadfully unlucky not to register on the scoreboard when Kerry Kennedy, with support at her right shoulder from Carolyn Scott, took on and beat three defenders in the attacking circle to put the ball in the back of the net.

Despite the majority of players on the pitch, supporters on the sideline and the Donaghadee umpire seeing otherwise, the visiting umpire adjudged the ball to have been struck outside the circle and the goal was disallowed.

There was plenty of endeavour from Donaghadee, with Emily Morris making several probing runs down the Dee’s right, but there was no further rattling of the backboard before the half time whistle.

A reshuffle at half time saw Donaghadee with a more attacking formation: Leanna moved up front and Ali Stevenson pushed higher up in midfield. With the back three of Amy Long, Claire Stewart and Paige Reilly showing up well in defence, it took a deflected penalty corner for South Antrim to go ahead 1-0.

Siobhan McAdam was probably the busier of the two keepers as the second half wore on – she made a number of excellent saves to keep the score to 1-0. With the game stretched, South Antrim doubled their lead.

There was to be no comeback from Donaghadee this time but, with Kilkeel – above Donaghadee in the table – drawing with PSNI and Bangor below losing to Instonians, the Dee remain in third place in the table with only a handful of games remaining. There is a free week for the team before they are back in action away to aforementioned Kilkeel on 24th February.

Junior League 8A: NICS 4XI 0-1 Donaghadee LHC 2XI
Last Friday night Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club’s 2XI played NICS 4XI. The team were hoping to continue in their rich vein of form, following back-to-back wins since the festive break. Unfortunately a number of players were unavailable for the match, but captain Janice McVeigh was able to make use of the good numbers in the 2XI squad to field a team on a bitterly cold Friday night at Stormont.

NICS started strongly, making life difficult for the Dee midfield and defence. Defenders Lisa Alexander, Rachel Kelly and Rebecca Bolton were having to withstand sustained attacks, with Natalie Jamieson finding little space to pick out passes which could help the Dee break out of their own half.

Midfielders Katie Donnelly, Tasha Moore and Vicky O’Neill were working hard in the middle of the pitch to break up the play and ease the pressure on the Dee defence. In a quick counter attack, Kerrie Turtle was able to collect the ball and work her way up to the NICS circle, where she was able to pick out a pinpoint cross to Tasha who was unlucky to see her shot slip past the post. NICS continued to pile on the pressure, with the Dee’s only other effort in the first half a penalty corner, which Sarah Harkness was unable to make the most of.

Donaghadee started well in the second half. Retaining more possession and finding more space on the pitch, the team were able to break forward more into the NICS half. However with the game opening up more, NICS too were able to break. Janice, already having made a few quality saves in the first half, found herself increasingly busy to keep the score at nil nil.

Mid way through the second half, the 2XI were quick to counter attack up the pitch. Good interlinking play from Natalie and Katie found Vicky at the NICS 25 yard line. Vicky was able to push the ball into the path of Sarah, who drove into the circle and took a well-struck shot which found it’s way past the keeper, making it 1-0 to the Dee.

The goal led to an influx of NICS pressure and the 2XI struggled to break out of their own half. With the Dee unable to stifle the NICS forwards, Janice had to pull off a number of excellent saves to keep the Dee in front, including one diving save to her left to push the ball round the post. She was also able to win several one-on-ones with oncoming attackers and make several key clearances.

Donaghadee were able to hold on to their 1-0 lead until the final whistle, and make it 3 wins from 3 in 2018. Thanks to Nicola Patton for umpiring and to the spectators who braved the cold. The 2XI look forward to another match at Stormont next week, taking on NICS 5XI in the second round of the Minor Plate, pass back 2.30pm.

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