Senior 3: Donaghadee LHC 1XI 1-1 Kilkeel
It was third travelling to second on Saturday when Donaghadee Ladies 1XI headed off to play Kilkeel with not many matches left in Senior 3 this season, but with all to play for in the top three.
Captain Paige Reilly was missing no fewer than 6 first team regulars but in testament to the growing numbers within the club it was fantastic to see youngsters Natalie Jamieson and Vicky O’Neill making the trip, along with Laura Boyle back in a Dee shirt after a spell away. New recruit Tasha Moore also stepped in to add her expertise.
It was real backs to the wall stuff for Donaghadee in the opening period; Kilkeel’s play and pressure off the ball meant there were few exit routes for the Dee and it looked as though Kilkeel just needed one break for the floodgates to open.
Wayward shots from the home side and grim determination from Donaghadee kept the score to 0-0 until half time.
It took a deflected shot from a penalty corner for Kilkeel to pull ahead but from that point on, there was a collective rolling up of the sleeves from Donaghadee and a clear ‘thou shall not pass’ attitude which was typified by Dee defenders Amy Long, Paige and Claire Stewart.
These three were immense in the heart of defence, with pass after pass being picked off and cleared from danger. Lisa Higgins and Helen Hooks too both seemed to be everywhere, breaking up wave upon wave of attack.
Donaghadee’s chances were few and far between, although Sarah-Louise Baird, Laura and Natalie worked tirelessly in midfield to provide the link between back and front, with Vicky O’Neill doing her best to make the home keeper work.
Donaghadee’s golden opportunity came late in the second half when Tasha supplied Leanna Young down the right. The forward set off on a typically robust run, taking on defenders to get a shot away. The Kilkeel keeper was only able to parry the ball to an unmarked Carolyn Scott on the back post and she pounced gleefully to pop the ball home to bring Donaghadee level.
There were nervous moments as the final whistle blew just after Kilkeel were awarded a penalty corner. In the face of all 10 outfield players surrounding the Dee circle, the pressure was on to get the ball clear of the 25.
Dee keeper Siobhan McAdam made the initial save with Amy picking up the scraps and sending the ball flying off the sideline to ensure the points were shared in a match where Donaghadee, of the two sides, will definitely be the happier with the result.
Thanks to Kilkeel for supplying two umpires for this game, big shout out to Sarah-Louise who played on despite breaking her thumb in two places and good luck to Siobhan McAdam, taking part once again in the Ulster Masters trials.
The 1XI have their final home game of the season on Saturday when they welcome Instonians to BGS, pass back 2.30pm.
DLHC 2XI came up against a very strong Newry side, losing 7-1 – Katie Donnelly with the Dee’s goal in that game. They play South Antrim 3XI away on Saturday, pass back 4pm at Friends’ School, Lisburn.