24 March 2018: Donaghadee LHC 1XI 1-1 Instonians and South Antrim 0-6 Donaghadee LHC 2XI

Senior League 3: DLHC1XI 1-1 Instonians
Donaghadee Ladies 1XI rounded off their 2017/18 league campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to Instonians to secure 3rd place in Senior 3, a spot they have occupied since 11th November when they beat Instonians 4-3 in a Friday night match at Shaw’s Bridge.

That win was one of seven victories and six draws which amassed enough points to ensure that the only way Instonians, in fourth position, could overtake Donaghadee was to win on Saturday.

In the opening stages it was Donaghadee who piled on the pressure, with wave after wave of attack putting the Instonians rearguard under extreme duress. Scorer of two of the goals that night in November, Carolyn Scott, forced a tremendous save from the Instonians’ keeper whose fully outstretched right toe prevented an inch perfect shot from sneaking in off the far post, and young forward Vicky O’Neill was unlucky not to poke a rebound in past the Inst No 1 who stood her ground well.

The Dee midfield played their part too: Ali Stephenson provided numerous dangerous free hits in from round the attacking 25 while Helen Hooks was her usual industrious self on the left, bursting forward at will to lend her support as Donaghadee looked for the breakthrough.

Laura Boyle too covered a mass of ground on the left, switching effortlessly between attack and defence. Catherine Armstrong provided the threat on the right, picking out a Donaghadee stick on one occasion with an excellent cross; the Inst keeper making yet another save from the resulting sweeping shot.

With little to do in the first half, the Dee defence were busier as the second half opened. Paige Reilly, in her last game as Captain, put in a majestic performance at left back with excellent interceptions and distribution to set the midfield off again.

Her defensive mates also put in a tremendous shift: Amy Long reading the ball superbly to make the necessary covering tackles as the ball was swept across the circle and Claire Stewart directing operations at the heart of defence.

Instonians turned the game on its head with a one-off chance that was taken well – a bouncing ball in the circle was taken on the volley and it suddenly looked as though Instonians were in the driving seat for third position. Nobody told Kerry Kennedy though. Step forward Donaghadee’s midfield maestro who specialises in spectacular goals.

Taking a quick free hit herself on the attacking 25, Kerry drove forward unchallenged to the top of the D and, with a typically flamboyant reverse stick strike, she placed the ball just inside the Inst keeper’s left hand post, much to the delight of her team-mates and Dee supporters alike.

Donaghadee had one more chance late on to put the game beyond doubt when Carolyn chased down a seemingly lost-cause ball, but her pull back just evaded Vicky who had made tremendous ground to get in place. Final score 1-1 and third place secured for Donaghadee’s 1XI.

Thanks to Chris from Bangor Men’s for umpiring and to Orchardhill Landscapes for sponsoring the last home match ball of the season.

Big congratulations to Donaghadee LHC’s 1XI keeper Siobhan McAdam who not only put in another big shift on Saturday but has also been selected for the O50 Ulster Masters for the Interpros taking place at Lisnagarvey at the end of April. Super job, Siobhan!

Donaghadee LHC 2XI progress to the semi final of the Minor Plate

Donaghadee LHC 2XI progress to the semi final of the Minor Plate

Minor Plate Quarter Final: South Antrim 3XI 0-6 Donaghadee LHC 2XI
The 2XI travelled to Lisburn to face South Antrim 3rds in the Minor Plate, with a semi-final berth the prize at stake. The sun was shining and the Dee girls were in good spirits following their midweek league win against Saintfield, and it showed in their confident play from the first whistle.

The interplay between the front two of Kerrie Turtle and Tasha Paxton saw early chances for the Dee, but they were confronted by a South Antrim keeper in fine form and despite sustained pressure the score remained goalless for the first ten minutes. It took Sarah Harkness, bursting through into the circle with one of her characteristic runs, to break the deadlock as she beat a couple of defenders and hit a sweet shot past the keeper’s outstretched foot: 1-0 to the Dee.

And like the proverbial buses, having waited so long for the first goal, the second came along shortly after. Seeing the opportunity to take a quick long corner, Lisa Higgins drove the ball to the edge of the circle before squaring it to Sarah who doubled her tally with another clean strike. There were chances aplenty to add to the scoreline before half-time; Natasha Moore and Emily Morris were combining well down the right hand side to provide balls into the circle, and a series of penalty corners came the Dee’s way, but the opposition remained resolute and the score remained 2-0 at the break.

Captain Janice McVeigh, who had been a virtual spectator in the Donaghadee goal for the first half, emphasised the need to avoid complacency and defend as a team the second half – unlike their opposition, she had no subs to call on and players were likely to tire in the heat, so it was important to keep cool heads. All thoughts of defending went out of the window however when Emily scored the Dee’s third goal following a goalmouth scramble within a minute of the restart!

With nothing to lose, South Antrim brought on fresh legs and reshuffled their formation to good effect. Having had very few forays into the Dee’s half up to then, they began to make inroads in the second half but Nikki Robinson and Natalie Jamieson dealt with each threat with their usual composure, clearing the ball upfield and setting the midfield on the attack once more.

Collecting one of these clearances, Tasha broke down the right, her pace taking her past the defence and into the circle where her shot was parried by the keeper. Kerrie picked up the rebound and found Emily in the perfect place to sweep the ball home for her second and the Dee’s fourth.

But she wasn’t finished there! Some great build-up play by Rachel Kelly down the left led to a penalty corner; Kerrie was unlucky not to score as her shot trickled along the goal line but refused to cross it but Emily completed her hat-trick as she got the final touch from the resulting goalmouth scramble.

By this time the Dee defence were wanting to get in on the act, with both Lisa and Natalie intercepting balls in their own half and carrying them nearly the length of the pitch but couldn’t find the final shots to finish with a flourish.

With the game opening up in the final minutes, South Antrim were having some success of their own, and Janice got her one and only touch of the game as she cleared a shot on goal. She was also grateful to Rachel for snuffing out a final attack with a last-ditch tackle to keep the opposition scoreless.

But the Dee finished as they started, on the attack, with Tasha once again turning provider for Kerrie to finally get a goal as reward for all her hard work. Final score 6-0 and a semi-final spot awaits for the 2nds. Many thanks to Nicola Patton for umpiring and to Our Gary for his support (and dog-sitting!) The 2XI now progress to the semi final of the Minor Plate against CI mid-April.

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