It was an unseasonably mild day for an autumnal trip to St Colman’s College for Donaghadee Ladies’ 1XI’s fixture against Ballynahinch on Saturday. Stand-in Captain Helen Hooks won the toss and chose pass back for her team, and there was little to choose between the sides in the opening exchanges; much of the action taking place in the middle third of the pitch with Helen joined in midfield by Laura Boyle in the central role and Catherine Armstrong taking up the wide right berth.
On the occasions when Ballynahinch did threaten to break into the Dee circle, they found Paige Reilly and Amy Long protecting the flanks with alacrity – both looking to turn defence into attack quickly as they fed the wide channels, inviting their forwards to run on to balls into the attacking quarter. Claire Stewart, too, was her usual rock steady self in the heart of defence – her clearances to the sidelines ensured no way through for the home forwards.
When Dee keeper Siobhan McAdam was called into action, she too played her part in keeping Hinch out: a smart save from a penalty corner followed by a successful parry of the rebound ensured the score was 0-0 at half time.
A shuffling of positions at half time saw Donaghadee pile on the attacking pressure and there was so nearly success almost immediately. A bouncing Donaghadee cross, fired circle-wards from the right, bypassed several sticks as it was heading to the back post where Dee forward Carolyn Scott found herself unmarked but the ball evaded her stick too, unfortunately crossing the back line harmlessly away from danger.
Lisa Higgins and Ali Stevenson began to enjoy plenty of space as they helped link back to front, Lisa seemingly stopping everything that was within reach and Ali picking defence-splitting passes, one of which Hannah McAdam latched on to with the last defender making a last ditch clearance to nick the ball away before Hannah was able to get her shot away.
Ali was dreadfully unlucky not to bag the points for Donaghadee when she got a shot off from a penalty corner right at the death. Her strike agonisingly pinged off the outside of the post seconds before the final whistle, leaving the final score 0-0. Thanks to Brian McKee for umpiring. The 1XI are next in action on Saturday when they welcome South Antrim 1XI to Bangor Grammar.
Junior League 8B: Armagh 2XI 4-1 Donaghadee LHC 2XI
Donaghadee LHC 2XI headed west for the 4pm slot on Saturday when they took on a very strong Armagh side on a blustery Saturday evening.
From the first whistle, Donaghadee found themselves under sustained pressure from some very skillful attacking play coming from the opposition. Despite determined defence from Mia Park, Natalie Jamieson and Emma McGimpsey-Young and some excellent saves from keeper Nicola Patton, the Armagh side slipped a goal in after 10 minutes of play in the Dee ’23.
After conceding the goal, the Dee strove to get an equaliser and came very close to succeeding on multiple occasions with some great play from Ruth Coulter and Emily Morris up the wings. Their attempts were dealt with by a very experienced Armagh defence however, and unfortunately the opposition very quickly broke up the pitch and scored again. Despite further attacking play from Molly and Katie McKee, Erin Hamilton and Vicky O’Neill, the Dee were kept two nil down to the interval.
The second half began,with Donaghadee getting off to a very strong start, spending plenty of time in the opposition’s half but again, the waves of attack were fended off, setting Armagh on the attack, which was equally well fought by the Dee defence.
Thankfully, Donaghadee’s continued attacking play paid off when a great ball in from Ruth which found Katie McKee, who slotted the ball past the keeper to bring the score to 2-1, fuelling the fire of the Dee to score again.
There continued to be great play up the middle from Vicky and more strong attacks from the wings, with defender Georgia Ferguson coming very close to scoring herself after running the length of almost the entire pitch; the Dee seemed set to score but the Armagh defence remained steadfast and saw out all of the Dee’s attempts at goal.
Towards the end of the match, there was some very strong attacking from Armagh and their final goal was an excellent deflection into the net from a ball shelled into the Dee circle to set the final score 3-1 to Armagh.
Thank you to Janice McVeigh, who did a fabulous job of officiating the game on her debut match as umpire. The 2XI have a week off before they travel to Saintfield on Saturday 1st December.