Lurgan Ladies 1
Lurgan’s Irish Hockey League campaign came to an end with this semi-final defeat at the hands of Leinster kingpins Loreto in Dublin on Saturday.
On paper it looks like a fairly comfortable victory for the Dublin side, but in fact nothing could be further from the truth as the young Lurgan side really put it up to their illustrious opponents.
For most of the first half Lurgan dominated proceedings and with a little bit of luck and composure in the final third could easily have been two up in the first twenty five minutes.
Kerrie Burns breaking down the right was causing Loreto all sorts of problems and her link up with Kathryn Edgar almost created an opening for the visitors as her ball across the circle was unlucky not to find a Lurgan stick.
Sarah McClure won Lurgan the first penalty corner of the match but the resultant Charlene Hull strike flew just wide of the post.
Eight minutes later Carly Johnston found Kathryn Edgar with a beautiful defence splitting pass but Kathryn’s strike on the reverse flew just over the bar.
Amy Edwards broke up a rare Loreto attack with a superb tackle and managed to set up another Lurgan attack after jinking past two Loreto players.
A deft pass from Kathryn Edgar to Chloe McCann in the circle almost broke the deadlock but the ex-Ireland keeper pulled off a tremendous double save from Chloe and Emily McStea to prevent the visitors from taking the lead.
With five minutes to go to half time and totally against the run of play Loreto took the lead from a well worked long corner and a crash ball into the Lurgan circle which fell to a Loreto forward who fired home from close range.
Almost on the blow for half-time Lurgan lost concentration on their twenty three metre line and Loreto took advantage squeezing the ball in at the left hand post to increase their lead.
It was a sickening blow to a Lurgan side who had put up a tremendous performance in the first half.
Lurgan opened up the second half well and were pushing to reduce the deficit when Loreto virtually killed the game when they converted their only penalty corner of the match with a neat switch move.
Lurgan were only playing for pride after this and they never stopped competing with Carly Johnston putting in an eye-catching player of the match performance from midfield. With five minutes to go Lurgan got the goal they deserved when the impressive Johnston got a beautiful deflection on a Charlene Hull crash ball into the circle.
The goal certainly seemed to test some Loreto nerves as they were rushed into some frantic clearances from the next Lurgan attacks. They had their keeper to thank in the last few minutes as she again pulled off a good stop from a late penalty corner switch move driven goal wards by Hull.
It was a relieved Loreto when the final hooter went but every player on the Lurgan side can hold their heads high for what was a tremendously impressive all round team performance.
Congratulations to coach Robbie McMinn, manager Darwin Murray and all the girls who played their part this season, the most successful in Lurgan’s history.