Lurgan Ladies 6 UCC 2
Lurgan began their Irish Hockey League campaign with this stunning victory over UCC at the Junior High School on Saturday.
A decent crowd had turned up and they weren’t disappointed as they were treated to a thrilling display of exciting, skilful hockey.
Both sides signalled their intention from the start as play swung from end to end as each sought to open up the others defence and claim the opening goal. Lurgan were looking the more positive in possession and they opened the scoring on 10 minutes with a beautiful flowing move. Phoebe Preston won possession in midfield and found Jo-Anne Wilson on the right. Jo fed the ball through to Julie Morrow on the edge of the UCC circle and Julie slipped a beautiful pass across the circle for Chloe McCann to fire home from the penalty spot. UCC were stung into response and they equalised from a penalty corner seven minutes later.
From then on the match turned into the Sarah McClure show as she tantalised and tormented the UCC defence with a superb display of skilful hockey. A mesmerising run from her on the 20th minute took her from inside her own 25 to deep into the UCC circle were she slipped an inch perfect pass to Jo Wilson who fired home from close range. Eight minutes later she linked up beautifully with Kerrie Burns slotting the ball home herself after a delightful one, two deep in the UCC circle. The Cork students were stringing together some decent passing moves themselves and they almost pulled a goal back just before half time but Susie Taylor in the Lurgan goal pulled off a good stop from a fiercely hit shot to deny them.
Lurgan coach Davy Menaul had named a panel of 15 for this important match and he needed every one of them as the searing heat was taking its toll on the players. The third quarter started quietly as Lurgan looked to control play in the middle of the park and snuff out any dangerous UCC attacks. The visitors were not to be denied and after winning their second penalty corner on 46 minutes which was well saved by Susie Taylor, they didn’t miss from the next one two minutes later.
Lurgan had two penalty corner awards of their own in this quarter but failed make them count. UCC almost claimed an equaliser but the alert umpires spotted the ball had come off the forwards body before she shot home having previously rebounded off a post and the ‘goal’ was disallowed.
The final quarter looked like it could be worrying for the home side as UCC had managed to get themselves back into this match but instead it turned into an exciting display of attacking hockey as Lurgan banged in three more goals as the visitors visibly wilted. Sarah McClure was again the instigator as she set up striker Julie Morrow for a cool finish in the 58th minute. Three minutes later Jo Wilson was rewarded for her unselfish running all day as she fired home her second of the match and three minutes later Julie Morrow demonstrated her instinct for goal as she added her second and Lurgan’s sixth as they opened up the student defence again.
This was a superb win for Lurgan in a difficult group and there will be stiffer challenges ahead but they can draw confidence from a great all round team performance.
Lurgan: Susie Taylor, Louise Murray, Charlene Hull, Phoebe Preston, Sarah McClure, Carly Johnston, Jo-Anne Wilson, Kerrie Burns, Chloe McCann, Gemma McBride, Kathryn Edgar, Alex Hurst, Pippa Best, Julie Morrow, Emma Quinn.