UCD 3 Lurgan 1
Lurgan gave the current IHL champions and recent Irish Senior Cup winners a real scare in this fourth round Irish Hockey League match in Dublin on Saturday.
The main priority for the Lurgan team before this match would have been to try to keep the score down to a respectable level but in truth they exceeded these expectations and some.
On the day they were superb and each and every one of the 13 players who took to the pitch can be e proud of their individual and collective performances.
Lurgan started the game well retaining possession, keeping their shape and passing the ball with confidence.
Out of the blue they were suddenly 2-0 down as UCD struck in the 6th and 8th minute with two quickfire goals which in truth Lurgan will be disappointed to have conceded as they came from fairly non-threatening balls played into the circle.
Lurgan scored from their first penalty corner award on nine minutes when Charlene Hull’s strike was deflected into the net by an in-rushing Pippa Best in a well worked routine.
The second quarter was a very cagey period with both teams conscious of the others counter attacking capabilities.
A lot of the play was concentrated in midfield where Sarah McClure and Emma Lindsay again were in superb form, Pippa Best’s work rate and running power was exceptional and Emma Quinn in an unfamiliar role was a revelation. Such was the controlled pressing and tackling of the Lurgan side that UCD were restricted to only one attack and didn’t win any penalty corners in this quarter.
Buoyed by their first half performance Lurgan started the second half in confident manner but were dealt a killer blow five minutes into the half when UCD were awarded a goal which Lurgan clearly thought should not have been allowed to stand. When the UCD forward completely missed the ball with her first strike, catching Kathryn Edgar in the process, she found the net with her second.
Lurgan questioned the umpires but as neither of them claimed to have seen it, the goal was allowed to stand. Lurgan responded to this set back and went in search of a second goal which would give them an extra bonus point.
They put the UCD team under pressure and a 47th minute penalty corner award for Lurgan almost paid dividends. The initial routine seemed to have broken down but the ball broke right to Chloe McCann just inside the circle and her tremendous rising shot smashed off the UCD crossbar and unfortunately for Lurgan away to safety. Lurgan were looking the team more likely to add to the score sheet with young wing backs Kerrie Burns and Alex Hurst tackling confidently and making eye catching breaks down the flanks.
Charlene Hull and Louise Murray controlled the back line and snuffed out any balls through the middle with superb interventions, tackles and distribution.
Naomi Costley’s calmness and shot stopping ability clearly underlined the fact that she is regarded as one of the best young keepers in the country. The work rate of Jayne Clarke and Kathryn Edgar up front was superb as they both covered every blade of turf, closing down the UCD back line and preventing them from any easy out balls in defensive situations.
They were also creative in possession taking players on and unsettling their illustrious counterparts. Judith Edgar in one of her first IHL appearances proved what a willing and valuable member of the squad she is going to be with her selfless work and running up front when called upon. Lurgan continued to press in the fourth quarter and won their third penalty corner in the 57th minute but unfortunately the final strike went just wide.
With eight minutes to go Lurgan nearly got the second goal their overall play deserved. Kathryn Edgar and Pippa Best linked up in midfield and after playing a lovely one two, Kathryn broke free racing towards the UCD circle. Pippa raced through the middle and Kathryn found her with a beautiful pass, Pippa’s shot wasn’t as cleanly hit as she would have liked and the UCD keeper managed to clear it to safety.
Coach Lisa Costley said they were all absolutely superb and manager Darwin Murray said he couldn’t praise them all highly enough.
“It was a tremendous performance’,” said Muray. “It shows how far they have progressed this season’’.
This week Lurgan travel to Limerick for their final match of the season as the IHL comes to a finish.