Firsts fall heavily to a top Leinster side


LURGAN Firsts travelled to Dublin on Saturday for this Irish Hockey League fixture and knew before they set out how difficult a match it was going to be.

Loreto are one of the top teams in the Leinster League and current and past Irish internationals are scattered throughout their squad.

Having said that Lurgan started brightly and following a great break from midfield they could have had a two-on-one with the opposition keeper but the opportunity was missed and the scoreline stayed blank.

On seven minutes Lurgan won their first penalty corner. A Charlene Hull strike was saved by the Loreto keeper and swept to safety before Lurgan could react to the rebound.

Loreto began to get their passing game going and midway through the quarter they took the lead from a flowing move followed by a clinical finish.

Lurgan held out for the rest of the quarter with Hannah Grieve particularly impressive in defence .

The second quarter was only two minutes old when Loreto increased their lead with a powerful penalty corner strike from their very first award.

Ten minutes later they made it three nil with another well worked goal as their flowing, passing game was dragging Lurgan all over the pitch. Only some last ditch defending and some good stops from Lurgan keeper Dawn Millar prevented Loreto from adding to their total before half-time .

Lurgan came out fighting in the second half and on five minutes a double penalty corner award saw a Hannah Grieve reverse-stick strike from the second one flash just wide of the keeper’s left-hand post.

Loreto , however , were in no mood to sit back on their lead and five minutes later another penalty corner award for them crashed against the Lurgan backboard to make the score four nil.

In the final three minutes of the third quarter Loreto added two more goals with superb flowing hockey that is virtually impossible to defend against.

Lurgan should have got their name on the scoreboard at the end of the quarter but a relatively easy opportunity was squandered after great approach play by Chloe McCann .

With the score at six nil, the final quarter became one of damage limitation and to their credit the young Lurgan team stood strong and battled hard to prevent any further scores.

Indeed both Chloe McCann and Sarah McClure created scoring opportunities for themselves but unfortunately one went wide and the other was well saved by the Loreto keeper.

Lurgan held out for the remainder of the quarter with tireless work in defence and midfield where the Barr twins, Serena and Bethany, and Louise Murray at full back were particularly prominent.

This was a very difficult game for Lurgan and even the opposition coach conceded that this was the best his team had played all season but there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from a match like this .

Following last week’s inter-pros Lurgan have had eight players selected to go forward for full Irish trials in their respective age groups.

This is a tremendous achievement and one both the players concerned and the club can be justly proud of.