Battling Lurgan Ladies bow out


LURGAN Ladies put up a battling performance in this Ulster Shield semi-final at Stormont but were just out-gunned in the end by a clinical Pegasus team who had been there so many times before.

Pegasus started strongly and put Lurgan under pressure from the first whistle. An early penalty corner award for them was well defended by the Lurgan backline, but the pressure Pegasus were applying was indicative of just how tough a task it was going to be for this young Lurgan team. Any possession Lurgan managed to acquire was short-lived as their players were closed down quickly. Pegasus on the other hand looked dangerous when they came forward as Lurgan rode their luck on a couple of occasions.

Vicky Parks in the Lurgan goal parried away a couple of shots and determined tackling from Hannah Grieve and Charlene Hull at the heart of the defence saved Lurgan on more than one occasion. It wasn’t all one-way traffic however and on the few occasions Lurgan did get at the Pegasus backline, they caused them considerable consternation but were unable to deliver the killer blow. Lucy McKee in particular had some great runs at their defence but they had obviously done their homework on her as every time she received the ball she had two and sometimes three Pegasus players around her. Nevertheless she created problems for them all match and was particularly unlucky on 22 minutes when after beating three players, her through pass to the unmarked Zoe Hawthorne, unfortunately hopped past the strikers stick and ran away to safety. Pegasus however continued to dominate possession but Lurgan’s resolute defending saw them through to half-time with the sides still scoreless.

The Lurgan defence did finally crack eight minutes into the second half when Pegasus scored from their first penalty corner of this period as an Arlene Boyle’s strike was deflected in at the near post to put them in front. A cruel blow to Lurgan who had actually begun to enjoy more possession as Pegasus had looked to be running out of ideas. Lurgan went on the offensive to try and create an equaliser and they managed several incursions into the Pegasus circle but no clear shooting opportunities were created.

A quick Pegasus counter-attack midway through the second half produced their second goal and virtually ended any Lurgan hope of a come-back. They broke swiftly down the right wing and a superb pass into the circle found the unmarked centre forward who finished with a great strike into the corner of the Lurgan net. To their credit Lurgan kept plugging away but their frustration at some inconsistent umpiring decisions resulted in a flurry of cards which didn’t help their cause.

Pegasus have seen it all before and their experience has taught them how to manage situations like this to their advantage. They saw out the game with the minimum of fuss even delaying a final Lurgan penalty corner until the clock ran down.

This was a tough defeat for Lurgan but one from which valuable lessons can be learn . It was a great achievement for them to reach this stage of the competition and each and every one of them can be proud of the fighting qualities they showed against one of the top teams in the country.