LURGAN Ladies hockey U15 Development squad have enjoyed a tremendous run in the UHU U15 Cup over the past two months.
The cup run began on a frosty January night at Lurgan JHS with a tie against Lisnagarvey U15B.
The game opened with a period of sustained Lisnagarvey pressure during which keeper Megan Johns was required to make several outstanding saves.
The Lurgan defence line up of Beth Matson, Katie Hayes, Carla Webster, Hannah Warren and Hannah Magowan stood firm and eventually weathered this onslaught.
As the game developed the midfielders Alex Adams, Orla Thompson, Emma Gregson, Hannah Johns and Chloe Hylands were able to exert more influence on the game and it was a sharp Thompson break that allowed forwards Hollie Carson and Susie McCollum to combine for McCollum to score.
However Garvey were not finished and the second half saw bodies being put on the line and reputations being made as an exhausted squad who marched off the pitch proudly having received their passage to the next round.
On the night of 15th February the girls opened the tie against Civil Service ‘A’ team with 15 minutes of breathtaking hockey. The midfield of Orla Thompson, Emma Gregson and Alex Adams combined with forwards Megan Johns, Susie McCollum and Hollie Carson to produce intricate passing moves that created a succession of chances.
However on this occasion, Lurgan were initially thwarted by an outstanding young goalkeeper with the only product of this period of play being a Susie McCollum goal. Civil Service seemed to draw inspiration from their keeper and came back into the game to score an equaliser against the run of play. The game for the remainder of the first half took on a different complexion and the Lurgan defensive line of Zara
Gibson, Hannah Magowan, Charlotte Lyons, Hannah Warren, Carla Webster, and Katie Hayes came into the game with resolute defending which largely protected goalkeeper Beth Matson. However Beth was called upon to make an inspired one on one save at the end of this half which proved to be a match defining moment.
The second half provided a superb advert for women’s hockey with both teams serving up an end to end game. While the Civil Service forwards were always a constant threat that required Hannah Johns and Hannah Magowan to go man to man on two particularly quick opponents, it was the Lurgan team who triumphed with further goals from Megan Johns, Orla Thompson (2) and Emma Gregson closing this game out 5-1. This all round team performance indicated a growing confidence and belief within the squad that they are equal to the ‘A’ squads of other clubs and would be a match for any team in forthcoming fixtures.
The cup run came to an end at Mossley on Friday 1st March following the group’s finest performance to date. While the tie was lost following a sudden death penalty run in the game finished 1-1 after extra time.
In an outstanding display by each member of the squad, the girls showed great character in matching very able opponents; dealing with the early loss through injury of Susie McCollum and a very loud home crowd. The girls built on their customary high tempo starts to matches and largely controlled the game throughout normal and extra time. However this time a very good opposition goalkeeper could not be beaten in normal play despite the best efforts of the girls and the tie was decided through the lottery of a sudden death shoot out. The only consolation for a devastated group of girls was their own understanding of how well they played and a quarter-final in the Plate competition.
This first venture into the Performance group competition has proved to be very successful for the club Development squad galvanising their competitive spirit and providing a springboard for further adventures in this competition for the younger girls and giving an insight into ‘adult’ hockey for those who will move into the senior ranks next season.
Squad: Beth Matson, Alex Adams, Megan Johns, Zara Gibson, Carla Webster, Hannah Warren, Hannah Magowan, Charlotte Lyons, Katie Hayes, Orla Thompson, Emma Gregson, Hannah Johns, Chloe Hylands, Susie McCollum, Hollie Carson, Rachel Coleman, Lauren Anderson, Hannah McFall
The squad would like to thank Chelsea Holden for giving up her time to umpire and also Ivor, Cherryl and Hannah Grieve for their support during the cup run.