Hat-trick for Lucy as Town march on

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LURGAN continued their winning ways in the Premier League with his victory at Randalstown last Wednesday night.

Randalstown have made a decent start to the season having already drawn with last year’s league champions Pegasus in the Ulster Shield so Lurgan were under no illusions regarding the task ahead of them and the fact they were missing three first team regulars only added to the degree of difficulty.

Bethany and Serena Barr were in America visiting sister Natalie and Penny Joyce was unavailable due to a thumb injury picked up at the recent inter-provincials in Dublin. Captain Charlene Hull was also doubtful but declared herself fit to play just before the game.

Taking no chances coach Gary Blythe brought along a panel of sixteen, promoting Ellen Mullan, Emma Quinn, Alex Hurst and Julie Morrow to the squad and each of them showed they could comfortably cope with Premier League hockey when called upon during the match.

Despite missing first team regulars and wary of a rejuvenated opposition it was a match Lurgan totally dominated and, but for some stern defending by Randalstown and wasted chances by Lurgan, the scoreline could have been much more embarrassing for the home side.

Lurgan went on the offensive from the first whistle and this pretty much set the tone for the rest of the match. Lurgan striker Lucy McKee gave a masterclass of finishing opening her account in the third minute with a fierce reverse-stick strike into the roof of the net from just inside the circle.

Three Lurgan penalty corners in the next ten minutes were defended and cleared by the Randalstown defence before Lurgan missed a golden opportunity to extend their lead on 15 minutes. Two minutes later the Randalstown keeper pulled off a great save from a Hannah Grieve strike at another penalty corner.

On 28 minutes Lurgan increased their lead and again it was Lucy McKee who did the damage with an almost carbon-copy of her first goal. Although Lurgan pressed hard Randalstown managed to hang on to just the two goal deficit until half-time .

Lurgan continued on the offensive in the second period in search of a third and potentially game winning goal and it duly arrived six minutes in from their first penalty corner of the half. A beautifully worked move gave Hannah Grieve the opportunity to pick out Lucy McKee at the far post and she gratefully slammed the ball home to complete her hat-trick and virtually guarantee Lurgan of all three points.

Lurgan goalkeeper Vicky Parks had been a virtual spectator for most of this match but she showed what a quality keeper she is when she pulled off a tremendous save from a Randalstown strike to prevent them getting a goal back. It was the only real strike on goal they had as Lurgan continued to dominate and their only penalty corner, five minutes from the end, was cleared by the Lurgan defence.

An illustration of how much Lurgan were in control of this match was the penalty corner count of 13 to one in favour of the visitors. It might have been an unusual Lurgan line-up particularly in the backline with Louise Murray switching to left back and the ever versatile Kim Scott taking over from Louise at right back but how well they performed on the night and how coach Blythe and manager Darwin Murray must have been delighted with everyone’s contribution on what potentially could have been a very tricky fixture indeed.

Lurgan have now won three league matches from three and are unbeaten in all competitions this season. And with Lucy McKee leading the goalscoring charts she must be the stand-out signing of the year.

There is a definite air of optimism in the Lurgan camp going into the rest of the season with a trip to Armagh this Saturday in the first round of the Irish Senior Cup next on the agenda.