Lurgan produce superb win to reach semi-final

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LURGAN Ladies pulled off a tremendous win against previously unbeaten Queens at the Dub last saturday to guarantee qualification for the semi-final of the Ulster Shield.

This was a superb team performance which will give them loads of confidence going into the league campaign beginning with a home match against Ards on Saturday.

Queens are a team on the rise but Lurgan took the match to them right from the off. It was end to end stuff and a Lurgan penalty corner on eight minutes was cleared by the Queens defence, while a Queens penalty corner on 11 minutes was well saved and subsequently cleared by Lurgan keeper Vicky Parkes.

Gradually Lurgan began to dominate possession and find gaps in the Queens defence. A superb pick up and pass by Sarah McClure on 13 minutes found Zoe Hawthorne unmarked in the circle and she clipped a beautiful shot past the keeper to give Lurgan the lead. Both teams were trying to play flowing hockey but too often moves were broken down with unnecessary minor infringements cancelling out any advantage the attacking side was intended to have. With play constantly being broken up the match became scrappy, but Lurgan continued to create and Chloe McCann was desperately unlucky to see the Queens keeper pull off a tremendous one handed save from her goal bound reverse stick shot.

Queens responded with a dangerous penalty move on 27 minutes which was saved by Vicky Parkes and great defensive work from Hannah Grieve cleared a tricky defensive situation. Lucy McKee forced another good save from the Queens keeper and just before half-time the Lurgan defence cleared a Queens penalty corner as they sought for an equaliser.

If play was pretty even in the first half the second half belonged to Lurgan as they took control in midfield with Sarah McClure, Kim Scott and Bethany Barr grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck and driving forward to pin back the opposition and allow their maurauding forwards to create havoc with dangerous sniping runs into the oppositions ciircle. Two Lurgan penalty corners in the opening 10 minutes of the half were saved and cleared by the Queens defence but the flow was one way and Queens were finding it harder and harder to get out of their own half.

Lurgan’s overlapping full backs, Louise Murray and Serena Barr were making great runs down the flanks and centre backs Charlene Hull and Hannah Grieve were pushing deep into the oppositions half. Sarah McClure picked out Hannah Grieve on one of her forays upfield and Hannah drove the ball hard into the circle where it was superbly controlled by Jo-Anne Wilson who fired it under the keeper to increase Lurgan’s lead. With five minutes to go Lucy McKee wrapped up the result with her sixth goal in three matches when she found the net after good approach play by Bethany Barr and Sarah McClure.

The way results have gone in the other section it looks like Lurgan can anticipate a very tasty semi-final contest against last years Shield winners Pegasus.