The girls of Lurgan College past and present put on a thrilling display of hockey in this special challenge match in aid of Charlene’s Project which brought together the Kate Russell All Ireland Champions of 2003 and 2013 at Lurgan Junior High School on Saturday.
Despite some of them not having lifted a stick in anger for years it was the class of 2003 who came out on top. The 2003 team contained several current Premier League players and with Emma Clarke, who has over 100 international caps to her name,in their midfield, they could hardly have been classified as underdogs. On the day they had just too much guile, experience and firepower over the present day squad.
The 2003 Oldies made the more confident start and were rewarded in the 18th minute when Kerry McCollum, the main driving force behind this special match, played a lovely one-two inside the circle and fired the return into the net to give her side the lead. Five minutes later Zoe Hawthorne doubled the Oldies lead after some beautiful approach play by Jayne Clarke had created the shooting opportunity. The current students were stung into response and deservedly reduced the arrears when Samantha Bann fired a lovely shot past Suzie Taylor in the Oldies net after her defence failed to clear their lines. With the score 2-1 at half-time the large crowd were eagerly looking forward to the second half.
It was the Oldies who started the stronger and scored after only two minute. The move started deep in their own half when Jenny Harvey turned back the clock with a superb piece of defensive play and then released Zoe Hawthorne down the right side. Zoe went on one of her trademark runs before setting up Jayne Clarke for a cool finish. Play swung from end to end but the Oldies always looked the stronger on the ball and the more likely to add to the scoresheet. They duly did through Zoe Hawthorne 15 minutes later and five minutes after that Jayne Clarke also added her second and her teams fifth with a superb deflection on a Shelley Sloan drive into the circle.
The current team struck back and Bethany Barr must have thought she had scored when her shot flew past Oldies keeper Suzie Taylor destined for the top corner only for Charlene Hull to wrap her stick round the ball, pull it down and clear. It was the Oldies who had the bragging rights at the end of this match but it was the superb pedigree of talent Lurgan College, the local primary schools and Lurgan Ladies hockey club have developed and nurtured over the years that were the real winners.