Shock cup exit for Lurgan

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LURGAN bowed out of the Irish Senior Cup at the weekend in a game which they failed to reach the recent high standards they have produced.

To the impartial observer a 4-3 scoreline suggests an exciting end to end game, but given the early season form of both teams this match would have gone down as an away banker with Lurgan hot favourites to come away with a win.

Armagh scored from their very first serious attack on 12 minutes. The Lurgan defence appeared to freeze, waiting on the umpire’s whistle for an earlier infringement, but the whistle never came and the Armagh forward raced unchallenged into the circle and planted the ball wide of keeper Vicky Parks to put the home side in front.

Lurgan were stung into response and while their play was neither cohesive or constructive, they did manage to win a penalty corner in the 19th minute which was cleared by the Armagh defence and another one a minute later from which they scored. A rehearsed move appeared to have gone astray but the ball broke to Jo-Anne Wilson in the circle and she slammed it home to give Lurgan the equaliser.

Lurgan went on the offensive and took the lead on 23 minutes from a superb bit of individual play by Sarah McClure. She skilfully stole the ball from the end of a defender’s stick on the touchline, weaved her way into the circle and played a lovely one-two with Zoe Hawthorne before planting the ball wide of the Armagh keeper into the corner of the net.

Lurgan should have gone on from this and imposed themselves on the opposition but too many times they gave the ball away. When Lurgan play their passing game they are one of the best teams in the league, but this was not one of those days. Armagh’s confidence grew as Lurgan kept shooting themselves in the foot.

On 18 minutes Armagh were awarded their first penalty corner of the half and they converted with a crisp strike into the corner to level the game up. Four minutes later Armagh were in front when they again broke into the Lurgan circle after the umpire played an advantage to Lurgan but Armagh were the team who benefitted from it.

Lurgan didn’t give up and tried desperately to conjure up an equaliser but they could hardly string two passes together and when Armagh broke they dropped far too deep with all ten outfield players inside or on the edge of the Lurgan 22 metre line.

On 25 minutes Lurgan did manage to show a glimpse of their true selves with the best move of the game. Hannah Grieve picked up the ball on the right side of pitch and fed overlapping full back Louise Murray down the line. Louise picked out Lucy McKee on a break outside the Armagh circle and she shrugged of a defenders challenge before sliding the ball through to Jo-Anne Wilson who hammered home a great shot on the reverse to tie up the scores at 3-3. Unfortunately a less than confident Lurgan defence was opened up three minutes later when a ball across the Lurgan goal-line found two Armagh attackers unmarked at the far post and one of them gratefully slammed the ball home to restore their lead.

A penalty corner award to Lurgan with two minutes to go gave some hope but unfortunately the move fell apart and with it Lurgan’s challenge in this years competition.