BANGOR FIFTHS 0 – 6 ANTRIM THIRDS
Frost played havoc with most of the hockey fixtures last Saturday and both Antrim Firsts game at Portadown and Antrim Seconds game at Mossley were called off because of the frozen pitches. However the Thirds game away to Bangor Fifths survived and was played on a perfect surface on a bright and sunny day at Bangor Grammar School. Playing against the bottom team in the league Antrim had the early advantage and in the 5th minute a Tommy Monahan pass set Lyle Kane free to run into the circle from the right only to see the goalkeeper block his fierce shot and clear the ball away. Antrim slowly tightened their grip on the game and applied almost constant pressure on the Bangor defence with Nathan Murdock, Mark Kingston, Monahan and Lyle Kane controlling the midfield. Unfortunately they couldn’t turn this advantage into goals as Kane, Jack Kirkpatrick and Chris Roe shot wide when it looked as if would be easier to score. Defenders Paul Whiteside, Matty Watt and goalkeeper Cameron O’Neill competently dealt with the few attacks that came their way but the same old team fault of holding on to the ball too long and trying to make the easy passes and tackles look difficult persisted and half time arrived scoreless. Antrim continued as they had left off in the first half and a few passes across the Bangor goalmouth were just out of reach of the onrushing forwards. Then Bangor won a penalty corner when the ball was senselessly knocked away but Whiteside brilliantly deflected it away off the line for a long corner which was cleared. Then at last, from a Murdock pass, Monahan drove the ball into the goalmouth for Kane to divert it into the net to give Antrim the 1-0 lead in the 41st minute. Antrim won their first penalty in the 44th minute and Kingston’s shot was deflected for a long corner. Another penalty corner was won and Kingston’s shot was saved by the goalkeeper and he saved again when he blocked Kane’s shot from the rebound. A strong forward run from the ever improving Alex Myers unfortunately saw him play an air shot when well placed in the circle. The hit out was intercepted by Murdock and he skilfully manoeuvred the ball back into the circle to push it through for the unmarked Kane to drive it into the net for the 2-0 lead in the 47th minute. More Antrim pressure saw the goalkeeper save two shots in quick succession from Kingston to clear the ball away. Monahan, Kane, Kingston, Murdock and Robbie Watt were combining well as the game progressed and they were rewarded in the 55th minute when Murdock broke into the circle from the left to play a perfect reverse stick shot which sent the ball looping over the goalkeeper’s head high into the net for Antrim’s 3-0 lead. An Antrim player was sin binned for a rash tackle but it didn’t make any difference and as the veteran Bangor team visibly tired an incisive right wing dash and pass across the circle by Robbie Watt allowed Kane the time and space to score his hat trick and give his team the 4-0 lead in the 58th minute. In the 61st minute Bangor won several penalty corners but goal line heroics by Whiteside and Murdock twice prevented goals being scored. Back came Antrim and a left wing cross from Kingston was driven wide by Kane in the 65th minute. Again the hit out was intercepted and this time a pass from Kane was fired home by Kingston for the 5-0 lead. Then in the last minute from another Monahan pass into the circle the ball was swept into the net by the unmarked Kane for his fourth goal to clinch Antrim’s 6-0 moral boosting victory. Team thanks go to Stu Kernaghan and the Bangor umpire for officiating the game in a fair and expert manner. This week the Thirds travel to Stormont to play Civil Service Fourths in their next league match. The Firsts travel to Deramore to play Belfast Harlequins in a Premier League match and the Seconds entertain Mossley Fourths at the Paddy Marks Arena.
Antrim Thirds Squad :- C O’Neill, P Whiteside, M Watt, A Myers, T Monahan, J Kirkpatrick, M Kingston, N Murdock, R Watt, C Roe and L Kane.
KILKEEL HIGH SCHOOL 2 – 3 ANTRIM GRAMMAR SCHOOL
The Antrim Grammar boy’s hockey team are competing in the prestigious Burney Schools Cup for the first time this year. They beat Lurgan College 1-0 in the first round to qualify for an away game against the more experienced Kilkeel High School. Antrim travelled to Kilkeel last Wednesday and against all the odds emerged as 3-2 winners against the hot favourites and are now through to the quarter final or the Cup later on in the month. Both teams were evenly matched and the first 15 minutes was a fight to see who would get the upper hand with the Antrim defence stubbornly keeping their opponents at bay with goalkeeper Mark Patterson and defenders Daniel Thornton, Adam Pearce and Kyle Wilson blocking and clearing almost every attack that Kilkeel mounted. Midfielders Ethan Angell, Josh Lavery and Thomas Allen were able to get some passes through to Rory Laverty Andrew Clarke and Jonathan Fleming but most of their efforts were fired wide or the Kilkeel goalkeeper was able to kick the ball away to safety. Then in the 20th minute Kilkeel capitalised on a piece of Antrim’s slack marking which allowed their centre forward the time and space to fire the ball under the diving keeper to take the 1-0 lead. However the Antrim teams head did not drop and Laverty reacted first when Allen’s shot deflected off a defender’s stick to steer the ball into the net for the equaliser in the 23rd minute The first half finished with the two teams evenly matched and everything still to play for. Straight from the restart a determined Antrim team pushed forward and within two minutes from a sweet midfield interchange Angell’s pinpoint pass allowed the skilful Laverty to reverse sweep the ball into the net past the helpless goalkeeper to give his team the lead This early second half goal boosted the Antrim teams confidence and they slowly began to dominate the game and put more and more pressure on the Kilkeel defence. They won several penalty corners and in the 50th minute they got their reward when Pearce slammed a pile driver against the backboards to give his team the unbelievable 3-1 lead.
Antrim Grammar School Squad :-M Patterson, A Pearce, K Wilson, D Thornton, E Angell, R Laverty, E Hutchinson, T Allen, J Lavery, A Clarke and J Fleming
Antrim’s defence relaxed a little and they paid the penalty and from a quick Kilkeel breakout their centre forward’s strong shot deflected off an Antrim player into the net. For the remaining few minutes it was back to the wall time as the Kilkeel team pushed and pushed for the equaliser but the determined Antrim defence blocked everything that came their way and the final whistle sounded to give this victorious Antrim team the historic win which gives them a deserved place in the quarter final of this competition.