ANTRIM THIRDS 2 – 3 RAPHOE THIRDS
The only Antrim hockey team in action last weekend was the Thirds who entertained Raphoe Thirds in their Junior League Cup match at the Forum. Raphoe had the early pressure and their forwards missed several good chances when well placed. As this was the first competitive match for most of the Antrim players they were slow to settle and were guilty of holding on to the ball far too long allowing Raphoe the leeway they didn’t really deserve. The just before the end of the first quarter Raphoe won a penalty corner from which the shot was blocked by goalkeeper Ben Kennedy. Unfortunately a Raphoe forward reacted quickest to pounce on the rebound and slam the ball back into the net to give his team the 1-0 lead. Antrim won their first penalty corner within a minute of the restart but Stu Kernaghan’s drag flick was deflected past by the agile goalkeeper for a long corner. Several more corners were won and the pressure eventually told when the ball was switched to the left and then crossed into the goalmouth where Chris Roe nipped in to deflect it into the net to bring the scores level. Then in the 23rd minute a Tommy Monahan cross into the circle was brilliantly deflected into the net by Ethan Angel but as the Antrim team celebrated the Raphoe defence protested that the ball had been illegally played by the back of the stick and after discussion the umpire changed his mind and disallowed the goal. Upset by this seemingly harsh decision against them Antrim’s concentration slipped and a couple of minutes later a bad Antrim hit out was intercepted and unbelievably the defenders seemed to melt away allowing the forward to run unhindered straight into the circle where he smashed the ball past the helpless goalkeeper into the net to regain the Raphoe lead. Antrim lost their discipline and for a period they were under pressure as they struggled to stay in the game. Raphoe won several penalty corners in the last few minute of the half but defenders Stuart Campbell, Paul Whiteside, David Mailey and goalkeeper Kennedy confidently blocked the shots and cleared the danger away. The third quarter was just three minutes old when from a scramble in the Antrim goalmouth the ball was forced over the line into the net to give Raphoe the 3-1 lead. The pressure on the Antrim defence was intense, a lot of it being self inflicted by poor clearances, bad passing and marking. But through this very scrappy play they somehow held on and were able to make the occasional break into the Raphoe circle and from one of these attacks Paul Whiteside was very unlucky to see his snap shot just go wide. Nathan Murdock was hurt making a last ditch tackle to stop a certain goal being scored and had to withdraw to be replaced by Kyle Wilson. From another quick Antrim attack Monahan’s snap shot was well saved by the Raphoe goalkeeper as the third quarter came to an end. Early in the last quarter Raphoe had the ball in the net but the umpire had just blown to give a penalty corner so the goal was disallowed. In their next attack a Raphoe forward drove the ball wide when it would have been easier for him to score. Slowly the Antrim team began to improve with their teenagers Andrew Clark, Josh Irwin, Jamie Kernaghan and Kyle Wilson beginning to make an impression on the game with their speed and skilful play. Antrim won a penalty corner in the 66th minute and the goalkeeper saved Kernaghan’s shot. The ball rebounded to Ethan Angel who skilfully made the space to sweep the ball on the reverse into the corner of the net for his team’s second goal. Antrim piled on the pressure but it was too late and the final whistle sounded to give Raphoe the 3-2 victory. After the game both teams accepted the invitation of the Club Sponsor, the Top of the Town Restaurant, to their premises where genial conversation and generous refreshment was provided. This week the Thirds travel to the Glade to play Mossley Fourths in their next League Cup match. The Seconds travel to Hillsborough to play Lisnagarvey Fifths on Friday evening to play their next League Cup game.
Thirds Squad :- B Kennedy, P Whiteside, S Campbell, N Murdock, T Monahan, S Kernaghan, D Mailey, E Angel, K Wilson, J Irwin, C Roe, A Clark and J Kernaghan.