NORTH KILDARE 3 – ANTRIM 13
Antrim travelled south to Co Kildare on Saturday morning with a party of 21 players and supporters to play North Kildare in the first of their two qualifying matches in this season’s Irish Hockey Challenge Cup. Antrim had the best of the early play and won a couple of long corners in the first few minutes but they were cleared away. The kept up the pressure but shots from Chris Wilson and Curtis Murray were fired wide. Then a 6th minute right wing cross from Ryan McCrea saw the home goalkeeper save Dean Wilson’s strong shot and the ball from the resultant long corner was cleared away. Kildare’s first attack and goalbound shot in the 7th minute brought a good save from goalkeeper Andy Heatley. The ball was quickly cleared upfield and a slick Dean Wilson / McCrea move was finished off when Sammy Clyde slid the ball under the advancing keeper to give Antrim the 1-0 lead. Antrim won their first penalty corner of the game in the 14th minute and a sharp Jason Roe, McCrea hit and stop allowed Dean Wilson to slam the ball against the backboards for the 2-0 lead. Straight from the hit off the ball was intercepted by Johnny McMeekin and quickly played through Murray to allow Dean Wilson the time and space to belt the ball into the net for the third goal. Then just before the end of the first quarter Dean Wilson scored goal number four with another unstoppable strong penalty corner drive against the backboards. Within a minute of the restart a right wing Murray’s cross was deflected over the line by the alert Jason Roe for the fifth goal. The game was now over as a contest with the obvious difference in the quality of the teams but as Antrim relaxed a rare attack into their circle saw Kildare’s Allister Banner hammer the ball past the helpless Heatley to reduce the arrears. Then an Antrim attack down the left saw Kirkpatrick’s pass across the circle diverted into the net by Alex McBride for Antrim’s sixth goal in the 23rd minute. A mazy dribble by Roe saw his good work squandered when his pass across the goalmouth was just too far in front of his onrushing forwards in the 32nd minute. The ball was switched into the Antrim circle where the home team won their first penalty corner of the game and from the shot the ball hit the post and flew away to safety as the second quarter ended. Antrim continued to press as the third quarter progressed and in the 38th minute Clyde won another penalty corner and this time it was Chris Wilson who score goal number seven with a strong drag flick high into the net. Then a McBride right wing cross saw Murray sweep the ball wide when well placed, quickly followed by Dean Wilson firing the ball wide from another Murray right wing cross. Antrim’s pressure was intense and a pass to the left saw Chris Wilson shoot wide. A Kildare attack into the Antrim circle saw their unmarked forward’s shot somehow blocked by goalkeeper Heatley and the ball cleared away. A 49th minute Antrim attack was finished off when Chris Wilson slotted the ball from a pin point Roe pass into the net for the 8-1 lead. With the eager Antrim defenders, pushing forward, wanting to get into the game they were caught out when a high ball was lobbed forward over their heads into the circle for Allister Banner to slip the ball under the advancing Heatley for Kildare’s second goal. Teenager goalkeeper Dan Kennedy replaced Heatley for the last quarter and he was soon in action blocking the first fierce shot that came his way. Then the young Antrim defender Nial Black was hurt in a clash as he was clearing the ball away and had to come off to recover. Kildare won a couple of penalty corners but the shots went wide or the ball was cleared away. A pass from McMeekin through McBride found Roe close to the left hand post where he somehow made the space to force the ball over the line for the ninth goal. The next attack saw a McMeekin pass set Clyde free to run into the circle from the right to pass the ball to Roe who found the net from a very narrow angle to score the tenth goal. Clyde missed one of the many lobbed ball into the Antrim defence allowing an unmarked forward to have a free shot but goalkeeper Kennedy fearlessly blocked the goalbound shot The ball was only half cleared and played back in to win a penalty corner from which it was flicked into the net for Kildare’s third goal. At the other end the Kildare goalkeeper was in continued action saving another Dean Wilson blockbuster and a shot from McBride. Then three more goals in the last few minutes; Dean Wilson score from another penalty corner shot quickly followed when McBride finished off a nice solo run into the circle and straight from the hit off he expertly deflected a right wing cross from McCrea into the net to give Antrim the very easy 13 -3 victory. Antrim now will play Portrush at home on November 23rd in their next match in this competition. This Saturday the team will face much harder opposition when they travel to Stormont to play Civil Service in their first league match of the season.
Antrim Squad :- A Heatley, D Kennedy, S Clyde, N Black, J McMeekin, C Murray, R Watt, M Watt, J Roe, D Wilson, C Wilson, A McBride, R McCrea, J Kirkpatrick, M Patterson and S Gammon.
ANTRIM SECONDS 0 – CIYMS SECONDS 5
Team Captain Lyle Kane had pondered his team selection all week and had come up with a mixture of youth and experience. After a quick warm up and some shooting practice the team took to the field against a well organised and experienced looking CIYMS Seconds. For the first few minutes Antrim looked dangerous with Lyle Kane and Chris Roe getting plenty of possession around the opposition’s circle. A quick break saw CIYMS win a penalty corner but Antrim defended well clearing away the danger. At the other end Antrim were awarded a penalty corner and only decent defending prevented Stu Kernaghan’s shot from finding the back of the net. In the ninth minute and with the Antrim defence totally outnumbered a CIYMS attacker somehow fired wide when it looked easier to score. The visitors took the lead in the thirteenth minute with a straight shot from a penalty corner and the dying seconds of the quarter Antrim were very unlucky not to equalise. A long aerial pass from Nathan Murdoch found Roe who controlled the ball before passing it to Stuart Kernaghan who was awarded a penalty corner for an infringement in the circle. From the penalty corner Dave Mailey played the ball square but only superb defending on the line stopped Kernaghan’s flick from finding the net. The second quarter was only two minutes in when the Antrim defence were caught cold. The home team had pushed far too high up the pitch and on the break CIYMS bore down on the Antrim goal with only Martin Coulter and goalkeeper Cameron O’Neill left to defend. Somehow Coulter produced one of those ‘how did he do that?’ moments when he managed to pull off a fantastically timed tackle. A couple of minutes later Coulter was there again and with his simple win the ball and pass it out attitude Antrim were looking strong. Mark Kingston, Jamie Kernaghan and Brian Creighton were giving the proverbial workmanlike performances and with Lyle Kane and Chris Roe covering every inch of the pitch the game could have went either way. Chris Roe fired just wide after great attacking play from Kingston, Mailey and Kernaghan. Two minutes before half-time Antrim were rocked when a speedy forward cut past at least three Antrim players before hammering the ball into the net. Young Kyle Wilson came on for the tiring Roe and got straight into action. It was noticeable that the visitor’s heads were up and Antrim moral began to sink. The visitors made it 3-0 when another forward beat two or three players before finding the back of the net with a ferocious reverse stick strike! Lyle Kane’s half time team talk was far from cool calm and collected. Disappointed with having little to show from his team’s efforts and frustrated at a few of the umpiring decisions he implored them to up their game and fight back. From the restart Antrim soaked up the danger for the first couple of minutes and then began to press forward. A snap shot by an Antrim attacker saw the CIYMS goalkeeper pull off a smashing save. Minutes later Antrim went close when Coulter again won possession before playing the ball quickly up field. Again Antrim were denied by the visiting keeper who always seemed to be in the right place at the right time! Then an intercept by one of the CIYMS players saw the ball slipped to another forward who had the time and space to blast the ball into the roof on the net to leave Antrim trailing by four goals to nil. Minutes later the visitors made it five with a shot into the back of the net after a penalty corner being awarded for feet in the circle. In the last quarter the hockey was end to end. Antrim continued to press forward but just couldn’t get the ball into the net. Again Coulter came to the rescue clearing the ball off the line after another quick break by the visitors. In the dying seconds it looked like Antrim would give the spectators something to cheer about when Murdoch cut down the wing and blasted the ball in to Kernaghan who was just about to ‘pull the trigger’ when the ball was illegally swept away by a defender using the back of his stick! Antrim failed to capitalise on the penalty corner award and it was the visitors who deservedly progressed to the semi-final of the league cup. Thanks to Andy Gleghorne and the CIYMS umpires for officiating in such a fair and professional manner. Antrim’s man of the match was the cool, calm and collected Martin Coulter who produced an outstanding performance on the day. This Saturday the Seconds travel to Lisburn to play South Antrim Seconds in their first league match of the season. The Thirds first league match of the season is an away game against Portrush Seconds on Saturday.
Seconds Squad :- L Kane, S Kernaghan, M Coulter, N Murdoch, J Kernaghan, C Roe, K Wilson, M Smyth, D Mailey, B Creighton, C O’Neill and M Kingston.