ANTRIM 2 – 3 PORTRUSH
Hockey resumed after the Christmas and New Year break when Antrim entertained Portrush at the Paddy Marks Arena last Friday evening. Portrush had the early pressure winning a long corner in the second minute. The ball was cleared upfield to Jason Roe who worked it from left to right across the top of the circle before driving it goalwards where Chris Wilson nipped in to deflect it into the net to give Antrim the lead in the 5th minute. The visitors had the slight edge as both teams struggled for supremacy. A Portrush forward shot wide in the 9th minute followed by a succession of good saves by goalkeeper Andy Heatley. From a 13th minute free hit from the edge of the circle the ball was played through the hesitant Antrim defence for Portrush’s Adam Scott to slip it into the net for the equaliser. A Portrush player took a severe blow to his knee and had to leave the field for treatment. The Antrim defenders were allowing the opposition forwards too much room to run with the ball and they paid the penalty in the 16th minute when it was crossed from the left into the goalmouth where Leon Smith turned it past the helpless Heatley into the net to give his team the 2-1 lead. Another Portrush player twisted his ankle and his play was restricted for the rest of the game. Dean Wilson, one of Antrim’s best players was unable to play due to work commitments and as the game continued his absence and influence was being sadly missed. The second quarter saw Antrim struggle as they constantly were caught in possession, holding on to the ball far too long and when it did get through to the forwards time after time they were in the wrong position or were easily dispossessed. They won a couple of penalty corners at the end of the quarter but the Portrush goalkeeper saved well from Wilson’s first effort and his next one was fired wide. Antrim had early pressure at the start of the third quarter and in the 38th minute a good cross circle pass from McMeekin sailed across the goalmouth through a couple of Antrim forwards. Antrim won a disputed penalty corner in the 42nd minute and this time Wilson found the backboards with a strong unstoppable drive to level the score at 2-2. Unfortunately Antrim lost another key player when Jason Roe took sick and had to go off. Play was end to end and as both teams fought for the next goal Antrim’s forwards still struggled to break down the Portrush defence so much so that defenders McMeekin, Alan Mullan and Sammy Clyde began to push forward to see if they might help to break the deadlock. Another McMeekin cross was deflected past by the onrushing McBride and another of his passes was driven wide by Wilson. Portrush won a penalty corner at the end of the third quarter but the ball was cleared away. The still groggy Roe returned for the last quarter to play at centre forward to try and add a bit of punch to the forward line. A 52nd minute Wilson penalty corner drag flick was deflected past by the goalkeeper. Then a quick Portrush break out saw a right wing pass across the empty goalmouth missed by an unmarked forward. Play became frenzied and the Portrush defenders were lucky to go unpunished as they continued to argue against a lot of the umpire’s decisions. Antrim won several more corners but the Portrush goalkeeper performed heroics to keep Antrim from scoring. With Antrim throwing their defenders forward in a desperate attempt to get the winner, they were caught on the counter when a bad pass was intercepted and a forward was allowed to run forward unchallenged to lay the ball into the path of the unmarked Barry McMullan who wasted no time in driving the ball under the diving Heatley to clinch the shock 3-2 victory in the 65th minute. This Saturday Antrim travel to Belfast to play CIYMS in their next league match with a 2.30 pm start.
Antrim Squad :- A Heatley, A Mullan, J McMeekin, S Clyde, C Murray, J Roe, M Watt, J Kirkpatrick, A McBride, S Gammon, R McCrea, M Patterson and R Watt.
ANTRIM SECONDS 13 – 0 CIYMS SECONDS
Antrim Seconds entertained CIYMS Seconds at the Paddy Marks Arena in their next league match. The visitors won a couple of penalty corners in the opening minutes but goalkeeper Cameron O’Neill confidently blocked the shots and cleared the ball away. Then in the 9th minute Stu Kernaghan made a quick pass into the circle and Andrew Clark just beat the keeper to the ball to push it into the net for the opening goal. Chris Wilson won a penalty corner in the 13th minute and the ball was switched to the right where Lyle Kane swept it into the net for goal number two. Antrim were slowly taking control of the game and they increased their lead to 3-0 when Wilson scored from a penalty stroke awarded in the 27th minute. Goal number four followed in the 33rd minute when a right wing cross from Kane was swept into the net by Wilson to bring his personal tally to three goals as half time arrived. As the third quarter progressed the visitors defence slowly crumbled and four more goals quickly followed from Kane before David Mailey scored from a strong edge of circle drive A rare attack by the visitors saw Billy Pollock fire the ball goalwards but his point blank shot was bravely saved by goalkeeper O’Neill and the ball cleared away. It was all Antrim and a through ball from Kingston to Clark and square to Wilson who squeezed the ball under the diving keeper into the net. As the visitors defence collapsed, from the next attack Wilson’s shot was saved by the goalkeeper saves but he pounced to scoop the rebound high into the net. The demolition was complete when Kingston scored in the final five minutes to bring the score to 13 – 0. Man of the Match must go to six goal Chris Wilson with four goal Lyle Kane coming a close second. This Saturday the Seconds travel to Hillsborough to play Lisnagarvey Sixths with a 4pm start.
Seconds Squad :- C O’Neill, J Kernaghan, R Watt, D Mailey, D Gleghorne, N Murdock, S Kernaghan, C Wilson, A Clark, E Angell, J Kirkpatrick, L Kane and M Kingston.
CIVIL SERVICE THIRDS 3 – 5 ANTRIM THIRDS
With their captain, Stuart Campbell, being unavailable Tommy Monahan was called up to lead the Thirds on Saturday against Civil Service Thirds at Stormont. The team arrived early, ran a few laps of the pitch and went through a decent pre-match drill with plenty of passing and shooting. Antrim started strongly with three young, skilful mid fielders leaving their opposite numbers chasing shadows. Adam Pearce was linking well with Mark Patterson and Josh Irwin and the trio were making plenty of dangerous runs. A decent ball in from the right from Pearce was slapped into the net by young Irwin whose pacey well timed run saw him get to the ball milliseconds ahead of the outrushing Service keeper. Davy Allen, having returned after a long and successful coaching career, was providing a great outlet down the left hand side and was slipping the ball to danger-men Chris Roe and Pearce. The defence had to be strong and well organised against a speedy, well drilled Service attacking front line. Martin Coulter used his long reach to good effect blocking everything that came his way. Ben Kennedy the young net minder was in action with some strong accurate kicking and Paul Whiteside, the evergreen stalwart was hitting out clean pinpoint passes through the proverbial eye of a needle. The homsters equalised just before the end of the first quarter when a poor clearance gave a Service player the time and space to score from a few yards out. The second quarter was fast and furious and the Antrim players were passing the ball well and putting in plenty of work off the ball. Good positioning by goalkeeper Kennedy forced a Service forward to fire wide when the Antrim defence had failed to clear their lines. When Antrim was awarded a penalty corner in the 25th minute the home keeper blocked the first shot but Irwin was on hand to find the back of the net with a crisp reverse stick strike. Young Kyle Wilson who has been steadily improving was doing a decent job in the right back position with his speed and long reach frustrating the attacks down the left hand side. Josh Lavery who was switching with Wilson was putting in a decent workmanlike performance in and despite having missed a few games he certainly hasn’t lost any of his hunger and determination. Just before half-time Pearce got on the score sheet with a well taken goal doubling Antrim’s advantage and giving the team a massive lift just before half-time. The team-talk was all positive with Monahan, Allen, Whiteside and Coulter all praising the team for their drive and commitment. Then disaster struck in the opening ten minutes of the third quarter. Within three minutes Service scored from a penalty corner with a strong shot from the top of the circle and a short time later they scored another from a second penalty corner award. It has to be mentioned that Whiteside had bravely blocked the shot on the line but the ball ricocheted off his stick, on to the post and in to the net. At the end of the third quarter Allen steadied the ship and encouraged the team to keep possession, pass early and if in doubt win a free. In the last quarter Antrim went on the attack with Patterson, Roe, Irwin and Whiteside pushing forward. Seven minutes in Pearce scored his second with a strong shot beating the home keeper from a very narrow angle. Wilson, Coulter, Lavery and Whiteside threw everything they had in to defending the circle but Coulter having covered every inch off the pitch had to be carried off due to cramp in both legs. In the 62nd minute Pearce finished off a sweeping move when he ghosted in to hammer the ball into the net from a Tommy Monahan defence splitting pass crossed in from the right. So exuberant was his celebration he was temporarily sin binned by the umpire. Despite Service’s numerical advantage there was very little between the two teams. The Antrim youngsters were still full of running but opted to keep the ball, pass early and slow the game down. So it was Antrim who secured the three points with a hard fought 5-3 win against a strong Civil Service team. Little surprise it was Adam Pearce who was named as Man of the Match with three goals and two assists. The club would also like to welcome Davy Allen back after a number of years away from playing and also great to see the return of young Josh Lavery who has been missing for a few weeks Thanks to umpires Gary Molloy and Hatty, who both officiated in a fair and professional manner. Training is on Tuesday and Thursday this week and it’s hoped to see most if not all of this squad at training to further sharpen up their skills and fitness. Anyone interested in playing a game of hockey is very welcome to come along and join in the fun. The Thirds next game is on Friday evening when they travel to the Glade to play Mossley Fifths in there next league match with an 8pm start.
Thirds Squad – B Kennedy, P Whiteside, M Coulter, T Monahan, J Lavery, K Wilson, J Irwin, M Patterson, C Roe, D Allen and A Pearce