RAPHOE’S capturing of the Ulster Senior League Section One isn’t mathematically confirmed but Donegal’s only hockey club have nine fingers on the trophy.
On Saturday, the team coached by Richard Eaton and David Buchanan hammered Armagh 10-1 away from home. The breakdown from that is Raphoe are now nine points ahead of the only team that can now catch them in the league standings, fifth place South Antrim, who have three games in hand.
For their part, Raphoe, who play Dublin University this coming Saturday in the quarter-final of the Irish Hockey Trophy at the Royal & Prior Grounds, have three games to play in the league - away to Cambellians on Saturday week, March 9, as well South Antrim.
The Armagh team Raphoe sauntered past on Saturday, are already relegated and will be visiting the north-west. So, added the Linden Cup that Raphoe won on New Year’s Day and Matthew Lecky’s appearance for the Ulster U-21 team in the recent inter-provincials, it’s been a memorable season to date.
“There’s just a great team spirit with us at the minute,” said midfielder William Kilpatrick. “Everyone is really in it together and you can even see that every time we score, every single player wants to give the goalscorer a high five to congratulate him.
“Richard Eaton and David Buchanan have been great coaching and with Adam Speer coming in to our Tuesday night sessions, working in strength and conditioning, we’re in good shape. The league is more or less in the bag and we had an easy win on Saturday against a team who have had a tough season.”
George Patterson scored four goals as Raphoe put themselves within touching distance of the title after their 10-1 win in Armagh on Saturday.
The away side took the lead inside the first minute when Patterson scored following good play from Johnny Long. A couple of minutes later Raphoe doubled their lead when Gavin Lecky scored.
Raphoe piled on the pressure they scored again - Paul Stewart pushing home after a great passing move down the right between Long, Gavin Lecky and Patterson. The first half ended 3 - 0.
The second half was again one way traffic and it wasn’t long before Raphoe scored again - Stewart again couldn’t miss having the ball more or less set on the goal line for him by Patterson.
Armagh then pulled a goal back from a short corner. This was just a minor set back for Raphoe and once again they stormed up the pitch and scored a fifth goal - Keith Meehan rolling the ball into an empty net.
Raphoe’s sixth goal came two minutes later Kilpatrick setting Patterson away at the back post to tap home. Patterson then completed his hat-trick picking up the ball from Ian McGonigle and firing past the advancing keeper.
Matthew Lecky scored Raphoe’s eighth - an individual effort from just inside the Armagh 25-yard line. Gavin Lecky scored after a good run along the back line by Kilpatrick saw him pull the ball back for Lecky to push into an empty net.
Their was still time for Raphoe to hit double figures and man of the match Patterson put the final nail in Armagh’s coffin.
This Saturday, Raphoe are home to Dublin University in the quarter final of the Irish Hockey Trophy, the competition they reached the final of last season before going down to University College Cork. Wouldn’t they just love to go one step further this year.
Team: Johnny Rankin, Rodney Bates, Evan Lyttle, Alan Meehan, Matthew Lecky, William Kilpatrick, Ian McGonigle (Captain), Keith Meehan, George Patterson, Gavin Lecky, Johnny Long, Paul Stewart, David Buchanan, Richard Eaton.