In difficult conditions Raphoe overcame Castle Ladies to go 6 points clear of their nearest competitor at the top of Ulster Senior 1 table.
On a dreary wet Friday evening the Raphoe side started strongly and were rewarded with a short corner in the first five minutes. Victoria Wray ejected the ball to the top of the D. A well rehearsed short corner routine was demonstrated and the ball swiftly returned to Wray, who with the narrowest of angles beautifully converted the opening goal.
Their second goal came moments later when Leanne Patterson showed some individual brilliance with a run down the left hand side. She rounded the defenders with ease and calmly flicked the ball over the keeper who had gone to ground early.
Raphoe took their foot off the pedal and castle piled on the pressure for 10 minutes in this period. They were awarded a short corner of which on the first take a Raphoe runner broke the line leaving Raphoe to defend the next short corner a player down. The second short corner saw the ball ejected to the top of the D and the Castle player found the bottom right corner of the goal with her shot.
Raphoe were spurred on and had some excellent play, with precision passing. They used the pitch to their advantage and Castle struggled to deal with their width and movement. Raphoe showed why they were league leaders and made the match increasingly difficult for their opponents.
The third goal was carved out when the ball was cleverly work from the defensive line of Wray and Barnett who found the awaiting stick of L Patterson. She left the defence exposed and slotted the ball to Wendy Patterson. Patterson received the ball at the 25 yard line and sprinted for the D with only the keeper to beat. Never in doubt her shot sailed past the Castle keeper leaving the game 3-1.
Lisa Patterson worked tirelessly in the left midfield breaking down play and intercepting passes throughout the first half whilst Zara Tinney and Sarah McEarlean made a few fine runs down the right side.
The half time whistle sounded just as Raphoe looked to capitalise on their lead once more. Richard Tinney congratulated his team on their fine first half performance however was quick to point out there was no room for complacency at all.
The second half was a one sided affair and the defensive line of Wilson, Kilpatrick, Barnett, Wray, Nelson, Mehaffy were rarely tested.
Raphoe demonstrated their superior fitness while Castle continued to tire.
The team continued to build play and the inevitable goals came. Wendy Patterson and Leanne Patterson both converted another two goals each displaying their fine goal scoring form of late. The Patterson's ladies, the hattrick heroes!
Katy Love and the twins Rebecca and Amy Wauchope were unfortunate not to increase the tally with some dangerous shots on goal.
The sister duo of Lindsey and Jasmine Tinney held strong in the centre of the park leaving Castle with great difficulty getting the ball out of their defence.
Coach Tinney in the closing 10 minutes of the game utilised his full panel of 16 and the younger squad members came to the fore highlighting the full potetial and the bright future of Raphoe Ladies Hockey Club.
Another great team performance. The momentum continues to build going into the final five matches. Raphoe determination is clearly visible and unwavering and the Senior 1 title is in their sights.
Next game is on Wednesday night and 8pm when they travel to Derry for a hotly contested match against local rivals Priorians.
Team: Catherine Mahaffey, Arlyne Kilpatrick, Victoria Wray, Sabrina Barnett (Captain), Janice Nelson, Zara Tinney, Lyndsey Tinney, Wendy Patterson, Lisa Patterson, Leanne Patterson, Katy Love, Jasmine Tinney, Sarah McErlean, Julie Wilson, Rebecca Wauchope & Amy Wauchope
Huge congratulations to the Raphoe Ladies Second IV who became Ulster Champions of the Junior 5 League in a 1 all draw with NCIS on Saturday. With two games still to play, what a wonderful achievement for this team.