Annadale endured three nervy quarters before eventually overcoming Raphoe in the Donegal side’s final Kirk Cup match. Going into the game Raphoe had an outside chance of progressing from the group but were massive underdogs against a side ranked 11 places higher in Ulster Hockey. Nonetheless Raphoe, with a very obvious defensive game plan, led until after half time.
Kirk Cup Pool A
(G. Lecky, 13)
Missing several regulars, Raphoe needed to shuffle players from their usual positions. George Patterson excelled at right back, James Wilson shone at right midfield, while Gavin Lecky shifted to . Simon Goudie who came into the side this week also performed admirably at centre back with ball distribution improved. However, against the run of play, Raphoe scored the opening goal in the 13th minute before which Annadale enjoyed the lion’s share of possession before going down to 10 men with one of ‘Dale’s young guns being sin binned for shoulder barging Lecky.
George Patterson drove forward from right back before exchanging passes with Jonny Long. Patterson won a free hit just outside of the ‘Dale ‘25’ yard line. Patterson composed himself before taking the free, putting a disguise on a slap hit pass which found Lecky at the edge of the ‘D’ with his back to goal. Lecky collected the pass across his body enabling him to have a strike on goal with his second touch. Score low to the goalkeepers left. The Donegal men held out until quarter time despite being pressurised into mistakes in possession by the Belfast sides high press.
‘Dale pressure grew in the second quarter with a series of penalty corners, Annadale having 12 corners in total in the game. Simon Goudie guilty of fouling outside the D resulting in ‘Dale thinking they had an equaliser on 26 minutes. Heavy celebration being cut short once the umpires conferred to judge a different ‘Dale player had encroached, resulting in the set piece being retaken which Davy Moore in the Raphoe net repelled. Keith Meehan intercepted a drag flick on the line from the final on three corners before the second period closed.
After half time the relentless pressure told as Raphoe conceded a soft penalty corner. Evan Lyttle not retreating the required five metres before engaging in the tackle. Things got worse when a twitch from the ‘Dale injector lead to both Lyttle and Lecky breaking the line. Captain Lyttle, had to leave the defensive corner team. With Raphoe missing a player Annadale varied the penalty corner routine finding a deflection at the back post which was stopped illegally on the line. From the resultant stroke Davy Moore did superbly to save a powerful flick from Annadale captain Ryan Burgess.
Raphoe did not have time to celebrate as moments later they conceded another corner which was converted using the same routine that brought the stroke before. ‘Dale continued to turn the screw before three-quarter time. The took the lead with 4 minutes to play in the quarter from a deflection from one of the few open play chances ‘Dale conjured in the game.
In the final quarter Annadale, and especially their set piece routine, showed their class. Burgess scoring directly from 2 set pieces as the Irish hockey league side finally became comfortable. George Patterson the culprit conceding both before being sin binned for the final moments in an otherwise solid performance that saw him deemed Man of the Match.
Raphoe can draw good heart from a performance that was very disciplined for much in a game that they were not expected to contest.
Raphoe: D. Moore, G. Patterson, S. Goudie, E. Lyttle, Z. West, J. Long, J. Wilson, L. Stewart, K. Meehan, G. Lecky, A. Crumley, T. Orr, Jo. Watt, Ja. Watt.