Wednesday, 9 November 2016

DUNGANNON'S Denman Shield journey was brought to a halt on Sunday afternoon following a valiant 2-0 loss to Lurgan Ladies.

Build up to the match for Dungannon was dominated by their search for a goalkeeper after both first team netminder Victoria Kerr and Seconds stopper Kerry Jones confirmed they would not be available for selection for the match, as the game was to be played on a Sunday.

Both informed the club they would not be able to play due to their Christian beliefs.

With the Thirds goalkeeper playing in a league nine divisions below the level Dungannon's firsts ply their trade at, it was decided another goalkeeper would need to be found.

Dungannon Ladies Hockey Club fully supported the choice made by their player and had contacted Ulster Hockey to have the match rescheduled, however, the body did not budge on the date the match was to be played.

Honorary President of Ulster Hockey, Liz Lamont, who was not involved in the scheduling, had said that, by holding both of the competition's semi finals on Sunday, Ulster Hockey was "able to maximise revenue and the profile of the sport".

In a statement, Dungannon Ladies Hockey Club said they supported their goalkeepers' choice not to play on a Sunday and said that, while they felt their request for the match to be rescheduled was "valid", stated that they "accept the decision" of Ulster Hockey.

The club told the Courier in their statement: "We are delighted that our 1st X1 made it through to the semi final of the Denman Shield.

“We are obviously disappointed not all of the players who helped the team to progress to this stage [were] available," read the statement.

“In this instance we felt it was valid for us to request an alternative date as both our first XI and second XI goalkeepers choose not to play on Sundays. 

“However, we accept the decision made by Ulster Hockey and have taken action to rectify the situation.  

“Although our senior and junior club participate in hockey on Sundays, DLHC respect the religious beliefs of all our players and we fully support any member who does not wish to play hockey on a Sunday."

On Thursday, Dungannon did indeed sign a stand-in goalkeeper, Heather Humphrey.

She made her debut for the club in the second half of Dungannon's league clash with North Down on Saturday, before playing from the off on Sunday against Lurgan.

It was a historic game for the club as it was the first time Dungannon had ever reached the last four of the Denman Shield.

And Heather Humphrey was the stand out performer for Dungannon, pulling off a series of fine saves to keep Dungannon in the game.

In Sunday's match, both teams started brightly, with equal opportunities on goal.

However, the pressure on Dungannon's defence grew sustained as Lurgan began to pick up the pace.

This led to Dungannon finding themselves caught defending their circle for a long period of time which inevitably ended in Lurgan's first, well executed goal.

Dungannon's stand in goalkeeper Heather Humphrey made some excellent saves, denying Lurgan from the numerous penalty corners they were awarded in the first half, but their final penalty corner of the half saw a rebounded shot end up in the roof of the net.

Dungannon came out in the second half determined and upped their pace, putting pressure back on Lurgan.

Some brilliant interceptions and linking play saw Dungannon break free and threaten the Lurgan circle, leaving Dungannon unfortunate not to get on the score sheet as Diane Robb found Laura White with a cross into the circle, but White narrowly missed scoring a deflection.

Dungannon were again unlucky as a cross from Karen Elliott into the circle found a rebound coming out to Roslyn Graham at the top of the circle, who was unable to convert her effort.

With Dungannon reduced to nine in the later stage of the second half they coped well and their defence remained calm against the relentless pressure from Lurgan's forward line.

Heather Humphrey impressed in nets, continuously denying the opponents, pulling off some superb saves and keeping Lurgan from scoring any further goals.

Dungannon - H Humphrey, L Kennedy, L Purdy, G Mulligan, J Elliott, L Millar, E Kilpatrick, L Elliott, S Winslow, D Robb, R Graham, A McKay, K Elliott, S Kelly, L White.


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