IHT quarter finals await ladies

North Down ladies travelled to Our Lady’s in Dublin last Saturday for a place in the Irish Hockey Trophy quarter finals. With Rebecca Mitchell-Cram ill and unable to travel, the team knew that missing the captain would be tough but were feeling confident and ready for the challenge having been unbeaten in their previous 5 games of 2014.

The game started off with North Down immediately winning possession and getting on the front foot with an interception from Barbara Moles but the attack led to nothing. Our Lady’s upped their pace with long balls from the back however the North Down defence was solid and they dealt with everything which came their way. As the tempo of the game picked up, North Down’s forceful play led to mistakes from the home team and a number of quick frees from Laura Clarke led to chances in the circle which all went astray. North Down finally went ahead following a quick free taken by Rebecca Mercer. A fantastic ball into the circle found Jenna Hoey who got a great touch on it to help it on its way into the net.

North Down continued to dominate and with great play down the left from Selina Lewis and Lauren Brown the visitors were looking strong. However only a single goal behind, Our Lady’s had their own period in control and finished the half with a series of penalty corners which were brilliantly cleared by Chrissie McKee and Laura Clarke along with the rest of the defensive team. The half time whistle came as some relief to the visitors.

North Down went into

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the second half intent on maintaining their lead against a determined home team and in a high intensity first 15 minutes both teams had chances but the score line remained the same. North Down grew frustrated after a number of umpiring decisions went against them and eventually the pressure from Our Lady’s told when they managed to pull level after a goalmouth scramble following a Chrissie McKee save. Dissent after the award of the goal led to Lauren Brown being green carded, a 2 minute sin bin penalty in hockey.

On the restart North Down fought back with good interplay between Shannen White, Tasha Adamson and Rachel Lucas but normal time finished with a long period of pressure on the North Down defence as Our Lady’s forced a prolonged spell of penalty corners which were all successfully defended.

Extra time was hard fought but there was no further scoring and so it went to the dreaded penalties. It was all square after 5 penalties each but after Chrissie McKee made a great save Rachel Hutchison stepped up and calmly flicked the ball into the left corner making the penalty tally 7-6 to the North Down girls.

Thanks to Chrissie McKee’s family and Richard Mercer for making the long journey to support North Down and also to Davy Frazer for driving the bus and Beth Frazer for her continuous support on the side line.

Player of the Match: Chrissie McKee

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