else if (is_ie4up)
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Non Sibi Cunctus.
Match : 2nd XI v Raphoe
Date : 2001-10-13
Venue : A
Score : 1-6
Scorers : Baird
By 2nd XI Captain
Out went Cookie, Phil Irwin, Mark McDonald, Geoff Riddell, Neil Johnston, Paul Gant, Aaron Young and Paul Fraser with a combination of unavailability, injury and promotions (all richly deserved) and in came Johnny Duncan, Gerard Mahoney, Gordon Gillespie (yes you read it right GG), Stephen Nicholl, James Fitzpatrick, Eddie Baird and the return of the prodigal Godfather Stephen Duffin. A team that was unrecognisable from the previous week in terms of personnel but a team that would prove to be very similar in commitment, grit and determination.
The game started as could have been predicted. We knew what to expect and the team was set up as best to deal with what could only be described as an onslaught by Raphoe on our goal. Raphoe had numerous chances in the first fifteen minutes winning a succession of short corners. Johnny Duncan, making his 2nd eleven debut in nets performed with confidence and authority far beyond his years and stature (sorry JD). Frustrating the Raphoe attack on every occasion with the assistance of Leitch & co.
Then it happened, a swift ball from our circle to James Fitzpatrick who found Duffin strolling around in the opposition 25 (was he massaging his knee at one point??) and suddenly a chance was on. The midfield charged forward in anticipation of a cross reflecting Soupy's very high standard and then it came, like a bullet from an AK 47 towards the circle where the wolves had gathered.
It fell to Eddie "Killer Instinct" Baird, who swiftly took his chance for a shot on goal, the keeper somehow stopped the ball going in but then fate was smiling, the ball fell to Eddie once more and with composure, skill and a controlled swing of the axe, he slotted the ball into the corner. GAME ON.
The crowd were silenced, Raphoe players stunned and Eddie fainted. Was this to be the springboard for a famous victory. Immediately Raphoe began to play with more composure in and around our circle and were rewarded when a ball from the right cruelly deflected off a defender's stick straight to a Raphoe player who slotted the ball into the corner.
Belief drained and the euphoria of minutes earlier evaporated into the Donegal air. Raphoe continued to dominate and scored a second shortly after. Soupy, thinking he had the dribbling skill of Beckham & Giggs rolled into one, lost the ball just outside his own 25. Raphoe pounced, attacking with speed & skilful passing giving the defence no chance at all. Between Raphoe goals there were random attacks from EAHC with Duffin holding the ball up brilliantly for James & Eddie to surge forward. Some good work down the right by Paul Reid, Duffin & James relieved the pressure for periods of the first half. A third goal was added before half time and the sides went in with Raphoe 3-1 up.
It was clear that the commitment, passion and pride were in abundance and we went out knowing that we still had a chance. The second half was a much more even affair with both sides having chances early on. Unfortunately Raphoe decided to take theirs and a fourth goal was added 15 minutes into the second half. But we continued to play hockey and on occasion actually looked very dangerous, then disaster a simple ball from Paul R to Soupy who turned to sprint down the wing but then I heard what can only be described as the mating call of a Ligoniel Banshee (younger players ask your Grandmother about the stories). I turned to where the noise was coming from and my worst nightmare had come true. Paul Reid had been injured. I don't honestly know what happened but if I was to hazard a guess, his left leg gracefully tripped over his right (is this true?). Paul continued to soldier on in midfield, aware that subs were non-existant. Changes were required, though, and Paul went onto right wing were he could "rest", Soupy went to center midfield, (desperation there), Stephen Nicholl was transferred to right midfield from left, where it was hoped his blistering pace would have more effect and James Fitzpatrick slotted cautiously into left midfield, displaying skill & strength that will be a major asset to the club. Immediately Paul made his presence felt on the right wing. A free just outside the Raphoe circle with 7 players on the attack, and what does he do
1. Play a short ball for a quick shot??
2. Shell it towards a post hoping for a deflection??
3. Play it into Raphoe feet for a short corner??
4. OR. Pass it to one of their players who passes it through midfield, to the forwards who sprint past our defence and score??
You guessed it number 4. 5-1 to Raphoe. Soupy took this opportunity to have a gentle word with the midfield and forwards encouraging them to put their brains in gear before passing the ball to Raphoe.
We pressed forward again winning a number of short corners. It was time to bring on the big guns. Gordon Gillespie changed gear in the zimmer frame and sprinted forward to assist Duffin in attack. Alas this was only to limited effect but gives us another option in the future. Raphoe were cordially invited to score another gaol before the final whistle and the game ended 6-1.
If games were won on spirit, grit, determination and commitment we would have left Donegal with a hatful of victories, but they are not, on the day we were beaten by better side. All debutants gave a superb account of themselves, Johnny Duncan made numerous superb saves to keep the score down, Gerard Mahoney made plenty of brilliant tackles, Stephen Nicholl hassled Raphoe to the end, James Fitzpatrick showed speed skill and versatility, and Gordon Gillespie was an inspiration in defence, encouraging the younger players at every opportunity and keeping morale above sea level (this did not go unnoticed). Eddie made his welcome return to the 2nds with another goal and Duffin displayed that he still has the golden touch.
On the downside we gave the ball away far too cheaply in dangerous areas, failed to get men behind the ball when it mattered and were unable to convert any one from an abundance of short corners awarded.
But once again the 2nds have shown determination and promise for the forthcoming weeks. It is now vital that ALL players who wish to play 2nd eleven hockey this year make themselves available for training.