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Press Release - 16/12/1996

East Antrim Hockey Club
16 December 1996

For further information, contact:
Stephen Swann
Press Release Officer - East Antrim Hockey Club
34 Carnmoney Road, Newtownabbey, BT36 6HP
078 0316 7731


The long trip to Omagh should have been the start of a maximum points haul over the Christmas period for East Antrim, but even the best laid plans can fail. The Ulster Umpires Association failed to provide officials for the match, resulting in two inexperienced umpires "lending a hand".

East Antrim started the game brightly, piling the pressure on the Omagh goal. However, glaring misses and unpunished misdemeanours meant that the breakthrough took longer to come than expected. A Scott Higginson shot stopped on the line by a defenders foot resulted in a free hit to Omagh. A Tim Browne effort was then stopped on the line by the back of the goalkeeper's stick - play continued. A goalmouth melee resulted in some pushing and shoving after the Omagh keeper sat on the ball preventing the East Antrim attack.

The breakthrough finally came when Aaron McDonald sent a cross into the penalty circle from the right wing. Raymond Hughes was on hand to score his third goal of the season. East Antrim refused to relent on the pressure but found that unorthodox defending and some strange umpiring decisions meant improvement on the 1-0 scoreline was difficult.

The second half was a more even contest as the game was reduced to a joke - umpiring standards were at an all-time low as the game zipped along at a pace which was blatantly too quick for the stand-in officials. Omagh created the odd chance with the long ball to the forward line, but it was East Antrim who put the ball into the net once more. Aaron McDonald took a free hit from the right which hit the foot of an Omagh defender just outside the penalty circle. The ball ran to Neal Hermon who pulled the ball back across the goalmouth for Raymond Hughes to score his second of the game. Jubilation was short-lived, however, as the umpire blew his whistle for a free-hit on the edge of the circle for the foot infringement. Complaints about advantage had no effect and the free-hit did not net a goal.

Tim Browne took centre stage next as he missed two-glaring chances. Hughes hit a post from a penalty corner attempt. Higginson could have sealed the game with a close range effort. But the game was finally reduced to a farce when a terrible umpiring decision gave Omagh a free hit which was launched towards their team captain and left winger. An unkind bounce on the shale pitch left Alan Murphy stranded and the Omagh player one on one with Johnny Hamill, who despite his efforts failed to keep the shot out of the net.

The final score of 1-1 was Omagh's first point of the season and a major blow to East Antrim. Team captain, Stephen Swann, was heartened after the match when the Omagh captain apologised for the umpiring and the result. Man of the match went to the team's oldest player - Raymond Hughes.

East Antrim 2nds kept up their 100% season with a 5-0 demolition of Banbridge. Colin Black increased his goal tally to 17 with another two strikes. Team captain, Robert Gibson, scored twice and veteran Stephen Duffin got the other in a totally one sided affair. After the game, Gibson said "I lost a lot of players for this week-end and I have used 25 players so far this season, so it's good to keep the results going with that amount of change. I was particularly impressed with John Baker and George Armstrong, but I'm going to have to make more changes to accommodate the players returning next week".