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Press Release - 16/11/1997

East Antrim Hockey Club
16 November 1997

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


East Antrim 1st XI played their first home league game of the season against the Old Boys of Queens University at the Valley Leisure Centre last weekend. Despite missing 5 key players, captain Stephen Swann was still confident that his team could pick up both points with ease.

The match started very brightly for East Antrim - within 2 minutes Alan Burgess had scored his 10th goal of the season from a penalty corner. For the first ten minutes, East controlled the game to a point where the Old Boys could not get the ball out of their own half.

The 2nd goal did not come quick enough, and gradually Queens began to operate with more venom. Simon Burns and Stanley Donnan looked dangerous for the visitors while the home team's midfield struggled to find form.

Midway through the first half, however, disaster struck for the visitors as a raised ball struck the hand of "TC" Smyth. Unfortunately, the force of the strike caused major damage to Smyth's fingers and the game was temporarily halted as an ambulance was called.

When the game restarted it looked like East Antrim were suffering more from the shock of the incident than Queens'. The Glengormley men found themselves pegged back into their own half up to half-time.

The second half saw East Antrim look more dangerous as Burgess and Armstrong started to find some space. The 2nd goal finally arrived when Burgess converted another penalty corner. With the 2 goal cushion, East Antrim set about racking up the goals - Tim Browne had 2 glorious opportunities to score, and Alan Burgess went close with a reverse flick.

The match came to a close almost 15 minutes later than scheduled with the score at 2-0 to East Antrim. After the match, vice-captain Alan Murphy, was philosophical about the result

"We never really got going today. It was a lethargic display of ineptness around goal. We cannot afford to play like that against the so called stronger teams. Next week's match against Armagh will be a totally different game"

Man of the Match award went to Raymond Hughes, whose steadying influence at the back has been a key feature of the season so far.

East Antrim 1st XI team : J. Hamill, R. Hughes, A. Murphy, R. Gibson, R. White, A. Burgess, D. Caldwell, S. Higginson, G. Armstrong, N. Hermon, T. Browne

2nd XI Thumped
With the 1st XI missing 5 players, and the 2nd XI missing a further 4, onlookers could have been forgiven for believing that they were watching a mixture of 3rd and 4th XI players. They would have been right.

The makeshift 2nd XI took on league leaders Annadale at Lough Moss Leisure Centre and were on the receiving end of a 8-1 thumping - Andrew Lunn scored the consolation goal.

Team captain, Simon Hunter, was in foul form after the match: "We don't have the strength in depth to lose two or three players never mind nine. We can compete in this league, but not in these circumstances"

Darren Martin, 3rd XI captain, also suffered from the long list of unavailables. His team started with only 9 men in Downpatrick. A courageous battle from his team, and the late arrival of two more players, earned him another point as a Paul Reid equaliser in the 2nd half brought the game to a 1-1 conclusion.

"This will go down as a game we should have won, had we played with our normal starting 11. As it is, I suppose I should be grateful for the point. The lads played very well today."

The casualties further up the club ranks meant that the 4th XI match against North Down had to be postponed. Despite a club membership of over 65, only 32 players made themselves available for the weekend. Victims of work commitments, influenza, colds and the attraction of the All Blacks at Lansdowne Road, managed to cripple the club.

Club Secretary, Russell White, was still in optimistic mood, however. "This week is an exceptional week. I believe that this will not happen to us again this season. It is not good for club morale, or the image we portray to our opponents, but it has to go down as a freakish weekend."