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Press Release - 13/12/1997

East Antrim Hockey Club
13 December 1997

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


DEPLETED EAST HOLD HEADS HIGH

The Irish Junior Cup 3rd round draw threw up the challenge of a weekend in Cork against the might of Belvedere. The excitement of the draw, however, was not matched with enthusiasm from the East Antrim 1st XI players.

Team captain, Stephen Swann, was faced with taking a depleted team of just three 1st XI outfield players to Cork, two 2nd XI players, four 3rd XI players (one of which was celebrating his 56th birthday) and a cripple.

Socially, the three day trip to the far end of the island was a great success - the 70 minutes of play on the Saturday, however, looked odds-on for a disaster.

With barely 10 minutes on the clock, the first goal whizzed in after some ragged defending by the Glengormley men. But instead of the floodgates opening, the men in green seemed to get their act together. A series of penalty corners were earned, and a vicious shot from George Armstrong was prevented from crossing the line by an outstretched foot. Unfortunately, the umpire was unsighted!

More short corners were won and in the run-up to half-time, it was East Antrim looking more dangerous. The second half started as team vice-captain, Alan Murphy, arrived following a slight delay in Heathrow airport. His presence immediately gave some solidity to the East Antrim defence, and gave the midfield of Hughes, Armstrong and Paul Reid the chance to experiment with their flowing style of attack.

Leonard Currie came dangerously close to scoring for the visitors only to be denied by some outstanding defending. Ken Skelton came to within inches of fly-hitting the ball into the roof of the net, and George Armstrong struck the post.

But as seems to be becoming all too frequent, Belvedere increased their lead following a spot of misplaced relaxation in the East defence.

Gary Hooks, Graeme Reid and Darren Martin all looked reasonably comfortable marking the Belvedere forward line, but the experience of the home team told with some well worked moves. Goalkeeper, Johnny Hamill, started to have some fun as he kicked an incoming cross all of 40 feet into the air and 70 yards down the pitch, to be collected by Nathaniel Bane on the right wing.

When the 75 strong spectators were asked for a man of the match, they declared that it would be totally unfair to pick out any individual after the team had travelled 350 miles and had spent many hours the previous night fighting a losing battle with the Cork-supplied beverages.

Captain Swann commented after the match: "I'm very proud of the players, who have shown that they are proud to wear the badge of East Antrim Hockey Club. I expected to be on the wrong end of a 5 or 6 nil defeat - looking back on the team that has travelled this distance, I should have realised that they would have always down this club proud."

East Antrim 1st XI team : Johnny Hamill. Ken Skelton, Gary Hooks, Graeme Reid, Darren Martin, George Armstrong, Raymond Hughes, Paul Reid, Nathaniel Bane, Stephen Swann, Leonard Currie, Alan Murphy.