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Press Release - 20/09/1998

East Antrim Hockey Club
20 September 1998

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


East Antrim started their 1998-99 season last weekend in a Linden Cup match against South Antrim. The Jordanstown campus of the University of Ulster played hosts to the encounter - a match which South Antrim were expected to win comfortably.

East Antrim pre-season did not go smoothly this year as the 1st XI lost 3 players to Parkview, 2 to Larne, 1 to Mossley, 2 to retirement and 1 to injury. The appointment of Mark Watson as 1st XI coach, however, seems to have lifted the spirits of the depleted team.

The match started predictably - South Antrim in possession and carving through the East Antrim defence at will. It wasn't long before their first goal arrived. Within 5 minutes, another goal was scored and onlookers must have been waiting for the floodgates to open.

East Antrim obviously didn't read the script, however. James Greer and George Armstrong started to make gains down the right flank - indeed it was from the right hand side that the ball was crossed for Leon Currie to flash his shot into the South Antrim goal.

The game swinging towards the Intermediate Club's favour, chances started to flow. Alan Murphy had a glorious opportunity to equalise, only to see the ball spin of the end of his stick.

After some words of wisdom at half-time, and a belief in the team that they could achieve a shock result, the team match South Antrim until a penalty corner was awarded to the team in red. South's clinical execution of penalty corner's came to the fore and extended the team's lead to 3-1. Another converted penalty corner in the last minute saw South Antrim run out 4-1 winners.

Club captain, Stephen Swann, was enthusiastic about the performance:

"If I was told that the score would be 4-1 before the match - I would have taken it. We expected a very difficult match, which it was. But the manner in which we battle augurs well for the future. The players gelled like a team for the first time in a very long time."

Speaking of the appointment of Mark Watson as coach, he added:

"Mark is still very young, but he is very keen. When someone is keen, I believe they deserve to be given a chance. I also believe that the appointment will be mutually beneficial. I have assembled a very young and inexperienced squad and I believe they will learn a lot from Mark."

Mark has played under some very respected coaches during his time at school - RBAI. His experiences at Ulster schoolboy level will also add to the development of the youth at East Antrim. Mark himself also seemed optimistic about the coming season.

"I think I can add something different to the team, and it will also give me more exposure to coaching. The fact that there are so many talented youngsters at the club makes for exciting times ahead."

The Swann-Watson partnership will have its work cut-out next week as they entertain the students of Queens. Queen's, like South Antrim, play in a league above East Antrim and while they realise the match will be another damage-limitation exercise, they are optimistic:

"We can only learn from the experience of playing these teams."

East Antrim team : Wallace, Duffin, G. Reid, Baker, Martin, Greer, Murphy, Higginson, Armstrong, Currie, McClean.