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Press Release - 31/01/1999

East Antrim Hockey Club
31 January 1999

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


Most people could have been forgiven for thinking that East Antrim were in serious danger of finishing bottom of the pile in the Intermediate League after seeing the majority of the team leave for other clubs. After the first 3 games of the season, when the team had conceded 21 goals and scored none, bookmakers would have offered fantastic odds on the team winning any kind of match.

Since those opening three games, East Antrim have played 8 league games, losing only two of them and hoisting the team to the dizzy heights of 4th place in the league. Last Saturday, East Antrim took on Omagh, their closest challengers for the 4th place spot.

The team was depleted due to the interest in happening at Lansdowne, but those that turned out, gave another tremendous account of themselves. Alan Murphy scored from a penalty corner but his effort was cancelled out by an on-target penalty corner from the Omagh team.

The penalty corner routine had been a problem of late, but Saturday suggested that the players involved are starting to get to grips with the setup.

The half-time whistle blew with both teams playing some entertaining hockey. The second half was to be no different with true end to end excitement. Since East Antrim's entrance to the Intermediate league 4 seasons ago, they have never lost to Omagh and midway through the second half, Mark Watson ensured that their record would continue.

A 2-1 final score gave the team statistics of played 12, won 5, drawn 2, lost 2 giving a total of 12 points with 4 games to go.

"I'm very pleased with the way the season has gone. The players we have might not be as talented as those that we lost from last season, but they are certainly more dedicated and the results have proven that." said captain, Stephen Swann.

In fact, the team have already accumulated more points than the whole of last season. Asked to explain the reasoning behind it, the old boy of the team, Alan Murphy, said:

"As a team, we get on quite well. No-one is a superstar, so no-one thinks of themself as any better than anyone else. We have also tighten our defence, and we are trying to pass the ball around the park."

Stephen Swann added that the squad has now grown to 17 players. "The new players to the squad this season have outperformed my expectations. Davey McClean has improved dramatically in the space of 12 weeks. David Menaul and Bob Watters have proved to be valuable members of the team and we now have another crop of youngsters from Belfast Royal Academy knocking on the door of the squad"

Asked about the prospects for the team, vice-captain Scott Higginson has these words of wisdom:

"We can compete against any team in the league. We still have some way to go to break into the top three, but we probably don't want to do that anyway. Having seen has happened to teams that were promoted into Senior 2 would put any club off promotion."

1st XI Team : S.Wallace, S.Swann, I.McStea, A.Murphy, D.Martin, J.Greer, S.Higginson, T.Browne, L.Currie, M.Watson, D.McClean