Muireann Carton, Eleanor Bagnall, Lorna Bagnall & Colleen Connolly in defence
The Tullamore ladies hockey team travelled to Bray for their last match before the Christmas break. This contest was always going to be tough with the teams only separated by one point at the top of the league table.
Both teams set out to dominate proceedings from the start with a frenetic pace set for the first 10 minutes of the game. Each set of midfielders trying to hold possession and build attacking plays to the forwards led to a pace that probably neither team were accustomed to but made for a great hockey spectacle. The defensive lines of both teams held tight giving very little ball to the forwards of either team. The rest of the first quarter continued in this mode though the pace eased off slightly it was still a very high tempo game.
After the water break and into the second quarter, Tullamore aimed to settle a little more on the ball and put the ball behind the defensive line for the forwards. A number of balls were fed through by midfielders Lizzie Burns and Megan Diack but forwards Aoibheann Birney and Louise Cantwell found it difficult to shake their markers due to the high quality Bray defence. The Tullamore defence of Aisling Gallagher and Colleen Connolly were equally up to the task at the other end of the pitch and the teams came into the half time break all square.
Into the third quarter, the high tempo pace continued which suited Bray with their full squad of 16 players. By then, the Tullamore squad was down to 12 with midfielder Lizzie Burns, unfortunately, off injured. Bray pushed an extra midfielder forward and the Tullamore defence this time didn’t quite react quick enough. An opposition ball in from a right sided attack took an awkward deflection in the circle and the Bray forward managed to get her stick to the bouncing ball making it very tricky for, Tullamore goalkeeper, Claudia Gill. 1-0 to Bray delighted the many vocal home supporters. Bray had another one or two more attacks during this 8 minute purple patch but the visiting backline held firm and alleviated any danger. Towards the middle of this quarter Tullamore regained their composure and started to pressurise Bray again. Muireann Carton on the right side of midfield had numerous successful carries, culminating in a shot on goal. The experienced Bray keeper saved it and also successfully blocked a short corner shot by Lorna Bagnall, keeping a clean sheet for the third quarter and keeping her team ahead.
In the fourth quarter, Tullamore continued as they had finished the previous quarter, on the attack and determined to equalise. The ladies won a couple more short corners and Aoibheann Birney almost netted inside the left post. Unfortunately, it was not mean’t to be on the day and Bray took the 3 points for the victory. Overall, a draw would probably have been a fair result but the Tullamore team acquitted themselves very well, never giving up and contending to the bitter end. The ladies have a break for Christmas, resuming league on the 8th January.
Team: Claudia Gill, Aisling Gallagher, Colleen Connolly, Lorna Bagnall, Emma Roe, Megan Diack, Eleanor Bagnall, Lizzie Burns, Muireann Carton, Louise Cantwell, Jess Raben, Suzie Raben, Aoibheann Birney.
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