Raphoe were in celebratory mood on Saturday after they were presented with the Ulster Hockey Senior League Section One Cup after their outing agianst Armagh in the afternoon.
They defeated Armagh 4-0 at the Royal and Prior Ground in a game that was only academic as Raphoe had wrapped up the league title, and even more importantly, promotion to the Ulster Premier Division.
After the game Ms Pat Duffy, of the Ulster Hockey Union branch, presented the Section One Cup to the captain of the all conquering Raphoe side, Ian McGonigle.
“You have an excellent club here and congratulations on winning the league and promotion. You have some very good people such as David Buchanan and Richard Eaton and many others who have kept the club going down the years,” said Pat Duffy, before presenting Ian McGonigle with the Section One Cup.
Captain McGonigle thanked the players for their efforts in the course of the season and he had a special mention for team coaches David Buchanan and Richard Eaton, for the professionalism and organisation they brought to the team.
In terms of the game itself, Saturday’s game was something of anti-climax due to the fact that Raphoe wrapped up the league with the previous Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Cambellians.
Raphoe had also defeated Armagh 10-0 when the sides last met a number of weeks ago. And it was probably for that reason that the game never rose above the ordinary and for long stretches struggled to excite the large local support that came out to toast the champions.
It did not help either that Armagh packed their defence from the off which meant space was at a premium in the Armagh half.
Raphoe had to wait 17 minutes for their opening goal after the Armagh goal led a charmed life.
The goal, when it arrived .came from the penalty spot tucked away by Alan Meehan after George Patterson was impeded as he bore down for his own score.
While Raphoe continued to apply the pressure the anticipated goal rush did not materialise and with Sheppard making a number of top drawer saves, it was still 1-0 at the half-time whistle.
Johnny Long got the scoreboard clicking early in the second half when sent clear by Matthew Lecky just four minutes into the new half.
Long’s strike failed to ignite the Raphoe challenge and while the outcome was never in doubt, it took a further 16 minutes for Raphoe to once again unlock the Armagh rearguard.
This time Matthew Lecky beat Sheppard from a short corner and four minutes later his brother Gavin struck for goal number four to bring the curtain down on the scoring.
“We were a little bit lacklustre but in saying that we won 4-0 and perhaps our focus was on those games we still have to play rather than on today’s game,” said David Buchanan ,who shares the coaching duties with Richard Eaton.
“The season has gone well and the season has been a much greater success than we anticipated. We lost our first match and then won our next couple of games and we thought okay things are going be alright. Then we went away and let a 2-0 lead slip and the following week we came from 2-1 down with nine minutes and we scored two goals to win 3-2 and pulled it out of the fire.
“I think after that game we realised that there was something special about this team.”
And Raphoe are not finished yet with the Linden Cup won on New Year’s Day, joined at the weekend by Ulster League Section One. David Buchanan and Richard Eaton are plotting and planning this week for an Irish Trophy Cup semi-final meeting with Portadown next Saturday in Raphoe . . . another crack at adding to the trophy cabinet.
Raphoe: Johnny Rankin; Rodney Bates, Evan Lytle, Alan Meehan, Matthew Lecky, William Kilpatrick, Ian McGonigle, Keith Meehan, George Patterson, Gavin Lecky, Johnny Long, Paul Steward, Richard Tinney.
Armagh: S Sheppard; R McMahon, K Hamilton, G Reddick, M Grey, S. Piller, M Anderson, A Marshall, T Forrest, C Kirkland, S Courney, C Wilson, D Scott, G McElroy.
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