HOCKEY: Raphoe men earn stunning draw with Premier League champions Instonians

HOCKEY: Raphoe men earn stunning draw with Premier League champions Instonians

Raphoe answered some of their recent critics as the returned from the home of the current Premier League champions, Instonians, with a well-deserved share of the spoils ending the champions 100% league record.

Ulster Premier League,  Instonians 2

Raphoe 2

(T. Orr 35, K. Meehan 64)

Media coverage in Belfast suggested that the Donegal men were “struggling”, presumably based on last weekend’s defeat to Portadown, this result should go a long way to disprove this suggestion.

Throughout the game Raphoe absorbed pressure with the Belfast side controlling possession but lacking the cutting edge to penetrate Raphoe’s staunch rearguard of Simon Goudie, Evan Lyttle, Alan Meehan, Tom Eaton and Zack West rotating in the defence line ahead of goalkeeper David Moore.

Instonians pressure eventually paid dividends in the 14th minute when Ben Palmer won the hosts first penalty corner. William Robinson’s drag flick squirmed across the line. Only a good save by Inst keeper Sam Brown denied Raphoe an equaliser when he cleared Simon Goudie’s drag flick effort to safety with the last action of the first quarter after a penalty corner was won by a foul on Gavin Lecky inside the Instonians ’25. 

Buoyed by the first quarter performance Raphoe again rallied in the second quarter. Raphoe’s 5-man midfield anchored by Lee Stewart, who was flanked by Ian McGonigle, Keith Meehan, James Wilson and Gavin Lecky, who was facing the side he left in the summer. George Patterson and Tommy Orr rotated well as the single forward in the 4-5-1 formation. 

Aside from a few flashed crosses, Raphoe’s organised unit defence withstood all that was thrown their way. With Instonians best chance coming from another penalty corner. Moore, in the Raphoe net, defended another Instonians’ drag flick before the contest was levelled. Similarly Raphoe were unable to convert their second set-piece after Patterson drew the foul.

A minute before the half-time interval, James Wilson, playing at right midfield, robbed possession of Olympian Paul Gleghorne at the halfway line. The loose ball bobbled to Lecky who flicked it past one defender and advanced into the Instonians half. Tommy Orr called for the ball high on the left-hand side of the Inst circle. Lecky shuffled the ball onto his back-hand side where he unleashed a pin-point diagonal reverse pass which Orr brilliantly deflected high over keeper Brown and into the Instonians net. Orr’s pace caused trouble for host throughout the game and he was a constant outlet. The half finished 1-1.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with the hosts growing more and more frustrated. Their frustration boiled over with green cards shown to two Inst players. Raphoe were unable to capitalise on either occasion before they found themselves behind again as Robinson again converted another Instonians penalty corner. More indiscipline in the host Ranks saw a yellow card shown to Gleghorne Patterson, who gave the international a torrid time, nicked the ball from his stick and was tumbled by the Inst players follow through. During the second half Goudie aerials grew in importance as he relieved the pressure from the Raphoe defence. 

Entering the final quarter the Donegal side were motivated to go and find an equaliser. Counter attacks lead by Orr and Patterson were the most obvious route for Raphoe as Instonians continually dominated possession without looking like penetrating. Raphoe’s third and final penalty corner came from Orr being released down the right flank and the rattled Inst defence again fouling dangerously inside the ‘25. Goudie’s effort was again blocked by the home sides keeper. 

With 6 minutes to go and Raphoe tiring, Orr intercepted a cross field pass between 2 Inst defenders. He advanced into the Inst circle where keeper Brown stopped him illegally. Keith Meehan again stood up and scored the resulting penalty stroke, his fifth goal in four games.

Raphoe withstood the final onslaught to record a memorable win. Goudie and Orr where joint man of the match. Next week Raphoe will be looking to build as they host Bangor at 14:30.

Raphoe: D. Moore, Z. West, T. Eaton, E. Lyttle, S. Goudie, A. Meehan, I. McGonigle, J. Wilson, L. Stewart, G. Lecky, G. Patterson, T. Orr.

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