Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 1 November 2014

Men's hockey: County's hockey is not down after Saints win against Omagh

Saintfield, Ballynahinch, and Down are all in contention for a place in the Linden Cup semi-finals, representing a boost for hockey in the area.

On Saturday, a goal from Steven Ferguson was enough to see off a spirited Omagh side at the Demesne. Not for the first time, one Bobbie Hawkes was in spectacular form.

The Saints are certainly on the up, as they bid to emulate their more illustrious neighbours, who play in the league above them.

But they had their work cut out against Omagh, whose netminder Hawkes is widely regarded as one of the best 'keepers in Ulster hockey. He proved again last weekend why that tag sits comfortably on his shoulders.

Time and again he produced stunning saves to deny Saintfield, who thought it was going to be one of those days when they would have to settle for a point.

Richard Owens made his debut for the Saintfield senior side and hopes to be a permanent fixture in the team.

Also making his first start following his switch from Crossgar was Conor Ferguson.

The home side was missing Davy Johnston, and with goalkeeper Graeme Finlay also unavailable, Marty Johnston took over the number one jersey, and did everything that was asked of him.

In a game that they dominated from start to finish, Saintfield could only score a solitary goal which, in the end, was enough to secure the victory.

Despite missing key players Chris Telford, Matt Owen, David Johnston, as well as the aforementioned Finlay, Saintfield played some good hockey, particularly in the second half.

Buchanan stepped up to skipper the side in Owens' absence, giving an impressive performance alongside Sammy Davidson and Adam Thompson, in a hard-working midfield.

The best move of the first half led to the only goal of the game, when a neat passing move led to debutant Patterson slipping the ball through for Steven Ferguson to finish well.

With Owens back in the heart of the midfield, Saintfield had a solid look about them, and the former skipper contributed by setting up some good passing moves.

Saintfield should have scored more goals, with Gavin Kirkpatrick going close on a number of occasions.

A goal from a short corner was disallowed, and there were also claims for a penalty stroke as Kirkpatrick was fouled as he prepared to shoot.

In the latter stages there were a few nervous moments as Omagh counter-attacked, but Nigel Jackson was again dependable at the back, meaning that stand-in keeper Johnston was not forced into any significant action.

With three points from two games, everything now hinges on what happens this Saturday against Newry.

Saintfield's opponents are missing a number of key players, and with such a strong squad to choose from, they could just pull of a surprise result.

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