First top-flight derby in decades whets appetite
THERE is great anticipation in hockey circles around Fingal this week as Portrane and Dublin North get ready to meet in the top division for the first time in many years.
Not since the 1990s, when Dublin North were known as Aer Lingus, have these two sides met at this level, but they will face off once more this coming weekend, with both sides competing in the top division for the first time in more than 20 years.
Portrane, who are celebrating their centenary season, made their return to Division 1 for the first time since 1997 this year, having dropped as low as Division 5 at one stage. Last season they comprehensively beat Weston in a promotion play-off to earn their spot in the top flight and according to committee member Adrian Henchy the Dublin North match is one the whole club have been looking forward to ever since the fixtures were announced.
‘We’re really looking forward to it and there is a good buzz about the club these days, especially now that we’re back in Division 1 in our centenary year. Dublin North are a good, experienced side, but they are struggling a bit lately and we hope we can capitalise. We won our first game in Division 1 since 1997 against Avoca last week, so that will give us a bit of confidence going into the game.
“We actually faced them last season in the Irish Hockey Cup and managed to beat them on penalties, so we have nothing to fear and we look forward to the game. It’s been a long time since we last played them in the top division, so it should be a great occasion for both sets of supporters.’
Dublin North’s Shane Dempsey, who stepped up as player coach following the resignation of Gerry Wheeler, is also looking forward to the match against their local rivals.
‘We’ve had a tough start to the season, but we have a couple of players coming back and it’s never hard to get up for these local derby games. We played them last year and they edged past us in the Irish Hockey Cup, so hopefully we can go out and get some revenge this weekend.’
The game will take place in Henchy’s Field, Portrane, at noon on Saturday.
Neither side could manage a win ahead of the big derby, with both Portrane and Dublin North crashing out in the first round of the Irish Hockey Trophy.
Portrane took the lead through Colin Neville away to North Down but found themselves 2-1 down at the break.
Imran Khan drew the visitors level before Colin Neville fired home his second to put the Fingal side 3-2 up. At this stage Portrane looked to be in control, but a yellow card followed soon after and gave North Down the impetus to go on and win a pulsating match 4-3.
Dublin North also faced an away trip but were outclassed in Waterford, with Paddy Gahan’s goal of little consolation in a 6-1 defeat.
Meanwhile, in the Leinster Ladies Division 2, promoted club Dublin North suffered their second 1-0 defeat from two games when going down to Monkstown 2nds at Rathdown School last Saturday.
What proved to be the only goal arrived 10 minutes before half-time, and despite forcing a number of short corners in the second period Dublin North just lacked a cutting edge in attack.
Teenagers Irene Brennan and Lisa Walsh both impressed for the away side, along with the more experienced Dee Mooney, Alva Molloy, Una Farrelly and Breda Ororoe.