First top-flight derby in decades whets ap­petite

Fingal Independent - - SPORT - PAUL BYRNE

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.

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