THERE WAS A sense of lingering disappointment in the home dugout at Raphoe Royal & Prior last Saturday afternoon.
Raphoe had claimed a point as the Northern Ireland Civil Service had visited, but also lost two. Luke Witherow and George Patterson (pictured above by Sabrina Barnett) had put the hosts 2-0 up following a difficult first half.
The concession of two goals in the final seven minutes meant it finished 2-2 and when the dust settled and the beans were counted, it was the difference in third and fifth place in the Ulster Hockey Men’s Premier League table.
“In the first half we rode our luck and were probably lucky to be going inn 0-0 at half-time,” a disappointed coach, Rodney Bates, said afterwards.
“In the second half we got into the game much better. We got two goals and we 2-0 up and even looking comfortable enough. But we gave away two soft goals. In those circumstances you want to go on and get all three points.
“It’s a case of lesson learnt. It boiled down to individual errors and we don’t have to name any names. They’re big enough to admit it.”
The reason for a sense of disappointment is partly due to the higher standards Raphoe have set themselves in recent years. Tomorrow afternoon, 1pm, Bates and Richard Eaton’s side take on Portadown – the side who nipped them for fourth place last Saturday afternoon – away from home.
With less than four fixtures played than some of their opponents in the division, Raphoe face a busy few weeks and that’s a situation that will be exacerbated with a number of key players injured.
Last Saturday, Ian McGonigle hobbled off before half-time with a hamstring injury and Bates shrugged his shoulders afterwards with the estimation being “anywhere from two to eight weeks” in regards the skipper’s recovery time.
Matthew Lecky has been out with a long-standing shoulder injury and there’s been a catalogue building up.
“Maybe it’s a question of experience,” Bates added of last week’s draw. “We had to bring some in from the twos (reserves).
“Alexander Tinney is waiting on a few results from hospital. Alan Meehan hurt his ankle and although he wanted to chance it, I talked him out of it. Even Luke Witherow score today but had a cold during the week.”
“We’ve a hectic schedule coming up with midweek games. They’ll be coming thick and fast and since that’s the case we need to be working with a full squad.”