Ballymena Hockey Club ladies’ First XI will have an opportunity to lay their hands on some silverware later in the current season.
The Braid ladies reached the final of the Ulster Senior Cup in the most draatic fashion on Sunday.
Ballymena defeated Knock on penalty ficks after a 2-2 draw in a keenly contested semi-final.
Both Ballymena goals came from penalty corner routines, converted by Emma Gillespie and CLaire Gillespie.
In the shootout, Ballymena were clinical with their flicks, while goalkeeper Joanne Logan saved two Knock efforts.
Ballymena will now play either Banbridge or Raphoe in the final.
Ballymena II 4, North Down II 3: Ballymena 2nd XI hosted North Down 2nd XI in their 2nd round match of the Irish Junior Cup and came out victorious after a tense finale of penalty strokes!
Ballymena’s strength and determination allowed them to dominate the first half easily and after stringing together a series of well-placed passes up the right wing team captain Kerry Aiken hammered the ball goal-ward to give Ballymena a 1-0 half time lead.
With only five minutes to go, a break from North Down allowed them to score and level at 1-1.
Each team took five strokes each, after which the game was still tied at 2-2, after some outstanding saves from Ballymena’s keeper Lauren Hanna to force a sudden death situation. Ballymena again lead the way with Nicola Greer placing her stroke beyond the North Down keeper and with Hanna saving again from the Down flick low to her right to give the home girls a fantastic win and send them into the quarter-final! The team would like to thanks Andy Linford for umpiring.
Seconds: L.Hanna(GK), N.Greer, E.Clarke, A.Harbison, K.McMaster, S.Montgomery, H.Dickie, E.Alexander, E.Anderson, N.Rea, S.Nicholl, A.Logan, L.Murphy, S.Penny, K.Aiken.
Knock II 0, Ballymena III 4: Laura Logan opened Ballymena’s account after a sustained period of pressure on the Knock defence.
Ballymena’s second goal came from a well worked penalty corner with Charlene Lorimer applying the finishing touch for 2-0.
Into the second half and Knock did mount a bit of a come-back, but the reply was simple as Emma Johnston punished the home team from another penalty corner for a 3-0 lead.
Late in the game Ballymena wrapped it up when a square pass into the circle found Logan again unmarked for her second of the day.
Ballymena 4, NICS III 0: Ballymena welcomed an unbeaten Civil Service to the Academy on Saturday. The home side opened the game at a great tempo and quickly established the lead after an unstoppable drive from Chris Hogg.
As the second half got under way it was Andy Linford who got his name on the score sheet next with a well-timed finish on the reverse. David McDonald then added another with a crashed ball into the circle taking a kind deflection on the way from a Service stick to beat the goalkeeper.
The game was wrapped up with five minutes to go when the industrious Andy Linford added a second to his tally driving the ball home into the bottom corner.
The team would like to thank Davy Lorimer for umpiring.
Ballymena: A. Linford, J. Birrell(GK), C. Hogg, D. McDonald, R. Jess, A. Bell, V. Orr, A. McKeown, A. Lorimer, C. Fulton(C), M. O’Neill, A. Crooks.
Bangor V 4, Ballymena II 3: It was Ballymena who got the first goal when Phil Nicholl beat the keeper from a well-planned penalty corner routine. However minutes later Bangor were level from another penalty flick awarded after a penalty corner, which McConnaghie was unlucky not to stop.
Into the second half and Bangor quickly took the advantage with an early goal. Ballymena again pegged them back from a second penalty corner that saw Jamie Grimason deflect the ball home, off a Nicholl strike. With the wind on their backs Ballymena pushed on as a mazy run from Archer picked out Nicholl again who lifted the ball over the stranded keeper for a 3-2 lead.
Ballymena worked hard in midfield, but Bangor stretched the game at every opportunity, before drawing level yet again at 3-a-piece.
As the match edged towards full time, Ballymena’s luck ran out as a defensive aerial clearance from Bangor split the Ballymena defence allowing the home forward to take the ball ahead of McConnagie to finish and take the game 4-3 and the 3 points.
Ballymena: K. McConaghie, J. Grimason, D. McDowell, A. Hanna(C), P. Nicholl, B. Mills, S. Glass, S. Gordon, W. Barr, P. Moody, E. Archer, E. Hampton.