Cliftonville ease to Sussex Regiment Cup win over Ballymena

Cliftonville celebrate their Sussex Cup success after defeating Ballymena
Cliftonville celebrate their Sussex Cup success after defeating Ballymena

Ballymena 0 Cliftonville 4

Cliftonville turned the clock back 38 years when they lifted the Sussex Regiment Cup with a comfortable 4-0 win over Ballymena at Deramore.

Two goals in each half clinched the famous Belfast side their first trophy since they claimed the Irish Senior Cup back in 1976.

The Sussex Regiment Cup may not carry the same level of prestige as it is for teams who play in the third tier of Ulster men’s hockey but that didn’t stop the party which began at the final whistle.

The result clinched Clliftonville their fourth win over Ballymena this season but the Co Antrim side fought until the end without troubling the keeper on too many occasions.

In goalkeeper James Birrell, the losers had the man-of-the-match as he pulled off several superb saves, some of which were in the world class category.

Now Cliftonville will be turning their attention to their bid to get back into Senior One having been relegated at the end of last season.

They were on top for most of the 70 minutes and early on Birrell had to be at his best to deny Stuart Anderson and he then bought off an amazing one handed stop from Evan Patterson high to his left.

But the pressure eventually told in the 31st minute when Dale Curragh fired home a penalty corner switch after an assist from William Booker.

Booker was then again the provider a minute before the break when he passed for Anderson to score with a clinical first time shot.

That was a bad blow for Ballymena who would surely have been in with a chance had they managed to go into the second half trailing only by a single goal.

The underdogs rallied briefly at the start of the second half but Cliftonville’s defence was in mean mood as they gave nothing away.

In the 44th minute the game was as good as over as a contest when Cliftonville got their third goal when David Hurley got on the end of a left wing cross from Jarryd Allen to make it 3-0.

Four minutes later Birrell again showed his credentials with another breathtaking save, this time from Christopher Arnott whom he denied at point blank range.

The Ballymena keeper again came to the rescue five minutes from the end when he blocked Stephen Boyd’s shot at close range.

But the brave Birrell had no chance two minutes later when Hurley got his second goal of the day when he again connected with a cross from the left, this time delivered by Nick McKimm.

Ballymena: (from): James Birrell; David McDonald; Andrew Bell; Chris Hogg; Andrew Crooks; Matthew O’Neill; Craig Davis; Clive Fulton; Tim Lowry; Andrew Lorimer; Alex McKeown; Andrew Linford; Ethan Archer; eddie Hampton; Dave Bradley.

Cliftonville: (from) Mark Holmes; Stephen Boyd; Jonny Campbell; Dave Curragh; Matthew Fraser; Alistair Cardy; Nicolas McKimm; David Hurley; Jarryd Allen; Matthew McParland; Christopher Currie; Scott Ternahan; Evan Patterson; Stuart Anderson; Christopher Arnott; William Booker.

Umpires: Martin Haveron and Neal Hermon.