Crucial victory in Donegal keeps ladies in promotion hunt

Nichola Greer in action for Ballymena Ladies 2nds against Lurgan 2nds in Saturday's game at Ballymena Academy. INBT 09-196CS

Nichola Greer in action for Ballymena Ladies 2nds against Lurgan 2nds in Saturday's game at Ballymena Academy. INBT 09-196CS

Ballymena Hockey Club ladies’ First XI claimed another potentially vital victory in their push for promotion at the weekend.

The ladies made the long trip to Donegal to face Raphoe and returned with the points after a 1-0 victory.

Ballymena's Andy Linford in action during Saturday's win over Civil Service at the Academy. INBT 09-193CS

Ballymena's Andy Linford in action during Saturday's win over Civil Service at the Academy. INBT 09-193CS

After two successive scoreless draws the girls knew the importance of the challenge ahead and 3 points was a must! It was clear from the first whistle Ballymena had a win on their mind, starting with determination and fight and the away team’s early pressure put Raphoe under tremendous strain at the back, but Ballymena couldn’t convert.

With few attacking chances, Raphoe became frustrated and Ballymena were awarded a penalty corner, which was saved from a Logan straight strike, but a second soon after saw Emma Gillespie slip the pass through to Clare Gillespie who coolly slotted the ball home from a reverse shot!

Raphoe in the final ten minutes of the half had Ballymena on back foot but the defence held strong to the break to keep their tenuous lead.

The second half saw Raphoe continue where they left off, attacking the Ballymena back line but Logan in goal rose to the occasion to deny several key penalty corners. In the final moments Ballymena almost doubled their lead in a goal mouth scramble with Young and Gillespie but neither could convert.

Ballymena: J. Davis(GK), G. McBurney, C. McCracken, E. Alexander, A. Logan, E. Gillespie, H. Taggart, J. Duncan, C. Gillespie, E. King, K. Young, A. Logan, E. Clarke.

SECONDS

Ballymena II 0, Lurgan II 0: The ladies 2nds were hopeful of a double victory over a Lurgan side they had beaten earlier in the season to add to their point tally to keep them out of the relegation battle in Junior 1.

From the off there was great defensive play by Hollie Dickey and Emily Alexander stopping the Lurgan attacks down the wings, while Emily Anderson attacked well in midfield with long balls across the middle of the pitch changing the direction of play.

The best chance of the match came from a Rachel Murphy pass across the goal mouth to Lorna Murphy whose accurate shot was saved by the Lurgan goalkeeper to stop Ballymena going ahead.

Despite a scoreless final score, Ballymena were happy to come away with 4 points out of the two fixtures and keep the fight alive, staying ahead of Dromore and Randalstown.

The team would like to thank Hugh Ramsey for umpiring.

Seconds: L. Hanna (GK), N. Greer, E. Clarke, H. Dickey, E. Alexander, E. Anderson, N. Rea, L. McClintock, R. Murphy, L. Murphy, K. Aiken, A. Logan, S. Montgomery, G. McCready, S. Reid, S. Storey.

THIRDS

Greenisland II 0, Ballymena III 1: Ballymena made the trip to Carrickfergus on Saturday to continue their league campaign against GreenIsland. Early passages of play were exchanged within the middle third, with both teams’ defences holding strong. Knox and Harbinson held strong down the middle and McClintock and Burrows negated any attempts from the flank. Barr, Montgomery and Kernohan marshalled the mid-field and drove forward at every opportunity.

Short corners were exchanged and shots sent wide. Towards half time, Harbinson ventured into the opposition half for a penalty corner, rattled the post with a powerful strike.

Midway through the second half with Hampton and Mann providing the wide options, Montgomery pounced upon a loose ball and struck home the only goal of the game. Logan could have doubled the score late on but for some frantic defending by the home team.

Thanks to Alister Hanna for umpiring

Thirds: R. Jones(GK), L. Burrows, A. Harbinson, M. Knox, L. McClintock, R. Barr, S. Montgomery, L. Logan, G. Mann, B. Hampton, J. Kernohan, D, Thompson.

MEN

Ballymena 7, NICS IV 1: Ballymena progressed to the semi-final of the Minor Cup with a comfortable 7-1 home win against NICS on Saturday.

Andrew Linford opened Ballymena’s account just minutes into the first half. This was quickly added to with yet another short range finish from Davis and then a strong bottom corner strike from Mark Allison. NICS did pull one back but Ballymena immediately responded with Matthew O’Neill tapping in from a Linford reverse stick cross.

After the half time break Ballymena found the net again through Mark Allison and Alex McKeown. A ferocious top corner strike from Linford finished the game off with the final score 7-1.

Thanks to D. Lorimer for umpiring.

Ballymena: J Birrell(GK), C Hogg, D McDonald, R Jess, A Bell, A Mckelvey, C Fulton(C), M Allison, A Lorimer, A McKeown, M O’Neill, C Davis, A Linford.