Hockey ladies aim to begin year with trophy win

The Ballymena First XI squad. Back row (from left): Mary Glass (Coach), 'Stephanie Storey (Ladies Club Captain), Joanne Davis, Grace McBurney, Catherine McCracken, Susanne Morrison, Claire Gillespie (Captain), Emma Gillespie, Jessica Duncan, Anne Crooks. Front row (from left): Kirsten Young, Rachael Murphy, Holly Taggart, Ellen King, Aimee Logan, Jenny Sutherland.
The Ballymena First XI squad. Back row (from left): Mary Glass (Coach), 'Stephanie Storey (Ladies Club Captain), Joanne Davis, Grace McBurney, Catherine McCracken, Susanne Morrison, Claire Gillespie (Captain), Emma Gillespie, Jessica Duncan, Anne Crooks. Front row (from left): Kirsten Young, Rachael Murphy, Holly Taggart, Ellen King, Aimee Logan, Jenny Sutherland.

Ballymena Hockey Club ladies’ First XI are aiming to start 2016 on a trophy-winning note this weekend.

For the second time in three seasons Ballymena will play in the Final of the Ulster Senior Cup at Coleraine Hockey Club.

Having won the trophy, back in 2014, Ballymena will be relying on their experience and early results this season against their opponents on the day, Raphoe Ladies 1st XI, as they attempt to bring the Cup back once again to Ballymena.

Both teams are currently evenly matched in respect of their league form with 17 points so far this season with only goal difference separating them.

But as both teams have already experienced, cup hockey can be an entirely different game to the league programme!

Each team forced their semi-final opponents to extra time and indeed penalty stokes, before sealing their place in the final, so Saturday could be a long day again!

Coach Mary Glass, in her fourth season in charge of Ballymena’s 1st XI, commended the girls on their commitment thus far this season.

She praised their “professional approach towards their training sessions and match day preparations, which along with their great team spirit will give the girls the confidence to play to the best of their ability, even with the pressure of a cup final.”

Ladies Club Captain and team Manager for the Final, Stephanie Storey, side-lined for the game due to an injury sustained earlier in the season, wished the girls well in the decider.

“I look forward to watching the girls play with the determination and drive they have shown thus far this season, playing the sport they all love so much!” she said.

Here, Times Sport profiles the ladies aiming to bring the silverware back to Ballymena in Saturday’s final, to be played at Coleraine Hockey Club.

Joanne Davis – PE teacher from Cloughmills and Goalkeeper whose agile work between the posts saved 2 penalty Strokes in the semi-final.

Susanne Morrison – Lawyer from Templepatrick, plays the Sweeper role and is the most experienced player for Ballymena and former Ulster representative, hoping that Ballymena’s wonderful team spirit will see the girls through to success.

Emma Gillespie – PE teacher, living in Ahoghill playing at Centre Back in the heart of the defence

Catherine McCracken – Works in retail and photography from Ballymena, in her second cup final playing at Left Back

Grace McBurney – Civil Servant from Ballymena, commands the Right Back position with her strength and determination going forward with the ball

Jenny Sutherland – A student from Ballymena and utility Defender who likes attacking with the ball from the back

Jessica Duncan – A Student from Ballymena who plays Midfield, works tirelessly for the team

Holly Taggart – Student from Ballymena Academy, in her first Senior Cup final, playing in Midfield and hoping to add a winner’s medal to her Ulster and Ireland U18 Caps

Rachael Murphy – Teacher, living in Kells and playing as an attacking Midfielder, from a family all playing hockey at Club level.

Anne Crooks – Teacher from Coleraine and Midfielder with the ability to control the game.

Kirsten Young – Pharmacy Dispenser from Ballymena and Forward with blistering pace to take the attack to the opposition.

Clare Gillespie – NHS employee from Kells and team Captain, plays as a Forward with great strength and determination. Sees this as a great achievement for the squad and is confident that their hard work and effort with bring repeated success this time round!

Aimee Logan – A Student, living in Ahoghill who plays in the Forward line with a powerful strike that has already brought several key victories this season

Ellen King – A Student from Ballymena Academy and former Ulster representative playing in the Forward line with pace and tricky skills to outsmart any defender

Rebekah Reynolds – A Graduate from Ballymena playing in Midfield or Forward, with determination, skill and the will to get the result.