Ladies continue cup-winning momentum on return to league

Ballymena's Clive Fulton in action during his team's league game with Antrim 3rds at Ballymena Academy. INBT 02-222CS
Ballymena's Clive Fulton in action during his team's league game with Antrim 3rds at Ballymena Academy. INBT 02-222CS

Ballymena Hockey Club ladies’ First XI carried on the momentum of their Ulster Senior CUp win as they returned to league action at the weekend.

Mary Glass’s side showed their had put their celebrations firmly behind them as they cruised to a 3-0 home win over Victorians.

Matthew O'Neill turns to celebrate with his team mates after scoring in Ballymena's league game with Antrim 3rds at the Academy. INBT 02-224CS

Matthew O'Neill turns to celebrate with his team mates after scoring in Ballymena's league game with Antrim 3rds at the Academy. INBT 02-224CS

In all areas of the pitch the home side were the better team with goalkeeper Joanne Davis - the heroine of the cup final shootout the previous week - rarely tested.

The deadlock was finally broken 20 minutes into the first half when a free hit from Clare Gillespie was slipped to Reynolds who played it onto Kirsten Young who coolly rounded defended and slipped the ball past the advancing keeper.

Soon after another period of relentless pressure from Ballymena Rebekah Reynolds found herself on the end of a cross from Ellen King in front of goal and wasted no time in doubling Ballymena’s lead.

Towards the end of the game several Ballymena penalty corners were thwarted by the Victorians defence, before Ballymena wrapped the game up with their third from a well taken strike from Rebekah Reynolds to take the match 3-0.

Kerry Aiken in action for Ballymena Ladies 2nds during their league game with Pegasus 2nds at Ballymena Academy. INBT 02-219CS

Kerry Aiken in action for Ballymena Ladies 2nds during their league game with Pegasus 2nds at Ballymena Academy. INBT 02-219CS

Ballymena: J. Davis, S. Morrison, E. Gillespie, G. McBurney, C. McCracken, J. Sutherland, H. Taggart, J. Duncan, C. Gillespie, E. King, R. Murphy, A. Logan, K. Young, R. Reynolds.

SECONDS

Ballymena II 1, Pegasus II 0: Ballymena 2nds started the new year in confident mood with strong midfield play from Emily Alexander and Natalie Rea, providing good forward momentum to the Ballymena attack that held Pegasus in their own half for much of the first half.

Ballymena had numerous chances to take the lead, but were unable to convert through some good defending and goalkeeping. In an excellent first half Ballymena’s defence held just as strong with good work from Hollie Dickey and goal keeper Lauren Hanna with a double save to deny Pegasus the lead at half time.

In the second half, after a few attempts, Ballymena finally made the breakthrough with Lyndsey McClintock finding the back of the net from a training ground set play.

The team would like to thank Hugh Ramsey for umpiring

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

THIRDS

Ballymena III 0, Banbridge III 1: Both sides in this Junior 5 encounter started the match creating good scoring opportunities, although neither team were able to find the goal from a combination of good defensive play and goalkeeping.

Banbridge had more of the possession and this finally paid off just before the half with a goal to take a 1-0 lead, which proved the only goal of the game. The team would like to thank Joanne Davis for umpiring.

Thirds: R. Jones (GK), E. Johnston, S. Smyth, L. Logan, C. Lorimer, L. McClintock, L. Burrows, S. Montgomery, N. Sloane, K. McMaster, R. Reid, J. Lowry, B. Hampton, G. McCready.

MEN

Ballymena 5, Antrim III 0: Ballymena took the lead ten minutes into the game through the ever-alert Andrew Crooks who finished from close range. Andrew Linford added a second shortly after following some good individual work. Matthew O’Neill then made it 3-0 at the close of the first half.

The second half saw Matthew O’Neill add another to his tally with a well worked attack along the baseline allowing him to slot past the Antrim keeper. The pick of the goals was left to the end as Ballymena countered following an Antrim attack and with four passes from ‘D’ to ‘D’ Andrew Lorimer left the keeper no chance as he slammed the ball home for a final score of 5-0.

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

Ballymena II 2, Bangor V 1: Ballymena had several good chances in the first half before they finally converted as Ken Murphy powered the ball to the back post for Ben Mills to open his 2016 account with a strong back post finish to lead 1-0.

Bangor equalised with around 15 minutes to go but Ballymena finally won a penalty corner. The initial shot from Moody deflected to Davy Allen who sold an excellent ‘dummy’ to the defensive line allowing Jamie Grimason to fire the ball home for 2-1 lead.

The team would like to thank Andy Linford for umpiring

Ballymena: K. McConnaghie, J. Grimason, D. McDowell, A. Hanna(C), T. Cole, D. Hamill, E. Archer W. Barr, S. Glass, K. Murphy, P. Moody, B. Mills, S. Gordon, E. Hampton, D. Allen.