Ballymena Mini and Juniors closed out their first 10-week session of hockey on Friday with a visit from Santa and sponsor Michelin’s Bibendum.
Ballymena Hockey Club Mini Coordinator Mary Glass thanked all her coaches and helpers throughout the session and for all the preparation on Friday night.
Mary said: “Numbers attending have increased again from last year and working with these young, talented individuals continues to provide excellent players for our U15 and Senior teams – it really is fantastic!”
Ballymena Mini and Junior’s continue to receive sponsorship from Michelin PLC and it was great to have Bibendum at Friday’s event to mingle with the children and join in on the celebrations.
The Club would like to thank Michelin for all their active support for the Club’s Mini and Junior projects and look forward to continuing this in the year ahead.
North Down IV 0, Ballymena III 4: Ballymena travelled to Comber on a dry and sunny afternoon for their cup encounter with North Down.
The visitors started strong and midway through the half Julie Kernohan seized a difficult opportunity to put Ballymena one up.
The experience of the home team thwarted a number of Ballymena attacks but the sustained pressure saw Captain Joann Lowry grab the second with a sweet strike into the corner.
Following a tactical substitution, Laura Logan almost scored within her first minute of play, as Sarah Montgomery followed up for a third, to put Ballymena well ahead.
Not content with her maiden goal, Lowry was rewarded with another fine goal from a well taken penalty corner. Her powerful strike crept inside the post.
Notwithstanding the result, the true winner was the spirit, pace, performance and attitude of all 14 squad members which puts them into the hat for the next round
Fourths: K Richmond (GK), R Reid, J Sutherland, J Fulton, S Montgomery, J Lowry, J Duncan, E Johnston, V Cooper, C Lorimer, J Kernohan, J Kennedy, H Dickie, Z Dickson, L McClintock.
Armagh 2, Ballymena 2 (aet, Ballymena win on penalty flicks): Ballymena Men faced Armagh in the semi-final of Sussex regiment cup at Belfast Harlequins.
In a fast paced first half, Ballymena took the lead 15 minutes into the game from a touch from Phil Moody from a ball fired into the circle.
Into the second half and after initial pressure from Ballymena, Armagh levelled the score from a well worked open play move. Ballymena soon had the lead again after an individual run from Andy Linford who squared to Andy Lorimer who struck the ball low into the corner for 2-1.
With the match wide open Armagh won a penalty corner and duly converted with ease at the post to make it 2-2 and force the tie to extra time.
Again both halves brought chances, mainly through penalty corners, with Armagh having a slight advantage, pulling two excellent saves from James Birrell, but the score remained level and the match went to penalty flicks.
Again Birrell gave Ballymena a great start saving the first and a second Armagh miss gave Ballymena 2-0 lead. Two further conversions from both teams took it to 3-1, but a miss from Armagh, gave Ballymena the game with a 3-1 win in flicks and a final to look forward to in the New Year!
Ballymena: J Birrell (GK), A Crooks, D McDonald, A Linford, T Lowry, A Bell, A McKelvey, M O’Neill, A McKeown, A Lorimer, C Davis, P Moody, E Hampton.
Portadown IV 2, Ballymena II 0: The Men’s 2nds travelled to Edenvilla in Portadown, looking to progress their league position in the run up to Christmas, against a well-drilled Portadown 4ths.
Quick passing interchanges and running off the ball soon brought results for the home side who took the lead inside the first quarter.
Goalkeeper Birrell kept Ballymena in the game with a number of first half saves, including from a penalty flick, awarded against the unlcky Grimason as a goal bound shot struck his body.
No matter what Ballymena could create nothing was going their way and as the pressure built on the Portadown goal, release came in a quick 4 on 2 attack that ended Ballymena hopes in the dying minutes of the game.
Although another defeat for this squad, it certainly was another improved performance all round with the schoolboys continuing to improve.
Seconds: J Birrell (GK), E Archer, J Grimason, D McDowell, A Hanna, D Bradley, T Cole, W Barr, J Russell, K Murphy, S Glass, E Hampton.