Ballymena Hockey Club First XI’s dreams of Irish Trophy glory were ended at the opening hurdle of the competition on Saturday.
The local girls went down to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Catholic Institute at Ballymena Academy.
This first round game saw two evenly matched sides competing in different ways as Ballymena worked their passing game and CI depending on quick breaks. Ballymena opened the scoring through a well worked penalty corner strike from Emma Gillespie, only to have this equalised by another penalty corner from CI for 1-1.
The visitors used this goal to their advantage and continued to pressure the Ballymena defence, which reaped rewards in a second goal before the break in a goal mouth scramble and a 2-1 lead at half time.
Into the second half and Ballymena forced their opponents to defend, turning the ball over in midfield time and again, winning several penalty corners, that went unconverted! CI gradually worked their way back into the game, forcing Davis to save, before Ellen King found Kirsten Young in the opposition circle to level the match at 2-2.
All to play for as extra time loomed, but it was CI who took the advantage and a 3-2 lead, as both teams went for the win!
In the dying seconds Ballymena’s Amy Logan won a penalty corner, but the girls failed to convert to leave CI with the victory.
Ballymena: J. Davis (GK), S. Morrison, J. Sutherland, S. Nicholl, A. Crooks, C. Gillespie(C), E. King, E. Gillespie, H. Taggart, A. Logan, K. Young, G. McBurney, C. McCracken, V. Hogg.
Lurgan II 0, Ballymena II 1: Ballymena 2nds made a strong start in their game against Lurgan, confidently passing the ball and delivering good through balls into the channels for their forwards to run onto. This led to some early short corners which were not converted.
Lurgan settled into the game and for a period of 10 minutes, Ballymena were under severe pressure, but defensively remained strong denying Lurgan any chance of the lead. Before the half Ballymena again finished strongly as they broke down Lurgan’s play deep in their own half and turned defense into attack but sadly no goals at the half time break.
Both teams though pushed hard for the win and after a period of intense end to end hockey, Ballymena found themselves a goal to the good, with Kerry Aiken stunning the opposition as she found the back of the net to lead 1-0.
Lurgan pushed hard to equalize towards the end, but several key saves from goalkeeper Lauren Hanna and tackles from Emma Clarke around the circle gave the girls their first league victory of the season. Thanks to Trevor Topping for umpiring.
Seconds: L. Hanna(GK), N. Greer, H. Dickey, E. Anderson, E. Alexander, S. Montgomery, E. Clarke, A. Harbinson, R. Murphy, L. McClintock, N. Rea, L. Logan, K. Aiken(C), L. Murphy, A. Logan.
Portadown IV 0, Ballymena 8: Ballymena 1sts travelled to Portadown on Saturday hoping to continue their unbeaten league form and were quick off the mark finding themselves ahead with an opening goal from Andrew Lorimer within minutes!
Further goals followed from Alex McKeown and Matthew O’Neil and another couple from Lorimer to get his hat-trick for a 5-0 lead at the break.
Ballymena again were quick to add to the scoring as the second half commenced with Victor Orr latching onto a through ball and finishing on the reverse. Another each for McKeown and O’Neil wrapped up a comfortable win.
Thanks to Davy Lorimer for umpiring.
Ballymena: A. Linford(GK), C. Fulton (C), C. Hogg, D. McDonald, R. Jess, A. Bell, E. Archer, V. Orr, M. Allison, A. McKeown, A. Lorimer, M. O’Neill.
Ballymena II 1, Saintfield 4: The Men’s 2nds expected a tough game on Saturday against a Saintfield side who had dropped down out Senior hockey to Junior 6 to rebuild their Club, but managed to open the scoring against the visitors from a timely strike from Phil Moody!
However, within minutes Ballymena found themselves a goal down at 2-1 as Saintfield used their pace to cut through the Ballymena defence. Ballymena worked hard to stay on terms but again the visitors netted two more goals to take a 4-1 lead into the break.
Into the second half and Ballymena found a bit more space to play in, as Saintfield tired, which gave Ballymena’s forwards the chance to attack but they just couldn’t find the final touch to convert several opportunities. Thanks to Joanne Logan for umpiring.
Ballymena: J. Birrell, J. Grimason, E. Hampton, D. McDowell, A. Hanna(C), T. Cole, W. Barr, S. Glass, P. Nicholl, K. Murphy, P. Moody, S. Gordon, B. Mills.