Ballymena Hockey Club ladies’ Second XI brought more glory to the club by clinching a league titel at the end of a successful season last week.
Davy Allen’s side wrapped up the Junior League Two title with a 1-0 midweek victory over Portadown II at the Showgrounds.
Ballymena knew that a win would crown them champions, but their opposition were not to be dismissed having won their last five matches!
Nerves were evident from the start as Portadown piled on the early pressure, but the Ballymena defence that conceded so few goals all season remained strong, throughout the half.
Into the second half and again both teams were physically strong giving away very little ground.
Portadown forced a save early on from an aerial flick at goal which keeper Hanna deflected away from danger, to spark Ballymena into life.
Applying more and more pressure as the game progressed Ballymena forced Portadown to make mistakes and right flank attacks worked well for the home team, but still no goal.
Into the last 2 minutes and sheer determination from Clarke and Reid took the play to Portadown, when with only a minute to go, the ball found Aimee Logan in the circle to squeeze the ball over the line and give Ballymena the lead.
Portadown restarted the game and pressed in Ballymena’s right corner, but coolly the defence worked the ball out and on the final whistle took the game, points and the Junior League 2 crown amongst relief and celebrations from players and supporters alike!
With successive promotions the Ladies 2nds have shown that their dedication and determination can reap rewards and now look forward to continuing this in another new league next season.
The girls would like to thank Davy Allen for all his hard work and effort as Coach as well as those who umpired and supported them at all their games in what turned out to be a memorable season.
Seconds: L. Hanna (GK), A. Harbinson, K. McMaster, H. Dickey, N. Rea, A. Logan, S. Reid, L. McClintock, L. Logan, K. Aiken, R. Murphy, L. Murphy, E. Clarke, N. Greer(c), J. Sutherland.
Cookstown III 0, Ballymena Thirds 2: Ballymena 3rds travelled to Cookstown needing a win to secure a 4th place finish in the league with 1 more match to play.
Ballymena settled into their passing game and 15 minutes into the first half a clinical attack down the right hand side.
It ended with Jessica Duncan beating several of the Cookstown defenders with her skilful stick work before her deflected shot was finished by Lorna Murphy to give the away side a 1-0 lead.
Ballymena were able to keep further Cookstown attacks at bay through strong defending and goal keeping and just before the end of the half another excellent run from Duncan ended in a goal mouth scramble that saw Murphy double her tally for the day and hand a 2-0 lead to Ballymena.
Thirds: L. Hanna(GK), D. Lipsett, L. McClintock, J. Lowry(C), H. Dickey, E. Johnston, J. Duncan, J. Dickson, L. Logan, L. McClintock, L. Murphy
Ballymena II 6, Bangor IV 0: Despite the final emphatic scoreline, for the majority of the first half Ballymena found themselves chasing the ball as Bangor played strong possession hockey moving the ball around the pitch and frustrating the home side midfield!
Pressing higher up the pitch in the last 10 minutes of the first half brought the first goal of the game as Moody broke into the circle to pass to Nicholl who slipped the ball home for a 1-0 lead.
Into the second half and with more energy, Ballymena began to play their own style of hockey as first Murphy volleyed in a deflection from Archer and then Nicholl again for a cheeky touch through his legs to confound his marker and keeper for a 3-0 lead.
Phil Moody added a fourth, before Murphy doubled his tally, leaving Nicholl to wrap it up with his hat-trick for five second half goals with reply from Bangor!
Although Bangor had played nice hockey throughout, it was Ballymena’s direct and clinical finishing in the second half that had won the game, as well as some strong performances from younger members Glass and Cole, who worked tirelessly to create many of the opportunities.
The team would like to thank Davy Lorimer and Dave Bradley for umpiring.
Squad: J. Birrell(GK), E. Archer, D. McDowell, D. Allen, T. Cole, W. Barr, A. McKelvey, P. Moody, A. Hanna(C) K. Murphy, S. Glass, P. Nicholl,