Just two matches involving Ballymena Hockey Club teams survived the wintry conditions at the weekend.
Among them, the ladies First XI exited the Irish Hockey Trophy at the quarter-final stage after an agonising penalty shootut defeat in Galway.
Galway 1, Ballymena 1 (AET, Galway win 4-2 on penalty flicks): Ballymena ladies travelled down to Galway on Friday night, in preparation for their Saturday game and the plan certainly did the trick as the Braid girls took the lead within the opening minute through Kirsten Young after Emma Gillespie played her into the Galway circle!
The remainder of the half was an even battle fought in the midfield, with Reynolds, Storey and Gillespie doing their utmost to keep their early lead.
Into the second half and it was Galway who levelled the score from an open play move despite some strong defending and excellent goal keeping by Joanne Logan.
With neither team adding to their scores, extra time arrived and again chances were there for both teams but again both defences were up to the task and saw out both periods of extra time, leaving it to penalty flicks to decide the outcome.
In the end it was Galway who came out the better winning 4-2 on flicks.
Although disappointed, the Ballymena girls can now concentrate on keeping their top 4 league place to ensure Premier hockey for next season!
Newcastle 7, Ballymena 0: Ballymena travelled to league newcomers Newcastle, with eight regular team players absent, but thankful of a cancelled 2nd XI match that saw five players step in to help their senior counterparts!
The milder climate certainly didn’t extend to the play on the pitch as Ballymena were put straight into defensive mode by a fast paced home attack!
Early on these attacks were repelled but eventually Ballymena succumbed to the pressure with two open play goals in the first half. When Ballymena did get forward it seemed the weeks of inactivity on the pitch had taken its toll, with some wayward passing and miss-control by all. Just at the end of the half Newcastle took a 3-0 lead after several penalty corners.
In the second half Ballymena were more effective with Nicholl, Lorimer and O’Neill all having chances on goal, but a very fast Newcastle keeper was keen to keep a clean sheet.
Newcastle continued to hit on the break and as Ballymena legs flagged Newcastle continue to score almost at will. Although Andy Crooks and James Birrell in goal were resilient to the last and kept the home side to four more second half goals!
All in all a tough lesson for the Ballymena men, who will hope to improve in the weeks ahead.
Ballymena: J Birrell (GK), C Fulton(c), A Crooks, K Murphy, A Linford, A Hanna, A Bell, M O’Neill, P Nicholl, A Lorimer, P Moody, J Russell.