Ballymoney United Under-11s lift league title

BUYA U11’S 1 MAGHERAFELT 0

BALLYMONEY knew a victory would secure the league title but they also knew Magherafelt would provide tough opposition for them.
Early into the game it was evident this was going to be a tough midfield battle with Magherafelt being the stronger team and putting the Ballymoney defence under pressure especially from corners.

Harry Mitchell was standing in for Alistair Gardiner in nets and he produced an excellent save when he tipped one around the post. For all Magherafelt’s dominance this was their only shot on target. HT 0-0.

Ballymoney had played well in the first half, defending superbly, but they had lay too deep and invited trouble. The second half the Ballymoney boys bossed midfield and it was now their turn to apply the pressure but the clock was ticking down. Padraig McGilligan was outstanding in midfield and when Chad O’Neill was called upon in defence he didn’t miss a ball.
Colm Darragh was unlucky when his first time strike hit the post and it fell kindly to Magherafelt’s keeper. Now entering the last ten minutes, Matthew Knight was switched to the left side of midfield, and Jamie Mc Cooke, replaced the hard working Colm Darragh.
Matthew Knight now looked dangerous every time he picked up the ball and was unlucky not to score on a couple of occasions.

Finally the breakthrough came when once again Matthew Knight’s shot was well saved but who else was there to slot the ball home but Conall Doherty.

This was Conall’s 29th goal in thirteen league games this season. He has also scored 8 goals in three cup games.

With six minutes left the boys fought hard for every ball and seen out the remaining minutes with a few anxious moments. The final whistle sounded, the boys celebrated wildly clinching their first league title.

I would like to thank all the parents who have supported us throughout the year and also the many teams who sent messages of congratulations on winning the league - much appreciated.

Man of Match: Padraig Gilligan.

BUYA U8’S 1 BERTIE PEACOCKS 4

-The under 8’s returned to action at Ballysally against Bertie Peacocks fresh from their recent exploits in Dublin.

The boys found themselves under pressure early on as Peacocks took the game to Ballymoney and this pressure paid off as Peacocks took the lead. They increased the lead when a corner was deflected in which meant the boys trailed two nil at half time.

Ballymoney came out in the second half and got themselves into the game when Rhys Keys finished excellently and at this stage the game could have went either way.

In the end it wasn’t the result Ballymoney had hoped for but there were still a lot of positives to come out game as the boys acquitted themselves well.

Man of Match: Aaron Archibald.

BUYA U9’s 2 OAK ATHLETIC 1

This was a do or die double header for the 9s as they played for a semi final berth in the cup as well as 3 league points.

Ballymoney started on the front foot but lost their early initiative as Oak battled back and made Ballymoney pay for a defensive lapse and not tracking back when despite a fine double save by White the Oak forward still had time to find the net at his third opportunity after 6 minutes.

The boys heads didn’t go down and the rest of the first half was an excellent advert for the league with both midfields and defence standing strong.

At half time Ballymoney knew that the next 20 minutes would dictate the rest of their season and the boys again started on the front foot and this time they capitalised when great midfield pressure led to McCollum levelling things after 22 minutes.

Ballymoney rode their luck after this with Oak hitting the woodwork. This was the kick Ballymoney needed and Kelly, McLaughlin and Stinson began to run the midfield and with Mc Collum not letting the Oak defence settle Ballymoney were on the front foot and this was rewarded on 34 minutes when Stinson scored what proved to be the winner.

The last 5 minutes were hectic with the back 3 of White, Kirk and Patton dealing with everything thrown at them. The game went down 2 the wire with Patton clearing off the line with the last kick of the ball. This performance was all the better for the grit and heart the boys showed in a battle. This keeps the boys hopes of  a league and cup double just about alive.

Man of Match: Andy Stinson.

BUYA U9’s ATHLETIC 1 COLERAINE ATHLETIC 5

This was a very entertaining first half with the game being separated by a 14th minute strike, Coleraine punishing Ballymoney for a defensive error. They doubled their lead half way through the second half but Ballymoney fought back with a ferocious left foot strike from Robinson. Ballymoney failed to capitalise on this and their Premiership opponents soon regained their 2 goal cushion and ran out easy winners.

There is no doubt that Ballymoney have some decent individuals in this team, the frustrating thing being that they are still finding it difficult to gel as a team. Hopefully this will happen over the summer and they will be able to more than hold their own next season.

Man of Match:  Joseph Maybin.

BUYA U10’s 1 MAIDEN CITY 2

The U10’s were still buzzing after a very successful Easter tour in Dublin and were back in action at Ballysally this week playing in the cup against Maiden City.

The previous league match against City saw Ballymoney come away with a convincing victory, but from the outset it was obvious that this game was going to be no walkover with City fielding a completely different team with some players standing head and shoulders above Ballymoney’s 2003 team.

Money played the game in their usual manner passing the ball well through the midfield and forward players with tough tackling Matthew McNeill stepping in for the injured Cameron Milliken.

Ballymoney were controlling the early part of the game and were very unfortunate not to be 2 goals up after Joel Christie and Adam McComb hit the crossbar with venomous strikes.

Money took a deserved lead when McComb collected the ball from Money keeper Thomas McNabb and from inside his own half struck an outrageous effort, which sailed past a frozen City keeper.

The Ballymoney boys kept trying to play their passing style of football using the width of the pitch to great effect but were finding it increasingly difficult to compete with the outstretched arm tactics of City and with Money getting little protection from the official the lads were getting frustrated.

Maiden City managed to draw level after a well taken goal left McNabb in goal with no chance. City then took the lead before halftime with a contentious free kick decision.

At 2-1 and playing the better football the tie was still well within Moneys grasp, but the big City defender was proving a mountainous task to negate. Jacob Craig came close hitting the post and Scott Gardiner and Padraig Kelly at the back stood firm to help keep a 2nd half clean sheet. The team can be proud of a quality footballing display where sometimes the best team doesn’t always win.

Man of Match: Jacob McKeeman-Craig.

BUYA Colts 4 BALLYCASTLE 2

After having no match for three weeks the Colts were keen to get back playing football and were in action in the cup this week against a strong Ballycastle side. The Colts started brightly but were finding it tough to create an opening against an equally bright Ballycastle.

Ten minutes into the game Ballymoney were pressing hard and when the ball fell to Matthew Drain who was well placed on the edge of the box he struck with perfect precision to guide the ball through a number of bodies and past the Ballycastle keeper.

The lads were now growing in confidence and Charlie Carson in goal pulled of a fantastic save to keep the score at 1-0.

Joshua Stockman, Declan Convery and Cathal Darragh were stringing together some great passes to slice open the Ballycastle defence. Striker Cathal Darragh was next on the scoresheet after getting on the end of one such slick passing move.

Even at 2-0 the game still had to be won as Ballycastle proved when they pulled one back at the start of the 2nd half. This didn’t deter the boys and they continued to play from the back with Mark Faulkner and David Barrett looking confident on the ball.

The introduction of Ben McKissick helped Ballymoney keep control of the midfield allowing Declan Convery on the left to advance forward with great effect when he restored the Colts 2 goal advantage with a cool finish.

Padraig and Finn entered the action and the Colts were playing some lovely attacking football with Convery bagging his 2nd of the match with an impressive sidefoot finish.

With the lads feeling the job was done Ballycastle created an opening and finished well to leave a nervy last 5 minutes but saw out the tie with an impressive 4-2 victory.

Man of Match: Declan Convery.

* In the Quarter-Finals of the Northern Ireland Boys’ Cup, Ballymoney United Under-14s lost 6-0 to Linfield. Ballymoney man of the match was Deaglan Smith.

* Due to pressure on space this week we will run a full report and pictures of Ballymoney United Youth Academy’s trip to Dublin next week.