BALLYMONEY HOCKEY GIRLS PICK UP WHERE THEY LEFT OFF

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Ulster Shield holders Ballymoney began the defence of their title on Saturday at the Joey Dunlop centre. They hosted Civil Service who are newly promoted to Senior 1 this year.

Money were missing a few regulars however had some new blood on the team.

The action started quickly with Ballymoney opening pressure early.

It only took six minutes for Katie Mullan to find the net after a strong drive down left. Mullan’s strong solo effort saw her weave her way along the top of the circle to rocket the ball into the back board giving the keeper no chance.

Play seemed to even out slightly with Civil Service reaching the Ballymoney 25 on occasion and pressuring the Money defence, with occasional force used resulting in some players ending up on the ground.

The first penalty corner was won by Ballymoney and the Mullan straight strike was cleared by the Civil keeper. This relief didn’t last long as Money won another corner and this time Mullan made no mistake hitting low and hard to the keepers left and it was passed her before she could do anything.

Again play did not let up from both sides and Civil won themselves a corner. After the initial save the ball wasn’t cleared and the Civil player made no mistake from close range, 2-1. This did not deter the Ballymoney girls and they won another corner minutes later but again to see it cleared.

On the eve of half time Ballymoney had really switched up the heat and the pressure was on the Civil defence with Angie Huey and Nicki Parke making excellent runs from the right side.

One of these from Huey saw her hit the top of the circle at an angle and the shot went just wide. The half ended 2-1.

The second half began almost as quickly as the first with the Money girls winning a short corner but the strike was saved but resulted in another corner won.

The home team really took hold of this half and the midfield and forwards spent a lot of time in the opposition 25.

A reverse from Parke saw her effort go wide. The defence were also getting in the action while dealing with the breaking forwards of Civil Service, Captain Susie Martin and Gayle Adams in the centre of defence could be found make cutting runs through opposition midfield and approaching the circle.

The visitors were given no peace with Jill Kennedy and Robyn Chambers being ever present on the attack. Kennedy could be found several times in front a goal and could have scored several if it wasn’t for the good defending of Civil Service. However she did get her say when the ball reached in prime position on the penalty spot and as she controlled it the keeper came to her only for the save to fall to Parke who slammed it home.

Shortly after, the final whistle blew. A nervy first game with things to be improved but it was good to get it out of the way.

The Ballymoney team play the next round of the group stages of the Ulster Shield on Wednesday evening at 8pm against Randalstown at the Joey Dunlop centre.