Ballymoney First XI had a break from Ulster league this week and travelled to Dublin to face Muckross in the second round of the Irish senior cup.
The visitors clearly hadn’t shaken off the three hour car journey when Muckross caught Ballymoney off guard early on scoring a short corner in the first 5 minutes to go 1-0 up through Irish international Nikki Daly.
Ballymoney fought back and won two corners of their own in quick succession but failed to make them count. Muckross continued to make life difficult for a travel weary visiting team. However Ballymoney were able to hold on until half time and take the opportunity to regroup.
Half time 1-0 to Muckross.
After a sluggish first half performance from Ballymoney, coach Richard Fairman pulled rank at half time and Ballymoney came out a different team in the second half and began to dictate the play. They were rewarded 10 minutes in when Nikki Parke rattled the back board after some fine interplay with Laura McCurdy down the right hand side.
Ballymoney kept the tempo up and forced Muckross back into the own 23. Sophia Rogers put Ballymoney 2-1 up when she got a neat deflection on the end of an inch perfect pass from Nikki Parke. Muckross forced their way back up the pitch, again with Nikki Daly pulling the strings for the Dublin side. They pulled the game level through another well worked corner with 10 minutes left to play.
Ballymoney forced two corners right at the end of the game but couldn’t find a winner. Full time 2-2 and the game went straight to penalty strokes. Ballymoney keeper Jodie Shannon maintained concentration and saved two Muckross penalties. Bridget Cleland, Nikki Parke and Katherine Minihan all confidently slotted away their penalties to put Ballymoney in the hat for the quarter final draw much to the delight of the Ballymoney supporters who had made the long journey to cheer on the team. The Quarter final draw will be made on Wednesday at Irish hockey headquarters in Dublin.