CHAMPIONSHIP TWO: Gaston praises his young stars

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BALLYMONEY got off to a perfect start when they travelled to Ballyclare Comrades on Saturday.

Getty opened the scoring after just five minutes when he got on the end of a Conor McKenna ball.

Ballymoney should have had a second on 15 minutes, but no one reacted quickly enough when Huxley dropped a Kirgan free kick.

The visitors were hit with a sucker punch on the half hour mark when McKenna was stretchered off following a brutal tackle by a Comrades defender.

Despite the set back, Ballymoney continued to dominate, and on a rare Comrades attack on the half hour McGowan let fly with a rasping drive only to find Moore on top form in the visitor’s goal.

With half time approaching Fleming controlled and slotted a pinpoint pass to Lyons. His shot was deflected into the side netting for a corner.

Ballyclare came out fighting in the second half and forced Ballymoney to defend in numbers.

It was backs to the wall as Ballyclare pushed for the equaliser, but they found the visitors defence hard to break down, and it was Ballymoney on a rare attack who came close when Getty found himself unmarked in the box only to head over with the goal at his mercy.

Ballyclare continued to push forward. They came close on 70 mins when Moore pulled of a great save from McGowan.

Wave after wave of Ballyclare attacks were thwarted by resolute defending, and the game resembled pinball at times, but still the equaliser evaded the home team.

With time running out a great ball from Fleming found Lyons on the left and as he cut in goal wards he spotted Thompson who had made a great run into the box. Lyons cut the ball back across Pierce and Huxley into the path of Thompson who opened his body and stabbed the ball into the net much to the relief of the travelling supporters.

At the other end Ballyclare came close when McGowan struck a good effort, however it was well saved by Moore. He pushed the ball on to the post and out for Brown to drive goal wards and again the ball hit the post and rebounded to McDowell whose shot was cleared of the line by Wilkinson and eventually cleared.

Ballymoney had the last action of the game when a Fleming free kick again found Getty in a great position only to see his header skim the top of the home crossbar.

Gaston was reeling following the challenge on McKenna, who broke his ankle as a reult of the tackle: “We were down to the bare bones on Saturday, so to get a win was pleasing, but we are all devastated for young Conor McKenna who broke his ankle.

“His brother Francis sustained a break a few weeks ago playing against Lurgan Celtic, so that’s two very talented players we have out long term.

“It was a terrible tackle, it should have been a straight red, but the referree said that the defender went for the ball and gave a yellow.”

Despite the set back, Gaston praised his players in what he classed as an “all round team performance.

“All the boys on Saturday were local Ballymoney boys, they gave 110 percent, and that’s all we can ask of them. We have been working hard in training and that is now starting to pay off.”

Ballymoney face a tough test when they travel to Chimney Corner on Saturday. “ Our injury list is getting bigger by the day, “ said Gaston. “Gerard Gillen, Paul Keane and the two McKennas, it’s worrying but we showed what we can do on Saturday, so we will just have to build on this.”

Ballymoney United: Moore, Dempsey, Buckley, Getty, Willy Wilkinson, McClelland, Kirgan, Hugh Og’ Boyle, Lyons, Conor McKenna, Con Og’Boyle.

Subs: Fleming, Thompson, Gaston.


The results of the recent Fireside Quiz for the Friends of the Brook were as follows:

1st Prize Isobel McLester, Carnany Gardens; 2nd Prize Linda Diamond, Quickthorn Park, Coleraine; 3rd Prize Zoey Lee Goodall, Ballysally, Coleraine.

Ballymoney United Indoor Boot Sale every Sunday morning 09-00pm at the Showgrounds, North Road, Ballymoney.