Ballymoney First XI have reached the quarter finals of the biggest hockey competition in Ireland - the Irish Senior Cup. The girls from the Toon have a great record when it comes to the competition and have regularly featured in the last eight over the years.
On their way to the final Ballymoney demolished Cork COI 7-2 at home and then they travelled to Dublin to play Muckross which was a much tighter affair. The girls went straight into a penalty shoot out and were triumphant 3-1 winners.
The Toon team have a very subtle blend of youth and experience in the squad this year. Anna Nawn and Elle Kirgan have both recently turned 15 but these two schoolgirls have played on the Ulster U16 squad and both have been selected for the Irish U16 panel.
The panel includes schoolgirls Suzannah Brown who has been selected for the Ulster U18 panel, Limavady Grammar School’s goal keeper Jodie Shannon who has recently joined the Ulster U21 training panel and Coleraine Grammar School student Catherine Gawne. These young ladies are guided and encouraged by the experienced players of the team and stalwarts of the club, Aine Kearney this year’s captain, Nikki Parke former Irish international and Bridget Cleland who holds 150 caps for Ireland.
The squad has worked hard this season and their efforts are being rewarded as they are gradually creeping up the standings of the Ulster Premier league. Ballymoney coach Richard Fairman is under no illusion of the task that is ahead of the girls on Saturday when they travel to Dublin to play Hermes. Hermes have won all their matches in their league so far this year, but it is the Irish Senior Cup and anything can happen. This will be a great experience for the young Ballymoney side, good luck to all travelling to Dublin on Saturday.
Ballymoney Thirds came out fighting as they started the match off with high intensity play which won them an early goal by Emma Creelman. The girls kept the pressure on their opponents as they kept the play in Annadale’s circle however suffered a few misses on goal. Three short corner penalties were awarded giving the girls more opportunity to advance on their early goal however Annadale girls bit back with some aggressive tackling.
In the second half Ballymoney’s star player Lauren Henry delivered the goods with an impressive second goal from the edge of the circle. Annadale scored with ten minutes to go, however the very dependable defenders were able to hold on to their 2-1 lead until the whistle blew.