Ards were crowned Ulster women’s indoor champions for the eighth year in a row on Sunday at the Queen’s PE Centre.
It was a close run thing though as they got the verdict over Mossley only on goal difference after coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with the Newtownabbey side, with both teams winning their remaining matches. Crucially, the champions beat North Down 5-0 in their final game and that set Mossley the target of defeating Queen’s by six clear goals to take the title.
However, despite a hat-trick from the tournament’s leading scorer, French international Andrea Desneaux, they had to settle for a 3-1 victory. Ards will now join the other provincial champions in the finals at the Antrim Forum on Sunday week, with the winners qualifying for Europe next year.
Outdoors, Lurgan stay four points clear at the top of the Ulster Premier League after beating struggling Ballymena 1-0 in a dour struggle on Saturday, Sarah McClure’s second minute penalty corner strike proving decisive.
Lurgan coach Robbie McMinn said: “We kept the ball well but we’re not clicking in the attacking third although it’s a good start to the year with two wins and a clean sheet today.”
Ballymoney stay second after they comfortably defeated Rainey 5-1 at the Joey Dunlop Centre to leave the Magherafelt side anchored to the foot of the table.
Money led 3-1 at the break after goals from Jan Hamilton, Nikki Parke and Lucy Millar, with Charlotte Beggs replying, and added two more after the break through Cathryn Knipe and Katherine Minihan.
Dungannon recovered from their midweek loss to Lurgan to keep their Irish Hockey League II hopes alive for next season with a 2-1 win over Lisnagarvey at the Tyrone venue. Laura White gave the hosts the lead in the 12th minute and made it 2-0 before Rachel Houston’s consolation.
In Senior One, Omagh stay in pole position following a 4-1 win over Club KV in the late slot at the Dub. Raphoe are still on Omagh’s coat tails after Sabrina Barnett hit both goals in a hard fought 2-1 home win over Portadown. Aimee Buchanan, who got two, Emma Shortt and Lisa Long got the Omagh goals with Charlotte Little replying.
On the international front, the Barr twins Serena and Bethany made impressive senior international debuts as Ireland drew 0-0 and 2-2 with Chile in the first two matches of the four-test series in Santiago.
The Lurgan 23-year-olds were among six Ulster players in the squad as Ireland played their first official internationals since lifting the silver medals at the World Cup in August.
However, there was more injury woe for Londonderry woman Megan Frazer, who broke her hand in a training accident and will play no further part in the warm weather training camp after undergoing surgery. Frazer had been out for almost two years with a serious knee injury and then missed the World Cup final after damaging her hamstring.
In the first game, Ireland had the better opportunities but were unable to capitalise, Roisin Upton going closest from a second-half penalty corner.
Ireland coach Graham Shaw said: “I thought we started the game very well and needed to score after being so dominant in the first half.”
“I thought the debutants played well for their first game. Chile came into it in the second half but we still had enough chances to win the game. The only disappointment is not scoring after getting ourselves into some excellent positions.”
Meanwhile, Ireland’s Under 21s finished their three-match series against Great Britain’s Under 23s on a successful note when they drew 1-1 after losing the first two games in Alicante.
Queen’s player Erin Getty set up the equaliser for Laura Foley after GB had taken an early lead. Coach Dave Passmore praised the contributions of Ellen Reid (Banbridge) and Getty, who were among the six Ulster girls in the squad.
He said: “It was a really pleasing second half performance today after a sluggish start and we had chances to win the game which is promising given the age of the group.”
“The five days have provided a great platform for the development moving forwards but the players need to bring their learning and development to club games now too.
“There has been some great individual performances too with Hannah Humphries playing exceptionally in goal today and young Ellen Reid fitted in really well. It’s also good to see Erin showing signs of her ability and leadership on the pitch.”
In the men’s Anderson Cup, Andy Williamson hit four of the goals as Lisnagarvey were emphatic 8-3 winners over South Antrim, making the second leg a formality. Kilkeel, helped by two Luke Russell goals produced a bit of an upset when they defeated EYHL side Annadale 3-2 to set up an intriguing second instalment.
The tie between Mossley and Instonians is also evenly poised after two strikes from Dane Ward gave the Belfast side a 2-1 success at the Glade. Cookstown are all but through to the next round following an 8-1 first leg win over Portadown in which Stuart Smyth and Ryan Miller each scored twice.
Anderson Cup 1st Round 1st Leg: Kilkeel 3 (L Russell 2, A Graham) Annadale 2 (R Burgess 2); South Antrim 3 (P Cochrane 2, J Moore) Lisnagarvey 8 (A Williamson 4, T Chambers, M Nelson, D Nelson, J Lorimer); Cookstown 8 (S Smyth 2, R Miller 2, G Allen, M Crooks, M Kerr, C Anderson) Portadown 1 (S Johnston); Mossley 1 (J Robinson) Instonians 2 (D Ward 2)
Intermediate League: Portrush 1 Ballynahinch 6; CI 4 Parkview 0, Saintfield 2 PSNI 2.
Senior Internationals: Chile 0 Ireland 0; Chile 2 Ireland 2; Underage International: Ireland U21 1 (L Foley) Great Britain Under 23 1.
Ulster Premier League: Ballymena 0 Lurgan 1 (S McClure); Ballymoney 5 (J Hamilton, N Parke, L Millar, C Knipe, K Minihan) Rainey 1 (C Beggs); Dungannon 2 (L White, K Elliott) Lisnagarvey 1 (R Houston)
Senior One: Armagh 1 (E Irwin) North Down 1 (O Brown); Castle 0 Coleraine 2 (G Bradley 2); Club KV 1 (C Little) Omagh 4 (A Buchanan 2, E Shortt, L Long); Priorians 3 (N Lowry, S Black, J Kennedy) CI 1 (C Bedford); Raphoe 2 (S Barnett 2) Portadown 1 (A Gordon).
Ulster Indoor Championship: Ards 3 Lisnagarvey 0; North Down 1 Queen’s 0; Ards 2 Mossley 2; Lisnagarvey 4 Queen’s 3; North Down 0 Mossley 4; Ards 3 Queen’s 0; Lisnagarvey 5 North Down 2; Mossley 4 Lisnagarvey 3; Ards 5 North Down 0; Queen’s 1 Mossley 3.