Ladies in seventh heaven as they complete double

The Banbridge Ladies Hockey Club 1st squad who have won promotion to ladies senior 3 as well as winning the intermediate cup. INBL16-HOCK3
The Banbridge Ladies Hockey Club 1st squad who have won promotion to ladies senior 3 as well as winning the intermediate cup. INBL16-HOCK3

{|To watch the goals from this game click here|Banbridge Ladies v Rainey}

BANBRIDGE Ladies Firsts travelled to finals day on Saturday to compete in their last match of the season.

Having already won the league title the ladies now had their sights set on lifting the Intermediate Cup and Magherfelt side Rainey were all that stood in Bann’s way.

As the sides are in the same league they have already come across each other twice this season. Both times seen the Bann side edge to victory but everyone knows that anything can happen in Cup Finals.

From the start both teams battled hard trying to set their pace on the game. However, it was Banbridge who made the most of their chances as they made it onto the score sheet after only 10 minutes into the game. Rachel Cairns broke down the right side of the pitch before cutting into the circle and heading for the backline. Rachel has a great eye for goal but instead she selflessly passed to the back post where Anna Moore had made the perfect run and arrived on time to convert the opening goal.

Banbridge had clearly found their flow and only three minutes later they were again rewarded for their attacking efforts when a penalty corner strike by Amy Atkinson took a slight rebound from a Rainey player and bounced happily into goal.

The next 10 minutes posed a testing time for Bann as Rainey were awarded five penalty corners in quick succession, however the defensive penalty corner team were up to the challenge.

After this little period of pressure Banbridge regained control of the game. Great passing in the attacking 25 by Debbie Whitten, Sarah Quinn and Anna Moore resulted in a goal mouth scuffle, but Rachel reacted first to convert and placed the ball beyond the keeper’s reach.

Although Rainey were playing hard they struggled to get through the water-tight press that Banbridge had set up. Any Rainey possession was quickly closed down as Bann drove forward again and again.

With the first half drawing to a close Banbridge were awarded a free hit inside the attacking 25. Debbie Whitten drove forward from the the free and showed great skill to dink dink dink her way past 3 Rainey defenders before passing to Amy Atkinsthreen. Amy fed the ball through to goal where Anna was again waiting but this time her initial shot was saved, however Orla Magee reacted on the lose ball to put it into the net and make the game 4-0 at half time.

The half time interval gave the teams a well deserved rest. Bann coach Simon Jess motivated, encouraged and humoured the girls into keeping focused for the next 35 minutes.

Going into the second half Banbridge continued where they left off. Great running and skill from Gemma Todd, Sarah Quinn, Debbie Whitten and Orla Magee ensured that the forwards were never without the ball for long.

Abi Thomson, who had rotated on in the forward line, didn’t take long to get into the thick of the action as she troubled the Rainey defenders and forced them to make errors. An offence on the Rainey defensive goal line resulted in a Penalty Stroke being award to the Bann side. Rachel Cairns stepped up and did not show any nerves at all and she converted the stroke with power and accuracy giving her her second goal of the game and Banbridge’s fifth goal of the game.

Credit must go to the Rainey side who didn’t let their heads drop. They attempted to attack the game but Banbridge were in fine form and displayed some of the best hockey seen all season. The Banbridge team pulled together in attack and defence.

During another period of attacking play Banbridge were awarded with a penalty corner. The ball was pulled out and stopped brilliantly by Ash Bell and Amanda Morton so all that was left was for Diane McMillen to ‘swing on it’. The sound of the back-board indicated that goal number six had been scored.

With the game approaching the final whistle it became apparent that the game was beyond Rainey’s grasp but the Bann girls kept their heads. They continued to pass well and attack with pace and skill. Young attacking player Amy Gray who had came on in the forward line for the final few minutes was unlucky not to get on the score sheet herself as she made excellent runs onto through balls but it was Amy Atkinson who got her second goal of the game and completed the scoring for the day after another great run by Rachel Cairns.

The sound of the final whistle marked the end of the match and indeed the end of what has been a very successful season for Banbridge Ladies Hockey Club but it also marked the beginning of the celebrations. Congratulations to the Players of the Match Rachel Cairns and Diane McMillen.

Many people made the trip on Saturday to support the girls so special thanks to all the Family and Friends for cheering the team on and keeping them going. Thanks must also go to coach Simon Jess, assistant coach Aaron Appleton, Sheree Totten, Alison Wilson, the committee and other team members at Banbridge Ladies Hockey Club and last but not least Captain Ash for leading the team to double cup glory this season.