BALLYMENA 1 COOKSTOWN LADIES 0
The sixteen year wait for silverware continues for Cookstown Ladies after they missed out on lifting the Senior Cup in their first ever final on Saturday at Mossley.
It was a close run thing as Cookstown looked the better side in the early stages, but their failure to convert their chances was to cost them dearly.
The result was rough justice on player-of-the-match Claire Brown, Cookstown’s leading scorer with 21 goals in 13 games going into the final.
She was a constant threat to the Ballymena defence with her surging runs and her ability to leave opposition defenders trailing in her wake.
Cookstown were first to settle and Rachel Stewart shot into the side netting in the second minute and then Grace McBurney took a Kirsten Young effort off the line shortly afterwards.
Brown was causing havoc in the the Ballymena every time she got the ball but she couldn’t break the deadlock.
In the 21st minute Jaqui Burns passed to Brown, who in turn found Rachel Miller but her shot narrowly missed the target.
Ballymena forced several penalty corners as they gradually found their rhythm but an ineffective routine let them down as the first half finished scoreless.
Eight minutes after the break Brown was denied by the Ballymena ‘keeper and then shot wide from the rebound.
In the 53rd minute Ballymena won their fifth set piece and Susanne Morrison’s shot was stopped on the line and Jessica Duncan’s effort from the rebound went just wide.
With 15 minutes on the clock Ballymena made the breakthrough when Sarah Goodrich swept the ball home from another penalty corner after finding space to accept a switch at the far post.
Braid captain Clare Gillespie was denied by the ‘keeper three minutes later and then Aimee Logan shot wide from a set piece as Ballymena attempted to add to their tally and kill the game off.
The Braidsiders were reduced to 10 players for five minutes when defender Rebekah Reynold talked her way into a yellow card after initially being shown green.
But Cookstown were unable to capitalize on their numerical advantage while she was off the pitch.
The lively Brown had a chance to equalise in the 65th minute only to be denied.
by a great tackle from Reynolds who made up for her earlier indiscretion and Ballymena held on for an historic win.
Cookstown coach Colin Scott was naturally disappointed at the outcome but added that there is still plenty to play for this season.
“We perhaps could and maybe should have won the game but we didn’t take our chances.” he stated.
“But we are still in the Irish Hockey Trophy in which we play Portadown and we are not out of contention for a promotion play-off place in the league so there’s a lot of hockey to come.”
Ballymena coach Mary Glass agreed that Cookstown had been on top in the early stages of the game but their failure to convert chances let Ballymena back into the game.
“It could have gone either way but once we weathered the early storm I don’t think there was much between the sides and the game could have gone either way.” she added.
“We had our chances as well and we had a shot taken off the line in the second half before we scored.”