Ballynahinch giantkillers in Linden heaven

Ballynahinch giantkillers in Linden heaven

9 January 2019

BALLYNAHINCH produced a magnificent performance to win the Linden Cup on New Year’s Day at Deramore.

The locals knew they had to be at their best to defeat Premier League outfit Antrim, with Andrew Mulholland’s tenacious team terrific throughout the pulsating contest.

The Ballynahinch players were heroes to a man and produced one of their best performances of the season to lift the trophy.

The locals have been in scintillating form all season and produced another top drawer performance against a strongly fancied Antrim side who would have been confident of winning the cup.

However, Ballynahinch had other ideas and deservedly lifted the cup aloft in front of their jubilant supporters after a determinedly dogged display.

Boasting a side comprising a sprinkling of youth and experience, Ballynahinch knew they could produce an upset against their premier rivals if they were on song and did so in style from the first minute to the last.

The locals got off to the perfect start when Jason Campbell’s hard work was rewarded with the opening goal, scored by Scott Leetch after he slipped the ball home past the ‘keeper from the acutest of angles.

Antrim were then caught cold when Ballynahinch made it 2-0 from a well-worked short corner routine which has been a feature of their play in the Intermediate League this season.

The ball was pushed out to the inspirational Matthew Martin, who produced a trademark drag flick effort which flew past the Antrim ‘keeper who could do nothing about it.

At the other end, Antrim tried to force their way back into the game, but the Ballynahinch rearguard and ‘keeper Aaron Donnell in particular held firm.

The locals deservedly went into the break with their two-goal advantage intact, but knew they would have to maintain a high standard in the second half in readiness for the expected Antrim backlash.

Antrim did not disappoint and came out with all guns blazing and were quickly back in contention, scoring to make it 2-1 with a superbly drilled reverse stick shot.

Donnell was inspirational as he was peppered with shots from all angles, producing a number of incredible saves as his mentor and Ballynahinch coach Mark Brown watched from the sidelines.

Donnell’s defiance proved invaluable as Ballynahinch made it 3-1 at the other end to restore their two-goal cushion.

This time, experienced striker Alex Millar smashed the ball home with a powerful shot. But Antrim were refusing to throw in the towel.

Another drag flick effort from a short corner which beat Donnell made it 3-2 and it was game on, with both sides looking for the next decisive score.

With 10 minutes to go it was backs-to-the-wall stuff for the locals as Antrim upped the ante, but the dogged defence of Ashley Brown, Andrew Mulholland, the evergreen Leslie Harrison and Steven Creen held firm.

Ballynahinch were close and knew another goal would bring the trophy home. Stuart Hunter picked out the dynamic William Edgar with a precision pass and the latter’s reverse stick shot rattled the backboard to make it 4-2 to win a pulsating final.

The players were all superb, with the squad grateful to the coaching staff for its help. The Ballynahinch supporters were brilliant throughout the day and were a key part of the side’s win and subsequent celebrations.

The man of the match award was shared jointly between Aaron Donnell and Ashley Brown.

Ballynahinch: Aaron Donnell, Leslie Harrison, Andrew Mulholland, Ashley Brown, Steven Crean, Matthew Martin, Stuart Hunter, William Edgar, Alex Millar, Jason Campbell, Scott Leetch, Andrew McIlwaine, David Marshall, Michael Carney, Luke Curry.

Ballynahinch continued their good form with a 6-0 victory over neighbours Saintfield on Saturday in the Intermediate League. William Edgar bagged a hat-trick with Stuart Hunter (2) and Alex Millar also on target. Man of the match was Matthew Martin.

Ballynahinch 4

Antrim 2