LURGAN played their last league match against second placed Ballymoney at Lurgan Junior High with six of their regular players unavailable.
Ballymoney fielded a full squad with former Irish international Bridget Cleland returning to their already talented side while the Lurgan starting line-up had eight of the 11 players 19 years old or younger.
Lurgan started strongly and took the lead through Chloe McCann who got on the end of a pass from Jill Edgar to put a reverse strike beyond the reach of former senior Irish international goalkeeper Angela Platt.
Ballymoney played a clever counter attacking game and their experience told as they converted their first penalty corner before adding a second and then a third goal making it 4-1 before half time.
The second half started like the first with Lurgan continuing to press Ballymoney back.
From a well worked short corner Natalie Barr slipped the ball left to Hannah Grieve whose shot towards the left post was deflected into the goal by an alert Joanne Wilson.
Now playing inspired hockey, Lurgan continued to pour forward with wave after wave of attack. A quick move saw Natalie Barr drive through the middle and from just outside the circle she powered a fierce shot goalward and Joanne Wilson gladly lofted over the keeper into the roof of the Ballymoney net for her second goal and Lurgan’s third.
The Lurgan defence was outstanding clearing any danger with anything that got past the back four being dealt with by 15 year old Naomi Costley in the Lurgan nets.
With 10 minutes to go Lurgan won another short corner. Serena Barr put in to Hannah Grieve, who slipped it right to Natalie Barr. As the Ballymoney defence raced from their line Natalie slipped it left again to Hannah who calmly struck the ball to the left of the Ballymoney keeper and into the goal to bring the scores level.
Lurgan finished on the offensive, looking the more likely to score, almost winning the match on the final whistle.
All who played gave of their very best with fine performances all over the park and they can be proud of their performance in what was a great team performance.
Each individual is worthy of mention in particular Kim Scott who competed for every ball and put in a dogged courageous game in midfield, looking every bit the Premiership player she undoubtedly is.
Lurgan Ladies have now completed their Ulster Premiership fixtures and with a credible third place in the Premiership have finished one place better than last season, assuring Irish League Hockey again next season.
There remains just two away games in this season’s Irish League but there is no doubting the progress Lurgan Ladies are making and a big thank has to go to Darwin Murray for putting in so much work in managing the team again this season and to Ali McNeill for stepping in to coach the girls.
The club would want to wish all the best to Kim Scott, Louise Murray, Sarah McClure and Natalie Barr as they head to Cork this Easter weekend to represent Ulster as part of the Ulster U21 squad for the Interprovincial tournament.