Town just miss out on title in final game

FOR the first time in many years Ulster staged a Women’s Indoor Championship.

And Lurgan Ladies, who had no experience in this version of the game, decided to enter a team just to test their feet in the water and also as a bit of fun over the festive period.

To their surprise and delight, the girls took to it as the proverbial duck to water.

Indeed such was their level of their performance that had they won their last match , they would now be crowned Ulster champions.

The competition was played over two days last weekend and on the Saturday Lurgan recorded victories over old rivals Portadown, who they beat 8-2 and hosts Queens who they defeated 4-1.

Goalscorers in the Portadown match were Charlene Hull, Natalie Barr, 3 , Sarah McClure, 2, and Penny Joyce, 2.

In the Queen’s match the scorers were Sarah McClure, Natalie Barr, Louise Murray and Bethany Barr.

On the Sunday Lurgan had a somewhat depleted squad missing several key players including captain Charlene Hull but what a magnificent performance the remaining players put up despite the fact that they had only seven players available for the last match in a six-a-side competition which requires constant substitutions such is its intensity .

First match up on the Sunday was against reigning Irish champions Armagh.

Despite going behind twice, Lurgan fought back both times to record a thrilling draw with goals from Bethany Barr and Sarah McClure with assists from Natalie Barr on both occasions.

Next up were the pre-tournament favourites the Ulster Elks.

Lurgan raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to two great goals from Natalie Barr but the Elks managed to reduce the deficit on the stroke of half-time.

Two goals after the break put the Elks 3-2 in front but Joanne Wilson equalised for Lurgan with three minutes to go to set up a grandstand finish.

Right on the final whistle Lurgan were awarded a penalty stroke but Natalie Barr’s beautifully struck shot was miraculously saved by the keeper as the ball flicked of her left boot, against the post, and away to safety.

This meant that Lurgan needed to win their last match against Ards to be crowned Ulster champions.

Unfortunately it was not to be. Fatigue certainly played a part. At one point Lurgan had only four outfield players on the pitch and one of those could only stand on one leg.

Understandably Lurgan lost the match 3-0 but they can all hold their heads high to have progressed so far in a tournament they only entered to get a little bit of experience.