Shock as coach resigns but Lurgan clinch vital points

Zoe Hawthorne celebrates her goal. INLM01-716.
Zoe Hawthorne celebrates her goal. INLM01-716.

Lurgan fully deserved this Premier League victory over rivals Ballymoney at the Junior High School on Saturday.

Following the surprise resignation of coach Gary Blythe over the holiday period, Darwin Murray and Lisa Costley assumed the reins for this vital clash and were delighted to be able to avail of the services of the three Barr sisters, Natalie, Serena and Bethany who were home on holiday from University in America.

Lurgan were clearly up for this encounter and began the better of the two sides creating a scoring opportunity for Zoe Hawthorne after four minutes but her shot went just wide after good build up play involving Charlene Hull and Sarah McClune.

Lurgan won their first penalty corner after 11 minutes but the resultant shot was well saved by an in form keeper.

Lurgan were winning their personal battles all over the pitch with Pippa Best and Chloe McCann, who both had terrific matches, putting in impressive performances.

Money were under pressure for most of the first period and relied on the long ball clearances and a sometimes over zealous physical presence to ward off the marauding Lurgan attack.

A counter attack by Ballymoney on 22 minutes resulted in a penalty corner award for them but Lurgan keeper Naoimi Costley made a great save from a well worked move.

Three minutes later Lurgan’s Natalie Barr shot just wide after she had skilfully robbed a Ballymoney defender on the edge of her own circle.

Five minutes later the same player’s reverse stick shot flew just past the post after another great run.

With five minutes to go to the break Lurgan scored the goal their approach play had warranted and what a good goal it was. Sarah McClune skipped past three defenders along the back line and pulled back a lovely ball for Zoe Hawthorne to fire into the left hand corner of the net.

Ballymoney were stung into response and almost snatched an equaliser with one minute to go to the break but were denied by Costley with the save of the match as she dived to her right to block the point blank shot.

The visitors started the second period on the offensive and Naomi was called upon again to make a double stop from a penalty corner. Lurgan continued to attack from deep with Louise Murray making some penetrating runs from inside her own half. A switch move at a penalty corner almost increased Lurgan’s advantage but the effort from Natalie Barr was saved.

Lurgan were winning the midfield battle with Emma Lindsay, Shelly Sloan and Carly Johnston battling hard for possession against a determined Ballymoney side.

A worried Lurgan bench watched anxiously as both Louise Murray and Pippa Best picked up what initially looked like nasty injuries, but thankfully both were able to return to the action.

With six minutes to go Lurgan added a second when Sarah McClure clipped home a rebound off the keeper.

Lurgan almost added a third when Charlene Hull was foiled by the keeper.

The visitors managed to pull a goal back following a blunder at the back but it was a mere consolation.

The club thank player and ball sponsor Mark Kennedy School of Motoring with the award going to Sarah McClure.