Lurgan College Seconds exited the McDowell Cup at quarter final stage on Saturday with a 2-0 defeat at Ballyclare HS.
The College route to the quarters saw them record wins over BRA (3-0) and Glenlola Collegiate (2-0), with the team showing impressive progress since September. The College side this season features a blend of older and more experienced players with a handful of capable and hard working youngsters.
Both teams started brightly, not wanting to give an inch, but it was evident Ballyclare were strong going forward, forcing the College to defend. An early goal by Ballyclare seemed to spur the College into response and the Lurgan players broke quickly on the counter attack on numerous occasions, only to be denied by strong defensive tackling from the Ballyclare defence.
Cathy Bell was instrumental between the posts in denying the Ballyclare forwards any further goals and at half time a single score divided the two sides.
After the restart, Ballyclare resumed their onslaught of the College defensive 25 but Beth Cunningham and Amy McConaghy remained rock solid in breaking these attacks down and clearing their lines. Sarah McKitterick and Hannah Corr linked well together on the left when the ball broke through midfield but the defenders proved difficult to bypass. Rachel Coleman showed vision in drawing defenders to create attacking space but Ballyclare were resolute in their ability to dis possess Lurgan and turn defence into attack themselves.
Midway through the second period Ballyclare made a timely tackle in their defensive half and quickly worked the ball forward. Two forwards showed their fast reaction by drawing the keeper and setting up a close range shot and it was 2-0.
Lurgan College continued to battle until the end but never really threatened the Ballyclare circle from that point onwards.
A tough game but one that highlighted the amount of progress made by a comparatively young College team. This will hopefully bode well for next season’s cup campaign despite the loss of some key sixth form personnel.