Ards sent out a message to their local rivals, including champions Pegasus at the weekend, when they won the Lisnagarvey pre-season tournament held in conjunction with the Hillsborough Oyster Festival.
Along the way they scored a 3-2 victory over the Belfast side who are favourites to retain the title they have won 15 times in the last 16 attempts.
However Ards will be wise enough not to read too much into the outcome considering the ‘friendly’ nature of the event which also included host team Lisnagarvey.
Ards had opened their account with a 3-2 win over ‘Garvey on Friday night to set the ball rolling and then finished the job on Saturday afternoon with a decisive victory over Pegasus.
The latter went on to beat Lisnagarvey 4-1 as the hosts warmed up for the new season ahead, which is likely to be challenging to say the least.
‘Garvey bounced straight back up into the Premier League last time around after finishing bottom of the pile 12 months earlier.
Ards paraded new signing Amy Benson (ex North Down) at the weekend and significantly they are otherwise operating from the same squad as last season.
Pegasus have, of course, lost former Ireland defender and long-time club captain Arlene Boyles to retirement, and new captures Hannah Grieve and Robyn Chambers, from Lurgan and Ballymoney played in the tournament.
So too did Rhianna Campbell, who has joined the champions from Randalstown and she scored one of the goals in the win over the hosts on Saturday.
“We were a bit ring rusty but we are notoriously slow starters and we haven’t long started our pre-season training.” explained Pegasus striker Suzanne Beaney.
Chloe Brown hit the winner for Ards in their opening win over ‘Garvey on Friday night to claim her second goal of the game with the other one coming from Sara Alexander with Sarah Colgan getting both for the losers.
On Saturday against Pegasus Brown was on the mark once again hitting the opener to put Ards into a 1-0 interval lead.
That became 3-0 in the 52nd minute when Brown hammered in a penalty corner before Lynn Mills made it 3-0 from open play.
Pegasus rallied to set up a grandstand finish as Amy Jones and Beaney got on the scoresheet but Ards held on for a morale boosting win which clinched them the overall honours.
Later in the day Beaney got two more goals and Campbell and Jones were also on target in Pegasus 4-1 win over ‘Garvey who replied at 0-2 through Laura Wilson.
“None of our players would ever have experienced playing two games in such a short space of time so it was a useful exercise for us.” said ‘Garvey coach Davy Allen.
Meanwhile in Dublin the Ulster Elks won the Supercup tournament hosted by Three Rock Rovers after reaching the final despite losing their three group matches due to a quirk in the competition rules.
The Jordanstown side defeated Pembroke Wanderers in the decider, coming from behind to win 2-1.
Wanderers took a first half lead.
But Anne Hutchinson quickly responded with an equaliser before Kirsty Lammey grabbed the winner after the break.
Laura McAlpine scored both the Elks goals in a 2-0 semi final win over Hermes after Ricky Lee’s team had lost their three group games by identical 2-1 margins.
Michelle Weaver scored with her first touch of the ball as an Elks player in the loss to Hermes.
And then Lammey hit the target against Pembroke and Gemma Frazer scored against Loreto in a good game of hockey.