Ards will have a massive incentive when they head to Budapest for the European Indoor Championships in the New Year after retaining their national title in style at the Queen’s PE Centre on Sunday.
The holders won all four of their matches to finish with maximum points and now will be in charge of their own destiny when they go to Hungary.
Their finishing position will decide in which tier of European competition they will play the following year as qualification is retrospective.
Ards went into the final day of the domestic tournament trailing Portadown on goal difference adding significance to their opening game with their local rivals.
But they defeated the Senior One side 5-2 and then went on to beat Galway 4-0 after going into the game needing only a draw to win the title for the third year in a row.
“It’s a big incentive to be playing for ourselves in Hungary effectively and we are absolutely delighted to have won the title again.” said Ards manager Phil Mills.
“It was tough for the girls as indoor hockey is now much more demanding on the players with it being five-a-side instead of six.
“We maybe didn’t play as well as we can but we got the results we needed and it was a very enjoyable weekend.
“We will try and fit in a few sessions indoors at Jordanstown before we go to Budapest when the aim will be to secure promotion. Last year in Portugal there wasn’t much between the teams that finished second, third and fourth although the Turks who won it were a class apart.”
Chloe Brown opened the scoring with a penalty corner conversion against Portadown and then set up Naomi Elliott who made it 2-0. Elliott and Brown, with another corner strike, added further goals before the break before Leanne Cassells pulled one back.
Francesca Brown made it 5-1 from another set piece and then Cassells got her second but it proved to be only of consolation value.
Two Chloe Brown clinical penalty corner conversions in the opening nine minutes against Galway eased any nerves and she completed her hat-trick from another set piece in the 26th minute and the trophy was safely in the bag even at that stage. Brown completed the scoring. On Saturday Ards had a 4-3 win over Queen’s followed by a 4-1 victory over the Ulster Elks while the Ports defeated Galway 4-1 and Queen’s 3-1.