Magnificent Ards claim Euro Indoor Championship crown

Ards' Chloe Brown

Ards' Chloe Brown

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Ards were crowned European indoor champions in Budapest yesterday after a magnificent tournament which saw them win all six of their matches.

The Irish champions needed a top two finish to clinch a place in the second level of the competition and they went one better to lift the gold medals.

Chloe Brown stole the show with a superb haul of 22 goals which earned her the player-of-the-tournament accolade.

“We are delighted to have achieved both targets - promotion and the gold medals - and the girls showed great character and team spirit throughout the tournament.” said Ards manager Phil Mills.

Yesterday Ards had achieved their first aim when a 5-2 win over Welsh side Howardian was enough to guarantee them second place and promotion into the Championship II tournament next year.

They then faced Croatian champions HC Zrinjevac needing a win to come home with a set of gold medals.

The Ulster girls did it in style with an emphatic 7-3 victory in which Brown scored five of the goals.

Ards led 3-1 at the break and scored four more goals in the second half with Katy Bennett joining Brown on the scoresheet with the other two.

Earlier in the day Ards made it five wins out of five with that crucial 5-2 win over the Welsh champions..

Brown got the game off to a perfect start in the first minute, finishing from close range after a Bennett shot rebounded off the keeper.

Ards’ second came from a well worked penalty corner after 10 minutes, Janice Vaughan scoring with a neat deflection on the right post.

The Irish champions then soaked up some pressure from the Welsh side, including successfully defending a couple of penalty corners.

But it was Ards who extended their to 3-0 with just a couple of minutes left the first half Lynn Mills and Bennett, pressing the Welsh right back hard before Bennett intercepted an attempted pass, drove into the circle and rounded the keeper to score.

With still an outside chance of a medal, Howardian came out strongly at the start of the second half, and pulled a goal back from a penalty corner flick after five minutes.

They closed the gap further with a second goal from open play after nine minutes, to reduce the deficit to 3-2. Any nerves were calmed just two minutes later when Brown finished neatly on her reverse after being played in by Naomi Elliott.

Just a minute later, Brown made a mazy run half the length of the court before being fouled in the circle for a penalty stroke which she scored herself to complete her hat trick.

Howardian managed one further penalty corner with two minutes left on the clock, but were unable to add to their tally.

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