HOCKEY: Portadown ladies win Ulster veterans League

The Portadown Ladies squad which won the Ulster veterans Shield
The Portadown Ladies squad which won the Ulster veterans Shield

Portadown Ladies secured the Ulster Veterans League Championship following finals day held at Civil Service, Stormont.

Having lost the semi-finals of the Ulster Cup with a 1-0 home defeat to Lisnagarvey six days earlier, the Portadown ladies were keen to have something tangible to reflect on a good season.

Six teams contested the finals day, split into two groups of three.

Portadown came up against Victorians and the strongly fancied Belfast Harlequins, who had their eyes on a league and cup double having reached this week’s Cup final.

In a keenly fought contest with Victorians, goals from Gail McClelland and Sue Gibson secured a 2-1 victory.

That put the Ports in pole position and when Quins and Vics drew, it meant Clare Black’s skippered side needed a point to be certain of a spot in the final.

Harlequins dominated the game, but strong defending kept them out and the scoreless draw after an entertaining game ensured Portadown went into the final.

In the other group, North Down came out on top ahead of Ballymoney and Derg Valley.

Harlequins were to take third place after a comfortable win over Ballymoney in the 3rd/4th place play-off game.

Portadown - playing in an unfamiliar pink strip, especially commissioned for the finals day, were to totally dominate the final.

However, just as in the Cup semi-final against Lisnagarvey Portadown were doing everything except putting the ball in the net.

North Down were dangerous on the counter-attack, but Portadown survived.

A period of domination, during which they forced five penalty corners, still failed to yield a match winner.

Urged on by an energetic support, Portadown finally broke the deadlock two minutes from the end when Nichola Thompson guided the ball home.

North Down, however, appealed to the umpires claiming ‘a foot’ in the circle and had their been video referral, they would probably have taken their chances.

The Ulster Branch appointed umpires had a quick discussion, but the goal stood.

North Down rallied in the final minute as they searched for an equaliser, but the girls in pink were not to be denied their piece of silverware.

Portadown captain, Black, thanked the umpires, organisers, time keepers, opposing teams and the Ulster Hockey Association for their input.

The victorious Portadown squad was: Alison Thompson, Karen Flack, Lesley Mulligan, Suzanne Evans, Clare Black, Gillian Castles, Wendy McLoughlin, Jeanette Gordon, Nichola Thompson, Sue Gibson, Wendy Cowan, Alison Symington, Andrew Herron, Judith McQuitty, Gail McClelland, Susan Rankin, Gill Jackson.

Coach: Chris Gordon. Umpire: Jane McKimm.