Ards finished an excellent fifth in the European Indoor Championship in France yesterday after rounding off their campaign with two superb victories.
The deposed Irish champions defeated Slovenian champions HK Moravske Toplice 5-2 yesterday to top the relegation group in which the bottom two teams of four went down.
The outcome means that the current Irish title holders, Railway Union, who beat Ards in the national final last month, stay in Europe’s third tier.
Earlier in the tournament in Lille, Ards looked to be in danger of relegating Railway into the fourth division but they staged a memorable comeback to beat Whitchurch Saints 3-2 on Saturday.
The Ulster team came back from 2-0 down at half-time to beat the Welsh side with goals from Francesca Brown, Becky Weir and Ellen Robinson.
In yesterday’s final match, Ards were 4-0 up at the break against Toplice after goals from Harriet Platt, Robinson, Amy Benson and Jodie Moore put them in the ascendancy
Brown rounded off the scoring near the end after the Slovenians had reduced the deficit to 4-2.
In the Ulster Premier League, Ballymoney stretched their lead at the top to four points after Brigid Cleland’s goal sealed a 1-0 win over Lisnagarvey at the Joey Dunlop Centre on Saturday.
There is no change at the bottom after Randalstown lost 3-1 to Mossley and fellow strugglers Ballymena went down 2-1 to Ulster Elks after a late winner from Hannah Irwin, who scored from the penalty spot in the 68th minute.
Rainey moved closer to safety with a 3-2 win over Dungannon with goals from Sara Semple, who got two, and Andrea Hegarty as the Magherafelt side opened up a six point gap over Ballymena and Town.
In the men’ s Ulster Premier, Simon Todd hit a hat-trick as Mossley crushed Newry 7-2 while South Antrim beat North Down 2-1 in the other Division A game.