Cliftonville turned the clock back 38 years when they lifted the Sussex Regiment Cup with a comfortable 4-0 win over Ballymena at Deramore.
Two goals in each half clinched the famous Belfast side their first trophy since they claimed the Irish Senior Cup back in 1976.
Dale Curragh got the opener from a penalty corner switch in the 31st minute and Stuart Anderson made it 2-0 on the stroke of half time. Then David Hurley added two more goals from left wing deliveries in the second half to seal the win.
The Sussex Regiment Cup may not carry the same level of prestige as it is for teams who play in the third tier of Ulster men’s hockey but that didn’t stop the celebrations which began at the final whistle.
“It certainly wasn’t easy and Ballymena battled hard and pressed us hard at the start of the second half.” said Cliftonville captain Stephen Boyd.
“Fortunately we weathered that mini-storm and we said at half time the third goal was going to be crucial and luckily we scored it.
“Their keeper made some great saves and he would have to have won the man of the match award had there been one. I think we deserved to win but all credit to Ballymena for giving us a tough game.”
The result clinched Cliftonville their fourth win over Ballymena this season but the Co Antrim side fought hard until the end.
In goalkeeper James Birrell, the losers had a star performer as he pulled off several superb saves.
“He made some amazing stops and that was after he started the season on our second eleven.” said Ballymena captain Chris Hogg.
“I was proud of the way the boys gave it their all but losing the second goal just before half time left us with too much to do.”
Now Cliftonville will be turning their attention to their bid to get back into Senior One having been relegated at the end of last season.
“We will enjoy the moment but then we’ll put the final to bed and concentrate on our next league match which is a difficult one against Ballynahinch who have already beaten us this season.” said triumphant coach Nick Johnston.