Linden Cup joy for Ballynahinch in win over Antrim

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Ballynahinch lifted the Linden Cup on New Year’s Day when they defeated Antrim 4-2 in a thrilling final at Deramore.

The result saw the Co Down side reverse a 5-1 loss in the corresponding game in the pool stages of the competition.

The Hinch made a blistering start to the rematch and surged into a 2-0 lead after only 10 minutes.

Antrim fought back superbly after that early double whammy and went on to have the edge in the remainder of the first half.

They deservedly pulled a goal back shortly after the break but Ballynahinch replied quickly to move 3-1 up and leave Antrim with too much work to do.

Hinch forced two early penalty corners and had an effort from the hugely impressive Willie Edgar stopped on the line after the first had been saved.

But they made their pressure pay in the seventh minute when Scott Leetch scored from close range after a fine move started by Andrew Mulholland.

Three minutes later, Hinch doubled their lead when Matthew Martin - another star performer - fired home a bullet of a penalty corner.

Antrim recovered superbly and began to force the pace, Curtis Murray shooting just wide before Mark Smyth’s effort was saved by the outstretched boot of Aaron Donnell.

Into the second half and Ballynahinch were first to show when Leetch was denied by Antrim keeper Andrew Heatley from a one-on-one in the 37th minute.

However, seven minutes later, the Ulster Premier League side were back in the game when their inspirational captain, Dean Wilson, scored a brilliant goal on his reverse after a surging run.

In the 60th minute, however, Ballynahinch made it 3-1 when an excellent advantage from umpire Johnny Campbell allowed his namesake - Jason - to find Alex Millar, who clinically finished in style.

Two minutes later, Antrim again reduced the deficit when Johnny McMeekin hammered home a penalty corner.

The goals continued to come thick and fast.

And, in the 64th minute, Edgar got the goal his performance merited when he sealed the win after a superbly worked set-piece variation.