Two local girls were the goal-scoring heros for Ards as they claimed the Irish Indoor crown for the sixth year in a row.
Former Banbridge Academy students Kerri McDonald and Lucy McKee scored five goals between them in the finals as their club retained their trophy at the Queen’s PE Centre on Sunday.
McKee scored two goals and McDonald was also on target in the 4-1 semi-final win over Glenanne.
As if that wasn’t enough, the girls bagged a goal each in an equally comfortable 4-1 victory over Railway Union in the final.
They will go on to represent Ireland in Europe next season and which division they contest will be determined by their finishing position in next month’s second-tier trip to Lithuania.
The win was a welcome boost for the girls’ Ards side, who had exited the Irish Senior Cup just a day before, losing out 6-5 on penalties to Cork Harlequins after a 1-1 draw.
Irish international, Chloe Brown, broke the deadlock in the eighth minute of the indoor final from a penalty-corner and Kerri McDonald made it 2-0 with a brilliant individual effort four minutes later.
Railway captain Hannah de Burgh Whyte reduced the deficit from a set-piece six minutes into the second-half but Lucy McKee set up Brown for her second straight from the restart.
Railway stepped up a gear and then took off their goalkeeper in order to have an extra outfield player in one last gamble.
But it failed to pay off as McKee, who had scored twice in a 4-1 semi-final win over Glenanne, found the empty net in the last few seconds to seal a hard-fought victory.
Meanwhile, in the women’s Ulster Premier League, Rachel Kerr netted the only goal as Banbridge beat Portadown to secure only their second win of the league season and move up to seventh spot.
They jumped ahead of Lisnagarvey, who lost out to Lurgan after Sarah McClure scored twice in a 3-0 win for the league leaders, and North Down, who were heavily beaten 5-0 by Dungannon.
Queen’s, meanwhile, came from behind to defeat Randalstown 2-1 in the battle of the challengers at the Dub where Jessica McMaster and Jody Kee scored after the break after Rachel King had put the County Antrim side ahead.