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In-form 'Money face all-Ireland poser

Women's hockey

By John Flack

Ballymoney are undecided as to whether they would take up the offer to play in the Irish Hockey League next season should the opportunity arise, and judging by their early form it might well do.

The Co Antrim side made it two wins out of two in the Denman Ulster Shield with a 3-0 victory over Portadown after beating Raphoe by the same scoreline last week.

Ruth Sutherland, ex-Ireland player Nikki Parke and Emma Kirgan got the goals at Edenvilla Park to make the three-hour round trip worthwhile - and therein lies part of the problem.

Team captain Aine Kearney said: "Our geographical location is one of the factors we would have to consider if we were to be in the frame for a place in the IHL next season.

"The last time we played at all-Ireland level two years ago, there was one occasion when we travelled to Cork and back on the same day with only 11 players and no subs to limit the costs.

"Now, with the extended format there would be a lot more travelling involved and we would have to consider the additional expense that would entail.

"There's also the fact we rely heavily on schoolgirls and PE teachers, who are busy on Saturday mornings and find it hard enough to play in Ulster as it is.

"We would have to have a serious discussion if we were to be in a position to qualify but, for the moment, we are just concentrating on making the semi-finals of the shield."

Lurgan also maintained their 100% record after Jo-Ann Wilson's double secured a 2-0 win over Banbridge in Pool A, while holders Randalstown came from behind to beat North Down 3-1.

Senior Cup holders Ballymena are looking good for a place in the semi-finals after making it 12 goals in two starts with a 5-2 win over Ballyclare.

Denman Ulster Shield: Pool A: North Down 1 (E Adams) Randalstown 3 (CJ McDonald 2, H Taggart); Lurgan 2 (J-A Wilson 2) Banbridge 0; Pool B: Dungannon 3 (D Robb, L White, L Elliott) Raphoe 0; Portadown 0 Ballymoney 3 (R Sutherland, N Parke, E Kirgan); Senior Cup: Pool A: Armagh 0 Mossley 5; Knock 1 (J Doak) Rainey 5 (C Burns 3, B Scott 2); Pool B: Ballymena 5 (C Gillespie, R Reynolds 2, E Morrison, A Logan) Ballyclare 2 (R Beattie, S Dickey).

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