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North Down's top-flight Irish Hockey Legue return turns into a nightmare

By Staff Reporter

North Down were given a reality check on their return to the top-flight as they crashed to a 5-0 Denman Ulster Shield defeat in Lurgan after making a bright start.

In contrast it was the perfect start for new Lurgan coach Robbie McMinn, who will fancy his team's chances of success in the Shield as holders Ards, Pegasus and the Ulster Elks are not taking part having opted to play in the Irish Hockey League.

Jo Wilson hit two of the Lurgan goals with Sarah McClure, Zoe Hawthorne, who is back in action after maternity leave, and Alex Hurst, from the penalty spot, also on target.

"We were 2-0 down at half-time but we played very well in the first 10 minutes and then went into ourselves a little," said North Down captain Laura Clarke.

Randalstown, who narrowly missed out on a place in the IHL last season, were convincing 5-1 winners over Portadown at Mossley.

Ballymoney opened with a 1-0 victory over Belfast Harlequins at the Joey Dunlop Centre where Emma McIlwee netted a late winner.

Tonight: Section B: Portadown v North Down (Edenvilla, 8pm); Armagh v Ballymoney (Ardmore, 8pm).

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