Classy Chloe guides Ards to seventh indoor hockey title
Ards extended their remarkable record in the Irish Indoor Championship when they defeated Railway Union 5-2 in the final in Dublin yesterday to lift the trophy for the seventh year in a row.
Irish international Chloe Brown stole the show, scoring a superb hat-trick and setting up the other two goals as the defending champions hit three without reply in the second half.
It proved to be an epic day in Dublin for Ulster teams as Belfast Harlequins twice came from behind to beat Loreto 4-3 a couple of hours before Ards' triumph and edge closer to the outdoor EY Irish Hockey League play-offs.
Ards' success means they will again be in charge of their own destiny when they represent Ireland at the European Championship in Prague next month, when their aim will be to keep themselves in the second tier for next year's competition.
Team captain Caroline Adams ranked her team's latest achievement on the national stage as their best to date, considering Railway entered the weekend with more match practice in an extended Leinster League.
Adams said: "We had played just four games before the final whereas Railway had more of a build-up and it showed in the intensity of their play.
"It was a really tough match against a very good side and the scoreline maybe flattered us a little, but we're delighted to have won the title again."
Ards were always in control and Kerri McDonald and Amy Benson were among the goals as well as Brown with her treble, while keeper Naomi McKnight saved a penalty stroke.
On Saturday, Ards earned a 1-1 draw against Pembroke in the IHL. Yesterday, Jenna Watt hit two of the goals as Belfast Harlequins moved into fifth place in the IHL table with that thrilling comeback win over Loreto.
However, Pegasus remain the best Ulster bet for the end of season play-offs with a 6-2 win over Trinity leaving them just a point behind second-placed Cork Harlequins, who lost 2-0 to leaders UCD. Alex Speers and Taite Doherty got two goals apiece as Pegasus hit four in the second half.
In the Ulster Premier League Banbridge sent Dungannon plunging to their first defeat with a shock 2-0 win at the Tyrone venue. Ballymoney took advantage to move three points clear at the top as Nikki Parke's hat-trick helped them to a 6-0 home win over North Down.
Queen's maintained their 100% record with a 2-0 win over Ulster Elks while Sarah McClure hit two of the goals as champions Lurgan beat Rainey 4-2.
In Senior One, Lisnagarvey are top after a 5-1 win away to Armagh and there were victories for Raphoe and Priorians while CI and Victorians ended 0-0.
Yesterday: Irish Indoor Trophy semi-finals: Ards 7 (C Brown 2, A Benson 2, K McDonald, F Brown, S Alexander) Glenanne 1; Railway 6 Galway 0; Final: Ards 5 (K McDonald, C Brown 3, A Benson) Railway 2
IHL: Loreto 3 (S O'Brien, H Matthews, N Daly) Belfast Harlequins 4 (R Johnston, J Watt 2, Z Wilson)
Irish Hockey Trophy: Greenfields 0 Mossley 3 (A Jones, E Nugent 2)
Saturday: IHL: Cork Harlequins 0 UCD 2 (E Russell, D Duke); Monkstown 2 (A Beattie, H Logan) Belfast Harlequins 2 (Z Wilson, A Edwards); Pembroke 1 (G Pinder) Ards 1 (A Benson); Railway 0 Loreto 0; Trinity 2 (E Noone, S Campbell) Pegasus 6 (T Doherty 2, L McKee, A Speers 2, R Maguire)
Irish Hockey Trophy: Ballymena 4 (K Young 2, R Reynolds, C Gillespie) Portadown 0; Belvedere 5 Omagh 4 (on penalties)
Ulster Premier: Ballymoney 6 (N Parke 3, L Nevin, K Minihan, O Mullan) North Down 0; Dungannon 0 Banbridge 2 (R Kerr, S McCullough); Rainey 2 (C Burns, A Burns) Lurgan 4 (S McClure 2, L Wright, O Gibson); Ulster Elks 0 Queen's 2 (J McMaster, T Hastings)
Senior 1: Armagh 1 (C Donaghy) Lisnagarvey 5 (R Houston 2, A Jebb, L McCracken, L McDonnell); Ballyclare 1 (K Dixon) Raphoe 5 (E Harpur 2, S Barnett, V Wray, Z Tinney); CI 0 Victorians 0; Priorians 5 (R McSparron 2, E Allen 2, S Black) Knock 1 (S Webb).