New Year's hockey honour for Armagh

Thursday, 5 January 2017

New Year's hockey honour for Armagh thumbnailThe victorious Armagh 1st XI celebrate lifting the Linden Cup on New Year's Day after their dramatic 3-2 win over Ballymena 1st XI at Deramore Park.

ARMAGH men's 1st XI got their 2017 off to a perfect start as they secured the Linden Cup title in dramatic circumstances on New Year's Day in Belfast.

The Ardmore side had to come back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and coach Gary McIlroy admitted that a half-time 'rollicking' helped inspire his side to a famous victory.

McIlroy added that it was a dramatic way to win the cup and expressed his delight for the players and everyone connected to the club.

“Nothing really went our way in the first half, we couldn't get our first touch and I don't know whether or not it was the occasion or whatever but we looked very nervous and unsettled.

“Ballymena had two counters and scored from both of them.

“I gave the players a good old fashioned rollicking at half-time and told them we didn't come here to go back home without the trophy on the bus.

“Credit to them they all really stepped up to the plate and Jordan Wright and Steven Pillow made a huge difference in the second half!

“It really was a game of two halves!"

McIlroy said that his side showed what they were capable of in the second half.

“At times in the first half we looked like the junior side and Ballymena looked like they played senior hockey.

“We got that bit of luck about 20 minutes in to the second half and it only took us another five minutes to get the equaliser.

“Ballymena didn't really threaten at all in the second half and we were really in the ascendancy and we deserved to take the lead when Matthew Russell slotted home.

“They pushed us all the way in the final few minutes, but we did enough to get over the line and we worked incredibly hard in the second half.

“I am absolutely delighted for the players and for the club!"

McIlroy is hopeful that his youthful side will use their Linden Cup final experience as a platform to kick on for the remainder of the season.

“We had a number of younger players who didn't even feature on Sunday, but the experience of being involved in a game like that will hold them in good stead for the future.

“We want everyone to kick on and build upon the win in the final.

“On Saturday we are away to Bangor and we want to come back from that game with a result to show for our efforts.

“Everyone will be back in training on Wednesday night and Sunday's win will provide us with an excellent platform to push on as we approach the second half of the season."



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