Millar time now for Ballynahinch

Millar time now for Ballynahinch

11 September 2011

BALLYNAHINCH had to thank full back Alex Millar for booking their place in the second round of the Irish Hockey Challenge last weekend.

Magical Millar popped up with the winner against a well organised Naas outfit in this exciting first round tie which was rather physical at times.

Ballynahinch created a host of chances over the 70 minutes but were denied by a brilliant performance by the Naas 'keeper who was simply outstanding.

The locals created enough chances to win two games and were almost forced into extra time in the dying seconds of the game when a Naas forward's shot crashed against the crossbar and rebounded to safety.

Ballynahinch, who can book their place in the semi-finals of the competition if they win their second round game later this month, were at full strength apart from goalkeeper Mark Brown.

The home side created a number of chances early on with Andy McIlwaine "scoring" in the 12th minute. But his "goal" was subsequently chalked off after the umpires had conferred.

The Ballynahinch striker's shot from a short corner flew into the net courtesy of a deflection off a defender's stick. The umpire awarded the goal but then changed his mind after conferring with his colleague.

Skipper Mark Graham went close soonafter and then Andrew Mulholland saw the 'keeper produce a magnificent save to prevent his drag flick effort from a short corner finding the net.

David Ross then went close and with just two minutes until the interval, Gary Graham saw his rasping shot saved by the 'keeper and with the last action of the half, Ashley Brown teed up McIlwaine, but the big striker's shot was saved by the 'keeper .

Ballynahinch were more direct in the second half and took the lead within 12 minutes of the restart. The locals broke up a Naas attack with Millar feeding Hunter who found his skipper with a neat pass and when he crashed the ball into the penalty area Millar, who had continued his run, collected the ball and evaded a defender before producing a brilliant reverse stick finish which saw the ball fly into the roof of the net past the 'keeper who could do absolutely nothing. Substitute Scott Leitch went close.

In the closing stages, Naas piled men forward and when it looked as though they were going to force extra time, luck was kind to Ballynahinch when a forward's shot crashed against the crossbar and rebounded away to safety.

While the scoreline suggests a tight cup tie, it was anything but, with the Naas 'keeper ensuring his side's margin of defeat wasn't considerably higher.

• Apologies to Ashley Brown. I mentioned in last week's Chat column that his father-in-law had passed away. I should of course have said it was his grandfather, Raymond Graham, who died recently. Apologies to Ashley and the Graham family.



Ballynahinch 1

Naas 0

Irish Hockey Challenge