Ireland lands hat-trick

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A MICHAEL Ireland hat-trick was the highlight of Grange Rangers’ 5-2 win against Ardstraw Reserves in the first round of the IFA Junior Cup.

After a two-hour journey to Newtownstewart, Rangers were slow to start and fell one behind on 20 minutes, when a home striker coolly slotted home a cross from the right.

Rangers’ leading scorer, Michael Ireland, equalised with a bullet header in the 35th minute, after good cross by Jonny White from the right hand side.

In the second half, Grange fell behind on the hour mark, when Ally McNair scored a deflected own goal. This setback sparked the Ballyclare lads into life and Ireland equalised for a second time on 65 minutess.

Davy Mulholland and Davy Thompson were impressive in midfield, and Thompson put Rangers ahead on for the first time in the 75th minute, after closing down the home keeper, dispossessing him and slotting into the empty net.

Ireland sealed his hat-trick two minutes from time from a good cross by Phil Moreland, before Pat Lutton scored the fifth in injury time with a header from another White cross.

Man of the match: Michael Ireland.

Grange Rangers: Deegan; White, McNair, McAllister, Cowan; Todd, Thompson, Mulholland, McMullan; Ireland (c), Lutton. Subs Moreland, Cooper, D McFall Next week the seniors are idle, while the seconds travel to Suffolk Swifts for an Amateur League game.