IT’S been a long wait for Ballyclare North End Reserves... but 14 months and 29 matches after they last won they were finally entitled to a lap of honour.
The Ballyclare team put the hoodoo to bed in style, defeating Carrickfergus Young Citizens 4-2 at home in a Ballymena and Provincial League Junior Division 3 encounter.
It was an inspired performance from Aaron Gilmore, who grabbed a hat-trick, and Darren Black - starting his first competitive match for North End and his first full 90 minutes in around 12 years. Big Dan grabbed the final goal with a long-range drive that sealed a deserved win. Billy Simms continued his partnership with Paul Shannon at the back, with the Blacks, Darren and Gary, patrolling, harassing and destroying anything that came their way.
Gilmore was the creative spark as he quickly seized his opportunity on 14 minutes as he arrowed a perfect strike into the top right corner. He scored again with a powerful header before half-time. Citizens pulled the tie back to 2-2, but then Nathan Robinson was hacked down in the box and Gilmore stepped up to score from the penalty spot.
North End re-grouped their back line with Darren Black pushed into a more advanced role, which paid dividends as Black won yet another strong 50/50 and the ball spilled to Nathan, who in turn squared it to the marauding Dan to drill his spectacular long-range effort into the top left corner. Whisper it quietly... North End - onwards and upwards!