BALLYCLARE Ladies’ preparations for the new hockey season began in earnest at the weekend with the first of their pre-season friendlies against Owls.
New coach, Paul Harvey, assembled a squad consisting of 1st and 2nd XI players for this serious training stint, organised in three sessions each of 25 minutes.
His girls bossed each session against their Section 3 opponents without conceding a goal and, generally, he was pleased with the display while recognising there is a lot of work to be done before the start of the Senior League programme in September.
Last season the ‘Clare girls retained their coveted Section 1 status, but only after surviving a relegation play-off, so the top priority this time will be stabilisation at the higher level.
For the record, Ballyclare won each of the three sessions 1-0 with Kerry McLeod netting in the first session, while Tori Wallace scored in the other two.
Defensively, Ballyclare were very sound, with last year’s 2nd XI goalkeeper, Sara Coulter, making a few smart saves to emerge with three clean sheets.
Ballyclare Ladies squad: S Coulter, L Holmes, J Purdy, E Patterson, T Wallace, L Ashcroft, K McLeod, S Dickey (C), J Hanley, K Wallace, K Shanks, J Wilson, Z Hunter, L McKinstry, J McCowan, V White.
This weekend Ballyclare will be taking part in a round-robin tournament with Lurgan and North Down and this should prove to be a much sterner test.
Lurgan, from the Premier Section, will be expected to dominate against their two Section 1 opponents, while coach Harvey will be given the opportunity to assess the strength of opposition he is likely to expect in the months ahead.