Five star Portrush book spot in Irish Challenge Cup final

Portrush celebrate their Sussex Cup win earlier this year.
Portrush celebrate their Sussex Cup win earlier this year.

Portrush Hockey Club kept their incredible season rolling on at the weekend as they swept Bray aside in the Irish Challenge Cup semi final.

The Ports swept their opponents aside with a convincing 5-0 win at the Quay Road to keep their hopes of a treble alive.

Portrush started the match on the front foot and could have scored within two minutes, however Bray Goalkeeper Chris Doyle saved from point blank range.

They didn’t have to wait long for the opener though as only seven minutes in, after excellent work up the right from Ryan Smith, Portrush were awarded a short corner. From this, captain Aaron Kerr scored from a well worked set piece.

With Portrush in front, they didn’t ease the pressure on Bray and on the ninth minute, again with another fantastic run up the right from Smith, Portrush were awarded a second short corner and this time Neil McMaster was on hand to score from close range.

However a lack of communication at the back minutes later, set free a Bray forward and the on-rushing Gordon McAllister collided with the forward to give away a penalty flick.

Having just made the mistake, Gordi saved the resulting flick to send the Portrush players and fans wild.

Now with Portrush in such a dominant position so early in the game they were able to keep the ball well with any nerves long gone at this point of the game.

Portrush were looking very comfortable on the ball and their excellent retention of the ball paid off when Andy Christie broke free of the Bray defence to drill home a fantastic goal to make it 3-0 to Portrush!

Before Bray could conjure up any sort of comeback Portrush made it 4-0 when Captain Kerr got his second of the match, yet again from a short corner and this goal before half time put the ports in a comfortable position going into the break.

Portrush knew Bray would come out in the second half and have a real go and they did not disappoint. They piled pressure on the Portrush defence but the stubborn rearguard would not let anything through.

Despite the increasing pressure from the Bray front-line the defence somehow held strong and when there was a gap, Gordi McAllister was on hand to thwart any attempts on goal.

Bray had five short corners in a row and had it not been for last ditch defending and unbelievable saves from Gordi yet again, Bray could have had at least three goals to celebrate.

However Portrush held on and with only five minutes remaining they went on the counter attack with a sublime run from John Dillon to set up Graeme Christie and finish the scoring at 5-0.

Bray had one last short corner from which the shot looked destined for goal but again Gordi McAllister made a reflex save to keep the clean sheet for Portrush.

This was a well deserved victory for Portrush with a fantastic team performance. Yet again, the young guns of Andy Christie, Graeme Christie and Philip Linton were immense and have been a breath of fresh air to the squad this year.

Also Ryan Smith and Aaron Kerr with Ryan’s efforts resulting in two goals and Aaron scoring two goals of his own. The star of the show undoubtedly was goalkeeper Gordi McAllister with a penalty flick save and three saves from short corners that were outstanding he was awarded the Man of the Match.

A massive thanks again to coach David Price whose hard work and effort comes through to the players performances.

The Central Bar, Ballycastle hosted both teams after the match for drinks and a meal and as usual the quality of food and the hospitality was excellent, a big thanks to the Central from all the players.

Last but most definitely not least a massive thanks to the fans who yet again were the 12th man and all the players are extremely grateful.

Portrush Team: G.McAllister (GK), R.Smith, R.McNabb, A. McConaghy, N.McMaster, L.Smith, C.McKeeman, A.Kerr(C), G.Christie, J.Dillon, A,Christie. Subs: J.McCook, G.Kerr, L.Greene, P.Linton, A.Dalzell. (Man of the Match: Gordon McAllister)