Aaron Kerr produced a captain’s performance as he scored the all-important winning goal that gave Portrush the Sussex Regiment Cup for the first time ever.
The skipper helped himself to a brace in the New Year’s Day showdown at Deramore Park to secure the cup for the first time in the north coast club’s 100 year history.
The Ports took an early lead through Kerr only to find themselves 2-1 down a minute into the second half.
James McCook levelled things up 10 minutes later before Kerr struck with nine minutes to go to set off wild celebrations amongst the Portrush players and large travelling support.
They were determined that they were going to make up for having to put their New Year celebrations on hold explained their captain.
“We will be doing some celebrating tonight,” said Kerr after the game.
“The guys were good last night and didn’t go out, so we will be celebrating 2014 in style tonight.
“I am lost for words, as we have never won the Sussex before and it is a marvellous achievement for everyone in the club.
“But what an experience the game was, as it was full of ups and downs especially when we went behind.
“But the lads kept at it and they are absolutely brilliant.
Was he pleased to score the winning goal?
“I always enjoy scoring but winning the cup is what really matters,” beamed Kerr.
Kerr opened Portrush’s account in the second minute and it looked like this game was going to go on current form.
Portrush are leading Senior Two by streets, but Ballynahinch were determined that they were not going to let previous results between the two sides dictate where the trophy was going.
And in the 17th minute Stuart Hunter levelled the score with a superbly struck shot which flew into the net.
Even in appalling weather conditions both sides served up a cracking game of hockey in front of several hundred travelling and vocal fans.
But with only one minute of the second half played Alex Millar stunned Portrush when he smashed Ballynahinch into the lead. However, their lead was short-lived and 10 minutes late James McCook rifled the ball home with a sweetly struct shot that flashed past Mark Brown in the ‘hinch goal.
The game was up for grabs, and in 54th minute, Andy Young made a superb goal line save to keep Ballynahinch in the game. With nine minutes remaining Portrush killed off Ballynahinch’s hopes of causing an upset, when Kerr deflected the ball past Brown to send the Ports fans ecstatic, and the cup was heading to the North Coast.
Ballynahinch captain Leslie Harrison said: “I thought it was a good game and was very competitive by both teams and played in the right spirit, as hockey should be.
“Even when we went 2-1 up, I knew that Portrush would come back as they are a very good side and they have beaten us twice this season. But we thought we might have just had enough in the tank to do it on the day, they dug deep and produced the result.”