Preparations continue for the 2nds and 3rds

Preparations continue for the 2nds and 3rds with a series of games over recent weeks. A good performance last week saw them come back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 against a good Ballynagross  2nd side while on Saturday Castleabbey 2nds were the visitors in an entertaining game which the home side won by 4-2 with Jordan Hayes, Ross Bingham and Aaron McCaffrey [2] on the score sheet.

A further 2 friendly matches are to be played this week at The Millbridge on Tuesday 27th and Thursday 29th August. Kick off for both games will be 6.30pm so all players should meet at the club for 5.45pm.

Club memberships are now due and should be paid to the Club Treasurer as soon as possible.

Annual Dinner & Awards Night

Ballynahinch United held their annual dinner and awards nights in the Primrose Bar, Ballynahinch last Saturday night. There was an excellent attendance and everyone was welcomed by Club Treasurer Johnny McGreevy who performed the role of master of ceremonies superbly in place of the Club Chairman who was attending a family wedding.

In his remarks he thanked everyone for attending and thanked the staff of the Primrose Bar for the excellent meal and service on the night. He also offered the club’s best wishes to owner and former United player Ted McKibbin following his recent accident.

Commenting on the season which was almost at an end he praised the work of the club officials and committee, the commitment of the team managers and players throughout the year, the encouragement given by the clubs supporter’s week in week out and the financial support given by each and every one of the clubs sponsors.

The highlight of what has been a good season for the club overall was the first team reaching the 5th Round of the Irish Cup and being drawn against Premier League opposition in the form of Coleraine. Whilst the outcome was not by any means ideal the team had performed extremely well against a well drilled semi-professional side and the club had been able to take well over a hundred supporters with them to the game which was outstanding by any stretch of the imagination.

As always the awards were all closely contested throughout the season and the outcome was as follows:

Albion: Players Player and Top Scorer – Alan Massey, Managers Player – John McMenamin.

Swifts: Managers Player & Top Scorer – Aaron ‘Beattie’ McCaffrey, Players Player – Ethan Majury and Craig McMullan.

United: Managers Player – David Boal, Players Player – David Boal & Stuart McMullan.
Top Scorer – Johnny Hunter

Overall Club Top Scorer – Aaron ‘Beattie’ McCaffrey
Young Player of the Year – Aaron Cheevers
Supporter of the Year – Robert Creighton

The annual Golden Boot award went to David Boal who despite some strong competition throughout the year achieved it for his historic achievement of BUFCs first red card in the 5th round of the Irish Cup!

Club stalwart Jimmy Brown who was so disappointed to lose out yet again to Robert Creighton in the Supporter of the Year category scooped the Groundsman of the Year/Decade award. He was presented with an antique Ards F.C. shirt signed by the team that previously reached the top flight. Former United star Terry Luring came across it last year and Wilson ‘Chico’ Hamilton replaced the glass in the frame.

Ballynahinch United IIs 3 v 2 Ballywalter Rec. IIs

The Swifts continued their strenuous programme of fixtures when they entertained Ballywalter Rec 2nds at the Millbridge. This was most certainly a roller coaster game which could well have gone either way.

The Swifts dominated play in the first half and could well have scored a bag full but a combination of last ditch defending, great saves and rank poor finishing contrived to keep the score down.

Birthday boy Gareth Bingham opened the scoring when he fired in after 50 minutes but a rash tackle from Paul King gave Ballywalter the equaliser from the penalty spot.

Greg Allison who had played a part in the opening goal was again the play maker for the Swifts second goal when his run ended with McCaffrey executing a neat finish. Again slack defending allowed Ballywalter to equalise and a mistake by Herron left a forward with an open goal and he unbelievably placed his shot wide.

Allison’s pace and desire to pursue lost causes resulted in the Swifts winning the game when he chased down a ball that everyone thought was going out for a throw and raced into the penalty before squaring to Herron who shot into the net.

Ballynahinch United IIs 3 v 2 Greencastle Rovers IIs

Day light robbery was all one could describe the outcome of this game which was played on Tuesday 23rd April but sometimes you need a bit of good fortune.

In the first half the Swifts spurred on by Scot Brashaw in midfield laid siege to the Greencastle goal but it was the visitors who took the lead when Stafford spilled a cross and a forward slid the ball into the empty net. The equaliser came on the half hour mark when Brashaw chipped the ball through to McCaffrey and he took it on the chest before shooting calmly past the keeper.

The visitors took the lead shortly afterwards when a free kick was driven into the six yard box for Ross Hayes to deflect it into the net for an own goal.

Just before half time Scot Brashaw equalised when he guided a loose ball into the net from ten yards.

In the second half Greencastle dominated possession and how they didn’t score is something of a miracle, however in the closing quarter the Swifts came back into the game forcing several corners. Greencastle actually cleared the last corner but as they rushed out Aaron McCaffrey timed his run perfectly to run onto a Paul King cross to head the winner.

The Swifts played another game on Thursday night away to Suffolk and they also secured all three points with a winner from Ian McMullan.

Civil Service 2nds 1 v 3 Ballynahinch United 2nds

The Swifts picked up a hard won three points at the Civil Service playing fields on Tuesday 16th April.

In the previous week’s drawn game they had faced a Kilroot team containing a lot of first teamers and this was no different however securing the three points was made all the sweeter by having to play at their very best.

In the first half Gareth Bingham saw a shot cannon off the cross bar while Darren Fitzsimmons was blown for offside after he touched in Aaron McCaffrey’s goal bound shot. Civil Service were at their most dangerous from corner kicks and the Swifts defence of Gibson, Majury, Craig McMullan and King had to work hard while John McMenamin in goals made a number of important saves and catches. He could do little when the Civil Service took the lead on the stroke of half time.

In the second half a more determined Swift took the field and they equalised after 5 minutes when Greg Allison broke free down the left and crossed brilliantly for Fitzsimmons to score.

Midway through the half substitute Ian McMullan was introduced and he made an immediate impact when he scored with a header from Fitzsimmons right wing cross.

Graham McMullan was introduced on the right wing and he enjoyed some decent possession and late in the game he was fouled on the outside of the penalty area. Civil Service had at this stage got back into the game and the Swifts needed a goal for a cushion. Danny Reid in one of his all too rare appearances scored with an outstanding right foot shot that beat the Civil Service keeper all ends up to sail into the roof of the net.

This was an excellent performance with the younger players such as McMenamin, Graham McMullan and Greg Allison putting in stellar performances.

The next few weeks will be frenetic for the Swifts with a stream of Saturday and midweek games to the end of the season.

Last Saturday goals from Darren Fitzsimmons and Aaron McCaffrey secured a 2-2 draw away to St Teresa’s.