Match Report: Ballynagross 2nds 6 v 2 Ballynahinch United 2nds

The Swifts travelled to Ballykinlar to play table toppers Ballynagross 2nds and despite taking a 2–0 lead into half time with goals from Aaron McCaffery and Gary McCracken they lost 6-2.

The loss of central defender John McMenamin with a serious knee injury was a major factor. John’s injury has been diagnosed as a medial ligament problem and he is hoping to be back playing in the next few months and everyone at BUFC him a speedy recovery.

The 2nds travel to Carryduff this saturday for their last league fixture of February.

Match Report: Ardglass 3rds 1 v 3 Ballynahinch United 2nds

A much changed Swifts travelled to Ardglass on Saturday after a few weeks off due to the adverse weather, that coupled with no less than 7 players missing due to injury and work commitments made it a difficult tie against a team that would provide a stern test.

The Swifts started brightly and were putting the Ardglass defence under considerable pressure, if it had not been for the experience of the Ardglass centre half partnership an early goal would of been a strong possibility.

The Swifts were patient in their build up play and waited for the right opportunity, aided by the defence who were firmly in control they were getting closer to breaking the deadlock with every attack. On the half hour mark a quickly taken free kick by Alan Massey caught the Ardglass midfield flat footed, Paul King received the ball and let a rasping shot go from 25 yards – such was the power in the shot the Ardglass keeper was lucky to save but could not hold onto it and the lively Jack Patterson made no mistake from 10 yards when the ball broke loose.

That goal gave The Swifts more confidence and with Bonner, King, McMenamin and McNeill in commanding form, McGreevy in nets had little to do.

A quick corner from Massey near the break saw him play a one-two and chip a ball onto the far post. A couple of last ditch tackles kept the score at 1 nil. But The Swifts would not be denied. Matty Manley’s smart free kick from the edge of the box caused considerable confusion and again Jack Patterson was in tip top form to smash the ball in.

A mere lapse in consentration just before the halftime whistle saw Ardglass gain a goal direct from a corner when The Swifts ought to have done better.

The Swifts had a clear vision of what was needed in the 2nd half and carried it out well. Bingham never missed a thing all day long and with the impressive Jack Patterson and Manley on the wings The Swifts were a constant threat. Indeed it was Manley on 70 mins who took a short corner to Massey who played the ball back to him, with a neat cross-field pass it was met by McMenamin on the volley for the goal of the game.

This was a good strong team performance from The Swifts who remain unbeaten this season, but with stronger tests on the horizon it will be all hands to the pump especially at home to Annalong this saturday.

Match Report: Ballynahinch United 2nds 3 v 0 Ardglass Colts

The Swifts continued their unbeaten run with a victory over a hard working Ardglass side that never gave up but that failed to seriously threaten the home defence.

Matthew Manly opened the scoring in the 11th minute when he curled a great shot into the top corner of the net. Ben Wilson who has been one of the team’s hard working midfielders this season scored the second after 18 minutes when he was set up by Graham McMullan. Wilson’s curling shot gave the Ardglass keeper no chance.

For the remainder of the half Ardglass curtailed the Swifts attacking threat and defensively Craig McMullan, Ross Hayes, John McMenamin and Shaun Bonner had to be at their best while Jamie McPhail in front of the back four covered every blade of grass. Goalkeeper Johnny McGreevy’s handling had to be at its best as he faced a barrage of crosses mainly from a series of corners.

In the second half Ardglass had a lot more possession but again they never really created a clear cut opening while the Swifts were limited to breakaways prompted by Alan Massey in central midfield and on occasions they created openings with Gareth Bingham having the best opportunity when he shot over the cross bar when put through by Craig McMullan. Replacements Scott McNeill and Ross Bingham made a major impact when they came on.

The Swifts put the game out of Ardglass’s reach when Matthew Manly’s shot after great work by the teenage winger resulted in a defender and the goalkeeper combining to allow the ball to cross the line.

This was a decent performance from the Swifts who remain unbeaten however they will need to be more commanding next week when they travel to Ballykinlar.

Ballynahinch United 2nds 5 v Banbridge YC 2

The Swifts got back to league action with a home fixture at Drumaness Council Ground against league newcomers Banbridge YC. In a lively first half the Swifts took the lead from the penalty spot when Alan Massey converted after Aaron McCaffrey had been felled in the penalty area.

The visitors equalised with a shot from 25 yards and then took the lead when defender Ross Bingham was unlucky to head past keeper Johnny McGreevy. The Swifts got level when Graeme McMullan, on for the injured Johnny Stevenson, equalised.

David Kelly who was controlling midfield along with Gareth Bingham gave the home side the lead when he carried the ball half the length of the pitch before despatching a shot from twenty yards into the roof of the net.

In the second half the Swifts took control of the game with their defence of Ross Bingham, Glynn Robinson, Scott McNeill and John McMenamin performing in a more controlled manner while Greg Allison caused mayhem on the ring wing. Stuart Wilcox made the score 4-2 when he latched onto Alan Massey’s free kick and Graeme McMullan headed home a cross from Greg Allison to close the scoring at 5-2.

This was a good performance from an almost full strength side which saw the return from injury of Shaun Bonner when he made a second half appearance.

The Swifts play their first game of the season at Millbridge this week when they entertain Valley Rangers 3rds.

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.