TOP-FLIGHT hockey will return to Portadown next season thanks to Tuesday’s thrilling play-off success by the ladies’ firsts over Belfast Harlequins.
Esther Dickson, Sam Hill, Debbie Archer and Leeanne Cassells converted during penalty flicks – with Portadown goalkeeper, Shannon Campbell, producing important saves.
Goals by Cassells and Hill had forced the match at Lisnagarvey into golden goal extra-time as Portadown took the lead then had to battle back from a 2-1 deficit.
In the end, victory wrapped up a second promotion inside three seasons under the guidance of Jane McKimm and her coaching team.
“Portadown had some difficult times during the early-to-mid 2000s, with successive relegations knocking the club out of senior hockey,” said McKimm. “However, now we can look to the future and the progress of the players is a real testament to hard work and team spirit.
“This group of players has enjoyed some tremendous results over the past few years and the club is certainly on the rise.
“Some of the players remember the feeling of relegation so, for those girls in particular, this result is something special.
“We had a wonderful crowd down for the match and our promotion is another example of the togetherness around the club.
“The place has been buzzing over the past few seasons and that spreads from top to bottom, with the youth teams making great strides and the thirds back in league action.
“Our seconds have also been promoted and although the jump up the leagues by the firsts may seem quite quick relatively speaking, it is only as a result of the hours of dedication put in behind the scenes.
“It was our teamwork that made the difference from Christmas on and especially against Harlequins.”