In a highly competitive line up, the Ballymena Town side emerged victorious in a penalty shoot out final win over Magherafelt Sky Blues before a large travelling support of family and friends.
A last gasp equaliser from Anthony Smith was dramatic enough only to be outdone by not one but two sudden death penalty shootouts where Jack Millar slotted home the final winner after an equally great save by keeper Lewis Allison.
A superb days football and another piece of silverware for the boys.
The United side reached the semi finals and both sides impressed the neutrals in attendance with some exciting play and quality goals.
Town Team: Lewis Allison, Anthony Smith, Joshua Wharry, Callum Ross, Andrew Heaney, Lorenzo Dawkins, Leon Carley, Harry Robinson, Jack Millar, Andrew Smyth.
United Team: Mark Wilkinson, Andrew Kyle, Jack McMurray, Eamon McLaughlin, Stephen McColgan, Mark Cochrane, Jack O’Mahony, Bailey Young, Ethan McKeown, Joshua Galloway.
Ballymena United under 12’s have been due a big performance and and it arrived on cue on Saturday when they scored amazing TWELVE goals against Banbridge.
The 10’s recorded a tidy derby victory over Carniny,while the under 11’s prepared for their National semi final with a great win over a strong Ridgeway Rovers side on Friday night.
The 13’s, fresh from their Larne sevens success, won again on the road, to progress in the League cup.
The 15’s are resurgent and secured a hardworking victory away to Armagh.
The Academy Night at the Races is pencilled in for the Social club on Saturday 18th May.
Ballymena Town 3, Carniny Youth 0: Another win for the boys who always looked solid at the back with some great defending.
Special mention to Galgorm boy Joel Clarke who impressed throughout and got his first goal for the Sky Blues.
BUYA 4, Ridgeway 1: Ballymena took the lead through Mark Butler with a neat finish but Ridgeway equalised with a long range effort which deceived the keeper.
The Skies took the lead again with Ross McCausland finishing of a good move before the interval.
The United coaches made all their subs at half time to get everybody involved in the game and it wasn’t long before they created a chance for David Heaney to make the score line 3-1 before the excellent Shaun McAllister nipped in to score number four. MOM - Ruairi Hagan.
BUYA 12, Banbridge 2: Lee O’Brien made his returning presence known with 5 goals, while Rhys Hemphill help added to the tally with 4 goals, Danny Louw, Jordan Critcherand Cameron Moag all getting one each.
In the second half Ballymena got their other 3 goals before the match ended abruptly due to a serious injury sustained by Jack Heron after a 50/50 tackle. All at the Academy wish Jack a speedy recovery.
Sion Swifts 0, BUYA 3: Early United pressure told as a flick on by Jack Millar was met by Mark Cochrane who fired in a dangerous ball headed unfortunately goalward by a home defender.
Eamon McLaughlin scored United’s second, pushing forward to finish well and before half time some brilliant work by the tireless Cochrane led to a quality cross finished at the back post by Robinson who had ghosted in.
Armagh City 1, BUYA 2: The Sky Blues were very slow to start this game and paid the price by going 1-0 down after 5 minutes when they failed to deal with a corner.
The Sky Blues came out with more determination for the second half and Daniel Black’s hard worked paid off on 51 minutes when he fired home from just inside the box to level at 1-1.
Ballymena were the better side after this and they scored the winner with 3 minutes remaining when man-of-the-match Black again finished well from inside the box.
EAMON’S FOREST TRIP
A regular target for cross channel scouts this season, Ballymena United under 13 midfielder Eamon McLaughlin has been invited to Nottingham Forest this week for training and an opportunity to view the renowned Nottingham Academy.
While in England, Eamon will also be attending the FA Youth cup semi final that Forest are involved in.
Eamon is also being courted by Liverpool and Chelsea and is rated as one of the outstanding players in the province at his age group.