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Double gold

This weekend may have centred around Cliftonville’s progress to the Semi Finals of the Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup, but it was the exploits of two of our Ladies teams that kicked things off on trophy-winning notes.

For Friday night saw the Reds’ Under 17s lift the South Belfast Youth League Cup courtesy of a 5-2 victory over Sion Swifts, while the Club were also crowned NI Futsal League Champions after beating Sparta Belfast 6-5 in a thrilling finale.

Despite falling 2-0 down inside the opening 10 minutes at Mill Meadow, the Under 17s were quick to level with Megan Copeland and Rosie Zubier on target.

Remarkably, Cliftonville would edge two goals in front before half-time when Roise Thompson and Erin Montgomery got their names on the scoresheet, while Copeland’s second of the night after the interval put the seal on a superb team display that was rewarded with silverware.

At Shankill Leisure Centre, meanwhile, Rachel McConnell’s hat-trick alongside strikes from Amber Dempster, Megan Weatherall and Megan Moran earned the futsal crown.

McConnell struck twice in a minute to provide the Reds with the perfect start and, though Sparta reduced the arrears through Kerry Beattie, McConnell would complete her treble to ensure a two-goal advantage at the interval.

Beattie’s second of the night narrowed the margins again and, while Weatherall netted to make it 4-2, Rachel Rogan’s instant reply meant there was just one goal in it with 15 minutes left on the clock.

Dempster’s conversion looked to have given Cliftonville some welcome breathing space only for Beattie’s hat-trick goal to tee up a tense final few minutes, during which time Moran added her name to the Reds’ tally as her side edged 6-4 in front, rendering Rogan’s last-gasp strike a mere consolation as Cliftonville held on to claim the title.