SKERRIES ended the calendar year by climbing into the top half of the AIL Division 2B table following this important home victory over struggling Ards.This was always going to be a fraught affair as both sides looked to go into the Christmas break with a confidence-boosting win, and a defeat for the men from Holmpatrick would have raised the possibility of being dragged into a relegation battle. They started the better and looked like scoring, but poor handling allowed the visitors to move back to half-way, and a second attack floundered on the Ards 10-metre line as the Ulstermen cleared to the seasiders' own 22-metre line. Ards declined to go for points when awarded a penalty and kicked to touch and a subsequent knock-on allowed Skerries to clear. It was even as far as territory and possession was concerned at this stage and both sides showed a willingness to run the ball. Ards just failed with a longrange penalty opportunity to open the scoring after 10 minutes, but it was second time lucky when their out half slotted over another kick from 35 metres out on the quarter-hour. Conal Keane redressed the balance with 25 minutes on the clock and Skerries could have taken the lead from a very kickable distance, only to have a penalty decision reversed following the intervention of the assistant referee. Ards regained the lead thanks to a superb 55-metre effort following the award of a penalty which in their view could have gone either way and the visitors took a 6-3 lead into the half-time break. Skerries began the second half playing with a wind at their backs and with Chris Keane having replaced the industrious Eoghan Dempsey at scrum half, and Conal Keane quickly levelled things with a 35-metre penalty. The home side were reduced to 14 when the ref gave Chris Tonge a yellow card for playing the ball on the ground, but Ards were short with the penalty attempt and Conal Keane relieved the pressure with a good clearance to half-way. The home side then scored their first try through Kevin McGrath as he took a reverse pass from Conal Keane following some heavy-duty carrying from Mark Nally. Out half Keane converted to give Skerries a 13-6 lead. It was all Skerries now and when they were awarded a penalty after a relieving kick took them into the Ards half, Conal Keane slotted the three points on offer. And to their supporters' delight Skerries added a further seven points from a well-worked move in midfield which was finished off by Mark Hewitt. Conal Keane converted the score to complete a satisfactory day's work for Skerries.