13th February 2017

1st XI Girls Reach Schools’ Cup Final



Having both won their respective semi-finals 2-1, Banbridge Academy and Wallace High, neither of whom has lifted the silverware before,  now play the decider on Wednesday, March 1 at Lisnagarvey.

BANBRIDGE ACADEMY: Alice Winson, Holly Hanna, Nadia Benallal, Sophie Mount, Emma Gregson, Charley Brush, Gina Woods, Orla Thompson, Lauren McGaw, Gemma Hassan, Ellen Reid, Katie McKee, Clare Liggett, Rebekah Dougan, Sarah-Jane Corry, Rebecca Huey, Rebecca Spence.

As expected, it was Katie McKee who pulled the strings for Banbridge during the semi-final match against Sullivan Upper, scoring one goal and looking head and shoulders above anyone else on the pitch.

She glided past opponents with ease, set up chances for her colleagues and showed a skill level belying her age.

Indeed, it was McKee who put the Academy ahead, her low shot to the near post from the top of the circle beating Sullivan keeper Jenny Beattie after only 11 minutes.

Sullivan were unlucky to have an equaliser from Emma Hill wiped out a few minutes later, for a back-stick infringement in the build-up.

But then the Holywood school fell further behind in the 20th minute when the lively Nadia Benallal swept home after some hesitant defending.

It seemed the game was done and dusted but Sullivan refused to lie down and indeed still had their eye on reaching their third successive decider.

And as if to send out a warning, it took them only one minute to pull a goal back through Beth Young, who pounced on a rebound to slip the ball past keeper Alice Winson and set up an intriguing second half.

Things were more even in the second period and Sullivan marginally had more of the chances, with Laura McCaw particularly unlucky at set-pieces.

Firstly she had a shot come back off the post and then she had another well saved by Winson.

But Banbridge held their nerve and applied pressure in the final minutes as they ran down the clock.

Academy coach Neil Madeley said: “It was by no means our best performance but the bottom line is that we are through to the final.

“Sullivan defended very well, especially in the second half, as we expected they would, and we just couldn’t get the third goal which would have killed off the game.

“When there is only one goal in it, anything can happen like a deflection, so it was a tense final quarter.

“Now we have three weeks to get things right for the final against Wallace.”