The Superleague is an Ulster Schools’ competition where schools may enter Tier A or Tier B. The Academy 1st XI Girls continue to excel at the elite level and will now play Rainey Endowed in the Tier A Superleague Final at 3.00pm onWednesday 27 November, Playball Stormont,. The Superleague has improved the quality of schoolgirls hockey across Northern Ireland; there are significantly more competitive fixtures due to the pool nature of the competition at the early stages. In addition, the Superleague determines the seeds for the Belfast Telegraph Schools’ Cup and as such the quarter finalists in the Superleague Tier A, enter the Schools’ Cup in the third round. The Superleague competition has only been running for 4 years, however, Banbridge Academy has made a significant impression in the competition. The Academy girls have reached the semi-final each year and will now play in their third final, however, the girls have still to win the competition for the first time.
The girls have made an excellent start to the season winning the National Topflight Tournament in Glasgow over Halloween, which provided a great foundation for the final stages of the Superleague. The girls’ senior hockey teams are very grateful for the kind sponsorship, from Sayon Cheung Mulligan (Yoga with Sayon). Sayon Cheung Mulligan offers various yoga-based classes throughout the whole of the local community from Aerial Yoga and Hatha Yoga to remedial chair yoga for seniors. All of these elements have supported the Academy 1st XI Girls on their way to the final.
The local girls started their Superleague journey slowly back in September with a draw against Friends’ School Lisburn. They then went on to beat Sullivan Upper, Royal School Dungannon and the Superleague Champions from last year, Royal School Armagh, finishing top of their group resulting in a home advantage for the Quarter Final against Ballymena Academy. The game was goalless until Banbridge Academy broke the deadlock in the third quarter and went on to win 4-0. On Saturday 16th November the girls played in the semi-final against a very determined Belfast Royal Academy side. In the other semi-final, Rainey Endowed had a confident victory over Strathearn winning 4-0. The Academy had a much more difficult match against BRA and both teams played their part in a wonderful advert for girls’ hockey. After taking the lead through a smart finish from Amy Somerville, the local girls found themselves on the back foot when they went 2-1 down. It took a lot of determination and passion to pull the game back to 2-2 with a superb equalizer from Molly Mathers. Despite an attacking spell from the Academy in the final quarter, the game was decided by penalty run-ins. Bann keeper, Rebecca Spence, saved the day, pulling off confident saves and conversions from Bann’s Jodie Simmons, Ellen Reid and Alex Gardiner resulted in the Academy girls winning the match.
The Superleague Finals are to be played during a showcase afternoon on Wednesday 27th November at Playball Hockey Pitch at Stormont. The Tier B Final sees Carrickfergus Grammar School play Belfast High School at 1.00pm. The Tier A Final of Banbridge Academy versus Rainey Endowed will start at 3.00pm. All support is extremely welcome and will help the Academy girls battle for their first Superleague Title.