8th March 2019

Ulster Schools’ Cup Winners!

Banbridge Academy win Belfast Telegraph Ulster Schools’ Cup – Banbridge Academy 2-1 Ballyclare High School

The report below is taken from the Belfast Telegraph Website by Gareth Hanna

Banbridge Academy are the Schools’ Cup winners for the second time after Ellen Reid’s second half finish won a tight final against Ballyclare High School at Lisnagarvey HC.

Ballyclare’s opening goal from Rebecca Walker and their missed penalty stroke bookended a first half dominated by Bann, who forced SEVEN penalty corners, only managing to get past in-form goalkeeper Laura Chestnutt once through Katie McDonald’s low shot.

That paved the way for Reid’s second half winner – another clinical finish from a penalty corner.

Ballyclare’s Walker finished off a short corner variation just three minutes in as McCullough shifted the ball left and the finish was clinical.

Bann eventually made their incessant pressure count when McDonald dispatched a ruthless finish into the bottom corner.

BHS were given a great chance to restore the advantage when they were awarded a penalty stroke on half-time but Rebecca McCullough’s effort was stopped by Rebecca Spence.

Bann made the most of that save after the restart when the semi-final hero Ellen Reid smashed into the bottom corner with another ruthless effort from her side’s eighth penalty corner of the day

That was after Ballyclare keeper Laura Chestnutt had followed her impressive first-half display by keeping out Molly Mathers with a superb triple save.

Chestnutt was pulled late in the game, Ballyclare introducing the kicking back in search of the equaliser but it wasn’t to come, Kathryn Quinn hitting the post from a corner after McCullough’s shot had been well saved by Spence.

Banbridge Academy will represent Ulster in the Kate Russell All-Ireland Championships in Dublin later this month after they beat Ballyclare High in the Belfast Telegraph Schools’ Cup final at Lisnagarvey yesterday afternoon.

Additional article from from the Belfast Telegraph Website by Gareth Hanna

It was their Irish Under-18 star Ellen Reid who scored the winner as the Academy girls came from behind to win 2-1, although she was one of the last to join the celebrations when the final hooter sounded.

That was because the defensive stalwart was in the sin-bin after being handed a yellow card for breaking down play in the final few minutes.

And her team-mates were holding onto the ball at the far corner flag to run down the clock, so by the time she had raced across the pitch to join the celebrations, she was on the outside of the team hug rather than in the middle.

“We had been practicing our penalty corners in the build-up to the final and it worked out well, for my goal proved to be the winner,” she said after the presentations.

Additional article from from the Belfast Telegraph Website by Gareth Hanna

Banbridge Academy’s Belfast Telegraph Schools’ Cup success yesterday afternoon has paved the way for a possible boys’ and girls’ double which hasn’t been achieved since 1966 and has never been achieved by the Academy.

The Academy beat Ballyclare High 2-1 at Lisnagarvey, recovering from an early opener from Rebecca Walker, and skipper Nadia Benallel reckons the boys have a good chance of emulating them to complete a memorable double, which would make it the first time since Friends’ School Lisburn achieved the feat 53 years ago.

“We’ve kept up our part of the bargain, and now it’s up to the boys,” said Nadia after the final attended by a four-figure crowd.

“It would be a great achievement for the school, so we’ll be giving the boys our full support.”

The Burney Cup draw for the boys was made yesterday afternoon and Banbridge will face Wallace High in the second game in the back-to-back semi-finals being staged at Lisnagarvey on Wednesday, March 13, with Sullivan Upper taking on Methodist College Belfast in the opener.

Nadia accepted Ballyclare gave them a difficult game in yesterday’s final but felt the early setback only inspired them.

“Their early goal only served to switch us on after a nervous start,” she said. “But we dominated for long parts of the game and deserved our win.

“We knew we hadn’t done ourselves justice in the semi-final win over Strathearn but we used the three weeks since then to put things right.

“We couldn’t have done it without our coach Neil Madeley -he helped us so much on so many things, but also on our penalty corners, not only to try and score but also defending them.”

Madeley was well pleased with his team’s efforts, with the penalty count of 8-5 demonstrating that they had dominated large parts of the game.

“It was a good team performance, that’s what it has been all about,” he said. “When we won it two years ago, we depended on some quality players, like Lucy McKee who scored a hat-trick.

“But this time it was a team effort, and that should serve us well going into the Kate Russell All-Ireland Championships in Dublin later this month.”