Banbridge Academy reach Schoolgirls’ Senior Cup final for first time

Action from Banbridge Academy v Ballyclare High

Action from Banbridge Academy v Ballyclare High

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BANBRIDGE ACADEMY 2 BALLYCLARE HIGH 1

Banbridge Academy are through to the final of the Senior Schools’ Cup for the first time after beating Ballyclare High 2-1 in Wednesday’s second semi final at Comber Road.

But, as expected, it was an extremely close call as Bann had to soak up an immense amount of pressure in the second half before progressing to meet Regent House.

The 2012 winners were in no mood to give up easily as Ballyclare enjoyed the lion’s share of possession after the break.

But they could find no way past the superb Bann goalkeeper, Sarah McCabe, who made a host of fabulous saves.

Ballyclare threw the proverbial kitchen sink at her but she was equal to the task on every occasion they surged forward.

“It’s such an honour to be in the final for the first time and it’s fantastic for the school as hockey is very important at the Academy.

“Sarah was excellent especially in the second half and the last 10 minutes when they put us under so much pressure.”

Orla Thompson put Bann into the lead after only five minutes after Katie McKee had won the ball in midfield before finding her team mate with a slide rule pass.

Ballyclare play maker and captain Zoe Wilson thought she had equalised shortly afterwards but her set piece was disallowed by the umpire after the ‘goal’ had initially been awarded.

In the 20th minute Thompson left Ballyclare with a real mountain to climb when she made it 2-0 after dashing into the circle to slide the ball home.

Ballyclare were in almost total control after the restart but they did everything but find the net as McCabe continued to perform heroics.

That was until the 49th minute when Wilson blasted in a penalty corner to pull a goal back and set up a grandstand finish.

Try as they did Ballyclare couldn’t find an equaliser in the 11 minutes that remained and Banbridge held on for the win.

Ballyclare High: Stephanie McIlroy; Rebecca Quinn; Zara McIlwaine, Ellie Nugent; Lydia Mills; Jasmin Walker; Megan Quinn; Alice Christie; Carla Smyth; Courtney Agnew; Zoe Wilson. subs: Emma Wilson; Laura McCowan; Sophie McDowell; Lauren McKee; Rebecca McConnell; Gemma Ferguson; Emma Downey.

Banbridge Academy: Sarah McCabe; Emma Quinn; Megan McKenna; Sarah Russell; Emma Gregson; Charley Brush; Gina Woods; Chelsea Holden; Orla Thompson; Katie McKee; Emma Cartmill subs: Naomi Matthews; Amy Carson; Katie Carson; Amy Gray; Lauren McGaw; Kate Allen

Umpires: Linda Coughlan & Linda Johnston.