LURGAN COLLEGE 3 BANBRIDGE ACADEMY 1
LURGAN College hockey team progressed to the Senior Schools Cup hockey semi-finals for the fourth consecutive year after defeating rivals Banbridge on Monday afternoon.
They defeated Banbridge Academy 3-1 after the scheduled game on Saturday was the victim of an unexpected frost.
This game had been dubbed ‘the tie of the round’ following the draw in December, given that both teams have recorded consistently impressive results this season.
The home side started the stronger, putting the Academy defence under pressure from the whistle. However the visitors were well organised and dealt with the College advances well. Julie Morrow came closest to opening the College account when she weaved into the Banbridge circle and fired a blistering strike at the keeper, only to be denied by the inside edge of the crossbar.
This seemed to spur Banbridge into action and they enjoyed a spell of attacking hockey where they threatened to penetrate the College circle after winning a series of free hits in the attacking ‘25’. However the experience of the College defenders intercepted every pass Banbridge made. In fact the discipline shown by Shannon Davidson, Jill Costley and Alex Hurst was instrumental in preventing the Academy team winning any penalty corners.
Midway through the first half, the College claimed their first goal when Julie Morrow made another good run along the Academy’s backline and pulled the ball back beautifully to Chloe McCann who made no mistake in hitting the backboard from close range. This inspired confidence in the home side and they set about looking for opportunities to add to their tally, winning a number of penalty corners. Banbridge initially defended well, but in giving Hannah Grieve time to strike cleanly from the edge of the circle, they conceded their second goal as Hannah’s blistering strike proved unstoppable.
At the half time interval the home team had a 2-0 lead, but they were also aware of the potential of the Banbridge captain, Lucy McKee to take any opportunity presented and convert it to goal. Concentration was paramount and with nothing to lose, Banbridge, as expected went on the attack. Bethany Barr made some great interceptions in the middle of the pitch, to turn possession over to Lurgan and counter attack with pace through the fresh legs of Ellen Mullen and the hard working Kathryn Edgar.
Serena Barr, player of the match, totally dominated the defence in her man-to-man marking of Lucy McKee. Banbridge found it difficult to get the ball to their inspirational captain as Serena was always there first. However, a quick free hit caught the College midfield by surprise and Banbridge took advantage of a lapse in concentration to drive into the circle and score from a goal mouth scramble.
The College team were not to be deterred and responded by going on the attack immediately. The pace and accuracy of passing at this stage of the game was fantastic and the home team displayed some beautiful flowing hockey through Judith Edgar in midfield, and Alex Hurst driving through from defence; both players linking with forwards who showed some great off the ball running.
Midway through the second half, a period of sustained pressure saw Bethany Barr fire off a shot from the edge of the circle, which was initially saved by the Banbridge keeper, only for Hannah Grieve to pounce on the rebound and make no mistake with the second shot. The game continued to ebb and flow, with the College team dominating most of the remainder of the half.
The semi final draw took place on Monday evening and Lurgan College will now face Belfast Royal Academy on Wednesday 6th February at 2pm at Lisnagarvey.
Squad: Bethany Barr, Chloe McCann, Serena Barr, Shannon Davidson, Ellen Mullen, Gemma McKitterick, Katie Allen, Hannah Grieve, Jill Costley, Julie Morrow, Judith Edgar, Alex Hurst, Naomi Costley, Louise McKitterick, Smantha Bann, Kathryn Edgar.