Academy’s luck runs out in tense cup decider

Orla Thompson drives forward for the Academy who came up just short in the Schools' Cup decider. Pics: Rowland White / Presseye.
Orla Thompson drives forward for the Academy who came up just short in the Schools' Cup decider. Pics: Rowland White / Presseye.

Banbridge Academy coach Neil Madeley says his side’s luck was out as they were dnied a first Schools’ Cup victory by Sullivan Upper.

Bann pushed their opponents all the way but ultimately were defeated 2-1.

�Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 4th March 2015. Mandatory Credit - Photo by Andrew Paton/Presseye.com. The Belfast Telegraph Senior Schools Cup Final - Sullivan Upper v Banbridge at Lisnagarvey Hockey Club. Banbridge fans

�Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 4th March 2015. Mandatory Credit - Photo by Andrew Paton/Presseye.com. The Belfast Telegraph Senior Schools Cup Final - Sullivan Upper v Banbridge at Lisnagarvey Hockey Club. Banbridge fans

Sarah Russell had set the Academy on their way with an early opener but key forward Zara Malseed levelled before Katharine Hill struck the decisive goal.

“I think we had the better of the game,” said Madeley.

“The girls were out of the blocks very fast, we got a good goal and it all boded well. The occasion was getting to both sides with the crowd and what was at stake but after their equaliser, it was nip and tuck.

“Luck didn’t shine on us. We got a harsh enough decision given against one of our players which led to their second goal. To the girls’ credit, they came right back at it in the final 15 minutes but still it just wouldn’t fall for us.

“We had a few good chances, even at 1-0 up their keeper made a good save.

“We rode our luck a wee bit in the semi-final and it just ran out on us. As I said to the girls on Wednesday night, that’s sport. There’s such a fine line between winning and losing.”

Bann had a blistering start and Russell put them ahead with a 16th minute opener. A long ball found Russell unmarked but she had still plenty to do as she worked her way into a shooting position and reversed the ball into the net.

Their joy was short-lived as Malseed equalised within two minutes, blasting home a short-corner with Sarah McCabe helpless in the Bann goal.

The Academy had chances to regain the advantage but Emma Gregson and Russell were both denied.

And they were duly punished as Sullivan hit the decisive goal when Hill accepted a switch to the right from Malseed at the Holywood team’s seventh penalty corner and she shot strongly into the corner.

There was still time for captain Emma Quinn to force a good save from the Sullivan stopper as Banbridge pushed right to the end.

“It’s a great experience and if we can get there again, the girls who played will hopefully be all the better for it,” said Madeley.

“We lose a few players now but there is some more talent coming up under Bruce McCandless and hopefully the legacy of the final will be more girls playing and a greater depth within the girls’ hockey.”