BANBRIDGE’S girls U11 team took part in the U11 Finals Day, organised by Ulster Hockey and hosted by Lisnagarvey.
The competition kicked off in the morning with group stages. Banbridge was drawn in a tough group which would produce all the eventual cup and plate finalists.
The first match of the day was against an experienced Lurgan side. Banbridge found the backboard early on and made a great start to the day.
On a high, from the first match, the girls found it hard to settle into their second game, which was a complete unknown in the form of Mossley. Mossley caught the Bann girls unaware, and their choice to play an optional goalkeeper proved too much for Bann, they lost this game 1-0, however this was to be their only defeat of the day.
The Bann girls sailed through the remained of the group games with solid team performances and goals galore from Ellen Reid, Olivia Berry, Lauren Rodgers and Hannah Houston and solid defending from Gemma Hassan, Kerri Dogherty, Becky Maxwell and Alex Wheeler. Banbridge beat Pegasus 3-1, Ards 5-0 and Knock 4-0. Banbridge finished second their group, 1 point behind Mossley and qualified for the cup competition in the afternoon.
The first match of the cup play off saw the Bann girls face local rivals Dromore. Dromore also chose to field the optional goal keeper, however the Bann girls had learnt from earlier in the day and Gemma Hassan and Olivia Berry each managed to slip one past the keeper to seal a 2-1 victory. Banbridge then went on to play Armagh, a Lauren Rodgers hat trick, and Ellen Reid adding a forth guaranteed Bann a place in the semi finals.
In the semi final Banbridge met Lisnagarvey, who has come through the group stages and play offs with very good results, however it was once again Banbridge that pulled together putting on a very talented display of hockey and some superb defending from Alex Wheeler meant Lisnagarvey didn’t even get a look resulting a 3-0 victory. The Bann girls had worked so hard all day and defiantly deserved their place in the final.
Both teams started the match nervously but once they settled into the game demonstrated outstanding skill and talent for girls of age 10 and 11. Unfortunately Olivia Berry suffered a nasty injury and after being attended to by first aiders was carried off the pitch- unable to play on. The game remained at a stalemate until Gemma Hassan suffered an injury to her foot and also had to leave the game. Following the injury stoppage it was decided by coaches and officials that both teams had played outstandingly all day and should share the cup and title of Ulster Champions. Banbridge received their gold medals as a well earned rewarded after a day, and in fact season of, outstanding hard work and commitment.