McCabe is top of the class

Sarah McCabe makes a crucial save as Ballyclare push for a late equaliser. Pics: Rowland White / Presseye.
Sarah McCabe makes a crucial save as Ballyclare push for a late equaliser. Pics: Rowland White / Presseye.

Having clawed themselves back to 2-1 on 49 minutes, they pummelled Banbridge Academy’s defence and did everything but find a way through.

Mandatory Credit: Rowland White / PressEye'Belfast Telegraph Schools' Cup Semi-Final'Teams: Banbridge Academy (red) v Ballyclare High School (blue)'Venue: Lisnagarvey'Date: 11th February 2015'Caption: Sarah McCabe is congratulated by reserve goalkeeper Naomi Matthews

Mandatory Credit: Rowland White / PressEye'Belfast Telegraph Schools' Cup Semi-Final'Teams: Banbridge Academy (red) v Ballyclare High School (blue)'Venue: Lisnagarvey'Date: 11th February 2015'Caption: Sarah McCabe is congratulated by reserve goalkeeper Naomi Matthews

Denied by more than one match-winning last ditch tackle, even when they got through on goal, Bann’s last line of defence wasn’t to be beaten. Goalkeeper Sarah McCabe showed just how important having a top quality keeper is, making save after save to get her side over the line.

“The second half was intense, especially the last 10 minutes but Sarah was excellent,” said her captain Emma Quinn.

“She kept us in it and calmed our nerves a bit.”

The Banbridge Ladies first team keeper showed her class and couldn’t quite take it all in come the final whistle.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling that the Banbridge Academy’s first XI girls team are in the Cup final,” she said, trying to convince herself it was true.

“Now we’ll be going all out to win it.

“In those last seven or eight minutes, all of the pressure was on us but we managed to get everything clear. Thank goodness!”

Even when Orla Thompson struck twice to give Banbridge a cushioned half-time lead, McCabe knew she would have work to do to maintain the advantage.

“We had the mindset that it still wasn’t over,” she said.

“We really had to fight for it. They came out battling in the second half and it paid off for them when they got their goal but we got there.”

McCabe’s coach Neil Madeley was delighted with his goalkeeper’s display.

“Sarah stood up and was counted,” he said.

“Her performances this year have been excellent and she was absolutely superb in that second half. I couldn’t have asked for any more from her or any of the girls. I’m absolutely delighted for them.

“We talked before the match about how we wanted to start off strong and take the game to them and that’s exactly what we did.

“It’s been a hard season so far but its testament to their efforts over the last few months. They’ve put a lot of hard work in for the Cup run. They’ve had a lot of training sessions despite the weather and the exams and they’ve hit form at the right time.”

And now they’re desperate to keep up that good run in the final against Sullivan Upper on Wednesday 4th March.

“It would mean the world to everyone in the team,” said McCabe. “All the girls are buzzing for it now.”