Schools’ Super League hockey semi-finals take centre stage

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Banbridge Academy have a chance to avenge last season’s Ulster Senior Cup final defeat by Rainey Endowed on Saturday .

The teams renew their rivalry in the Super League semi-finals at Stormont after Rainey edged out Bann on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the cup final last March.

On the way to the league last four, Rainey dismissed the holders, Ballyclare High, thus exacting revenge for their defeat in last year’s Super League decider.

Academy coach Neil Madeley said: “The Super League is a great competition and the girls enjoy it much more than playing friendlies, especially as there’s a trophy up for grabs.”

“Rainey will be tough opposition as always and we haven’t played them since the Ulster Senior Cup final so everyone is looking forward to the rematch.”

Rainey are looking forward to the game as they aim to go one better than last season in the Super League after losing in a penalty shootout against Ballyclare in the final.

“The semi final will prove a tough challenge for Rainey with an in form Banbridge achieving good results this season. But the Rainey girls are looking forward to a great game,” said Magherafelt coach Carolyn Burns.

The other semi-final sees Omagh Academy up against Royal School Armagh, who were the competition’s inaugural winners three seasons ago.

Omagh coach Steven Arbuthnot said: “Looking to Armagh we are very excited for this challenge.

“They are a well coached team with a lot of threats, and my team have enjoyed taking on these big teams this year. It should be a tough contest with hopefully plenty of chances for both teams.

“Armagh have more experience of these big occasions, so we will be out to make the most of our first semi-final in over five years.”

Armagh were the last team to qualify with a late start at Ardmore on Saturday against a talented Victoria College side, the game finishing 1-0.

RSA’s Head Coach Greg Thompson and his young squad are looking forward to the semi final as it will be such a big experience for the girls.

Irish cricket international Thompson said: “We missed out twice last season at the quarter final stages in the league and the cup, but the girls have been working hard and putting in some good performances.”

“That ultimately saw us top of a tough group and the defeat of Victoria College in a tight quarter final match on Saturday.

“We have not played Omagh this season yet, but have enjoyed some good games in the past few years and look forward to what I’m sure will be a very competitive match.’’

The Tier B semis will be played on the sand pitch at Stormont and see Grosvenor GS play the holders Bloomfield Collegiate at 9:30am and Glenlola Collegiate face Limavady GS at 11am.

In the quarter finals, the results were extremely close. Grosvenor beat Foyle College 2-1, Bloomfield defeated Carrick GS 2-1, Glenlola beat Royal and Prior 2-1 and Limavady were 1-0 winners over Cambridge House.