HOCKEY: Ards team-mates square off in Ulster Senior Cup semis

Wallace High captain and Ards player Jane Kilpatrick (right).
Wallace High captain and Ards player Jane Kilpatrick (right).
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Ards team-mates Jane Kilpatrick and Alana Doyle will be in opposing camps on Wednesday when Wallace High tackle Royal School Armagh in the semi-finals of the Ulster Senior Cup at Lisnagarvey (2.30pm).

The winners will meet either Sullivan Upper or Banbridge Academy, who square up in the other semi-final on an adjacent pitch at Comber Road (2pm).

Although it’s unwise perhaps to make predictions on such an occasion, with a four-figure crowd and a pressure-charged atmosphere expected, the form book would suggest that it could well turn out to be a Bann-Armagh final which would be a repeat of the inaugural superleague decider earlier in the season.

However, Wallace and Sullivan will be doing all in their power to ensure that doesn’t happen but either Ulster Under 21 player Kilpatrick and Irish U21 squad member Doyle will go home disappointed this afternoon before they link up again for Ards against Loreto in the EY Irish Hockey League later in the week.

“Armagh have the advantage of knowing what it’s like to play in front of a large crowd having won the superleague final and they will how to cope in the big matches,” said Wallace captain Kilpatrick.

“Our team is extremely close and we will want to play well for each other so we will hopefully not be distracted by the atmosphere.”

Like Doyle, Armagh captain Hannah Irwin is a member of the 29-strong Irish U21 training panel and she’s well aware of the tradition that surrounds the cup at the Royal - six-time winners of the trophy previously.

“We haven’t played each other this season but we know it will be a tight match. Wallace are always well drilled and have had some good results this season,” she said.

In the other semi-final, Banbridge have bitter memories of their last two meetings with Sullivan, having lost 2-1 in the 2015 final and by the same scoreline in the semis last season.

“I think it will be a very evenly matched game and it will also be tough for us; I don’t know much about Sullivan but they have previously fielded very good teams so I would expect the same this year,” said Bann captain Orla Thompson.

“Since they’ve reached the semi final they’ve obviously got a decent team but we just need to concentrate on our game play.”

“It will be down to the team on the day who takes their chances that will progress through to the final.”

Sullivan captain Amy Rothwell is one of three starting players who took part in the 2015 cup final win over Banbridge and she, too, is expecting a difficult test in the rematch.

“Any schools cup semi-final is always going to be a tough game. We haven’t played Banbridge this season so we don’t know much about them but our games with them have always been close,” she said.