Lurgan lifted the Denman Ulster Shield for the first time in the club’s history yesterday when they defeated Queen’s University 3-1 in an exciting final at Stormont on Boxing Day.
In doing so they maintained their 100 per cent record in all competitions this season and are well-place to complete a Shield-Premier League double.
Lurgan thoroughly deserved their success after dominating much of the game although it took two second-half goals from Sarah McClure to seal the win after the first 35 minutes had been level at 1-1.
It’s been a tremendously successful year for the Co Armagh side Lurgan who had another notable first earlier when they captured the league title for the first time.
The result signalled sweet revenge for the Lurgan, who had lost 2-1 to the students in last year’s Shield semi-final.
However, Queen’s were dealt a double-blow even before the start yesterday when two of their players, Claire Whiteside and Rebecca Quinn were forced to cry off.
Whiteside was involved in a car accident and, although not seriously injured, was unfit to play while Quinn had to withdraw due to personal reasons.
Lurgan could have scored in the first minute when Emma Lindsay went close but their supporters didn’t have to wait long for the opening goal.
Six minutes later, Lauren Wright scored from a penalty-corner rebound after Charlene Hull had two shots saved by Queen’s keeper Megan Todd.
In the 11th minute, Tori Hastings had a shot saved from Queen’s first set-piece and then Hull’s effort flew into the side-net from another corner at the other end.
Queen’s improved as the half wore on and Stefanie McCullough was denied by Lurgan keeper Susie Taylor eight minutes before the break.
In the 29th minute, Jessica McMaster’s corner attempt from a well-worked switch went narrowly over the crossbar.
But seconds later, Queen’s made their pressure pay when, after a backhand cross by Paige Brown, McCullough scored with a first-time shot.
However two goals in the space of 10 minutes early in the second-half left Queen’s with too much to do.
McClure got them both, from successive penalty-corners, her first effort in the 41st minute taking a deflection off an opponent’s stick before entering the net.
Her second and Lurgan’s third was an ever better goal as she still had some work to do after receiving the ball, rounding a defender before picking her spot.
Queen’s tried in vain to get back into the game, Anna Hutchinson shooting wide and McCullough and McMaster being denied by Taylor.
But it was Lurgan went closest to scoring when Emily McStea was unlucky to see her 66th minute shot strike the upright.