Junior title goes home with Co Down youngsters

The winning Banbridge team
The winning Banbridge team

Rainey Endowed were keen to bounce back from their Senior Cup final defeat by Lurgan College when they faced Banbridge Academy in the Junior decider but it turned out to be double defeat as the Magherafelt outfit went down 3-1 in the decider at Grosvenor.

The 2013 defending champions were up against a young development squad from Banbridge Academy who were bidding for their Junior Cup triumph for all of 70 years.

Rainey have a great record in the tournament having won it more times than any other school in the past decade.

The majority of the Senior Cup squad came through the junior ranks and they recently went close to lifting that trophy for the first time.

But it was cup specialists Lurgan who prevailed by virtue of a ‘silver goal’ scored in extra time by Julie Morrow.

Rainey coach Carolyn Burns, who has done so much to promote hockey in the school, was again in the dug out for the final which has grown in popularity and status in recent years with 2014 again producing a huge entry.

The early stages of the competition draws entries from over 60 junior teams and both finalists produced some impressive results.

Rainey Endowed had a solid run in and were notable beating Clounagh Junior High School 6-0, Grosvenor Grammar School 4-1, Dromore High 4-0, Coleraine High 1-0 and, in the semi finals, Friends School Lisburn 2-0.

Banbridge Academy side’s journey unto the cup final was also outstanding winning matches as follows: Hunterhouse College 6-0, Bloomfield Collegiate 6-1, Ballymena Academy 5-0, Wallace High 8-1 and in the semi finals Sullivan Upper School 2-0.

The teams were composed of pupils in the under 14 age range and both teams showing a high standard of skill and game technique throughout.

The Rainey girls moving the ball forward using width and aggressive play, but the Banbridge girls settled well.

The defence unit of Ellen Reid, Holly Hannah and Claire Warring consolidated by Captain Gina Woods remained focused and steely in their determination.

On the attack Banbridge showed excellent composure and clever play and their patience was rewarded after 12 minutes by a penalty corner.

A smooth injection left Banbridge midfielder Katie KcKee with plenty of time to expertly slot the ball home past Rainey ‘keeper Victoria Causley.

Their confidence wavering Rainey faced a determined barrage of passes and shots from forwards Lauren McGaw and Sophie Mount, however they held under pressure until the ball clipped the feet of a Rainey defender giving Banbridge another corner.

The Rainey keeper picked out the initial shot but Emma Gregson was quick on the second phase and scooped it into the net leaving a 2-0 score line at the half time whistle.

Rainey coaches Mrs Wendy McAllister and Mrs Carolyn Burns motivated the Rainey girls to perform while the Banbridge coach, Bruce McCandless emphasized calm and composed play the need for controlled passing and attacking strategies.

On the restart a determined Rainey sent long passes through the centre again challenging the strength of the
opposition but not connecting in the circle.

The confident Banbridge keeper Rebekah Hillis saw the ball clear for Banbridge to retaliate and youngster Gemma Hassan supported by Charlotte Campbell and Rebecca Dougan carried the ball forward with great skill which resulted in Banbridge’s third corner of the match.

Nadia Benallal’s effort unluckily came off the uprights however Banbridge’s skill on the rebound meant Gina Woods made no mistake in adding her name to the score sheet to make it 3-0.

Rainey proceeded to play their best hockey of the match and in a last final effort they connected through the left and carried the ball directly at a reeling Banbridge defence.

Umpire Cyril Vennard awarded them their first corner, and in a confident and determined fashion the ball was stick stopped by Ellen Campbell and slammed home by Carla Brown.

A delighted Rainey had little time to celebrate as the final whistle blew shortly afterwards with the final score 3-1 in Bann’s favour.

This result reflected the recent development of Girls’ Hockey throughout the Provence and the high standard of coaches available in the Banbridge area.

Irish and Ulster player and Banbridge Academy team coach Bruce McCandless focuses on the all round development of hockey players and has contributed, alongside Banbridge Hockey Club coach Sheree Totton to the teams’ success.

Mr Raymond Pollock, Principal of Banbridge Academy, expressed his delight at the girls’ success which was their first in the competition since 1944.

For Rainey the result obviously came as a bitter disappointment and, once again, Carolyn Burns had to console her players just as she had done after the Senior Cup final but they’ll be anxious to bounce back next year.

Banbridge Academy squad: Gina Woods (capt.), Rebekah Hillis, Tanya Thompson, Zoe McDowell, Ellen Reid, Holly Hanna, Claire Warring, Rebekah Dougan, Emma Gregson, Charlotte Campbell, Katie McKee, Maeve Cummins, Lauren McGaw, Nadia Benallal, Sophie Mount, Gemma Hassan, Caitlyn Lyness, Ellie Purdy.

Coaches Bruce McCandless and Sheree Totton. manager Heather Camblin

Rainey Endowed squad: Andrea Hegarty (capt.), Victoria Causley, Abbie Speers, Sarah McGuckin, Lauren Mullholland, Alex Burns, Cara Brown, Ellen Campbell, Kathryn Glendinning, Betty Scott, Charlotte McKinlay, Katie Rose Thompson, Ellie Montgomery and Lauryn Heaney, Emma Scott.

Coaches Carolyn Burns and Wendy McAllister.