Sullivan Upper secure spot in final after brave Friends challenge

Action from Friends v Sullivan
Action from Friends v Sullivan

SULLIVAN UPPER 3 FRIENDS’ SCHOOL 2

Sullivan Upper confirmed their favourites tag by reaching the final of the Ulster Schools’ Senior Cup but they were made to fight all the way by Friends before emerging with a 3-2 victory in Wednesday’s semi-final at Comber Road.

The Lisburn outfit made a rich contribution to an enthralling contest and, indeed, they went into the interval with the benefit of a 2-1 lead.

But cometh the hour, cometh the young woman and it was Zara Malseed who came to the rescue with a second half brace to complete her hat trick and seal a hard fought win.

Friends though were a joy to watch as their counter attacking play was outstanding especially in the opening 30 minutes.

Time and time again they produced flowing moves and just about deserved their narrow half time lead.

But it’s Sullivan who will meet Banbridge Academy in next month’s decider thanks to Malseed’s heroics.

“I just can’t put it into words how it feels to be in the final - it’s insane but it was a really tough game.” said the 17 year-old striker.

Sullivan took the game by the scruff of the neck from the start and they had a couple of near misses before Friends took the lead in the 14th minute.

Rosie Henderson converted a penalty corner on the left hand side of the circle after a wonderful pre-rehearsed switch which involved several pin point passes.

But Sullivan equalised straight from the restart when Malseed made it 1-1 when she drove into the danger area before scoring despite almost losing her balance.

Friends restored their lead in the 20th minute with a superb goal, Beth Ravey dashing into the circle and finding Shannon Atkinson who scored with ease.

But Sullivan captain Malseed hadn’t finished yet and she blasted home a penalty corner in the 42nd minute for the equaliser.

Two minutes later she completed her treble, this time scoring with an excellent solo effort after a good advantage from the umpire had allowed her to proceed despite an infringement.

Friends: Sara McGucken; Anna McDermott; Rachel Barnes; Chloe Howes; Shannon Atkinson; Shannon King; Beth Ravey; Amy Brown; Rosie Henderson; Sophie Reid; Holly Beckett subs: Sara-Jane Jamieson; Rachel Foreman; Zoe Carruthers; Leah Black; Robyn Coulter;Alex Dugan;Caragh Milligan.

Sullivan: Jenny Beattie; Amy Allen; Ashleigh Gillanders; Ali Adams; Katharine Hill; Emma Hill; Laura McGaw; Rachel Barton; Katherine McKee; Zara Malseed; Caitlin Young subs: Aimee McConnell; Amy Rothwell; Katie Noteman; Sarah Storeng; Ali Gibson; Alisha Burrell.

Umpires: Mark Huddleston & Laura Callaghan.