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Enniskillen girls top of the class at Kingspan in Girls Schools' Cup Final

By Ronnie Ingram

Enniskillen Collegiate won the Ulster Girls' Schools' Cup for the seventh time in eight seasons but Ballyclare High put up some stout resistance before losing 9-6 at the Kingspan Stadium.

Playing for the last time as Enniskillen Collegiate - they will be Enniskillen Royal from next season after their amalgamation with Portora Royal - they have enhanced a fantastic record and remain defeated in only one final, and that was against Grosvenor Grammar.

Enniskillen only started their Easter break yesterday so close to 350 supporters were able to travel. They were at full strength whereas their opponents were missing four from their squad as their term finished last week and some had gone skiing.

It was a tight game from the start with the Enniskillen defence holding up well against the determined opposition - in girls' schools' rugby, there are no conversions and each try counts as one point.

The Fermanagh team's narrow interval lead was a fair reflection of the first-half play. They spread the ball wide and two quick tries after the restart gave them a comfortable advantage before Ballyclare came back strongly.

Ellie Ingram again showed her speed and agility with three tries. Jade Ballantyne scored twice, with the others coming from Katie Hetherington, Sophie Coulter, Rebecca Pennell and Alison Glass.

Ballyclare's Zara McIlwaine and Lydia Mills scored two apiece with Rebecca McConnell and Laura McCowan adding the other two.

Ballyclare coach Mike McKeever said: "We were up against a well drilled team. To lose to a team like Enniskillen is no disgrace and I feel we gave them a hard enough struggle.

"They played like a team of 'tag' rugby players whereas we are a team of athletes with a lot of enthusiasm.

"Two seasons ago we reached the quarter-finals, last year the semis and now we are defeated finalists. Maybe next year we will take the ultimate step forward as our girls thoroughly enjoyed their trip to the Kingspan."

Dee Colvin, the Enniskillen coach, thought her side's team spirit had a lot to do with the victory. She said: "Most of these girls have been together for many years and not only play here but at the Enniskillen club.

"Previously we have been introducing them to the game at Year 10 but now many begin at Year 8. Our passing in this final was excellent and the backing up was superb and that gave us the edge to stretch their defence and run round them."

Enniskillen Collegiate: Rebecca Pennell, Clare Bowles, Katie Bowles, Maeve Sommerville, Holly Bruce, Emma Shaw, Ellie Ingram, Grace Kettyle, Katie Corr, Molly Parkinson, Sophie Magwood, Alison Glass, Sophie Coulter, Jade Ballantyne, Katie Hetherington, India Daly, Ellie Rix

Ballyclare High: Aimee McKillen, Alex Simpson, Beth Jackson, Claire Lorimer, Laura McCowan, Lauren Kelly, Lauren McKee, Lydia Mills, Rebecca McConnell, Sophie Carlton, Sophie McDowell, Storm Cobain, Victoria Glenn, Zara McIlwaine, Zoe Cheshire, Rebecca McCullough

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