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Belfast Telegraph Senior Schools' Cup final: Sullivan Upper land tough semi-final test against Banbridge Academy

By John Flack

Sullivan Upper will have to overcome familiar opponents at Lisnagarvey next Wednesday if they are to reach the Belfast Telegraph Senior Schools' Cup final for the third year in a row.

The Holywood team have been drawn to face Banbridge Academy (2pm) with Royal School Armagh up against Wallace High in the second semi on the other Garvey pitch (2.30pm).

Sullivan defeated Banbridge 2-1 to lift the cup two years ago and beat them by the same margin in last season's semis before losing to Methodist College in the decider.

"It's a tough draw for us and we are expecting another close match next week," said Sullivan captain Amy Rothwell.

"They have a very talented player in Irish U16 international Lucy McKee but we'll concentrate on getting our game right."

Armagh captain Hannah Irwin is also expecting a difficult encounter with Wallace as her team bid for a seventh cup triumph.

"We haven't played them so far this season but I know a few of their players from Ulster under-age teams and they are a good side," she said.

Hannah plays her club hockey for the Ulster Elks, whose EY Irish Hockey League survival hopes have been dealt a huge blow with the departure of former Canadian international Anna Kozniuk.

The 23-year-old has returned home to take up a new job with an advertising agency in Vancouver after two successful seasons with the Jordanstown club.

Kozniuk helped the Elks win two Irish Senior Cups and also gold medals at the European Championship in Prague.

However, this season the team's form has slumped and they now find themselves at the foot of the IHL table, level with Belfast Harlequins and Pembroke, and now Kozniuk's absence won't help matters.

"Last season was definitely a career highlight and to win the Irish Senior Cup and then get gold in Europe are two memories I'll cherish for years," she said.

"The club culture in Ireland, and the camaraderie among all the players all over the island, was so welcoming and I've really enjoyed being here."

On Saturday, the Elks make the long journey to Cork to face a Harlequins side that beat Ards at the weekend to reach the Irish Senior Cup semi-finals.

Pegasus should beat Pembroke in Dublin, Ards have a difficult trip to Monkstown, and Belfast Harlequins host Railway Union.

Ulster Premier League leaders Lurgan are at home to Randalstown while second placed Ballymoney face Dungannon.

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