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Jessica is craving for her first taste of Shield glory

By John Flack

Although still a teenager, Jessica McMaster already has a sparkling CV and, on Boxing Day, the Queen's University and Ireland striker will be hoping to add to a glittering medal collection when her team face Lurgan in the Denman Ulster Shield final at Stormont (1pm).

The 18-year-old chemical engineering student joined Queen's this season after winning successive Irish Senior Cups and a European gold with Ulster Elks.

Only two months ago, she had a dream debut for Ireland when she came off the bench to score a last-minute winner in a 2-1 victory over Scotland in Glasgow.

McMaster has also represented Ulster and Ireland at Under-16, 18 and 21 level and she looks certain to travel to Valencia with the U21s for the European Junior Championship in August.

However, her short-term ambition is to help Queen's lift their fifth Ulster Shield but she realises that Premier League champions Lurgan, who are unbeaten this season, will pose a stiff test.

"It's my first Shield final and I'm really looking forward to it and, hopefully, we can go one step further and win the title this year," said McMaster.

"Lurgan are always tough to play against and they have a lot of talented and experienced players but we also have a very strong team and believe we can win in the final."

Queen's haven't had the best of build-ups as they lost on penalties to Ballymoney in the Irish Senior Cup and then drew with Raphoe in their last two outings before Saturday's game with North Down fell victim to frost.

Lurgan continued their fine season with a 5-0 win over Banbridge at the weekend and their former Queen's defender Phoebe Preston is looking forward to renewing acquaintances.

"I had a great time when I played there and I have a lot of respect for the club, the coaches and players," she said.

"But here at Lurgan, we have had a good run of form and are confident we can bring that energy and form into the match."

Lurgan: Susie Taylor, Charlene Hull, Chloe McCann, Pheobe Preston, Sarah McClure, Carly Johnston, Jo-Anne Wilson, Jenny Morrow, Kathryn Edgar, Amy Edwards, Kerrie Burns, Emily McStea, Hannah Magowan, Emma Lindsay, Kate Hamill, Lauren Wright.

Queen's: Megan Todd, Ellen Hood, Emma Kernohan, Jessica McMaster, Claire Whiteside, Robyn McKee, Tori Hastings, Linzi Hamilton, Paige Brown, Rebecca Quinn, Rachael Henderson, Megan McKenna, Leah Crooks, Anna Hutchinson, Stefanie McCullough, Kathryn Bryans.

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