Methody revel in Schools' Cup triumph after 28-year wait
Belfast Telegraph Schools Cup: Methody 1 - 0 Sullivan Upper
Methodist College Belfast bridged a 28-year gap by landing the Belfast Telegraph Senior Schools' Cup at University of Ulster yesterday afternoon - and there was no doubt about who made it all possible.
Methody skipper Katie Larmour was the stand-out player and she broke the deadlock four minutes from the end with what turned out to be the only goal of the game against holders Sullivan Upper.
The last-minute ground switch from snowbound Lisnagarvey to rain-swept Jordanstown didn't seem to affect the fans, with a four-figure crowd turning up to cheer on the girls.
But while the wind and rain perhaps disrupted the rhythm of some of the players, it didn't prevent Larmour putting on a player of the match performance to chalk up what is the Belfast school's 24th success in the 110-year-old competition.
Sullivan went in as favourites to retain the title they won last year but it was Methody who took the game to them and edged matters in both the first and second halves without seriously troubling a well organised defence.
Most of Methody's creative play came from Larmour, who linked up well with Olivia Savage down the right, and it was probably fitting that the only goal should come from her.
It all seemed to be heading for extra-time when Methody won their eighth penalty corner of the game with just four minutes remaining on the clock.
None of the previous efforts had reaped reward, with direct shots and switches to the right or left being easily blocked by the sound Sullivan defence.
But this time Larmour changed tack and weaved her way into the circle before placing her shot into the bottom corner.
It was heartbreak for Sullivan who so badly wanted to represent Ulster at the All-Ireland finals again, so that they could build on what was a disappointing series for them last year.
But on the day Methody edged matters and they will head off to Limerick to take on the champions from Leinster, Munster, Connacht and South East next week.
It was Larmour who sounded out an early warning to Sullivan when she had an effort clip the post and as Methody exerted the early pressure, the constant movement of Susie McCollum and Caitlin Rose kept the defence on their toes.
But three penalty corners failed to bring reward and they had to be wary of Sullivan's counter-attacks, largely orchestrated by their skipper Katharine Hill.
Sophie Hunter had to go off with what at first looked like a dislocated finger but she was able to resume later on.
The second-half saw Sullivan start the stronger and they won three early penalty corners but, like Methody's first-half set-pieces, they came to nothing.
However, one was switched right to Sarah Storeng and she was unlucky to see her shot deflected wide.
Gradually, Methody took hold of midfield again and Larmour drove at the heart of the Sullivan defence to win another penalty corner, from which her effort was saved by goalkeeper Jenny Beattie.
But suddenly the Holywood girls broke upfield and Laura McCaw had a glorious chance to score only for her effort to hit the post with Methody goalkeeper Caitlin Fisher clearing the danger.
It was Sullivan's last chance as the Belfast girls pushed for a winner and with four minutes to go the breakthrough finally came, with Larmour doing the business.
Afterwards, the Belfast Telegraph's Steven Beacom handed over the trophy to the Methody captain while Robert Stevenson presented the Stevenson Shield, the runners-up trophy which he donated 40 years ago, to Sullivan's Hill.
METHODIST COLLEGE BELFAST: Caitlin Fisher, Katie Larmour, Jodie Savage, Olivia Savage, Kirsten Webb, Hannah Cunningham, Naomi Fenton, Anna Jamison, Rhiannon Coulter, Holly Bennison, Caitlin Rose, Susie McCollum, Fiona Murray, Sophie Hunter, Amy Hanna, Anna Armstrong, Rachel Nevin, Madison Bowyer.
SULLIVAN UPPER: Jenny Beattie, Amy Rothwell, Erin Davidson, Hannah Jemphrey, Katherine McKee, Alexandra Adams, Katharine Hill, Alex Gibson, Emma Hill, Laura McGaw, Sarah Storeng, Jemma Gillen, Anna Gregg, Joanna Kirkwood, Grace Jackson, Janet Cunningham, Megan McDonald.
sullivan upper 0